Show cover of Visualising War and Peace

Visualising War and Peace

How do war stories work? And what do they do to us? Join University of St Andrews historian Alice König and colleagues as they explore how war and peace get presented in art, text, film and music. With the help of expert guests, they unpick conflict stories from all sorts of different periods and places. And they ask how the tales we tell and the pictures we paint of peace and war influence us as individuals and shape the societies we live in.


Between war and peace: military involvement in peacebuilding
In this episode, Visualising Peace student Teddy Henderson interviews Lieutenant Colonel Henderson and Major McCord MBE about their experiences and understanding of Peace Operations within the British Military. Lt Col Henderson is currently the Commanding Officer of Aberdeen and Tayforth Officer Training Regiment (ATOTR) but had extensive prior experience deployed around the world on peace support operations, particularly in mentoring and building the capacity of national forces. Maj McCord has also deployed to many conflicts around the world, including peace operations, and has experienced life in the British Army from soldier through to Lt Col.  Maj McCord is currently the Officer in Command of A Squadron TUOTC (St Andrews University Officer Training Corps). This episode discusses the experiences of both individuals from their deployments and their perspectives on how military intervention can help in different peacebuilding processes, by bringing stability and protection to a conflict-stricken area. Operational success and failures are discussed and military training and awareness in response to the changing landscape of future conflict is explored. Ethical questions about external interventions and using violence against violence in efforts to build peace are also reflected upon.In response to an increasingly critical public view of military intervention, this podcast sheds some light on what military interventions look like, and what roles they can play in wider peace operations and conflict transformation.We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound editing by Teddy HendersonSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
55:47 4/24/24
Peace and Politics with Lord Jim Wallace
In this episode, Visualising Peace researcher Harris Siderfin interviews Lord Jim Wallace, Baron Wallace of Tankerness, about his career and the relationship between peace and politics in the UK.Lord Wallace is a Scottish Liberal Democrat politician with a long career of service in the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and the House of Lords, where he has been a life peer since 2007. He has held various ministerial positions during his time in government, including Deputy First Minister of Scotland, acting First Minister twice, Justice Minister and Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister. He trained initially in law, and in addition to his political career he is an advocate and member of the King's Council. He served as Advocate General for Scotland between 2010 and 2015, and he was Deputy Leader of the House of Lords from 2013 to 2015. He stood down as leader of the Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords in 2016 but retains an interest in human rights and constitutional affairs. Among other roles, he served as Moderator of the General Assembly of Scotland in 2021.In the episode, Lord Wallace reflects on his long career in politics and on the various ways in which he has seen politics and peacemaking intersect over that time. He reflects on the lack of political interest in solving conflict in Northern Ireland prior to John Major's premiership; on political debates about the first and second Gulf Wars, the renewal of Trident (as a nuclear deterrent), the UK's response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria; and on the limited discussions in Westminster about ways to address conflict in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia.  Lord Wallace is clear that peace is not as high a priority in political debates and campaigning as many other issues, and also that political understanding and discussion of peace-making (as opposed to peace-keeping) is somewhat lacking.Lord Wallace and Harris consider positive steps forward: for instance, more attention paid to justice, equality, mental health, climate change, poverty and discrimination, as key aspects of peacebuilding. Reflecting on his own faith, Lord Wallace also talks about the role that different religions and religious leaders can play in promoting peace both at home and abroad. Several times the conversation also turns to connections between democracy, debate and peacebuilding, with Lord Wallace stressing that increasingly combative, polarising modes of political discussion are driving more conflict. This ties into some work which the Visualising Peace team is doing on connections between peacebuilding and Responsible Debate (as outlined in the Young Academy of Scotland's Responsible Debate Charter).  We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Harris Siderfin and Zofia Guertin
46:57 3/27/24
Children, Childhoods and Child-Soldiering: critical lenses on war
In this podcast Alice interviews Dr Jana Tabak, an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Jana’s work focuses on children’s experiences of conflict in both the global south and the global north, and also on the role that our conceptions of childhood play in our habits of visualising war – and, indeed, in how our habits of visualising war shape how we view children and childhoods. More broadly she is interested in children’s political subjecthood and their ‘political becoming’: how ideas of children get deployed in global politics, how children’s agency as political actors gets constrained by adult frameworks, and what children can contribute to politics (and particularly to discussions of war and peace) when mechanisms for their inclusion work better. Together with Marshall Beier, Jana has edited two influential volumes on Children, Childhoods and Everyday Militarisms (in 2020) and on Childhoods in Peace and Conflict in 2021. These draw attention to the multiplicity of both real and imagined childhoods, and how different militarisms intersect with and inform different childhoods around the world. Some of Jana’s published work focuses particularly on representations and conceptions of child soldiering in different parts of the world. In 2020 she published a monograph called The Child and the World: Child-Soldiers and the Claim for Progress, along with a range of other articles on related topics; and her current project is looking specifically at recruitment of junior soldiers in the UK. The episode begins with discussion of our norms of visualising children and childhood, particularly how concepts of children/childhood get constructed in and for global politics. Jana stresses that such habits tend to exclude children as political subjects in the present, while including them as potential citizens in the future. More worryingly still, Jana notes, the reduction of conceptions of childhood to one idealised model can end up 'othering' children whose childhoods (through no fault of their own) differ from standard/Western expectations. We consider the tendency, when visualising children-in-war, to regard them as ‘passive skins’,  victims with no agency to shape their own fate; and we also ask how this shapes our understandings of war and conflict, not just views of children and/as victims. Jana helps us look critically at the many forms of militarism which touch different children's lives, and we spend some time considering how 'child soldiers' tend to be visualised, in comparison with junior recruits to (e.g.) the UK's armed forces. Along the way, Jana stresses the importance of doing research with children as co-producers of knowledge, and of exploring the blurred/maleable boundaries of both childhood and war. We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
53:06 2/21/24
Transitional place-making: Palestinian refugee experiences in Lebanon
This episode is a follow-up to an earlier conversation with Anne Lene Stein which focused on peace activism in Israel and Palestine.  We invited her back onto the podcast to share another important strand of research with us, based on her recent work with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. As several of our other episodes discuss, forced displacement is a recurring legacy of conflict all around the world. In recent years, wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, the DRC and Sudan (to name just a few) have displaced millions of people from their homes; and in recent months hundreds of thousands more people have been displaced within Gaza, sometimes multiple times. This is not a new phenomenon; as Anne underlines, Palestinians have been seeking sanctuary in many different places, for many years - including in Lebanon, where some Palestinians have been living as refugees for multiple generations. Anne begins the conversation by explaining what drove so many Palestinian refugees to Lebanon in the first place, over 70 years ago; and how many continue to live in supposedly temporary refugee camps around the country. She describes the challenging living conditions in these camps, the lack of freedom and rights for their inhabitants, and the ways in which the camps are governed and controlled by both internal and external forces. This leads to a particular focus of Anne's research: how young people, born and raised in these camps, construct their identities and visualise their futures. For many displaced Palestinians, retaining refugee status is crucial in holding on to the right to return home some day; but this comes with significant costs, perpetuating poverty and disenfranchisement. Anne discusses some of the ways in which young people in refugee camps in Lebanon try to overcome the stigma attached to being displaced, pushing back against dominant narratives; how they use different media and methods to imagine 'home' in new ways, overcoming the 'politics of temporality'; and how they employ everyday acts of resistance to exercise agency and take more control over their lives. This gets us talking about peace imaginaries as well as habits of visualising forced displacement. We end the episode by considering what lessons we might learn from the experiences of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as we seek better ways to support people newly displaced by conflict. As Anne underlines, we need to find political - not just humanitarian - solutions; and we should invest in solutions that maximise refugee rights and avoid re-victimising people. We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
46:05 2/14/24
AI-enabled military technologies: technology, ethics, trust, storytelling
