Collaboration with German researchers on collective violence

15 September 2008 | Story by Myolisi Gophe

Collaborating: Assoc Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela with Dr Susan Flaemig and Dr Thomas Schlegel during a meeting at UCT.

UCT's Associate Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela of the Department of Psychology has joined forces with German scholars to investigate factors that give rise to collective violence and the motives that contribute to inter-group conflicts.

The study, funded by the European Science Foundation, is based in the Theology Department at Jena University in Germany, and Gobodo-Madikizela is collaborating with Professors Martin Leiner and Michael Trowitzsch of that institution.

Gobodo-Madikizela said that the research seeks to understand some of the factors in collective violence and inter-group conflict that develop into extreme forms of dehumanising violence.

"The research collaboration brings together an interdisciplinary team of international scholars to explore a range of themes related to the role of reconciliation and religion in the prevention of violence, and the conditions under which mutual trust and reconciliation between groups with a history of inter-group conflict can occur," explained Gobodo-Madikizela.

"The relevance of psychology in understanding the underlying dynamics of societal violence presents an important intellectual challenge in the 21st century, and particularly for our own society in South Africa.

"The question of why the South African agenda of reconciliation, lauded as a unique model across the globe, seems to have failed in preventing the extreme forms of violence is one of the concerns I will bring to this research collaboration."

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