‘Bridges Not Walls’: Introducing Isobel Budler’s Photography Series

Each year, the Global Justice Academy runs a photography competition as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s MA Photography degree programme. The 2018 competition was run in conjunction with the ERC Greyzone Project and its Summer School, ‘Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance, and Solidarity’. This post is the first in a short series of three, where we introduce this year’s winners, their images, and the stories behind their submissions

Commended Series: Isobel Budler, ‘Bridges Not Walls’.

Q: What inspired your competition entry?

I came across the ‘Bridges Not Walls’ conference through the organiser Nancy, who I knew prior to the project. She spoke to me candidly about the work they do within the school they are employed by, challenging stereotypes and educating young people on a range of topics.

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Shaking Hands in Dayton and Singapore: Symbolic Representations of Peace Processes

In this post, PSRP researcher Laura Wise reflects on symbolic representations of handshake moments at high-level peace summits, and what we miss when we consistently focus on comprehensive peace agreements. This is a longer version of remarks delivered at the IICR 2nd Annual Conference ‘Networked Cultures: Translations, Symbols, and Legacies’, as part of a session convened by the IICR Cultures of Peace and Violence Network. PSRP and the Global Justice Academy are proud members of this interdisciplinary network that enables discussions on how symbolic representations constrain or facilitate cultures of peace and violence, and we look forward to participating in future events. 

Kim and Trump shaking hands on the red carpet during the DPRK-USA Singapore Summit on 12 June 2018

Handshake moments are currently a hot topic, as journalists rush to interpret the symbolism of the Singapore Summit between North Korea and the United States. From the diplomatic menu to the moment the leaders of each country make physical contact, no aspects of negotiation process are above being scrutinized for what they can tell us about the potential for achieving peace. Meanwhile, participants and commentators often hail the agreements themselves as historic and comprehensive even before crucial details of a done deal are released to the public, with parties keen to credit themselves as having achieved what no other figure has managed to do thus far.

Over twenty years ago, another high-level summit was capturing the world’s attention, as leaders from the former Yugoslavia and other interested parties gathered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, to negotiate yet another comprehensive peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Thinking Without Bannisters: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt

Dr Hugh McDonnell is based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh as a Postdoctoral Fellow on a project assessing complicity in human rights violations. In this blog post, he discusses a recent film screening and round-table discussion event on the work of Hannah Arendt.

The enduring fascination of one of the twentieth century’s leading thinkers, commonly celebrated as highly original and unclassifiable, was explored in ‘Thinking Without Bannisters: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt’. The afternoon event brought together specialists and interested amateurs alike to view Ada Ushpiz’s new documentary ‘Vita Activa – The Spirit of Hannah Arendt.’ This was followed by a round-table session, featuring three foremost Arendt scholars: Professor Patrick Hayden from International Relations (University of St Andrews), Liisi Keedus from Politics (University of York), and historian Stephan Malinowski (University of Edinburgh).

Ushpiz’s documentary explored Arendt’s life and thought in their mutual interconnections. This included an overview of her formative years as a child in a German-Jewish family in Königsberg and Berlin, before discussing her developing and already prodigious intellectual curiosity at the universities of Marburg and Heidelberg, and the formative intellectual and personal influences of philosophers Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers.

Naturally, Arendt’s experience and reflections on the Second World War loom large in the film. Her own experiences disposed her to reflect on the condition of being a refugee, to think through the radical rightlessness that this implied. Consideration of Arendt’s famous formulation of the ‘banality of evil’ drew on fascinating original film footage of the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, which Arendt attended. Ushpiz does not circumvent controversies surrounding Arendt herself, as interviewees reflected on hostile reactions to Arendt’s work, particularly Eichmann in Jerusalem, as well as, more specifically, her controversial analysis of the Judenräte.