In this podcast Alice interviews two guests, both based at the US Army War College and both researching AI-enabled military technologies. LTC Dr Paul Lushenko is the Director of Special Operations and a Faculty Instructor in the U.S. Army War College’s Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations. Paul has combined an academic career with regular military deployments, directing intelligence operations at the Battalion, Combined Task Force, and Joint Task Force levels. He is the co-editor of Drones and Global Order: Implications of Remote Warfare for International Society (2022), which studies the implications of drone warfare on global politics. With colleague Shyam Raman he has also co-authored Legitimacy of Drone Warfare: Evaluating Public Perceptions (Routledge in 2024), which explores public’s perceptions of legitimate drone strikes. Dr Jerilyn Packer is an award-winning educator, specialising in the US military school system. Twelve years ago she transitioned into educational leadership, which enables her to engage in reflective practices and collaborative coaching with district and school leaders in the Department of Defense Education Activity. Skilled in strategic planning, professional learning, and data analysis, she partners with senior leaders to identify educational gaps and craft targeted solutions to improve achievement. Dr. Packer is currently running a research project which uses interviews and focus groups among senior officers to determine what shapes their trust in AI-enabled military technologies. Going forward, she hopes to employ this research in an upcoming role within the Senior Executive Service, so her findings will have broad policy impact. Paul and Jerilyn help us grapple with recent technological developments in warfare which have huge implications for how governments, militaries and the public visualise conflict – and indeed peacekeeping – now and in the future. Indeed, as Paul’s 2022 edited volume underlines, drone warfare and AI require us to rethink the structural and normative pillars of global order. Between them, they discuss recent developments in drones and AI technologies; their increasing incorporation into military arsenals, strategy and practice; barriers to their use such as concerns around ethics, governance and trust; and the ways in which they are changing our habits of visualising war itself. Among other topics, we touch on the dehumanising, racist and colonial dimensions of drone warfare; the moral questions posed by asymmetric/'riskless'/'post-heroic' conflict; and connections between Greek myths, dystopian science fiction and the new war-storytelling patterns that are increasingly inspired by AI. This episode offers important reflections, based on both Paul and Jerilyn's research, into the challenges and concerns of professionals who find themselves in an often 'uneasy partnership' with emerging military technologies, and poses critical questions about wider public understandings and perceptions. We hope you find the discussion interesting. Paul dives deeper into these important topics in recent articles 'Trust but Verify' and 'AI and the future of warfare'.  For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
77:30 1/31/24
Visualising action: pre-battle speeches in ancient Judaism
In this episode, Alice interviews Dr Joseph Scales, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder in Norway. This podcast is the second part of a pair looking at the history and representation of conflict in ancient Judea.  In part 1, Conflict and Identity in Ancient Judaism, Joe gave us a whirlwind tour of a whole series of conflicts that shaped Jewish history from around 175 BCE through to the early second century CE – looking particularly at their impact on Jewish nationhood and identity formation. That conversation provides really useful context for this epsiode, which dives deep into some of the textual sources for Jewish conflict history in antiquity. Joe draws particularly on his current research project, called Fighting Talk: Motivating Violence in Ancient Judaism, which examines the nature of pre-battle speeches in ancient Jewish texts and their relationship to established forms of pre-battle exhortation in Greek and Roman sources. As Joe has written: ‘People resort to violence for all kinds of reasons. In the interests of peace, it is essential to understand how people may be incited toward organised violence. …In warfare, combatants are often incited towards their actions by others, and in the ancient world, such incitement frequently took the form of a pre-battle speech: Greek, Roman and Jewish literature contains many examples.’ In unpicking a wide range of ancient pre-battle speeches, and exploring recurring components (such as the othering of enemies, claims about the just or necessary nature of upcoming violence, a commander’s handling of his soldiers’ fears, and visualisations of success), Joe’s research contributes not only to a deeper understanding of how warfare was conceptualised and driven in antiquity but also to wider reflections on how organised violence can be conceptualised, justified and incited today.We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
52:17 1/24/24
Conflict and Identity in ancient Judaism
In this episode, Alice interviews Dr Joseph Scales, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder in Norway. Joe’s doctoral research analysed spaces of Jewish identity in ancient Galilee, looking particularly at the impact of material culture on personal, communal and regional identity formation during the Hasmonean dynasty, from 100 BCE onwards. His book Galiliean Spaces of Identity will be published in 2024.    Joe’s work on Jewish and Hellenistic identities, and their cross-cultural interactions, has led to further research on ancient Jewish texts written in Greek, which enable us to understand aspects of the shared culture of the ancient Mediterranean world; and he has become very interested in women’s practices and rituals in Judaism. Both of these research interests feed into his current project, called Fighting Talk: Motivating Violence in Ancient Judaism, which examines the nature of pre-battle speeches in ancient Jewish texts and their relationship to established forms of pre-battle exhortation in Greek and Roman sources. Because the politics of the region in this period are so complex, we have recorded a Part 1 and a Part 2 for this podcast. In this episode, Part 1, Joe  talks us through Jewish interactions with other groups and political powers in the region from around 175BCE to the early 2nd century CE – to help us understand the history of Judea and Jerusalem, and the ways in which ongoing conflict (near and far) shaped Jewish practice and identity, not just at the time but for many centuries afterwards. In Part 2 (which we hope you will also listen to, because it’s super interesting!), Joe  dives deep into some of the textual sources from the period, looking particularly at the ways in which they visualised battle itself and justified war. We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
35:04 1/17/24
Visualising a Sustainable Future through Gaming with Mark Wong
In this episode, Visualising Peace student Madighan Ryan interviews Dr. Mark Wong, a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Research Methods, and the Deputy Head of Urban Studies, at the University of Glasgow. Dr. Wong has extensive expertise in the fields of responsible AI and the Just Transition, and has been an advisor in this capacity to the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland, amongst other institutions. He is also the principal investigator of the interdisciplinary Innovator’s Assemble Project at the University of Glasgow, which produced the subject of this podcast: SEvEN: Seven voices, One Future, a videogame aimed at building an environmentally sustainable future for Scotland by highlighting Minoritized Ethnic people’s voices and the importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. SEvEN was recently nominated in the Spirit of Scotland Category for the Scottish Games Awards.This episode draws on Madighan Ryan's research into the synergies between environmental sustainability and peace. She is looking at everything from the importance of inner peace in remaining resilient as a member of the climate movement, to the necessity of a healthy environment in lowering risk of scarcity and geopolitical conflict. Her aim is to emphasize that peacebuilding and environmental action are not  two separate entities but intimately connected. Madighan is particularly keen to draw on conversations with the wider Visualising Peace team about the importance of involving traditionally marginalised groups and minoritised voices in conversations that connect climate and peacebuilding, and it was for this reason that she invited Dr Wong to share his innovate gaming project with listeners.In the first part of the podcast, Dr. Wong establishes the inseparability of peace and sustainability. Not only is mitigating and adapting to climate change necessary for a peaceful future, Dr. Wong emphasises that a peaceful future will only be possible if the voices of minoritised ethnic peoples are centred in conversations surrounding a just transition towards an environmentally and socially sustainable future. The rest of the podcast is a deep dive into the details of SEvEN. Dr. Wong speaks on everything from design choices, to the real-life impact of SEvEN, to the effectiveness of video games as a tool to visualise peace.As Dr. Wong paints a picture of SEvEN, it becomes evident that this video game is a means of visualising peace in two different and interconnected capacities. First, the game helps players visualise peace and sustainability as a process that should centre minoritised ethnic peoples’ voices and traditional knowledge. Players learn the importance of listening and of supporting this type of knowledge. Second, the process itself of co-designing the video game with different industry partners in a collaborative manner does so much to teach the designers and to bolster community involvement. The way in which SEvEN was produced is itself an example of peacebuilding.Please enjoy this episode as we immerse ourselves into the sustainable world of SEvEN and explore gaming as a means of visualising peace! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising Peace website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Madighan Ryan
35:02 1/8/24
Peace activism in Israel and Palestine
