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Violence and Social Change Symposium

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Room 306, Old Teachers College A22, Manning Road, The University of Sydney

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Social change is produced by contradictory forces. Violence is usually understood as an affront to the life and dignity that is supported by social structures, an approach seen in Galtung's concept of 'structural violence'. In this sense violence, in its destructive power and selective administration of suffering, is understood to un-make the social.

Yet it is also true that new forms of sociality appear because of violence. Historically, violence has been pivotal in the creation of colonial, class, racial and gender structures. This aspect of violence is seen in dramatic contemporary form in the civil conflicts in South Africa and Colombia, explored in the book that will be launched at this symposium. From this comes a concept of much wider application, including in Australian life: when violence is systematic and permanent, it becomes a social structure.

Communities affected by protracted conflicts and socio-political violence develop forms of resistance and produce alternatives to re-make social connections fractured by violence. Both the actors and the strategies need attention. Violence, and responses to violence, are gendered; women are often key actors in the re-making of the social. Strategies to promote just social change often include both formal and informal education.

This symposium is especially designed for researchers and practitioners in education, welfare and conflict resolution who are interested in the analysis of structures of violence and their transformation.

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Room 306, Old Teachers College A22, Manning Road, The University of Sydney

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