Symposium: Body-Oriented Approaches in Peace Studies

From Monday 03 June to Wednesday 05 June, I took part in a Symposium on Body-Oriented Approaches in Peace Studies, organized by the Research Group Body Oriented Approaches and Arts in Peace and Conflict Transformation within the Research Center for Peace and Conflict at University of Innsbruck. My concrete contribution was in the potentials of Hatha-Yoga as a tool for Peace (Re)search.

Having explored a variety of body-oriented approaches in the study and experience of peace (Yoga, Dance, Theater, Meditation, Active Listening, Contact Work, Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey), I left the symposium deeply touched and inspired. Central to reflections I take home with me are the urgency to shift rational learning processes towards embodied learning, in which the mind is not silenced, but translated and acknowledged through the body.

Another central aspect that has accompanied with me for some time, and has been reiterated by the discussions within the Symposium, is the need to cultivate systematic reflections. While embodied methods make peace(s) and conflict(s) experienceable, they tend to do so in concrete encounters. In order to not neglect larger structural dynamics, we shall be aware of the manifestation of larger discourses in the body and their systemic meanings.

I remain inspired by what has been shared with me, yet began to reflect what I perceive a rather subtle difference among them. It appears to me that some of these methods are rather working on an intrapersonal level, stressing an introspective approach, while other methods work interpersonally and draw their impact from relationality. Certainly, these are not meant as categories, but rather as dynamics ends of a continuum, in which both of these aspects are always present at any time. Such typologization has helped me to identify what differentiates my personal regular practice of introspection from relational methods which I can more easily build into academic learning and teaching.


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