In this episode, Alice interviews Anne Lene Stein, a PhD Student in the Department of Political Science at Lund University, in Sweden. With a background in both social anthropology and peace-and-conflict studies, Anne’s research over the past ten years has focused on peace activism in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon (among other places). She is particularly interested in protest and resistance in asymmetrical conflict settings, and has conducted several rounds of fieldwork in the region to understand better how different peace movements have been operating and evolving. Her most recent visits to Israel and Palestine were in summer 2023, before the latest tragic escalation in the conflict. While there, she talked with both Palestinian and Israeli peace campaigners and anti-occupation activists, and observed joint Israeli-Palestinian protests and commemoration events. In the wake of Hamas’ brutal attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7th, and Israel’s sustained bombing of Gaza over the following weeks, peace in the region looks further away than ever – but work towards peace is all the more urgent.In the podcast, Anne outlines a brief history of peace activism in both Israel and Palestine, discussing the impact which different events in the long-running conflict have had. She reflects on increasing hostility towards peace activists, particularly in Israel; on creative approaches to peacebuilding on both sides, including the Palestinian concept of Sumud ('steadfastness') as a form of non-violent resistance; on the opportunities and challenges of bi-national peace campaigning; and shifts in language and focus from peace-building to anti-occupation activism. She also discusses the theory of 'agonistic' peacebuilding, which asks us to distinguish between enemy and adversary, antagonism and agonism, and which aims to make space for ongoing contestation and multiple truths in peacebuilding processes. As Anne explains, the word 'peace' has itself become a contested concept over time in Israel and Palestine, with different communities visualising it in very different ways. As a result, while many are still working and hoping for peace, the word is used less and less often. Given the world-building nature of language and narratives, we discuss what the implications are for the future if people no longer feel able to articulate their aspirations as peace-work. Despite all the obstacles, and the devastating impact of recent events, Anne cites activists on both sides who insist that accepting the ongoing violence is not an option. In their words, 'if we keep meeting, partnering, taking action - we will break the cycle'.We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
53:08 12/19/23
Visualising peace and conflict with J.R.R. Tolkien
In this episode, Visualising Peace student Albert Surinach I Campos interviews Prof. Giuseppe Pezzini, Associate Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. While Prof. Pezzini's main area of research is in Classics, his interests extend beyond the ancient world, focussing particularly on Tolkien life and literary corpus. He is set to publish a monograph soon on Tolkien’s theory of imagination, stemming from his work as Tolkien Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies and a collaboration with the ITIA Institute at the University of St Andrews, where he previously taught. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and his other works have had a profound impact in the 20th and 21st century. While film versions of his books have particularly influenced habits of visualising war, Tolkien's views on peace have lots of relevance in the modern world. In this episode we discuss how peace and peacebuilding get represented in Tolkien’s corpus, the author’s personal experiences of war, and his attitude to pacifism. The conversation falls into four parts, exploring ideas of peace via Tolkien's representation of the four main races of Middle-Earth: elves, orcs, dwarves and men. One feature of Tolkien’s works is his nostalgic view of a world in steady decline. After a glorious golden age, the successive eras of mortals are increasingly damaged by constant wars and injustices. Here, we see a very clear parallel with the Golden Age of antiquity, as well as with other mythologies throughout the world. No race embodies this diminishing 'golden age' as much as the elves, and discussion of them gets us thinking about Tolkien's nuanced perspectives on peace. To what extent is peace modelled as an escape (available only to some), as an ideal rather than a feasible, sustainable reality? And what can other characters - like the Ents - contribute to our understanding of why people go to war and what peacebuilding might involve? Sauron and Orcs come particularly to mind when we visualise war in The Lord of the Rings. As Prof. Pezzini explains, the mythology behind orcs is murky, with their origins purposefully hidden, and they act much of the time as a stand-in for 'the other', a faceless, evil enemy that is easily demonised. In recent times, they have made their way into popular culture; for instance, some Ukrainians have referred to Russian soldiers as 'orcs'. However, Prof Pezzini reminds us that Tolkien's representation of orcs (outlined in a letter to his son) included some empathy and pity, not just dehumanisation.  Similarly, his representation of dwarves and men encompasses both belligerence and more positive qualities, and this enables Tolkien to explore aspects of both war and peace with greater nuance. While reflecting on the more militarising nature of film versions of Tolkien's books, Prof. Pezzini helps us to unpick different ways of visualising war and peace across his literary corpus, in relation to his own wartime experiences, offering lots of food for thought in relation to contemporary conflict.  We hope you enjoy this episode, as we travel to the fascinating world of Middle-Earth while trying to make sense of our own understanding of peace-building in the real world. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Albert Surinach I Campos
69:46 12/17/23
Principled Impartiality and Accompaniment in Peacebuilding
In this episode, Visualising Peace student Robert Rayner interviews Debby Flack. Debby served as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) with EAPPI in Palestine and Israel. EAPPI is a World Council of Churches programme which sends human rights monitors to Palestine and Israel for three months at a time. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel was formed in response to a 2002 call from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to create an international peacekeeping presence in Palestine. EAs form multinational teams which provide an impartial, nonviolent 24/7 protective presence across the West Bank. While the World Council of Churches and many organisations which send EAs are Christian organisations, the programme sends those of all faiths and none. The programme has evacuated EAs during the most recent escalation of the conflict.Debby is a Quaker from Godalming in Surrey, who was trained and served in the South Hebron Hills earlier this year (2023). Robert discusses with her what an ‘average’ day as an EA looked like, what accompaniment actually is, and why ‘principled impartiality’ is so important. Debby explains how her experience has shaped her life back home, how it has led to her current advocacy and activism and the importance of local engagement for peace. During the podcast, she discusses both the pragmatic and more abstract aspects of the work, from spiritual practices for peacekeepers to how to see and understand both sides of a deep-rooted conflict. She describes the importance of EAs’ protective presence, especially against the backdrop of the current violent flareup of the conflict, in the wake of Hamas' attacks on October 7th and Israel's military response.This episode reflects Robert's wider research interests in the role of religion in peacebuilding, and what the advantages and disadvantages of neutrality are for NGOs working in conflict-affected areas.We hope you find the conversation interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, including some of Robert’s museum entries on Neutrality, Impartiality and EAPPI, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising Peace website.
40:01 12/11/23
War-to-Peace transitions with Jaremey McMullin
In this episode, Alice interviews Dr Jaremey McMullin, a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. Jaremey’s research spans a wide range of topics, from ex-combatant disarmament and veteran reintegration to youth peacebuilding and political participation in post-conflict contexts. His 2013 monograph Ex-Combatants and the Post-Conflict State: Challenges of Reintegration examines disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration policies and experiences via four case studies, in Namibia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Liberia. He is particularly interested in the impacts of reintegration and veterans’ assistance programmes on people’s post-conflict identities, and also in the consequences of incomplete reintegration for ongoing conflict transformation. As well as working in Africa, he has examined veterans’ assistance programmes in the US, producing (among other outputs) a short documentary called Silkies (2020) on the prevention of veteran suicide. He has written several reports for the Disarmament, Demoblisation and Reintegration section at the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, and he serves on the Research Working Group of the Integrated DDR Training Group.In the podcast, Jaremey helps us to visualise the war-to-peace transitions experienced by ex-combatants and veterans as life-long journeys, which can be injurious for many. He exposes the myth of 'return' (as if people can simply pick up the threads of their pre-war lives); discusses differences in perceptions and framings of ex-combatants and veterans; and reflects on the limitations of many DDR programmes. This leads to broader discussion of the hard work of peacebuilding. Among other work, Jaremey has produced a documentary film series on the everyday work of peacebuilding called Liberia: Legacies of Peace. As Jaremey  explains, the five films ‘profile people at every level of Liberian society engaged in the hard work of war-to-peace transition.’ He has developed a particular interest in youth peacebuilding processes and identities, and his current project, Motorcycling as Peacebuilding in Liberia, examines the experiences of groups of ex-combatant and conflict-affected youth in Liberia who have become motorcycle taxi drivers – overcoming insecurity and marginalisation, and emerging as active peacebuilders themselves. In exploring Jaremey's work in this space, we discuss the ethics and dynamics of Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Jaremey's efforts to involve young peacebuilders as knowledge-producers and research designers, rather than as objects of study. He sets out his approach in Hustling, Cycling, Peacebuilding and What is the benefit of this project?, among other publications.We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
71:45 11/29/23
Visualising the Thirty Years' War with Steve Murdoch
