Adam Curle Symposium: Peaceful Relations and the Transformation of the World

An Academic-Practitioner Dialogue on Peace in the 21st Century: 5-6 September 2016, University of Bradford

Fourth July 2016 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Adam Curle, peace scholar, Quaker activist international mediator and Founding Chair of Peace Studies at Bradford. To mark the occasion, Bradford’s Peace Studies Division is hosting the Adam Curle Centenary Symposium. Academics and practitioners around the world are invited to a dialogue on peace in the 21st Century in the light of Curle’s philosophy and practice.

Curle’s approach to Peace Studies was interdisciplinary, drawing on an academic career that spanned anthropology, psychology, education and development. It was also practical , reflecting experience in peacemaking and development in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Balkans. These academic disciplines and practical experiences informed his conception of “peaceful relationships”, which he regarded as key to understanding peace and conflict at different levels, from the quest for individual peace to the negotiation of settlements to interstate wars.

Curle drew further inspiration from a range of religious teachings, particularly those of Tibetan Buddhism and he remained a member of the Society of Friends and much of his peace work was conducted with the support of the Quakers. He used these to inform a trenchant critique not only of what he called the “futility” of violence, but also of the materialism and ignorance which he regarded as underlying it. This prompted Curle to regard the broad promotion of development and education as intimately connected to the practice of peacemaking and mediation.

Curle’s emphasis on “peaceful relations” is a highly original theorisation of approaches to peace practice, and it has informed the ethos of Peace Studies at Bradford, which Curle created in 1973. In his book, Tools for Transformation, Curle divided his work into three broad strands: peacemaking, social change/development and education, and these will be the three streams of the Centenary Symposium, alongside one on arts and peace to reflect the importance Curle, a musician and poet, gave the arts in peacemaking.

The symposium aims to strengthen interdisciplinary and practice-oriented explorations of peaceful relations in the 21st Century and to assess the ongoing relevance of Curle’s ideas to the challenges the world faces today.

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