The round-table discussion was opened by Patrick Hayden’s evocative and thought-provoking disquisition on Arendt’s metaphor of the desert as her attempt to understand individuals’ thoughtless flights from the strangeness and suffering of the political world. On this basis, he developed Arendt’s insights into suffering as the other side of action, that at the same time extends an appeal to our joint responsibility to say “enough” and reaffirm the boundaries of politics. Liisi Keedus spoke next about the intellectual history of ‘thinking without bannisters’, tracing its roots to the modern gap between past and future, while revealing its broader purchase as condition of resistant action. And before opening the floor to questions, Stephan Malinowski reflected on the originality of Arendt’s work from a historian’s perspective, suggesting the fertility of the ideas and questions she raised, and the distinctly interesting character of the answers she reached, even when they strike us as mistaken. Questions from the floor prompted the panel to further reflect on the contemporary relevance of Arendt’s thought: the novel insights she offered in terms of the systemic rather than personalised logic of injustice and violence, her attentiveness to the vulnerabilities of democracy, or her staunch resistance to truth claims that have lost an anchor in political reality. Audience members were left with plenty of food for thought to consider further the meaning of Arendt’s independent thinking, judgement, and responsibility at the present historical juncture.

This event was hosted at the University of Edinburgh, and was made possible by the funding of the Global Justice Academy and Global Development Academies’ Innovative Initiative Fund, as well as the School of Social and Political Science through the Research Student-Led Special Projects Grant. 

More about the author:

Dr McDonell completed his PhD at the University of Amsterdam where he worked between the Department of European Studies and the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis. His work Europeanising Spaces in Paris, c. 1947-1962 (Liverpool University Press, 2016) examines ways in which ideas about Europe and Europeanness were articulated and contested in politics, culture, and the Parisian urban landscape. McDonell is also working as a Postdoctoral Fellow on a European Research Council Starting Grant ‘Grey Zone’ project examines complex complicity from historical and theoretical perspectives. More about the project is available here: http://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/greyzone/ 

You can read more about complicity in human rights violations in this blog by Dr Mihaela Mihia, Senior Research Fellow in Political Theory at the University of Edinburgh: http://www.globaljusticeblog.ed.ac.uk/2017/02/20/peace-and-conflict-series-4/


Counter-Terrorism, Radicalisation, and the University: Debating the Prevent Strategy

On Friday 15 January 2016, the Global Justice Academy and the Centre for Security Research at The University of Edinburgh hosted a panel discussion on the Prevent Strategy obligations that have been placed on higher education institutions. GJA Student Ambassador, Rebecca Smyth, went along to the debate and outlines the debated arguments as well as her thoughts on this contentious issue in this guest post.

A thing of nothing or something more sinister?  Under section 26 of the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act universities must “have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.”  The origins of this ‘Prevent’ duty, and its potential implications for staff and students, were considered at a panel discussion organised by the Global Justice Academy and Centre for Security Research last Friday.  Chaired by Akwugo Emejulu, the panel comprised Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary of Student Experience here at the University of Edinburgh; Richard Jones of the School of Law; Genevieve Lennon of the University of Strathclyde Law School; Urte Macikene, EUSA Vice President of Services; and Andrew Neal of the Politics and International Relations department.

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Equality and the Democratic Deficit

This post by Global Justice Co-Director, Dr Tahl Kaminer, reports from the first Urban Justice Lab Symposium: ‘Who Saved the City?’. Follow the link at the bottom of the post to our Lecture Library to view videos from the day and to find out more about the Urban Justice Lab and what it does.

Who Saved the City

The recent exposure of a letter by David Cameron to Oxfordshire County Council (as reported in the Oxford Mail, and The Guardian), in which the PM berates the council for front-line budget cuts, generated a minor storm on social media. Less than a fortnight earlier, Annette Hastings of the University of Glasgow presented the findings of a Rowntree Foundation report, which lucidly depicted the application of cuts to front-line budgets of city councils across the UK. Her eloquent and precise presentation demonstrated vividly why the government’s cuts necessarily hit front-line spending, and particularly the poor.