In this episode, Alice interviews Prof. Steve Murdoch, Head of Military History at the Swedish Defence University. Before taking up that role, Steve was a professor of military history at the University of St Andrews, and he has been a generous supporter of the Visualising War project from its start. Steve’s research focuses on Scottish and Scandinavian relations in the early modern period. He has worked particularly on the Thirty Years War, fought from 1618-1648; and he has also written a range of books and articles about Scottish maritime warfare and wider Scottish experiences (both military and civilian) of conflict in this period. As both a teacher and researcher, Steve thinks critically about how and why we do military history – about our blindspots and biases, the evolution of historical events into sometimes mythical narratives, the voices we don’t hear from, and the relevance of military history to contemporary military thinking and practice.  We discuss all of this and more in the podcast epsiode. Steve begins by giving us an overview of the complex set of events that became known as the Thirty Years War. He helps us to visualise its scale and wide-ranging locations, overlaps with other conflicts, and the shifting agenda and alliances of those taking part. He also gets us looking critically at how sources from the time represented events and participants, and how later scholarship has engaged with them. This gets us talking about the dominance of 'great battles' and 'big personalities' in past and present habits of visualising the Thirty Years War; at the distorting effects of certain biases in both sources and scholarship; and at what we gain when we pay more attention to ordinary people's voices. For instance, Steve shares with us some letters written by both soldiers and commanders which help us to track the everyday experiences and concerns of those involved, which contrast strongly with the self-aggrandizing rhetoric of some better-known sources; and he also helps us to visualise how the Thirty Years War was experienced by a range of women, who lost family or were displaced (or both) in the conflict.Steve ends by reflecting on the kinds of peacebuilding achieved (and not achieved) by the Peace of Westphalia. He gives us some fascinating insights into the work of two Scottish diplomats, Sir Robert Anstruther and Sir James Spens, who were intimately involved in negotiations between different sides; and he discusses the ongoing ripple effects of the Thirty Years War after its official conclusion, for ordinary people as well as international relations. All in all, he helps us to visualise this complex period of conflict - which impacted many different countries - from a wide and refreshing range of perspectives. We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
65:09 11/1/23
Peace and post-trauma recovery in Northern Ireland
In this episode, Visualising Peace students Otilia and Harris interview Johanna McMullan and Paul Gallagher who are trained educators at the Widows Against Violence Empowerment (WAVE) Centre. WAVE is the largest cross-community victim group for people who have been affected by conflict in Northern Ireland from 1968-1998. While The Troubles officially ended over 25 years ago, past violence, current tensions and ongoing traumas continue to impact people today.  WAVE promotes peace, reconciliation, and trauma recovery through 5 different centres and 15 satellite projects across Northern Ireland.  Johanna is a senior Nursing and Midwifery lecturer at Queens University in Belfast. For over a decade, Johanna has been working with the Wave Trauma Centre in Belfast where she delivers citizen education programs and other trauma-informed training. Paul came to WAVE in 2010 for support after he was severely injured in 1994, having being shot 6 times. Today, through trauma recovery at WAVE, Paul has obtained his master’s degree in conflict reconciliation and social justice and his PhD thesis in Sociology. Throughout the conversation, Paul and Johanna share their insights into how education through loving and caring practices enable victims to recover from trauma and support the fragile, yet lasting peace in Northern Ireland. In the episode, Johanna first delves into the different aspects of love and care that are important to consider when designing trauma-informed education for citizens and health-care professionals. Paul then shares his personal story of how a sense of communal care and inner peace were crucial for his own healing, discussing also how trauma affects the human mind and body over time. Both Johanna and Paul emphasise that the path towards sustaining peace – in Northern Ireland and elsewhere – depends on the collective reflection and co-operation of a caring community. To build such a community in practice, WAVE brings citizen education to the forefront of their work; their trainers bring different generations together in remembering the conflict and also in promoting trauma recovery through multiple generations. We hope you find our conversation interesting.For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising Peace website. Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Harris Siderfin 
41:59 8/2/23
Peace and Conflict in Jivana Yoga
In this episode, Otilia interviews Jonathan Fisher, a founding member of the Sadvidya Foundation, which works to preserve ancient Eastern teachings of yogic philosophy. These teachings aim to promote peace and inner happiness for all humanity. Guided by dedicated practitioners, the foundation offers programs, publications and retreats to bring this ancient belief system to the modern world. In discussion with Otilia, Jonathan discusses his personal views and some central tenets of the yogic philosophy that he teaches. Along the way, his reflections raise some interesting questions about what drives conflict amongst humans, and  what peace and peace-building look like through a yogic lens.The episode begins with Jonathan discussing the concepts of love, care, and peace from the perspective of yogic philosophy. He reflects on the pursuit of happiness as something which can both foster peace and bring about conflict. He stresses the importance of seeking happiness without becoming too 'attached' to the things, places or activities that make us happy, since attachment can lead in time to disappointment, frustration, competition with others and conflict. The conversation then focuses on worldly detachment as a practical (not just cerebral) route to peace, from the yogic perspective. Jonathan and Otilia end by discussing the relationship between internal and external peace, and Jonathan emphasises the importance of education within the family as well as in more public settings for laying the foundations for both. The conversation underscores the value of delving deeper into different belief-systems, philosophies and practices from all around the world, to better understand how peace and conflict have been conceptualised by others, and to explore different approaches to achieving or resisting them. This conversation offers just a brief flavour of the rich insights that yogic philosophy can offer into how we visualise peace and reduce conflict, both personally and geopolitically, and we are grateful to Jonathan for sharing his personal views and pointing us in some interesting new directions. As the Visualising Peace team continues to research care, self-care, inner peace and their impact on interpersonal, intergroup and international peace-building efforts, we will dig into some of the questions which Jonathan's reflections raise and expand our scope to research a range of belief systems. We hope you find Otilia and Jonathan's conversation interesting. For more information about the University of St Andrews’ Visualising Peace project, please visit our website. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link.Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
28:44 7/12/23
Taking love and care seriously in peace and conflict studies
In this episode, Visualising Peace student Otilia Meden interviews Dr Roxani Krystalli, a lecturer in International Relations at the University of St Andrews. Roxani's work covers a broad range of topics, from storytelling in politics to the presence of care, beauty and joy in times of war. She applies feminist approaches to peace and conflict studies, and brings over a decade of experience as a practitioner in humanitarian action, transitional justice, and peacebuilding to her academic work.  Roxani is in the final stages of writing a book entitled Good Victims, in which she examines how humanitarian practitioners, transitional justice professionals, peacebuilders, and people who identify as victims of violence in the wake of war construct and contest the politics and hierarchies of victimhood. She also studies the politics of nature and place, researching how different landscapes can illuminate and shape people's experiences of peace and conflict. Together with her colleague, Dr. Philipp Schulz from the University of Bremen, she is embarking on a major new study called 'A different kind of war story: centring love and care in peace and conflict studies'. They have outlined their approach in this recent article, where they identify their key research question as follows: 'How can centering practices of love and care illuminate different pathways for understanding the remaking of worlds in the wake of violence?'  During the podcast, Roxani explains her reasons for embarking on this important work and what difference she hopes it will make to how we understand and approach war and peace. She also reflects on the value of taking love and care into account in broader political contexts, emphasising how vital loving and caring practices are to all  humans. Drawing on her experience of peacebuilding work on the ground, Roxani highlights the subtle acts of care and love that regularly occur in areas affected by conflict. Despite their recurring importance in everyday life, little attention gets paid in peacebuilding theory to the powerful impact which they can have. In noting this, Roxani invites us to think carefully about the voices and experiences of peace and conflict that often get marginalised, and who we should consciously make space for in future conversations. She suggests that by looking beyond conventional academia, we can pay attention to, and recognise different perceptions of love, care, and peace, which is an essential aspect of taking love and care seriously in peacebuilding.Audre Lorde discusses (self-) and communal care, in the books A Burst of Light and Sister Outsider. On self-care beyond candles and baths, Roxani recommends this recent article. The Mercy Corps project and publications led by Dr Kim Howe which Roxani references on the podcast are available here. Roxani also references bell hooks’ conceptualisation of love as a practice in the book All About Love; and Q Manivannan’s work on care, grief, and protest.For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising Peace website. Music by Jonathan Young; sound mixing by Zofia Guertin.
