Justice and Security in Intercultural Europe – Exploring Alternatives Conference abstracts plenary speakers

On 16, 17 and 18 November 2015, the ALTERNATIVE project is organising its final conference Justice and Security in Intercultural Europe – Exploring Alternatives. Several plenary speakers will be presenting their work over the course of the three days. To give you a taste of what they will be presenting, you can find the abstracts of their presentations here.

ALTERNATIVE ways of handling conflicts in intercultural settings
Inge Vanfraechem, University of Leuven

This presentation describes the set-up of ALTERNATIVE, a European FP7 research project, focused on alternative understandings of justice and security when dealing with conflicts in intercultural settings. The project implements action-research in four intercultural settings with conflict on the micro level (social housing in Vienna), meso level (small community in Hungary) and macro level (Serbia and Northern Ireland). Restorative justice approaches are used in order to evaluate whether justice and security can be understood in a broader manner than just focusing on criminal justice and exclusionary measures such as imprisonment and installing cameras. The scene is set for topics that will be addressed throughout the conference, such as active participation; perceptions of justice and security/safety; the challenges of action-research; and the relation between restorative justice and community development.

‘Understanding “Everyday Security”: Social conflict prevention and the possibilities for restorative practices therein’
Adam Crawford, University of Leeds

This paper explores the implications of an alternative conception of security as ‘everyday’ practices for our understanding of social conflict prevention and the role of restorative justice therein. It builds upon an agenda for research centred on the study of ‘everyday security’ that, together with Steven Hutchinson, I have been seeking to elaborate (Crawford and Hutchinson forthcoming), which suggests that in addition to the ‘high politics’ of governmental security projects, the realities of security practices, not only are routed in the mundane and routine aspects of daily life but also deeply affect how people live, how they come to understand inter-group conflicts, how they engage with wider social forces that impact upon their lives, and the manner in which they experience democratic societies more broadly. This perspective proceeds from a critical analysis of the variety of existing activities, technologies and routines of governance that people deploy to promote security. Foregrounding ‘everyday’ experiences and expectations, we maintain, highlights the temporal and spatial dimensions of security practices as well as the emotional and affective sensibilities that inform the lived experiences of security. In deploying this framework of analysis in this paper, I argue that the study of such ‘spaces of experience’ and ‘horizons of expectation’ – and how these differ between individuals and groups – provides an invaluable lens through which to consider the role, place and possibilities of restorative practices. Restorative justice, as a normative claim about how individuals, groups and societies should respond to conflict, combines the spatial, temporal and affective dimensions – notably in face-to-face encounters – in ways that are pregnant with meaning and ripe for conceptual development with evident practical potential. Some of these insights are explored and considered in this paper, which concludes with reflections on the possibilities for sustainable relations between security and justice and social conflict prevention through restorative practices therein.

Assembling credibility: (In)security, critical knowledge and the politics of method
Claudia Aradau, King’s College London

This paper discusses the role of methods in critical research on (in)security. If methods are understood as devices that enact science differently, methods also enact visions of political community and social order (Savage 2010, Aradau and Huysmans 2014, Ruppert, Law, and Savage 2013, Lury and Wakeford 2012). How do particular methods gain credibility? Methods and the definition of their credibility are not the property of particular scholarly communities but are practiced and developed in various other fields. Methods issues are part of a struggle over credibility in which multiple actors with various expertise and knowledge credentials are involved. They bring different methods to the table to support certain knowledge claims and discredit others. The credibility of particular methods – and particularly critical methods – needs therefore to be understood as a social accomplishment. The paper then illustrates the importance of methods for critical research by analysing how methods are deployed and contested in asylum determination procedures. While critical approaches to security have attended to the securitization of migration and asylum (Squire 2009, Huysmans 2006), methods have received less attention in these debates. The credibility of asylum claims needs to be understood both through how the credibility of particular methods is produced within institutions, but also how this credibility circulates within and across academic fields.

Adding peace to the discourse: conflict transformation in multi-cultural settings
Martina Fischer, Berghof Foundation

Exchange and diversity can be a driver for economic and societal development, as has been shown throughout history. At the same time multi-cultural societies face a couple of challenges. Cultural differences can also be instrumentalised for deepening social conflicts. Ethnopolitical notions and cultural definitions are often used by political leaders for establishing unity and loyalty in processes of statebuilding (and/or secession). Societies in Europe (as in many other parts of the world) are becoming increasingly multi-cultural, at the same time racist policies and mind-sets persist that promote exclusive models of community. The question is how to avoid that conflicts are perceived through the lens of cultural / ethnical / religious categories? How to create resilient communities and provide the ground for constructive forms of conflict transformation? Conflict transformation theorists suggest that the root causes of conflict have to be addressed, which are often connected with power imbalances, economic injustice, ecological devastation and a lack of perspectives for individuals and groups to live a life in dignity. Furthermore it is argued that the relationship(s) between conflict-stakeholders need to be changed in a way that they are able to address the underlying causes. Restorative justice can support such processes. However, to be effective, scholars and practitioners need to base their interventions on the logic of peace, which is inclusive, participatory, committed to global human rights standards and to the United Nations’ norms for economic and , and involving civil society. The logic of security is not very helpful in this context as it is marked by self-referentiality (fixation on one’s own interests, one-dimensional threat-perception, and blindness towards one’s own contributions to the conflict) and often tends to dramatize the discourse and to escalate the situation.


Justice and security as opportunities for an intercultural Europe
Ivo Aertsen, University of Leuven

In this final session of the conference we refer to the main ideas and objectives of the project and ask where we stand now. What are the main lessons from these four years of intense cooperation between seven research institutes in six European countries, where theory and practice were constantly interwoven through action research, as applied in very different societal settings? We critically reflect about some of our new understandings of justice, security and related concepts. A focal point hereby is how the intercultural context in particular offers an opportunity to re-think conventional processes and forms of doing justice. We will discuss the plurality of justice interests not only as they emerge at the interpersonal level – which is the traditional focus of restorative justice – but also as they appear at a broader relational and collective level. To which degree, and under which conditions, can civil dialogue and public participation in an environment of intercultural tension tackle the cultivation of hostility and, at a more general level and in the long run, revitalise and strengthen the democratic dimension of restorative justice? Some of the promising perspectives, as researched in this European FP7 project, will be highlighted.