GCRO & ACMS State of knowledge symposium: Social cohesion and violence prevention
Date: Monday 22 January 2018, Johannesburg

South Africa is a place of many contradictions, conflicts, and tensions, including but not limited to racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Since the 2000s, the term “social cohesion” has been used as something of a catchall ideal, to which these are all an affront. As common as the term is, it does not rest on a clear analysis of why social tensions exist, or what is to be done about those that do. So far, social cohesion has proved both elusive and resistant to official encouragement.

The GCRO and ACMS, in partnership, are undertaking a programme of research into the empirics of violence prevention, based on previous work on social cohesion. As part of the preparation for this programme a ‘State of Knowledge Symposium’ will bring together academics and practitioners working on problems of social tension, and particularly those that manifest as violence, in an academic setting. The interest of this workshop is to interrogate the kinds of interventions that are being deployed to address this field of social problems, with a particular focus on anti-violence work.

Some initial questions include:
● To what extent do those who run various interventions articulate a theory of change, which conceptualises how their intervention will ‘work’ to achieve the goals they have in mind?
● What goals do those running interventions hope to achieve?
● What do they think are the specific causes of violence and related problems?
● Why were specific methodologies and approaches chosen for particular interventions (over alternative methodologies)?
● How has the thinking of implementing agents shifted over time in relation to a particular approach they are pursuing?
● To what extent have studies done to establish the impact of particular interventions (e.g. M&E)?
● What are the major opportunities that various actors, including government, should be exploiting to reduce violence and the potential for violence?

We call for a working title or abstracts on the following (non-exhaustive) list of topics:

● Xenophobia and anti-xenophobia
● Racism, non-racialism, multiracialism, and anti-racism
● Sexism, gender-based violence, and interventions against them
● Other forms of prejudice and their prevention
● Collective violence
● Cyclical trauma

We are also interested in hearing from practitioners and organisations working in the fields of social cohesion and violence prevention.

The immediate focus is on Gauteng, but we welcome relevant and interesting submissions from elsewhere in South Africa or even other countries.

Please submit working titles by 31 December 2018.

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