30:06 5/3/23
A short tour of our virtual Museum of Peace
In this episode, Alice introduces the Visualising Peace project's virtual Museum of Peace. (To listen to the tour with a set of images showcasing some of the museum's contents, please follow this link.)Alice begins by outlining the wider research questions which members of the Visualising Peace team have been exploring:What recurring stories do individuals and communities tell about war’s aftermath, conflict resolution, peace and peace-building in art, text, film, photography, news reports, museums, music, sculpture, gaming, and other such media?Are narratives of peace always constructed in relation to narratives of war? And what (if anything) makes any given narrative identifiable as a ‘peace story’? Whose narratives or ideas of peace dominate in different parts of the world, and why?And what role can peace-storytelling play in peace-building? As she explains, we are surrounded by images and narratives of war, but much less 'literate' in peace and peace-building. Our virtual museum aims to make a modest contribution to wider efforts to render peace-making more visible, more discussed, and better understood, by generating more conversation about what peace looks like to each of us. Our aim is to harness the power of story-sharing to illuminate different habits of visualising peace and their influence (actual or potential) on how it is experienced, promoted, created and sustained. Our project is both disruptive of entrenched habits and generative of new or different ways of thinking about, and working towards, peace. By juxtaposing a myriad – or a kaleidoscope – of different manifestations of peace, we aim to question, challenge and stretch assumptions and interpretative frameworks; and we hope that our array of ‘exhibits’ not only helps to make peace more visible and more broadly understood but also more tangible and realisable in the everyday.  In the podcast, Alice tours listeners through a range of items in each virtual room, highlighting the diversity of media and perspectives. She reflects on the ethics of visualising peace for others, and also on the importance - and challenges - of incorporating different voices and experiences. The museum was conceived as a collaborative project, and Alice encourages museum visitors to offer feedback and suggestions for new items to include in the museum. As she explains, the structure of the museum encourages visitors to explore open-mindedly, and we hope that each visit to the museum represents an ongoing process of critical discovery of possibly endless conceptualisations. The ideas and images of peace that we have curated are not to be taken didactically; they merely offer an opening to further reflection and inquiry. We do not wish this project to be seen as the be-all and end-all of how one should or could visualize peace. Rather, it is a metaphorical call to (lay down) arms in a collaborative, open-ended exploration of prevailing habits and alternative ways of picturing, framing, evoking and engendering peace, through many different lenses. Inclusive conversation on this topic is important because peace is conceived and made by all of us, not just by experts. We hope you enjoy this tour of our peace museum. For a version of our podcast with images and close captions, please use this link. You can find out more about the Visualising Peace project on our website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
25:02 4/19/23
Images at war: conflict, peace and photography and Sri Lanka
In this episode, Alice interviews Dr Vindhya Buthpitiya, a St Andrews-based anthropologist who works at the intersection between conflict and visual culture. Her research focuses particularly on the production and circulation of images within the context of the Sri Lankan civil war, and she has published a wide range of articles looking at both photography and cinema, and the roles that they can play in documenting ethno-nationalist conflict and in facilitating civilian resistance, among other political impacts. Her work has lots to teach us about the evolution of different technologies and practices for visualising, remembering, preventing and also generating conflict, and the ways in which even personal photography can be co-opted in times of war and in post-war contexts for political ends. In the podcast, Vindhya explains the background to Sri Lanka's civil war; the contours of the conflict from 1983-2009; and some of the human rights violations and war crimes committed on both sides. She also reflects on the fragility of the 'peace',  declared by the Sri Lankan state but not recognised or experienced by everyone on the ground, thanks to ongoing securitisation and a lack of post-conflict justice, among other challenges. Alongside this, she also documents the changing history of photography in Sri Lanka, from the 1970s to the present day, and discusses how photographic practices have intersected over time with the dynamics of the civil war. Vindhya discusses several genres of photography from this period: atrocity photographs, domestic/family footage, official ID photos, and images used in memorialisation. In outlining the various ways in which both Tamils and the Sri Lankan state weaponised atrocity images, she helps us grasp the ways in which photography can both legitimise and help to generate violence: by enlisting new people to a cause, heroising sacrifice, dehumanising the enemy, making violence seem spectacular, and socialising the civilian population to support and even celebrate war. We talk about the advent of phone cameras and the switch from analogue to digital, which enabled lots more documentation of atrocities, and also led to such images being more accessible to international audiences. Vindhya reflects on the complex afterlife of many photographs taken during the Sri Lankan civil war, which have been put to competing uses by different sides of the conflict: circulated as evidence of war crimes or 'terrorism' on the one hand, and dismissed as 'fake news' on the other. In some ways, Sri Lanka's civil war continues to be fought out via such images, and via the documentaries and post-conflict justice campaigns that  draw on them.This leads us to talk more about the ongoing use of poignant family footage and ID photographs amongst advocacy groups, to bear witness to and demand justice for men, women and children who were forcibly disappeared. Vindhya also talks us through the political use of memorial photographs, as another aspect of civilian resistance and war documentation. We reflect on both the power and the impotence of photography, and its limitations as well as potential to help resolve conflicts and move countries like Sri Lanka closer to some kind of post-conflict resolution.We hope you find our discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
58:03 4/5/23
Migration, Mobility and Place with Elena Isayev
This episode continues our exploration of forced migration by discussing ancient concepts of mobility, migration and place with Prof. Elena Isayev. An ancient historian by training, Elena's early research focused on social organisation and mobility in southern Italy from the 4th to the 1st centuries BC. She has since drawn on that deep history to apply a ‘long durée perspective’ to contemporary understandings of mobility, migration, displacement and belonging. Elena has published a wide range of books and articles, including Migration, Mobility and Place in Ancient Italy  (2017), a  volume with Evan Jewell, Displacement and the Humanities, and the ground-breaking article 'Between hospitality and asylum: a historical perspective on displaced agency'. She has founded or contributes to a range of interdisciplinary projects which experiment with new conceptual frameworks for visualising migration in order to influence policy-making and practice in the 21st century. These include Routes, Imagining Futures, Campus in Camps, and the Al Maeisha project.  Her research has been influential in shifting habits of viewing, imagining and representing displacement, refugees, asylum-seekers and mobility as an experience. During our conversation, Elena shared valuable insights into ancient experiences and discourses of migration. As she argues, ‘a high level of human mobility was not exceptional among Mediterranean communities. Indeed, it was built into the way that society functioned...'. Building on this, she unsettles all sorts of modern assumptions. We discuss the language used in different periods and places to define (and sometimes exclude or demonise) people on the move. In talking us through the ancient Greek concept of xenia (hospitality), Elena asks important questions about networks of connection, reciprocity, interdependence, moral responsibilities, shifting definitions of sovereignty, and why some migrants were/are seen as 'threats'.  Along the way she makes important points about changing concepts of space and place. Unsurprisingly, migration was conceived differently in a time before formal borders; similarly, belonging and inhabiting were conceptualised and experienced differently, which in turn shaped how 'inside(rs)' and 'outside(rs)' were perceived.We talk about a range of forced migrants: slaves, people fleeing war, people displaced by environmental crises. Elena explains that our ancient sources spend relatively little time reflecting on their fates. Even so, she is able to dive into texts that show how ancient asylum-seekers appealed to different people and places, and to reflect on the various ways in which they were treated, and how hospitality was politicised. Elena draws parallels between ancient asylum-seekers waiting in the liminal spaces of Greek sanctuaries, who had to be resourceful in appealing to potential hosts, and long-term inhabitants of refugee camps in Palestine, who challenge their existence as liminal, employing ‘innovative, influential, exceptional politics' to expose the refugee camp not as external to society but part of its making. To find out more, please visit our project website. Music composed by Jonathan Young; sound mixing by Zofia Guertin
72:47 3/29/23
Refugee Integration through Language and the Arts with Alison Phipps
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict. Alice interviews Prof. Alison Phipps, a Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow and UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Language and the Arts. Alongside her academic work, Alison is Co-Convener of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network, an Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council, and she also chairs the New Scots Core Group for Refugee Integration in partnership with Scottish Government and the Scottish Refugee Council, among other high-profile advocacy and policy-making roles. Alison is in regular demand as a speaker and commentator, especially on refugee issues; and in 2012, she was awarded an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Studies. In the podcast, we talk about contemporary discourses of migration, in particular the dehumanising tropes that are used to generate fear and a sense of threat ('swarms', 'invasion', 'floods', etc). Alison reflects on the importance of decolonising the language we use to talk about refugees and asylum seekers, and she helps us see the immense value of going to other languages to explore how they visualise and articulate migration and mobility. Words are world-building; but the complexity of meaning that we find when we compare expressions in different languages helps us to nuance our understanding and rethink the attitudes that our own words embody. This in turn can help decontaminate hostile discourses and de-escalate the wars being waged against people whom we are taught (by news headlines and political rhetoric) to feel afraid of. This leads to discussion of the impact that language learning can have on refugee integration. Crucially, Alison advocates for host populations learning refugee languages, and not simply the other way around. She talks particularly about a project (run by colleague Giovanna Fassetta) in which Scottish primary school teachers learn Arabic from trauma-informed colleagues in Gaza, so that they can sympathise and celebrate with refugee children in their classrooms in their own language. We also talk more generally about what host populations can learn from refugee communities about how to handle different kinds of trauma and how to care for trauma-affected people, with refugees leading the way as experts-by-experience in this space. As Alison outlines, a well-thought-through integration strategy generates an environment of mutual learning, rather than imposing an expectation on refugees (who are handling many different challenges all at once) to do all the learning and adaptation themselves. Along the way, we discuss the role that the arts more broadly can play in deepening understanding, reducing fear and defusing hostile rhetoric around forced migration. Alison has a wealth of expertise of working through drama, film and other art forms,  and she reflects on what it takes to amplify indigenous voices and empower people with lived experience of forced migration to take charge of the discourse themselves. We hope you enjoy the episode. To find out more about our wider project on Visualising Forced Migration, please visit our website. If you have any questions or want to contribute to our ongoing discussions, please do get in touch. You can follow us on social media or contact us directly by emailing us at We look forward to hearing from you! Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young. The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.
