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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Welcome to the fifth week of our course. Last week we looked more closely at examples of conflict in divided societies. This week we want to think about how conflict might be managed and perhaps transformed. We have identified that public space is important in how people express their identities. In the last few decades, we’ve witnessed the role played by demonstrations and crowds across the globe. Whether it was the Occupy Movement protesting at the role of the financial system in creating poverty, or the Arab Spring, or protesters in Ukraine, the power of people in our public spaces is clear to see. So this week, we will look at the management of those public spaces.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds How might diverse ethnic groups exist within the State? What might be the role of human rights in providing a context for the expression of contested identities? What is the role of the State and where does power lie? Can space be shared in a divided society?

Introduction to Week 5

This week we want to take two possible approaches to dealing with conflict in public space.

First, we want ask what role can be played by the diverse senses of belonging that exist in all societies. What role might ‘civic identities’ and other senses of identity and belonging play even when significant social divisions exist?

Second, we want to look at the possible role of human rights and human rights instruments in the managing of public space. Can legal structures provide the facilities through which diversity and conflict might be managed?

Over the last two weeks we have looked at how conflict manifests itself through activities in the public space. In week 4 we looked more specifically at Northern Ireland as one example. But as we discussed in week 1, events in public space also give us a sense of belonging. We must remember that these events unite as well as divide.

Also we argued that identity was complex and that everyone has a range of identities and are part of many different groups through their lives. Might alternative civic identities provide a context for the sharing of space? Can other bonds of belonging bind a society even where conflict and division exists?

Underpinning all states is a rule of law. Legal systems provide the context within which public space is managed. Clearly those legal processes need to be thought about. Importantly, what can human rights instruments offer in terms of creating an environment for sharing in diverse and sometimes deeply divided societies? How can freedom of speech and freedom of assembly be a part of managing conflict?

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This video is from the free online course:

Identity, Conflict and Public Space

Queen's University Belfast