On Friday, 19th April 2013, the Language in Conflict project celebrated the official launch of the website by hosting an action-packed day of events at the Researcher Hub in the University of Huddersfield Queensgate campus.
This involved a free day of workshops for mediators, delivered by our very own project leaders Prof. Lesley Jeffries and Dr. Jim O'Driscoll. Although billed as a training day for local mediators, such was the interest in the programme that we had attendees from all corners of the country! Jim delivered a workshop that focussed on the interactive elements of communication, focussing on the concept of 'face' and what that might mean in mediation contexts.
After lunch, Lesley led a workshop on how linguistic phenomena such as negation and opposition operate in language and how they can give rise to conflict.
The workshops were rounded off by a lively feedback session from our bunch of spirited visiting mediators. We look forward to incorporating their suggestions into the project and forging working relationships in the near future.
From 4 p.m., the website launch event was open to the public, and Prof. Paul Ward - Head of Dept of History, English, Languages and Media – greeted the audience. Lesley officially declared the website open, with project assistant Matt showing off this new online resource for interaction and collaboration between academics and conflict resolution professionals.
There was a warm and enthusiastic welcome for our guest speakers, Jo Berry and Pat Magee. Ex-IRA member Pat served time in prison for planting the Brighton bomb that killed Jo's father, Conservative MP Sir Anthony Berry, in 1984. However, since his release from prison under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999 and their first meeting, they have undergone a process of dialogue and reconciliation. They now speak about their inspirational experience all over the world and have founded a charity, Building Bridges for Peace, aiming to promote conflict transformation and nonviolence.
Clearly, there was no more fitting pair to launch the Language in Conflict project website. There was a broad audience in attendance: as well as representatives from our own and various other universities, we welcomed the national press, local members of the Quakers, and many peace and mediation professionals.
The audience were deeply moved by the guest speakers' talk and the question and answer session afterward gave people the chance to find out more about their experience. The discussion continued over a wine reception, where this interdisciplinary project achieved its goals of bringing together academics and professionals with an interest in Language in Conflict.