54:07 3/22/23
Mediation and Migration: from Odesa to Dundee with Hanna Dushkova
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict. Alice interviews Hanna Dushkova, a Ukrainian lawyer and trained mediator who left Ukraine and travelled to Scotland as a refugee in July 2022.Hanna qualified as a lawyer in 2013, and got her advocate’s licence in 2018. While working to resolve disputes between conflicting parties through the courts, Hanna became interested in mediation – as a constructive and much cheaper alternative to litigation – and in 2019 she qualified as a family mediator with the League of Mediators of Ukraine. Since then she has not only practised as a trained mediator herself but she has also delivered lots of mediation training to others. Among other initiatives, she set up a mediation hub in a local school; and she developed a business delivering workshops on communication skills, non-violent conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence, for adults and children.When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Hanna’s work began to pivot towards crisis mediation, particularly helping to resolve disputes between family members separated by the conflict. Then in July 2022 Hanna herself was displaced from her home in Odesa and came as a refugee to Scotland, along with her husband Vitalii Diakov. She is now based in Dundee, where she has been drawing on her expertise as a mediator to support other Ukrainian refugees housed in temporary accommodation alongside her.In the episode Hanna discusses the power of mediation not just to resolve but also to prevent conflict. She discusses some of the 'soft skills' that mediation training helps people develop, such as active listening, emotional awareness and the ability to see disputes from multiple perspectives. These are important skills in peaceful times, but they become even more crucial in times of conflict. As Hanna explains, war brings all sorts of disruption and stress, leading to many more people experiencing family conflicts, financial disputes and personal trauma. She talks us through some of the cases she has dealt with since the war began, helping separated families to work together to find solutions amid the wider conflict of ongoing war.Hanna also shares her own personal experience of waking up to discover that Russia had invaded on 24th February 2022, and the challenging decision-making that followed as she and other family members decided whether or not to leave or stay. She details the physical and emotional impacts of living in constant fear of bombardment and death; and talks us through the most difficult decision of her life, to pack up all her belongings, hopes and dreams and leave Ukraine for an unknown destination. Hanna shares her first impressions of Scotland, the support she has received, and the challenges that she and other refugees have faced. And she discusses the work she has begun in Dundee, putting her mediation skills to the service of other refugees, to help them cope with their displacement, develop new workplaces skills, and integrate with the local community. Hanna urges us to visualise forced migrants as people of great strength, who take on challenge after challenge and do not give up.We hope you enjoy the episode. You can read more about Hanna and Vitalii's work to help Ukrainians deal with the trauma of forced migration, integrate into their new communities, and move forward with their lives on their websiteUkrainians Together. If you want to find out more about our wider work on Visualising Forced Migration, you can visit our project website.Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young. The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.
58:38 3/15/23
The Ungrateful Refugee with Dina Nayeri
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict. Alice interviews Dina Nayeri, an author and lecturer in creative writing at the University of St Andrews. Dina spent her early years in Isfahan in Iran, before fleeing with her mother and brother, after her mother was arrested for converting to Christianity. They ended up settling in the US, and Dina read Economics at Princeton, before embarking on a career as writer, publishing award-winning fiction and non-fiction. Much of her writing draws on her experiences as a refugee and reflects on many different aspects of displacement. Her first novel, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, tells the story of an Iranian girl and her family who experience separation and political oppression in post-Revolutionary Iran, and it conjures a rich imaginative space for exploring what it can be like not to flee, but always to dream of an alternative life in a different country and culture. Her second novel Refuge also revolves around the story of a young Iranian girl, who escapes to America as a child but leaves her father behind; and Dina takes the opportunity here to explore concepts of home and belonging as well as movement and separation, as experienced across many years. Turning to non-fiction, Dina’s multi-award-winning book The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You  weaves her own story together with a host of other real-life refugee stories, and asks important questions about the demands that people and governments make of refugees, while shining new light on what refugees themselves experience. Dina scrutinises attitudes to refugees and asylum-seekers further in her latest book, Who Gets Believed?, which explores practices of truth-telling alongside cultures of disbelief, and underlines what inequalities persist and are enacted when we are selective (and prejudiced) about who we believe. Dina has also collaborated with photographer Anna Bosch Miralpeix to write The Waiting Place, a book which documents the struggles and dreams of ten young refugees from Iran and Afghanistan in a refugee camp in Greece. Inspired by her own understanding of what waiting in a refugee camp can be like, and also by her childhood experiences of racism and bullying in the school setting as a newly-arrived refugee, Dina uses this book as a basis for schools workshops across Scotland and beyond, teaching the importance of empathy and compassion. In discussing each of Dina's books, the podcast touches on a range of important issues, from what refugees experience, over many decades, to what host communities often expect or demand of them. We also reflect on role that storytelling habits can play in shaping how we receive and respond to stories of forced migration, and Dina reminds us how culturally diverse those habits can be - and how important is it to be open to other people's storytelling traditions.  We hope you enjoy the episode. To find out more about our wider project on Visualising Forced Migration, please visit our website. If you have any questions or want to contribute to our ongoing discussions, please do get in touch. You can follow us on social media or contact us directly by emailing us at Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young. The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.
51:15 3/8/23
'In the Wars' with Dr Waheed Arian
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict. Alice interviews Dr Waheed Arian, author of In the Wars – an autobiography, published in 2021, which narrates his journey of forced migration from Afghanistan to the UK. Dr Arian was born in Kabul in 1983 and his childhood was dominated by the Soviet-Afghan war. His family spent years fleeing the fighting, especially after his father was conscripted into the army, and they took the difficult decision in 1988 to escape to Pakistan, which involved a hazardous mountain journey, dodging terrifying air strikes. Their cramped, difficult living conditions in a refugee camp in Pakistan resulted in Dr Arian becoming seriously ill, with a combination of malnutrition, malaria and tuberculosis. That experience – and the medical care he received – inspired him to start dreaming of becoming a doctor. Dr Arian and his family returned to Kabul when Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan; but civil war rapidly broke out, and as the Taliban’s grip on power increased, his parents became increasingly concerned that he would be recruited to fight, so they arranged for him to travel to the UK. He was fifteen years old, and on arrival as a refugee he was immediately imprisoned and sent to the Feltham Young Offender Institute. Against all the odds, Dr Arian learnt English, took on multiple jobs in shops and restaurants, and studied in the evenings, gaining the A-levels required to read Medicine at the University of Cambridge. From there, he became a doctor, specialising in radiology, and he now works on the front line in A&E in the NHS. Aware of the ongoing need for more medical support and training in Afghanistan, Dr Arian has set up a charity called Arian Teleheal, which enables volunteer medics based in the UK to advise medical colleagues in Afghanistan and elsewhere, using smart phones, social media and other every-day technologies. Motivated by his personal experiences of trauma and PTSD, he has also developed Arian Wellbeing, a telemedicine project focused on providing culturally-sensitive and trauma-informed care for patients who struggle to access mental health services, particularly refugees.  Dr Arian has  become a powerful advocate for refugees in the UK, and he has been recognised for his charity work by multiple organisations, including a UN Global Hero Award in 2017, a Rotary International Peace Award in 2018, and the UK Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award in 2018. In the podcast, we discuss Dr Arian's journey towards self-healing, via the work that he does helping others. He outlines the vital need for more holistic care to support refugees' physical, mental and social needs. We discuss the power of care and compassion; the day-to-day contributions made by refugees in their new communities; and the right that everyone has to safety, to a normal, settled life, and to hopes and dreams. Like his book In the Wars, Dr Arian's conversation offers moving insights into refugee experiences, critical analysis of current support systems, and powerful truths about refugee rights. We hope you enjoy the episode. To find out more about our wider project on Visualising Forced Migration, please visit our website. If you have any questions or want to contribute to our ongoing discussions, please do get in touch. You can follow us on social media or contact us directly by emailing us at We look forward to hearing from you! Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young. The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.
