1. Cycle of Dignity

In this episode, Dr. Barry Hart, professor of trauma, identity and conflict studies here at CJP, reflects on his own beginnings in the field of conflict transformation and trauma work, definitions of trauma and trauma healing, how CJP has evolved since its inception, and where he sees it – and the entire field of justice and peacebuilding – growing from here.

Hart has “officially” taught at CJP for 23 years, but first came on board as a summer workshop instructor in 1994. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 1978, Hart lived and worked overseas, developing a trauma healing and reconciliation program for the Christian Health Association of Liberia during the Liberian Civil War.

“I was very keen on trying to weave together what I understood could be brought from the outside … the people themselves were very resilient, amazing in their own right, and had skills and traditions that could help in their own healing process,” Hart recalls in the podcast.

CJP co-founder John Paul Lederach invited Hart to come present on his work during a Frontiers workshop (the Frontiers of Peacebuilding events were the precursors to today’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute).

“Coming back was really just part of what I wanted to do, and who I felt I was,” Hart says. Hart has seen CJP through significant academic changes, like the inclusion of restorative justice and transitional justice curricula and the creation of the Foundations I and II courses. 

As for the future of the Center, Hart envisions CJP addressing the climate crisis and its intersecting issues more effectively. “If we can go forward with a real sense of care for each other, care for the planet in a way that, actually, has not only care but practical actions, then I think we’ve gone a long way. So 50 years from now, we may be known as a Center for Justice, Peacebuilding, and the Environment,” says Hart.


Guest

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Barry Hart

Dr. Barry Hart is a professor of Trauma, Identity and Conflict Studies here at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Dr. Hart has conducted workshops on psychosocial trauma recovery and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Burundi and among Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He has lived and worked in the Balkans where he developed and led trauma and conflict transformation programs for schools, communities and religious leaders. He was engaged in a three-year peacebuilding institute and curriculum development project between EMU and the University of Hargeisa in Somaliland from 2008-2011. He holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (I–CAR), George Mason University.


Transcript

Barry Hart
Um, I was doing a lot of local work in terms of counseling and jails and prisons and starting a halfway house for ex-offenders and living there. But at the same time, the the work that I was doing internationally, I think one could say that started in the mid-eighties…

[Theme music plays]

patience kamau
Hello and happy Wednesday to you! Welcome to Peacebuilder: a conflict transformation podcast by The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.  Our guest this episode:

Barry Hart
Barry Hart ––I’m a professor of trauma, identity and conflict studies here at CJP.

patience kamau
Dr. Barry Hart is a professor of trauma, identity and conflict studies here at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Dr Hart has conducted workshops on psychosocial trauma, recovery and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Burundi and among Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He has lived and worked in the Balkans, where he developed and led trauma and conflict transformation programs for schools, communities and religious leaders. He was engaged in a three-year peacebuilding institute and curriculum development project between EMU and the University of Hargeisa in Somaliland from 2008 to 2011. He holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (I–CAR) at George Mason University.

[Theme music ends]

patience kamau
Hi Barry! :) 

Barry Hart
Patience. It’s good to be here. I’m looking forward to it talking about CJP and 25 years! And I’ve been around a long time. I graduated from seminary here, at Eastern Mennonite, and, um, first came on board for the frontiers and peacebuilding program, which was, as you know, the beginning of our Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). So that was in 1994 and had been coming back for SPI and eventually, actually, I was working in the Balkans, in the former Yugoslavia, and came back at the end of 1999 to be here full time.

patience kamau
How long were you there, in The Balkans?

Barry Hart
Just about five years.

patience kamau
Wow. Was that in the height of the war?

Barry Hart
It was during the war and after the war. It was quite a time. And prior to that, I had been in Liberia for several years.

patience kamau
Okay, Okay. What took you to the Balkans?

Barry Hart
Well, um, I finished my doctorate at, um I-CAR, which is George Mason University’s, now S-CAR, School of Conflict Resolution, and, um, a Canadian group was interested in sending me to the Balkans, and I wound up working with CARE Canada and then CARE International in the Balkans where, as I said, about five years. And my work there was related to trauma, trauma awareness and trying to merge conflict, transformation and trauma, which I had really started back in the early nineties in Liberia.

patience kamau
Okay, is it…that’s where you met uh,  Leymah Gbowee, in your time in Liberia? 

patience kamau
Yes, absolutely! Leymah was, and is, an incredible person. So, Liberia was a very special time for me, and I still have a lot of care for and for the people.

patience kamau
What was special about it?

