By Marcela Ramos
Dr Hilary Cremin, University of Cambridge, was one of the keynote speakers at the BAICE-CIRE 20th Anniversary Symposium on Sustainability, Peace and Education, that took place at the School of Education, University of Bristol. Dr Cremin researches, writes and teaches about peace education and conflict transformation in schools and communities. In this interview, Dr Cremin reflects on the different meanings peace has and the value of acknowledging it while thinking of peace building as an alternative to imposing peace. Within this paradigm shift, “education has a key role but this role it’s not straightforward”, highlights Dr Cremin.
-In your presentation, you stressed the idea of building but not imposing peace. Why is this distinction relevant? Why is it meaningful to think about peace in different ways?
-I think different parts of the world have developed their own traditions about peace and part of the problem is when a Western idea of peace is seen as relevant across the entire planet.
-What kind of peace is the Western one?
-Securitize, so our word peace comes from pax, which is pax Romana, the Italian root. And this word means cessation in hostilities. So in our concept of peace we have the idea that we are not fighting at the moment, but the fighting could always return. Whereas in Eastern traditions, peace is about balance and harmony, a completely different idea. So this is much more about embracing dualities. In Colombia for example, they have a particular focus on moral peace because of Catholic traditions there, so anyone working towards peace in that context would need to be aware of local cultural associations with peace and not just imposed a kind of United Nations idea on what peace is across the whole planet.
-How can we address these significant issues through education research?
-I think we have to get away from the idea that reductionism it’s a good thing. Everybody likes simple models. This is what we have with globalized markets, everything reduced to simplicity, and the world isn’t like that, and so we can’t find the solution from within that paradigm. We’ve got to get used to think about complexity.
-This is interesting because, generally speaking, as social researchers, we are looking to represent our ideas through patterns, abstract concepts…Indeed the idea is somehow to simplify the explanations in order to better disseminate our research…
-Indeed I’m very interested in the art space and bodies research methods as ways of deepening our understandings of teaching and peace education.