by OICD Director, Dr. Bruce White

Looking back over the last year, 2013 stands out in its bringing together of talented people and its continued development of innovative projects and training programs. It was also the year that the organization experimented seriously with social media, launched an online journal, and brought a network of interdisciplinary scholars together in Kyoto, Japan.

Read on to see a summary of the organization’s activities during 2013. The report is organized into the following categories:

Ø  Internships, Research Fellows, and Internet Articles and News

Ø  Projects and Training Programs

Ø  The 2013 Conference, New Networks and Senior Member Appointments

Internships, Research Fellows, Internet Articles and News

As 2013 began, the OICD office in Doshisha University, Kyoto, was being graced with interns arriving into our new internship programTayler Groom from Southampton University, UK, soon began to update the OICD’s social media and internet presence, rebranding the news page “Identity Insight” and soliciting articles and feature pieces. Executive committee member Ellen Kaplan contributed an article on How theatre can help heal the wounds of war.

Early 2013 also saw Aliya Tskhay taking on research fellow status alongside research fellow Andrea de Antoni. Both research fellows hosted sessions at Doshisha University on their respective research topics (follow name links) during 2013.

The summer brought intern Jessy Hodder from Smith College, USA onto the team. She used her training in performance to hold a workshop for OICD members on theatre and identity. Following the workshop, Jessica produced the first of two toolkits for internal OICD projects and organizational training.

The year came to a close with an additional internship program ready to put into action with professionals. Talks took place with University of Melbourne on initiatives to allow their advanced graduate students to apply for internship positions at the OICD. Finally, Doshisha student Takafumi Nagai joined the Kyoto office as a volunteer with a view to applying for an internship in the spring of 2014.

*Keep up-to-date with people and news on the OICD website.

Projects and Training Programs

Amongst the research-based projects undertaken over 2013 were those spearheaded by research fellows. A water-resource management project in central Asia created by Aliya Tskhay (research fellow) wassubsequently presented at an IACM conference for which she won a scholarship. A research project examining attitudes towards outcaste communities in Japan was successfully undertaken by Andrea de Antoni. In addition, starter projects on Burma and Bullying and Discrimination in Japan were set into motion by interns Jessy Hodder and Taylor Groom respectively.

Yuko Nishimura (Executive Committee), integrated her work on underclass identities in Europe, India and Japan into a OICD project. An application was submitted for Japanese government funding through 2014-2016 to develop this study further. This project has some early video footage on the social history of white leather work in Japan.

2013 was also the year that the online journal Global Ethnographic (GE) was finally launched by its dedicated staff and editorial board. The year has brought challenges for GE but the project, bringing ethnographic analysis to the general reader, continues to attract and peer-review articles, hoping to increase the number of on-site articles further through 2014.

From mid 2013 onward, Kyoto-office hands have been working on the development of an applied project proposal for work in West Africa (Mali), in partnership with the Paris and Dakar-based think tank Imagine Africa. Both Imagine Africa and the OICD have high hopes for this unique media-campaign driven project which attempts to help build cohesion and empower vulnerable Malians to resist and reconcile the effects of extremism.

OICD training programs have also solidified in important ways through 2013. “Divisions of Identity in Society”, as well as a graduate program course on “Building Cohesion and Promoting Peace through Identity”, have both evolved significantly throughout the year. These programs are now being readied for adaptation to governmental and NGO applications, with the first applied training of professionals expected to roll out through 2014.

The 2013 Conference, New Networks and Senior Member Appointments

The high point of the year is undoubtedly when people come in person from different corners of the world. This year’s conference at Doshisha, Kyoto, sponsored by the Centre for Global Resource Management (GRM) and the graduate school of Global Studies, was no exception.

“Transforming Conflict and Promoting Cohesion through Identity” was the theme of the conference. The meeting brought speakers from ten countries. Apart from the interesting papers and session topics, a graduate student session explored conflicts in Sudan and Sri Lanka, sharing with the audience some of the ways in which they were using their understanding of symbolism and identity to direct identity-led solutions.

This OICD conference was the first to invite participation from around the world in the form of real-time tweeting and photographs. Questions for speakers arrived from different corners of the world; a dedicated social media desk fielded the incoming and outgoing feeds. Great work done by 2012/2013 OICD interns! Follow this link to summary conference report with pictures.

In addition to giving his paper at the conference, Gary Gregg (research affiliate) held a special pre-conference session to explore the central OICD themes of self-representation, symbolism and conflict.

As well as the networks facilitated by the conference, 2013 also saw OICD enter the Global Collation for Conflict Transformation, a group of organizations working around the world with similar aims and visions. The OICD’s GCCT profile now sits alongside many other parallel organizations and we look forward to exploring the possibilities for partnership amongst these other member organizations.

2013 also brought with it several new senior appointments. Rick Fawn and Jotham Momba both presented papers at the OICD Kyoto conference. They now occupy the status of OICD Research Affiliates, highlighting the importance of their research and its relevance to the aims of the OICD. Their involvement is warmly welcomed.

Prolific and expert anthropologists on peace and conflict, Pamela Stewart and Andrew Strathern accepted an invitation to become Special Advisors to the OICD. Their work on conflict, peace and violence is well-known and it is a great honor to welcome them to the organization in this vital advisory role.

Former visiting professor at the graduate school of global studies and president of Imagine Africa, Pierre Sane, (formerly Secretary General of Amnesty International, and Assistant Director-General, UNESCO), graciously accepted the role of Special Adviser to the OICD. His involvement with the organization is of inestimable benefit to the OICD. As well as bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role, his achievements in innovating research and applied projects across the world in some of the most challenging contexts is unparalleled.