Summer School - Societies in Transition. The Caucasus and the Balkans Between Conflict and Reconciliation, 26 September - 4 October 2015, Germany

Publish Date: Jun 19, 2015

Deadline: Jun 30, 2015

Event Dates: from Sep 26, 2015 12:00 to Oct 04, 2015 12:00


Reaching back to the so-called Balkan Wars in 1912/1913, up to the transformation processes that began in the 1980s in the Soviet Union and Europe, the multi-ethnic and multi-religious areas between Europe and the Middle East have witnessed broad social and political upheavals. The collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent resurgent nationalist movements during the late 1980s and early 1990s led to ethno-political conflicts related to questions of religion and culture that severely affected and continue to affect both the Balkans and the Caucasus. The historical backgrounds of the respective countries are reflected in a wide range of conflicts and transformation processes that open up diverse opportunities for reconciliation, including social, historical, religious, political, and psychological trauma/therapeutic approaches. Twenty-five years after the dissolution of the so-called Iron Curtain we still observe continuing differences in the second-generation historical narratives that support revanchist behavioral patterns and retaliation between neighboring countries. How can reconciliation and conflict resolution work as a facilitator between education and grassrootsinitiatives? How can affected populations adopt more cooperative historical-awareness practices?

Programme and Targets of the Summer School 2015

Similarities as well as significant differences between the two mentioned regions will receive attention at the InternationalSummer School (ISS) 2015, “Societies in Transition. The Caucasus and the Balkans between Conflict and Reconciliation”.

The ISS will take place between September 26 and October 4, 2015 partly at the University of Jena and partly in Berlin. It is organized by the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) at FriedrichSchiller-Universität Jena (Prof. Martin Leiner), the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University (Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman), and the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University (Dr. Karina Korostelina).

Having an international and interdisciplinary focus, we benefit from the participation of renowned scholars, responsible interest groups, and mediating global players that aim at enhancing ethical principles of political leaders and developing alternative approaches regarding reconciliation efforts.

The Summer School will bring together 15 PhD/Postdocs and 7-8 experts (academics as well as practitioners from the grass-roots level working on conflict resolution and reconciliation studies on the areas in our focus).

Debates are expected to cover issues such as: How to deal with ethnic, religious, and national rights, claims of sovereignty, political repression, and collective or individual experiences of violence.

We are expecting special guests from the circle of the Kim Dae Jung Korean government (Nobel Peace Prize Winner for the so-called “Sunshine Policy”), working on comparable reunification and reconciliation policies in Germany/Korea.

Key lectures, held by well-known experts on Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Reconciliation Studies, will address the regions of Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia (South East Europe); NagornoKarabakh; Russia/Chechnya; Georgia/South Ossetia, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey (Caucasus/Middle East). They will refer to both the relevant past and the possibilities for a peaceful future in post-socialist Europe.

Parallel Workshops will focus on three exemplarily case studies to give insights into institutionalized work and pragmatic areas of application of reconciliation and conflict resolution. The workshops will provide insights into quantitative and qualitative methodologies and validation criteria of reconciliation studies and conflict resolution, e.g., Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, the role of the OSCE, third mediation parties, and dialogue building mechanisms (“interfaith dialogue”).

The key lectures at the morning session (max. 45 minutes, plus 45 minutes discussion) will address the theoretical framework of conflict resolution and reconciliation strategies in post-socialist Europe. During the seminars, participants of the Summer School have the opportunity to deliver presentations (15 minutes) followed by discussion (15 minutes), delving into ethno-political conflicts across the respective countries while presenting possible strategies for conflict resolution and reconciliation policies.

The Summer School also includes a field trip to the Weimar Concentration Camp Buchenwald and a two-day trip to Berlin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of German reunification on October 3, 1990. With these field trips the ISS wants to contextualize questions of conflict and reconciliation in relation to Germany’s memory policies reflecting its efforts of dealing critically with its own authoritarian past.

The Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies

The Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) was established in 2013 as part of the Theological Faculty of the University of Jena. Its purpose is to study the processes involved in overcoming sustained violence. The past three Summer Schools, which met with great approval from the participants, dealt with conflict transformation and reconciliation on the African, Latin American, and Asian continents, showing that a comparative approach offers a high degree of insight and advances our understanding of conflict transformation and reconciliation processes. Further information at:

Some of the key questions that will be discussed during the event:

a) What do reconciliation processes in the Balkans and the Caucasus look like? In what way are they different from reconciliation processes in Germany and other European countries?

b) What are differences in conflict perception of the struggling interest groups (domestic and external groups) and how can they be integrated into the conflict resolution and reconciliation process?

c) How does the exclusion of groups of victims, based on ethnicity or religion, manifest itself in different cultures? And what are possible motivations for not making up for past injustices (e.g., redemption, compensation, apologies, recognition, and reconciliation)?

d) What role does identity construction have in overcoming perpetual violence?

e) How can the involvement of third-party actors help create a basis for reconciliation in the middle of strife?

f) How is reconciliation institutionalized so that it is an enduring rather than ad hoc phenomenon?

g) What are the challenges to reconciliation from the domestic and international systems?

h) What are the requirements for the transition from conflict to a reconciliatory process? What are the chances and obstacles to begin small reconciliation steps while conflict persists?

i) What role do different key actors (e.g., individual leaders, societal groups, governments, the media, third parties) have in a reconciliation process?

j) What is the role of “history,” “memory” and “remembrance” either as catalysts for or obstacle to reconciliation?

k) How are the past, present and future connected in actual or prospective reconciliation?

l) What level of reconciliation do you address (internal, intra-personal, intergroup reconciliation, internal or intra-state reconciliation policy?)


Potential participants include scholars of related research fields (History, Political and Social Science, Cultural and Religious Studies, Psychology, Peace and Conflict Studies etc.) who hold a first degree and/or PhD candidates who wish to benefit for their thesis, Post-docs, and peace and reconciliation workers who wish to deepen their theoretical knowledge. The Summer School particularly addresses participants from the regions of the Caucasus and the Balkans. Lodging and travel costs are covered by our sponsor, the Thuringian Ministry for Economic, Research and Digital Society, up to a maximum of 300€. Selected papers will be published within the renowned series "Research in Peace and Reconciliation" (RIPAR) by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht that offers a unique overview of worldwide research on peace and reconciliation. Please apply by June 30th 2015 via e-mail:


Applications should include

  • Letter of motivation
  • Short description of current research project (approx. 1 page)
  • CV (including contact information)
  • Copy of certificate of current degree
  • Publication list (if applicable)

For further questions please contact: Carolina Rehrmann (M.A.) Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies Fürstengraben 6 - D-07743 Jena/Deutschland E-mail: Homepage: Phone: +49 3641 94 11 46 or +49 3641 94 11 41

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