38:23 3/1/23
Photographing forced displacement with Dijana Muminovic
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict.  Alice interviews Dijana Muminovic, a Bosnian-American documentary photographer who focuses particularly on documenting war's aftermath. Dijana has personal experience of forced migration herself, having moved to the US from Bosnia as a refugee from the Bosnian War.  She now divides her time between working for Medica Zenica, an NGO that supports women and girls who have survived war rape, and her photography work, with a particular interest in telling refugee stories.Dijana starts the episode by recalling her memories of the war in Bosnia - the air raids, the lack of food, water and electricity, and the constant fear, which turned her into a peace campaigner as a child. She also recalls the moment when she first learnt the meaning of the word 'refugee', as groups of Bosnian Muslims began arriving in her town, fleeing the genocide in other parts of the country. In a few years, she would become a refugee herself, and she describes what it was like to leave behind her beloved grandmother and arrive in a country that looked so strange and functioned so differently from everything she was used to.  As Dijana reflects on the challenges she faced - from dirty accommodation to the difficulties of learning English - she helps us grasp the work involved in moving from a state of homelessness to belonging. She remembers how often she felt 'less' than everyone around her, as she struggled to fit in and keep up; and how being introduced as 'a refugee' or as someone who didn't 'speak good English' would reinforce the sense that she was different and had not yet 'made it'. For a long time, she hated being called a refugee; but more recently, she has come to embrace that part of her identity with pride.We discuss a range of Dijana's photography projects, which are all connected with war and displacement.  She talks us through some powerful images she has taken of the ongoing work to locate and identity victims of the Bosnian genocide; and we discuss several series of photographs that look at refugees in the US, on the Croatian-Hungarian border, and in Bosnia itself. Dijana reflects on the ethics of photographing displaced people and forced migration, and the challenges of balancing the duty to document with a more humanitarian role, to provide a welcome and offer support. Her approach revolves around taking time, establishing relationships and building trust, to avoid exploitation and to enable her to tell people's stories with integrity. Her primary audience, she explains, is people who cannot see past the label 'refugee' and who have been influenced by anti-immigration coverage in the press and in politics. As Dijana's work underlines, photography can play a powerful role in building empathy and deepening understanding of the causes and consequences of forced displacement.  We hope you enjoy the episode. You can read more about Dijana's work and see some of her photographs on her website; and we have also published blogs featuring some of her work here and here. You can find out more about our wider work on Visualising Forced Migration via our project website.Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young.  The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.  
74:19 2/22/23
Combating Reductive Refugee Narratives with Lina Fadel
This episode is part of a mini series exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict.  Alice interviews Dr Lina Fadel, an Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University. With a background in languages and intercultural studies, Lina’s research looks at how we navigate sameness and difference in multicultural contexts. She is particularly interested in how people reconstruct their identities and engage in home-making following displacement, and she has done a lot of work in recent years with Syrian refugees in Scotland. As well as publishing academic articles, Lina recently performed a one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe, designed to ‘expose the double standards that exist both at the UK border and in the media’s portrayal of refugees.’ As Lina described it, ‘This was my chance to speak out publicly about the injustices committed against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and to reflect on how we think and speak of them in our everyday conversations.’During the episode Lina shares her own story of forced migration from Syria to Scotland, and discusses some of the challenges that she has faced as she has made a new home in the UK. In particular, we reflect on the hard work that forced migrants have to do to establish a sense of belonging, and the ways in which people around them can undermine that hard work: for example, by asking them when they plan to 'go home', or by questioning their right to have opinions about their adopted country. Lina particularly recounts a challenging conversation she had with a taxi driver in Edinburgh (narrated in this article, 'But you don't look like a Syrian'), and some uncomfortable exchanges about Brexit. We also discuss toxic representations of refugees and migrants in the media and politics. Lina reflects on the different connotations that are associated with those two different terms ('refugee' and 'migrant'), and wider tendencies to categories some forced migrants as 'worthy' and others as not. She also gets us thinking about who controls knowledge production and storytelling about migrants (largely people with no lived experience of migration), and explains what she means by 'the tyranny of the single narrative' - i.e. reductive storytelling, that flattens all migration experiences into one simple, often negative account, that does not do justice to the diversity or complexity of different migrant journeys. Lina's solution is to call for more storytelling. As she puts it, 'there is no act more generous or humane than letting someone tell their story the way they want it to be heard, and actively listening to them, with humility and self-awareness’.  She advocates strongly for giving refugees and forced migrants spaces and platforms to tell their own stories, in their own words; and she has valuable suggestions about how ordinary people in their day to day lives can listen actively, humbly, and with curiosity. As she notes, 'integration' is a two-way process, and there is learning and sharing to be done in multiple directions. Lina urges us to approach current discussions of the so-called 'refugee crisis' as a 'crisis of storytelling' - one which we can all help solve. We hope you enjoy the episode. You can find out more about our wider work on Visualising Forced Migration via our project website.Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young.  The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.  
58:30 2/15/23
From Poland to Scotland in the wake of World War II
This episode is part of our mini series, exploring forced displacement as one of the many legacies of conflict. Research Assistant Dr Martyna Majewska interviews artist Mateusz (Mat) Fahrenholz, who shares his memories growing up in the Polish exile community in St Andrews, Fife, as the son of Polish war-time refugees. Mat's parents were both displaced from eastern Poland (now Ukraine) as a result of World War II. As he explains in the podcast, his father was taken prisoner by German forces and (together with a group of other Poles) staged a daring escape from their labour camp to cross Europe and seek asylum in the UK. Mat's mother's journey was more sedate (she migrated after the war), but she - like so many other Poles - also found herself making a new home in an unknown country far from where she had been born and raised. Mat shares his memories of the vibrant Polish exile community that thrived in post-war Fife. He discusses the various kinds of work that his father took on in St Andrews, eventually becoming a cobbler and running a leather shop in the heart of the town. As he explains, that shop, the nearby Polish barber shop, and Mat's family home became important community hubs, where Poles gathered to talk, share their common experiences, support each other, and enjoy each other's company. Mat's testimony helps us understand how Polish refugees dealt with their war-time trauma (in a huge variety of ways, both individually and collectively); and he reflects on his parents' determination not to pass that trauma on to their children. He talks about family visits back to Poland (but never to Ukraine, to the places his parents came from), and why he and his brothers have all ended up living in Warsaw, after being raised in Scotland. He also discusses some of the photography and art that he created in response to his parents' story, and the ethical questions it raised for him around how to visualise such historical experiences for others. Mat and Martyna's conversation gives us fascinating insights into the many ripple effects of forced migrations on individuals, families and whole communities, across multiple generations. It adds to the picture painted by Diana Forster and Josef Butler in last week's podcast (also about forced displacements from Poland during World War II), and is part of our wider curation of Diana Forster's new art exhibition, Somewhere to Stay. You can find out more by visiting our ‘Visualising Forced Migration’ website – where you will also be able to look at images of some of Forster’s art, and learn more about her family story and Polish exile history more generally. Our website also features a range of stories and testimonies about more recent forced migrations, with contributions from a wide range of people. We are grateful to the Imperial War Museums’ 14-18 Now Legacy Fund for supporting our work with a generous grant. If you have any questions or want to contribute to our ongoing discussions about how we narrate and understand forced migration, please do get in touch. You can follow us on social media (just search for 'Visualising War') or contact us directly by emailing us at We look forward to hearing from you! Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young.  The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.  
54:43 2/8/23
Visualising Forced Migration through history
This episode kicks off a new series of podcasts exploring how we visualise forced displacement, one of the many legacies of war. Alice interviews artist Diana Forster about her new art installation, 'Somewhere to Stay', which narrates the story of her mother's forced migration from Poland to Scotland during WWII. Fellow guest Josef Butler (a PhD student at King's College, London) draws on his research into the Polish exile community in Britain from 1940-1971 to provide important context for Diana's family story. Together, they help us to reflect on the power of artistic and historical narratives of forced migration to deepen understanding of contemporary experiences of displacement and to disarm the toxicity of current political debates around the so-called 'refugee crisis'. During the episode, Diana discusses her mother's experience of being deported from her home in eastern Poland (now Ukraine) to a labour camp in Soviet Russia in 1940, and of her arduous journey from there to Uzbekistan, Iran, Tanzania and (eventually) Britain, where her family finally settled. She also talks us through the artwork she has created to help us visualise that journey: in particular, ten laser-cut aluminium panels which depict the different forms of shelter which her mother found herself living in, from wood barracks in the Siberian gulag to army tents, stables, mud rondavels and Nissen huts. As she explains, her art has been inspired the old Polish paper-cutting craft of wycinanki, which allows her to create works that cast shadows, evoking the long shadow of war. Her new art installation, 'Somewhere to Stay', was co-commissioned by the Visualising War and Peace project and the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, and is on display at Kirkcaldy Galleries (4th Feb-14th May 2023) and St Andrews' Wardlaw Museum (25th May-30th November). Josef helps us understand Diana's family story in the context of a wide range of Polish displacements triggered by World War II. He underlines the diversity of journeys taken by Polish refugees from east and west, and helps us picture the scale of these population movements, which traversed many different countries across multiple continents. He reflects particularly on the role played by British (former) colonies not only in providing temporary accommodation and resources to Polish refugees but also in shaping their ideas of Britain and British identity. This leads to some fascinating discussion of identity-formation amongst Polish communities in exile. Josef warns against 'flattening' narratives that homogenise Polish identity and experience, and talks us through the various ways in which Polish refugees were encouraged to integrate with the local population - while sometimes being barred from doing so. He sets this historic forced migration against the backdrop of wider post-war rebuilding and mass migrations (including Windrush), and reflects on the political labelling (both then and now) of some migrants as 'good' or 'worthy' and others as not. We reflect on the power of Polish exile history (and migration history more generally) to help us visualise the choices, agency and contributions of refugees in positive ways.  You can find out more about Diana's artwork and Polish exile history by visiting our ‘Visualising Forced Migration’ website. As we explain there, we want the story of this historic forced migration, from 80 years ago, to help us generate more compassionate conversation about how we grasp and represent the different forms of rupture, journeying and home-making which forced migrants have to deal with on a daily basis, all around the world. Our theme music was composed by Jonathan Young.  The show was mixed by Zofia Guertin.  
