As part of the OICD’s commitment to developing a range of scaled programs to mediate violent and non-violent conflict, OICD Applied Projects Director Mr. Tim Crosland, and OICD Director Dr. Bruce White engaged in a variety of meetings and interviews with relevant groups and individuals in the UK, in order to gauge the feasibility of applying OICD methodology to mediate tension and conflict between Roma, Gypsy and Traveller (RGT) communities and the surrounding population in the United Kingdom.
Part of this initial phase of work was to evaluate the potential interest in OICD Intra-Cultural Development Programs (ICDPs) in the UK more generally, as well as to get a sense of how such a program would operate in the highly localized context of UK communities such as Dale Farm (an area which has received media attention for its pending eviction of Irish Travellers).
Initial impressions were that interest in the OICD mediation methodology was high both amongst potential program clients and partners, and that an Intra-Cultural Development Program (see ICDP F.A.Q here) could have a positive impact on the localized settings of places such as Dale Farm and other UK regions where tensions between RGT and surrounding communities are marked.
Indeed, preliminary analysis revealed the ability of an ICDP to contribute to existing mediation efforts and initiatives primarily by focusing on the respective groups’ sense (or lack) of their own cultural legitimacy rather than the negative stereotypes that they may have of each other.
While many existing initiatives focus, often successfully, on educating respective groups as to the merits of “the other”, the OICD preliminarily identified core discriminatory thinking and practices as potentially rooted in underdeveloped anti-historical narratives that seemed prevalent within all involved communities.
While OICD findings are only preliminary at this stage, any future ICDP working in this region would likely begin with significant research on whether, and how, to broaden historically restricted senses of cultural heritage as a primary means to circumvent discriminatory thinking/practices and to begin to open new social spaces for dialogue.
While it is clear that the timing of any future OICD intervention will not allow a direct mediation of the Dale Farm conflict, the case of Dale Farm has revealed some important intra-cultural dynamics inherent in this configuration of communities and regions. More detailed comments and analysis on this are available–request in writing to the OICD director.
The OICD is keen to offer consultancy, advice and support to its partners and clients in the UK and worldwide in gaining access to this kind of intra-cultural understanding and leveraging the power of these perspectives in counteracting discriminatory practices and the small and large scale conflict that results.
The OICD would like to thank: Professor Judith Okley (University of Oxford), Damian Le Bas, Leticia Osorio (Human Rights Clinic University of Essex), Emily Georghiou (Equality and Human Rights Commission), Lucie Fremlova (Equality), Ian Naysmith (Department for Communities and Local Government), Juliane Solf (Open University), Eva Sajovic (Studio at the Elephant)
OICD compliant links on this topic/region (many thanks to Emily Georghiou for providing these!)