Barry Hart
Well, I was doing my doctoral studies research, but as it turned out, Mennonite Board of Missions, at the time, and MCC was kind of a joint venture, asked me to go and work there for CHAL, which was the “Christian Health Association of Liberia,” uh in this area of…nexus between conflict, what we were calling resolution and trauma at the time. I knew a lot about the former, but not a lot about the latter. The trauma part. But the two years there I developed a program about trauma and reconciliation and drew on a lot of expertise, local expertise on the ground. So that was kind of the beginning of bringing together the field that I was interested in, was doing my doctorate in, but it really turned out that the trauma became an important part of my work.

patience kamau
What program did you develop there? You said you developed something?

Barry Hart
Yes. It was called trauma, healing and reconciliation. And it was part of CHAL, which was the largest health organization in Liberia prior to the war. So they had contacts throughout the country, and I was there in the midst of war that went on for 14 years. And it was really a good an amazing organization to work for. I actually had to leave during one of the more difficult times, and then I went back, and uh, probably worked at uhm, I think I did about 70 workshops around the country on trauma, healing and reconciliation. And that was really the basis of my dissertation. More on identity and ethnic identity and division. But I wove in the trauma part as well.

patience kamau
Can you remember anything that was surprising to you as you traveled and as you interacted with people as you taught about trauma there?

Barry Hart
Oh, what I liked the most,  was really paying attention to what the people were saying and asking a lot of questions about how people dealt with difficulties on the ground. The concept of trauma in one sense, was fairly new, but they knew the symptoms of trauma, and they knew how to deal with things from a traditional method. And I was very keen on trying to weave together what I understood could be brought from the outside, and that doesn’t mean Western models, but models that have been used in Mozambique and other places into that particular context. And it was interesting attempt, I think to uhm bring those different fields together and find that the people themselves were very resilient, amazing in their own right, and had skills and traditions that could help in their own healing process.

patience kamau
You said something about symptoms of trauma, what are those? What is trauma and what are its symptoms?

Barry Hart
Well, um, you know what is trauma? It’s a good thing. It’s clearly when people are wounded psychologically, emotionally, physically, those wounds really impact how people view the world in those moments, because their world has been shaken, everything has been taken away, things are without hope, issues like that, losses that are monumental. In Liberia, for example, there was such destruction that people in some cases, I talked to a lot of people that had to flee to what they called the bush, with only the clothes on their back. And maybe they could take one or two things, maybe the Bible or the Qoran or something that was precious to them, and that was it. And they’d be in the bush for three or four months, avoiding the rebels and the conflict in the war that was going on. But you can imagine that experience, what that did to those who survived, coming back to villages that were destroyed, in fact not only destroyed by others, but their own people, often their own Children, because the Children were brought in as fighters by the rebel leaders for the purpose of using that innocence, if you like, in a very destructive way. So that day I was very obviously complex and really horrible to see how people suffer and cause others to suffer, in that regard. And we know that when we traumatized another person, we are in essence traumatizing ourselves. So on the ground you’ve got people that are being traumatized by rebels, but those same child soldiers, for example, who are doing that to them, are traumatizing themselves in the process. So we had to work with those ex-child soldiers to helped them become, as best we could, as best as they could, become children again.

patience kamau
Oh, to reintegrate them back into normal community.

Barry Hart
Indeed, it was that, and that experience was fascinating to me because I, I was actually working on my dissertation related to Northern Ireland, but was asked by a colleague, to do some work in Liberia and I, something just really struck me as important and meaningful. And I was moved by what was happening there and so I went back and stayed two years.

patience kamau
What was a dissertation on?

