The IHJR is proud to present the first results of its new project ‘Depolarising the Past’. In 2015, the IHJR organized a series of lecture s for its Netherlands-based pilot project aimed at addressing societal tensions that are caused by historical conflicts such as 1915 or the relationship between Israel and Palestine. Building on its track record in historical reconciliation, the central goal of this project was to create greater understanding and contact between communities that differences. To achieve this ambitious objective, the IHJR held five informal dialogue meetings and public events on the historical conflicts between Armenia and turkey, and Israel and Palestine.
Informal Meeting in Leiden with Sinan and Ara
The IHJR’s approach of ‘shared narratives’ intends to counter historical myths in communities that are divided by competing historical narratives, in order to foster mutual understanding and respect. The IHJR’s approach is relevant in nurturing social cohesion in places where existing conflicts have been ‘imported’. Increasingly, conflicts like Israel-Palestine, and Armenia-Turkey, directly affect on political dialogue in Dutch society and other European societies, whereby young people are often prone to identity-based misconceptions of the ‘Other’. The IHJR’s approach on the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, and Armenia and Turkey, serve as a methodology to start up challenging conversations between younger generations from antagonistic communities in Dutch society. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness of historical research by providing greater access to ongoing historical debates and facts within these communities and offer opportunities for dialogue and joint projects between them.
On the 28th of October in Rotterdam, the IHJR organized the final event of the first phase of the pilot project at Galerie Kralingen on perspectives on 1915. Ara Halici, known for the acclaimed documentary ‘Bloedbroeders’, provided his personal experiences on making the documentary. Dr. Erol Emre and Dr. Tsolin Nalbantian, both scholars from Leiden University, provided lectures on their personal and academic experiences on memorialization and the Armenian Genocide. Subjects that they have engaged in both inside and outside the lecture room.
1st Public Meeting on 1915 (Armenia and Turkey)
In their lectures, Dr. Erol and Dr. Nalbantian pondered questions of why it is hard to talk about the Armenian Genocide. For a cathartic dealing with the past, people need to identify multiple layers of identity and thus put individuals at the center of discussion and step outside of a state-oriented way of thinking. These are all issues that young people from the Armenian and Turkish diasporas in the Netherlands come into contact with.
Other subject matters that were discussed concerned how young people can engage issues which are generally considered taboo. This relates to engaging difficult memories and how in doing so, one can gain empathy and understanding. By sharing some personal insights from their research and a recent study trip, the scholars showed how engaging with a taboo can lead to meaningful encounters.
In the subsequent Q&A and roundtable discussions, many fundamental issues related to media, education, young people and current obstacles surrounding Turkish-Armenian dialogue were explored. The outcomes of these dialogues shall be used in the design of future projects.
2nd Public Meeting on 1948 (Israel and Palestine)
On the 9th of December, the IHJR organized ‘Depolarizing the Past: Narratives of the 1948 War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ at Galerie Kralingen in Rotterdam. Dr. Alanna O’Malley gave a lecture on the role of the United Nations in 1948 of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. O’Malley is Assistant Professor in International Studies at Leiden University. Dr. Timothy Ryback provided a lecture on the multiperspectivity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Ryback is the Deputy-Director of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale and co-founder of the IHJR.
These events on historically sensitive issues serve to connect young people from antagonistic communities with each other, as well as with young professionals and academics, in order to provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue, narrowing the gap between academia and society.
Staff Photo 1948 Event: Stanley Iwema, Dr. Ryback, Dr. O’Malley, Ties Schelfhout, Catherine Cissé-Van den Muijsenbergh
The IHJR wishes to thank its strategic partner, the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University, and in particular Dr. Emre Erol, Dr. Tsolin Nalbantian and Dr. Alanna O’Malley for their involvement in ‘Depolarizing the Past’. Special thanks also goes out to Dr. Timothy Ryback, for sharing his insights into the IHJR’s groundbreaking work on a shared narrative in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We at the IHJR are grateful for the contribution of Ara Halici and Sinan Can. We also thank Francisco van Jole for facilitating the discussions at our public events. The IHJR also thanks Galerie Kralingen and the Advokatenkollektief Rotterdam (AKR). ‘Depolarizing the Past’ was made possible by the generous contributions of among others, the Van den Berch van Heemstede Stichting (vanberchvanheemstede.nl), Stichting Janivo, and the KNR Comissie PIN. The staff of the IHJR also recognizes the dedication, passion and efforts of many volunteers in making ‘Depolarizing the Past’ possible.
For more information on this project, please contact Ties Schelfhout at firstname.lastname@example.org