The Art of Resolution: The Role of Culture and the Arts in Conflict Transformation

Over the last decades, art has taken the stage as a crucial tool for reconciliation and peacebuilding.

In this study by Dr Edel Hughes from the University of Galway provides a rich background establishing art as a transformer of conflict. Dr Hughes identifies a number of broad themes from the growing literature in this field such as art as a diplomacy tool, a medium to draw attention to the realities of conflict, and as a bridge-builder bringing together all sides of the conflict.

After elaborating on arts’ potential in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes, Dr Hughes supports this with case-studies on Colombia and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Regarding the latter, Dr Hughes draws attention to the murals commemorating the Troubles in Derry and Belfast. These murals exemplify how art can be used in truth telling and healing. Dr Hughes then moves on to the role that art played leading up to the peace accord of 2016 in Colombia. During the conflict and signing of the peace accord in 2016, formal programmes and grassroots initiatives were implemented that used music to address the effects of violence and to promote reconciliation amongst Colombians. She discusses large-scale and successful projects, such as social music programme Música para la Reconciliación, as well as smaller and grassroots projects like the use of art therapy on FARC fighters after the peace agreement.

This study is part of the DPI project, Voicing Peace and Fostering Inclusivity in Turkey, which is also  part of DPI’s new conflict resolution series: Mapping a Cultural Repertoire of peace in Turkey (Barışın sanat ve kültür repertuarını yapmak) and is  co-funded by the European Union, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Ireland.

The views in this paper are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DPI.