Barry Hart
It was on ethnic identity and war, and how identity is manipulated, can be manipulated in the differences between groups and how they view each other, each other’s identity, and as we know, identity is often gotten for ourselves from the other. That is, the other is the wrong one. The out group. They’re the ones that we dislike, but we don’t pay a lot of attention to who we are. We pay attention to who they are, and politicians or religious leaders or military leaders have said “they’re they’re bad people,” and so we see ourselves in an us-them relationship and the “us” (we) are better than them.

patience kamau
So the aspect of your uh, work in identity is in helping people look at themselves and I get to know themselves?

Barry Hart
Yeah, because identity is one of those intangible elements. It’s something that we have, we a lot people, depending on who they are…the groups of people that think about their identity very little, and then, of course, there are other people that are thinking about their identity all the time, based on structures around them and so forth. But, yeah, the goal is in in these kinds of war, post war situations is to help bring healing to both groups and then through that healing process, over time, some type of transformation in the relationship -do I call it full reconciliation? Well, again, this is where some of the traditional models come in where real reconciliation can take place. But it is difficult and a lot of that ethnic divide continues, and is maintained by people who want that ethnic divide, you know, that power.

patience kamau
Yeah, they have something to gain from it.  

patience kamau
How did you end up at EMU or CTP or CJP?

Barry Hart
The seminary got me onto campus, and, uh, that’s a good question. I think because of Liberia, Um, John Paul Lederach asked me to come to the Frontiers and Peacebuilding conference in 1994, to present the work that I was doing in Liberia. And that was kind of the the beginning. I was already familiar with the campus obviously, I had lived here, I’d started Gemeinschaft halfway home, which is right across the hill here at EMU, and so, um, coming back was really just part of what I wanted to do, and who I felt I was.

patience kamau
How has the program evolved in your time here? What are some of the academic and program changes in your time here? What have they been?

Barry Hart
Quite a few, the academic changes are significant, I think. You know, it’s interesting that the program was about peacebuilding, and we were, of course as people are very aware of restorative justice and so forth, but, you know, our title wasn’t, didn’t include the justice-peace before, it was just “conflict transformation program” (CTP). And so the idea was to talk about peacebuilding more broadly, and to emerge it well, with something that’s essential to peace and that is justice. And so the restorative justice and transitional justice types of things were brought into the mix. So the title change was a big one, I think, and that reflected what we did academically. I think the other change, and again there are many, Foundations I and Foundations II. We really thought we needed to merge a number of courses into these foundation courses, so that students could take not just a variety of courses but could actually in one place, for six hours, Foundations I and then six hours for Foundations II…

patience kamau
…six credit hours…

Barry Hart
…six credit hours, be able to really get foundational information materials, understandings that they need, everything again from what it means to be reflective, to being able to analyze conflicts and then to develop theories of change for intervention purposes. That, to me, has been a significant change. And again, there are many other things that have happened, um, in the academic realm.  And I think, probably important for me, too, because I brought some of the trauma and identity issues to CJP when I was teaching and still working in other parts of the world. But coming for SPI and teaching identity and trauma courses and those intangibles, those intangibles of conflict are something that we started to weave more thoroughly into course, not just at SPI, but in through the academic year. So that was really significant.  Program-wise, you know, we’ve moved all over the place from having co-directors to having an academic program director and obviously executive director, and um, really an important, evolving role that Janelle Myers-Benner has been in, from initially an administrative position to a really important role of academic program coordinator and CJP registrar, so many changes, have been important changes because we’re also trying to pay attention to the field –what’s actually happening out there in the world, and how do we adjust academically and programmatically to meet those changes?

patience kamau
That’s excellent! How many years would you say you’ve been here? You said a long time, but can you give it rough estimation?

Barry Hart
Officially 23 years. But then, as I said, I go back to 1994 and I was here ’95, ’96…

patience kamau
Yeah, of course! So you were here at the beginning, really?

Barry Hart
I was, not at the beginning of CTP,   well, I think it started maybe a year or two before that, I’m not actually sure, but in terms of the SPI and beginning with Frontiers in Peacebuilding and then coming back here at the end of ’99, I’ve been around a long time.

patience kamau
We’re grateful for your presence here. It’s provided some stability and continuity. So as you reflect on your experience, what are some of the positive outcomes of your time at CJP?

