Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Grant awarded for research with young people in post-conflict societies

02 November 2017


— Researchers will work with groups from Colombia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo and South Africa (Photo: Documentation Center of Cambodia)


Dr Pete Manning has received a four year award to investigate the role and efficacy of civil society organisations as they support young people in societies that have experienced conflict.

The Changing the Story project will explore efforts to promote social reconciliation and respect for equality and human rights in the aftermath of conflict.

The project involves UK researchers from the Universities of Leeds, Bournemouth and East London. The researchers will work with university researchers and partner organisations (CSOs, including museums, heritage organisations, community participatory arts and activist groups) from Colombia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo and South Africa.

The funding has been awarded by the Arts & Humanities Funding Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Network Plus scheme.

Over the last 40 years, these countries have had to confront the material consequences of their violent pasts. Each has a very different relationship to this past, from Colombia, where the processes of reconciliation are only just beginning, to Cambodia where the violence of the Khmer Rouge has passed into history and yet its memory continues to shape contemporary society.

The international development community and donor states have invested heavily in the work of CSOs supporting reconciliation initiatives, particularly focussed on children and young people – a disproportionately large part of the population due to the effects of past violence on their parents’ generation.

The project will begin by undertaking a critical review of current work by CSOs across these countries, in order to highlight innovative practice, as well as areas that require further investigation. This will lead to five proof of concept pilot projects, based on lessons learnt from this review. Our initial research and development phase will then lead to the commissioning of two rounds of projects, one aimed at Early Career Researchers, and one for researchers at all career stages.

Peter will lead work on the Cambodia strand of the project, working in partnership with the Documentation Centre of Cambodia to evaluate initiatives that seek to foster intergenerational memory as a means of supporting reconciliation. An initial proof of concept study will be developed over 2018 around the DC-Cam Anlong Veng Peace Tours initiative, where Cambodian university students tour heritage sites guided by former combatants.