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Democracy, Violence, and Teaching: a Summer of GJA Events

Mathias ThalerThis summer, the Global Justice Academy ran its first Summer School in conjunction with the School of Political Sciences, and the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. GJA Co-Director, Dr Mathias Thaler, reflects on the success of the three-day course, and plans to revise the Summer School for 2016. Dr Thaler also reports on  initial forays into establishing a ‘Democracy Lab’ at the University of Edinburgh, following the launch of his new honours course on democratic theory.

  1. Summer School on Political Violence

Summer School 1

From June 24 to 26, 2015, SPS organised a Summer School on political violence, in collaboration with the Global Justice Academy and HCA.

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How should religion be addressed in attempts to prevent atrocities?

george-wilkes headshot

This guest post is by Dr George Wilkes, founding Director of the Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace Project, and Research Fellow at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

In June 2014, the Global Justice Academy supported the launch of a new programme bringing scholars and civilian protection practitioners together to identify the state of the art of atrocity prevention, and the state of the academic literature addressing the impact of religion on civilian protection work.

‘Preventing Atrocity: Reasons to Engage with the Religion and Ethics of the Other’ brought specialists from across the College of Humanities and Social Science together with experts from the ICRC, DfID, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the European Centre for the Prevention of Mass Atrocities, Human Rights Watch, Islamic Relief, the Bosnian Islamic Community and Finn Church Aid.

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Spectating and Acting: a Workshop Report

On June 20, 2014, Mathias Thaler (University of Edinburgh) organized a workshop dedicated to the tension between spectating and acting in democratic politics. The event drew an engaged audience of about 40 participants, both from Edinburgh and from outside Scotland. Apart from Law School and School of Social and Political Science staff (such as Zenon Bankowski, Christine Bell and Jonathan Hearn), the event also attracted academics from farther abroad (like Phil Parvin from Loughborough University, Cara Nine from the University College Cork and Audra Mitchell from the University of York). Furthermore, many PhD students attended and contributed to the workshop.

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Justice versus Peace? Syrian Atrocities and International Criminal Justice

Christine Bell, Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the Global Justice Academy, comments on recent Human Rights developments in Syria.

syria blog

A recent report into torture – interestingly with a connection to Scotland (one of the researches is based in Dundee University) – has provided strong evidence that the Assad regime has been involved in gross human rights violations.  The report was produced by a set of international experts in international criminal law and forensics, requested by Carter-Ruck & Co solicitors, acting for Qatar National State who apparently support the Syrian National Movement (none of this is very clear from the face of the report, which has been linked to from Carter-Ruck’s website, neither is it very clear from the Carter-Ruck press release which does not mention a client).

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The Global Justice Academy

The Global Justice Academy

What is it?

Understanding Global Justice

Our Themes

How we Work

Who are we?  

  • What is the Global Justice Academy?

The Global Justice Academy is a new inter-disciplinary network of people, centres and networks established to explore Global Justice and support research and courses reflecting global justice concerns.  It seeks to build on the work of these centres and networks and to better connect them.

In particular, the Global Justice Academy has been established to provide:

  • A multi-disciplinary exploration of what global justice is
  • A network of people, centres and networks of those working on global justice issues across the University (see Centres and Networks)
  • An intellectual meeting place regarding new ideas regarding a more just world
  • Increased dialogue with those engaged in justice issues locally and globally (see Local-Global Dialogue)

As we begin our work we have set out four current themes around which we are organized.

  • Understanding Global Justice

What is Global Justice?  We view the idea of ‘Global Justice’ as something that needs discussion and exploration, and this will be a central purpose of the Global Justice Academy.  We hope to encapsulate some of our debates by encouraging discussion among those associated with the Academy, on our website.  See our initial thoughts by Director of the Just World Institute, Tim Haywood, and Arriana Andreangeli, Lecturer in Competition Law, School of Law.