Barry Hart
A positive and necessary outcome, which is also an ongoing necessity, is working with the real issues as they evolve and emerge; the ones that are most critical in the world. Both internationally and more recently, locally and nationally, I think we are paying a lot more attention to that. So, I think the positive outcome would be evolving along the lines of paying attention to what is a real need. So that reflects being reflective. It reflects being intentional about growing a program that’s organic. Trying to meet needs and it allows our students to come into a program that seems vibrant to them.

patience kamau
What could CJP be doing better?

Barry Hart
What could CJP be doing better? [Laughter] You mean we are not perfect, right? [Laughter]

patience kamau
[sarcastically] Oh dear… [Laughter]

Barry Hart
Yeah, no…what we could be doing better really, is pain even closer attention to what’s going on around us. I think one of the things that really makes a difference in terms of who we are and how we view ourselves is paying attention to what’s going on around racial issues, around injustices, around patriarchy, all range of things that really impact how conflicts, begin and how they are sustained, but also in paying attention to them, how we can help transform them into something meaningful for people and get them out of that conflict cycle.

patience kamau
What’s a conflict cycle?

Barry Hart
I go back to the question of identity, when you have two groups and one feels superior to the other group, and of course the group that is experiencing that superiority from the other group is not feeling good about who they are, and they might want to kind of get back at the group that has oppressed them, or whatever they’ve done to dis-empower or disregard and violating them and their dignity, so they often attack. And then that attack may actually lead to another attack by the group that sees itself as superior initially. And so you have this cycle that is not just in the here and now, it goes across generations. And so this is where historical trauma comes into play as well, where political leaders can actually say to their people, “do you remember what happened?” And of course, people remember what happened 50 years ago or 300 years ago, because it’s been in their histories. It’s been in there poetry. It’s been in the songs they sing. It was told around the kitchen table, about the other. And so “if we don’t want the other to attack us like they did 50 years ago, then we need to attack them.” So this cycle that goes round needs to be broken, and I think we in the peacebuilding field and other fields, of course, have an ability because we can analyze this cycle and we can see what happens. We can see the need of both sides. What needs to happen to bring them into some type of relationship. Again it may not be perfect, but it’s something that helps them realize that in this cycle, everybody suffers.

patience kamau
Are those what are referred to as “chosen traumas,” like when people who were in power begin to bring information from the past to remind people…

Barry Hart
…exactly, “chosen powers,”” chosen glories,” all of these things. Some people would say that this is where we often, through the chosen trauma or chosen glory, get our identities. Again. it’s usually in relationship to the other “we’re better than” or “they have caused us to suffer.” So we take on what other people have said about us, or what we say about ourselves, vis-a-vis another in a negative sense.

patience kamau
How do you think that intersects with the concept of “Ubuntu -I am because you are”?

Barry Hart
Exactly, it’s such a good concept -I’ve had it described me by people from South Africa where Bantu people, and of course throughout Africa in different forms, is that “I have my identity through you, and you have yours through me.” We need each other. There’s, without each other, we’re not whole. I think that’s the greatest thing Ubuntu can show us. And many philosophies from around the world say that in different shapes or reforms, but I have certainly been thankful that, uh, Ubuntu has been there to talk to people about that in the Balkans, or talk to people about that in Northern Ireland or wherever I’ve worked.

patience kamau
You’ve also done work with dignity. What is dignity?

Barry Hart
I’m really thankful to Donna Hicks, who has written a lot about dignity, and we were able to bring her here several times in the last seven or eight years. And so it’s been really good to share her definition of dignity; and and she talks about that feeling, it’s kind of an italicized word: “feeling of inherent value and worth.” That feeling of really having value, and “I’m worthy of a person.” Or “we, as a group, are worthy.” And the thing is that dignity, again is two ways. It’s like trauma. If I traumatized you, I traumatized myself. If I violate your dignity, I violate my own dignity. And it really helps us to understand the value and worth of the other, and of ourselves. And in so doing, then we provide, I think, a space and a place for us to actually find some healing in our relationship and the other part of dignity is that there something greater than both of us! Greater than the two of us, or, our two groups or however we’ve used it. And that can be seen in spiritual terms. It could be nature, you know, it could be something greater that holds us in its own dignity,  and we find ourselves clearly connected then, to many things in this “cycle of dignity.” I’ve just come up with that term. [Laughter]

patience kamau
That’s great. How would you define it on the fly…[Laughter]