76:03 2/1/23
Generation Peace: the power of storytelling in peace education
In this episode, student Harris Siderfin (a member of the Visualising Peace project) explores the role that youth-focused storytelling can play in reducing conflict and promoting the building blocks of a peaceful society. His guest is Rob Burnet, founder and CEO of Shujaaz Inc, a  multimedia youth platform based in Kenya that aims to help improve the lives and livelihoods of young people across East Africa. Among other activities, Shujaaz Inc distributes a free monthly comic, produces radio programmes, creates TV shows, and runs social media accounts based on the popular characters featured in its comics - using Sheng, a contemporary slang favoured by many young people in Kenya. The stories they tell across different media revolve around a 19-year old radio DJ and influencer, living on the outskirts of Nairobi. The DJ uses his media platform to bring young people together to talk about their experiences, the changes they want to make and the barriers that are standing in their way, spotlighting the stories of young ‘shujaaz’ ('heroes') who are creating change in their lives. Addressing issues such as gender inequality, reproductive health, local government, human rights, fake news, and political violence, Shujaaz reaches over 9.1 million 15–24-year-olds across East Africa, connecting them with information, skills, and resources they need to take charge of their lives. The Television Academy has recognised the company twice, awarding two Emmys, one in 2012 and another in 2014. How does Shujaaz relate to peace-building? As Rob and Harris discuss, storytelling can lead to behaviour-change. The characters created by Shujaaz speak directly to young people, sharing alternative ways of thinking, opening up new possibilities, building shared identities, and challenging and shifting social norms. Research has shown that young people who engage with Shujaaz are more likely than their peers to use contraception, thanks to the role models they encounter via these media; that they translate the financial wisdom which Shujaaz characters share into tangible improvements in their own lives; and that they are better informed about the strategies used by gangs and terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab to recruit vulnerable young people to their cause - among many other benefits. These attitude and behaviour changes are fundamental in building a more secure, peaceful future for individuals and communities. 'Peace education aspires to enable students to become responsible citizens... who can deconstruct the foundations of violence and take action to advance the prospects of peace.' (Swiss Peace, 2021).  This is exactly what Shujaaz does, in teaching young people to develop positive mindsets, support themselves, and embrace peaceful ideals.  We hope you enjoy listening to Rob and Harris discuss Shujaaz's approach to storytelling as a powerful example of peace education. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. And for more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
53:00 11/23/22
Peace and Conflict in Space
In this week’s episode, two students from our Visualising Peace project - Harris Siderfin and Otilia Meden - talk to experts on space security. Dr Adam Bower is a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Relations and Co-director of the Centre for Global Law and Governance. His research examines the intersection of international politics and law, and particularly the development, implementation, and transformation of international norms regulating the use of armed violence. He is currently undertaking a long-term research project that assesses the development of new international governance mechanisms to regulate military space operations. Dr Bower is a Fellow of the Outer Space Institute, a global network of transdisciplinary space experts, and in that capacity is involved in a number of OSI research and advocacy efforts relating to outer space security.Wg Cdr Sas Duffin joined the RAF in 2005, and began working in the Space and Battlespace Management Force in Jul 2018, developing strategy and training for Space Operations.  She became a Qualified Space Instructor (QSI) in Feb 2020 before heading to Defence Academy Shrivenham where she obtained an MA in Defence Studies, writing a thesis on the ‘Language and Narrative of Space: Why Words Matter’. Joining UK Space Command in Jul 21 as the Senior Space Liaison Officer, she has developed a network of Space Liaison Officers (SpLOs) across Defence to aid in the awareness and integration of space in wider military planning and operations.Sqn Ldr Stu Agnew is a Scottish-qualified solicitor serving in the Royal Air Force Legal Services. Following qualification as a solicitor in 2014, he moved to specialise in corporate and commercial law before joining the Royal Air Force in January 2016. He was selected to be the first Legal Adviser within UK Space Command following its establishment on 1 April 2021. In this role, he provides legal advice on all of the Command's outputs. His remit includes advising on the development of doctrine and wider Defence outputs centred on space. Sponsored by the Royal Air Force, he obtained a Masters' degree in International Aviation Law & Regulation from Staffordshire University in 2020. His dissertation focused on the boundary between airspace and outer space under international law, or more accurately the absence of one.In the episode, Harris, Otilia and their guests discuss why and how security in outer space is important for people living on earth. They reflect on the development and implementation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and the spirit of international collaboration that underpins it. They also look at increasing activity in space by private corporations as well as nation-states, at the increasing militarisation of space, at the potential for growing conflict in space, and at the consequences of that for ordinary lives. Among other questions, they ask:Who are the primary state and non-state actors in outer space today? What dangers does conflict in space present and why should we, as individuals, care? How does peace in space help maintain peace on earth? And how can peace in space be promoted, improved and maintained?How can we best visualise peace in space when outer space itself is so difficult to conceptualise? We hope you enjoy the episode. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
82:10 8/3/22
The Militarisation of Childhood with J. Marshall Beier
This episode continues our mini-series looking at how children are socialised into recurring habits of visualising war and peace. Alice interviews Prof. J. Marshall Beier, who is Undergraduate Chair in the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. In the course of a distinguished career, Marshall's research has focused particularly on how children and childhood get conceived in political contexts, and what impact that can have on their political involvement as well as on their lives more broadly. In the course of this research, Marshall has published extensively on the militarisation of childhood and well as child and youth rights and youth political participation. Notable publications include edited volumes such as The Militarisation of Childhood: Thinking beyond the Global South (2011), Discovering Childhood in International Relations (2020), and – with Jana Tabak – Childhoods in Peace and Conflict (2021). We begin the podcast by looking at how children are militarised in many different ways - from their recruitment as child soldiers, to more 'benign' forms of cadet training, to messaging in society about the pervasiveness of threats (leading to an understanding that citizens need protection via the military), to the ways in which leisure spaces such as museums, airshows and online gaming can promote the 'cult of the hero' and inculcate wider military values, such as resilience, courage, or the idea that certain wars are 'good' while others are 'bad'. Marshall draws attention to 'militarism's ambient cacophony' - by which he means that the promotion of different kinds of military activity is all around us - and to the fact that as children grow up, they are exposed to many different kinds of pedagogies (formal and informal) which both normalise and naturalise war. This indirect 'enlistment' is vital to governments who, in time, may ask the adults that children become to sanction military spending and military deployments. Marshall also discusses the concept of 'childhood' itself, and differences between 'the imagined child' and children as political agents, subjects, knowledge-bearers and knowledge-producers.  We examine typical representations of children affected by conflict, and the ways in which images of their victimhood and vulnerability are often leveraged as 'a technology of governance' - in other words, used by politicians and others to shape wider attitudes and policy. Marshall underlines how flexible a category 'child' can be, however, and how governments and militaries can 'evacuate' certain age groups from this category when they see them as a threat, deeming them e.g. 'military-age males'.  He notes that states and militaries sometimes also ask children to 'do the work of adults': for instance by conducting surveillance, or being resilient when they lose a parent to conflict. And he draws on his work with the McMaster Youth and Children University to discuss how we might take a more rights-based approach to engaging with children around war and peace, empowering them to contribute to debate and discussion, rather than side-lining or even exploiting them.We hope you enjoy the episode. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
84:41 7/6/22