As a part of the joint, cross country, collaborative research project University Peace Hubs: Peacebuilding pedagogies in higher education, which involved universities in Rwanda, Colombia, United Kingdom and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we were looking at opportunities for teaching peacebuilding through university education. We were particularly interested in the role that culture and shared cultural heritage might play in building cohesion and bridging between conflicting groups and we invited students from all four universities to bring in their own perspectives in the discussion on the role of cultural objects and peace building.
The student research project was aimed at developing a library or cultural objects, texts, artifacts or music that might transcend current or former divisions in our societies, and hold meaning for people from different groups. We presumed that the selection of a particular object may reflect the fact that these objects were formed or created in a former, pre-conflict time, when existing conflicts or divisions did not exist. It could have been also that they represent or capture the conflict in a particular way that transcends these divisions and links people through different, shared identities. The objects that the students were invited to choose could be related to articles or objects that could be photographed, music that could be recorded or texts or images that could be downloaded and stored.
The students from all universities in all 4 countries identified a minimum of one and maximum of 3 cultural objects. They shared them with people from different groups and generations and they discussed what they meant to them individually. They created short stories about this process for each of the objects and compared their own reaction to the objects with different reactions of the people they spoke to.
This process resulted in the exhibition of the images and short stories that were presented in Sarajevo workshop in July 2019 at the Faculty of Philosophy, and later that year they were exhibited at the Universidad de los Andes during the Week for Peace.