Transforming Conflicts at the Grassroots through the eyes of a Peace Scholar

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From March 14-17th, LCC had the honor of welcoming Prince Agyei, a visiting professor from Ghana who is currently working on his PhD dissertation at Tampere University in Finland. Prince reached out to the Center for Peace and Conflict Transformation at LCC, recognizing its similar mission in promoting peace and conflict transformation. His research focuses on intractable communal conflicts, specifically looking at the South and the Nkonya-Alavanyo conflict in Ghana, and how a transformative approach might be used to build relationships – reducing violence and promoting justice.

Prince shared his ideas about civic engagement in LCC’s core civic engagement and conflict transformation class with students. He discussed how long-term conflicts and narratives built over generations feed enmity between neighboring communities asking what might it take to transform society at the grassroots and change the negative relational patterns that keep negative conflict alive? He offered the LCC community a lens from which one might begin to ask the “what if” questions that can spark alternative responses to violence and injustice and move communal social conflict towards constructive change.

During his visit on March 15th, Prince shared his research findings with the LCC community, highlighting the importance of an emancipatory approach to conflict transformation. One that strengthens the local-local in peacebuilding work in order to break destructive patterns and cycles. His qualitative ethnographic study is based on 24 representatives from the Nkonya and Alavanyo ethnic groups. The themes that emerged included the desire for survival, the pursuit of revenge, the perception of injustice, and the absence of punitive measures. Prince also mentioned the significance of John Paul Lederach’s work in moving from conflict resolution to transformational approaches and emphasized the importance of paying attention to the voices of differences and Track III diplomacy. He suggests rethinking the traditional conflict resolution methods and shifting towards constructive conflict transformation that prioritizes justice and reduces violence as a way forward.

The Q&A session that followed allowed for a broader discussion of the implications of peace research and best practices. Prince was asked about his personal motivation in pursuing peace studies, and he responded with an inspiring answer. He believes in the goodness of people and the possibility of collective efforts to effect positive change. He encouraged embracing differences and working together towards a brighter future.

One of the attendees mentioned: Prince offered a unique view on conflict transformation from an African context. I think we do not pay enough attention to what is happening in Africa, and it is important to educate ourselves and understand how the conflict implications can be different in different contexts – Barbara Ninowsky (Senior Student in Psychology at LCC).

Prince’s visit to LCC was a thought-provoking and inspiring event that highlighted the importance of conflict transformation and the need to embrace differences to achieve a peaceful resolution.

24 Mar 2023