Why and how is it ‘global’?

There are different senses in which Global Justice may be global.

Global Justice as a ‘unified’ justice that asserts itself across the globe. A global justice agenda could mean a concept of ‘unified’ global justice, for example asserted by globally applicable legal norms that aim to create a more just and peaceful world.  International legal standards, in particular those relating to human rights, humanitarian law, and international criminal law could be understood as the normative underpinning of a ‘global justice’ agenda in this sense.  However, these norms on their own set out a limited agenda, and also on occasion pit universal norms against different local conceptions of justice.

Transnational approaches to global problems. Global justice could alternatively be understood as justice responses to transnational challenges, in the sense that they are ‘cross-border’ in their reach.  These could include issues as diverse as climate justice or organized crime both of which have cross-border dimensions.  Or the transnational dimension could be understood slightly differently, as justice challenges that different countries across the globe experience in common, such as reform of the justice sector or responses to new technologies or urbanization.

Justice issues thrown up by globalization.  Or global justice could be understood as justice responses to globalization, such as the need for some sort of new global constitutionalism to provide for the accountability of new global governance, or how just responses to global crises such as the economic crises could be fashioned. 

Globally Just Order.  Or global justice could be understood as justice that seeks for some more social just order, for example through global re-distribution between those who have and those who have-not both within and between countries. 

Justice as language of change.  For people and communities in different situations, the language of ‘justice’ unlike the language of ‘law’ is a language that aspires to change.  The idea of global justice from this point of view, speaks to an agenda for change that is of global relevance.  

Current Themes

To begin our discussions we have identified current themes relating to global justice in which members of the University are engaged, where we hope to assist exchange and the building of inter-disciplinary agendas.

Understanding Global Justice.  This strand of work situates global justice theoretically by questioning what we mean by the term ‘global justice’ and what it means to work together under that banner.  (see Hayward and Andreangeli blogs).  Under this theme we examine

  • What is Global Justice?
  • Global Constitutional Law

Citizenship and Belonging.  Under this theme we examine

  • Citizenship
  • Equality and non-discrimination
  • Gender Justice

Human Rights, Humanitarianism, Conflict and Peace.  This strand of work includes those who engage with legal norms, but also with questions of conflict and peace. Under this theme we consider

  • Human rights, Humanitarian and International Criminal Law
  • Conflict and Peace

Transnational Problems. This strand of work groups those who examine problems that are seen as transnational because they have a cross-border manifestation, such as climate change or organized crime, or economic collapse, but also problems that are transnational in the sense that they are manifest across a range of countries where they present similar justice issues, such as urbanization (see Tahl Kaminer’s blog on Urban Justice).Under this theme we consider

  • Economic Justice
  • New Technologies
  • Urban Justice

How do we work?

The Global Justice Academy at present meets as a group of steering committee members from across colleges or departments.  Through the website it also attempts to further network those across the University who are working on global justice issues with a view to developing new ideas and connections between disciplines.  We hope to also communicate with those beyond the University who study or are engaged in global justice issues.

As a practical matter, we hope to use the website to highlight four things:

  • relevant events relating to Global Justice issues
  • new research relating to Global Justice issues
  • relevant courses relating to Global Justice issues
  • relevant student reading groups

We hope that by highlighting these activities we can things we can help to foster new ideas and synergies.  We view the Academy’s strength as lying: first, in its loose network structure that aims to support and build the work of existing centres and institutes; and second, in its ability to cut across University Schools and Colleges to provide a fluid mechanism of communication and cooperation.

We hope to also be pro-active in assisting new cross-cutting discussions, and initially view the steering committee meetings and small-group discussions as one such place in which this type of discussion can take place.

Who are we?

The Global Justice Academy currently meets as a Steering group with a wider group of those interested and working in global justice issues connecting as Members and taking part in and arranging University-wide events.   If you wish to be involved or mailed re our events please contact us.