20 years on from the invasion of Iraq, nearly 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, and in the midst of war in Ukraine and contested questions about migration and the legacies of war, a brand new Centre for the Study of Violence will launch this week at the University of Bath.
Led by academics across the University’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, including political theorists, development and humanitarian scholars, plus crime, defence and security experts, the new Centre will be the first of its kind in the UK. It aims to help society rethink how violence operates and to find ways to imagine a more peaceful world.
The Centre is led by Brad Evans, Professor of Political Violence within the University’s Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies. His work is concerned with addressing the multiple forms violence takes in the world; as well as how this is represented through art.
Brad coordinates the acclaimed ‘Histories of Violence’ project, is a lead editor for violence and arts projects for the LA Review of Books, and also directed the film ‘Ten Years of Terror’. With the new Centre he will lead a new webinar series in partnership with the longest-running philosophy journal, ‘The Philosopher’.
Expertise from other members of the Centre relate, in part, to military and defence. Its co-director is Professor Paul Higate, whose work focuses on military power, whilst other members of the Centre with defence and security expertise have been active in analysing and responding to developments in Russia and Ukraine over the past year.
Aligned with the Centre’s vision to open up a broader conversation about violence, its other members include leading development and humanitarian scholar, Professor Jason Hart; award-winning author on mafias and organised crime, Professor Felia Allum; international peace and conflict resolution expert Professor Timo Kivimäki, and Dr Andrea Purdekova, whose insightful research looks at the politics of displacement in Africa.
Commenting ahead of the launch event – which will address the question ‘What is Violence? How Should Societies Respond?’ and takes place on Wednesday 29 March - Professor Evans said: “Violence demands a conversation. And that is what we are really trying to achieve with the new Centre for the Study of Violence which we are delighted to be officially launching this week at the University of Bath.
“While the importance of violence is quite evident given the state of the world currently, our ambition is to help create a space where difficult conversations can be had on the problem of violence, which should be open to all academic disciplines and should not preclude persons based on ideology or methodology.
“The Centre will develop a series of new outputs and will work to engage multiple stakeholders, from policymakers, humanitarian organisations, and the arts and cultural worlds, to help break down differences and better imagine what peace can look like in the 21st Century.”
One of the first major outputs from the Centre will come this autumn, through a major new series looking at the State of Disappearance. This collaborative project will bring together the arts, humanities, social sciences and advocacy groups to bring new attention to the multiple ways disappearance (in all its forms) occurs.
Professor Deborah Wilson, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences added: “The launch of the Centre for the Study of Violence within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences brings together a number of our research strengths – from defence and security studies to humanitarianism – to address critical issues of peace and violence affecting all societies.
“The kinds of questions the new Centre will explore could not be more important in the world today, and we are excited to see what impacts the new collaboration will bring in the years ahead.”
Professor Hutchings is a renowned theorist on violence and is the author of many books, including recently Can Violence Ever be Justified? and Violence & Political Theory. Gareth Owen is the Humanitarian Director at Save the Children, UK. He has led responses to many major emergencies over the past two decades, most notably in the Iraq conflict, the Asian tsunami, during Cyclone Nargis, but also in Haiti, Pakistan, East Africa, Niger and the Philippines.