Barry Hart
[Laughter] Right! Well, I think I just did. The fact is that we need each other, and we need that which holds us and if we violate it, then we go back into that conflict cycle.

patience kamau
Of course. Of course. All right.

patience kamau
[Transition music begins]
If you have thoughts and comments you’d like to share about this episode, send them to” CJPat25@emu.edu.” That is the letters C-J-P-A-T, the numbers 2-5 @emu.edu. We would love to hear from you!
[Transition music ends]

patience kamau
What do you hope CJP embraces as we move forward into the next 25 years? What’s your vision of CJP at 50?

Barry Hart
I think it’s clear that we will need to address climate crisis more effectively. It doesn’t mean we haven’t touched on it; but we really need to address that. And this is obviously critical to peace and justice issues in terms of not only survival, but in preventing future conflicts. So 50 years from now, I guess it’s my hope that we really find, uh, a way of dealing with -as effectively as we can- obviously, it’s a multi-sectoral approach to to an issue such as the climate and our environment. But as much as we can to be effective on this issue, and, um, that important parts of this is dealing with the related issues I mentioned before. I mean, they don’t seem related, but guess what, in patriarchy and other power issues, racial injustice and finding ways to encourage greater honoring of dignity between persons and the planet. So if we can go forward with a really sense of care for each other, care for the planet, uh, in a way that actually has not only care, but practical actions, then I think we’ve gone a long way. So 50 years from now, we may be known as a Center for Justice, Peacebuilding and the environment.

patience kamau
That would be great. That would be wonderful. Um, do you think the environment has dignity?

Barry Hart
Yeah, that’s –the things that hold us as human beings, we oftentimes see ourselves as very special without seeing what holds us, and what holds us is nature itself. What holds us is our relationship within the animals and the bees and others, other important elements of of our environment. And it’s it’s a unit, you know. It’s a system, it’s organic, it flows, it ebbs and flows. It’s complex, it’s all these things. And that’s exciting to me. And I think realizing that more and more, is critical for us to live in peace with justice in this context.

patience kamau
What do you think, why are we failing? Not a CJP, but just as a community of human beings on this earth?

Barry Hart
Well, one of the things is, the primitive brain, it wants to store energy. It doesn’t want to put out energy. And it takes a lot of energy to do the work that is good and just and those of us who do that, know that, and sometimes we burnout on this sort of thing. But how do we help all of us find ways to use our energy in a collective manner? So more and more of us are doing the work and being encouraged by recognizing that, that work is critical to everyone’s well-being. I think that’s one of the important elements of differences is not just celebrating differences, but using those differences in constructive creative ways for the benefit of all. How we get there, it takes a lot of work. I know because of my own exercise routine –I sometimes just don’t want to do it. You know, but I just go out there. But I know when I do,  I feel good. I feel good physically, i feel good emotionally, so how then can we all exercise whatever that means, in this particular case, more and more, working together for the benefit of everyone.

patience kamau
Mm-hm, for all living-beings.

Barry Hart
Yeah! 

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau
In your time at CJP, what has changed you most? Uh, what has been life-giving?

Barry Hart
The most life giving element for me has been relationships. The relationship with really great colleagues at CJP, and across EMU and with our students. I’m just always amazed to experience students who are taking in the information. And, of course, they bring great wisdom to the classroom, and I think that’s an exciting element of our work and our life together here. I think one of the things that happens at CJP is that we have a value system that really undergirds who we are and what we want to do, and that manifests in relationships. And there are a lot of academic situations and places and institutions where working relationships aren’t that good, or students don’t feel that they can connect with the teachers, professors and staff. But, um, though we’re not perfect at this, I think we do a fairly good job in building a relationship and therefore community.

patience kamau
What do you think our values are?

Barry Hart
Really, bottom line for me is care. Care for others, care for the work we do, really honoring what is important in relationships, and then finding means and ways to do these relationships  in ways that really expressed that care, really say who we are from our hearts rather than just, kind of, an intellectual endeavor. And I think that’s to me some of the most important things here.

patience kamau
How have you experienced community, for you personally?

Barry Hart
The fact that we have “open doors” at our offices, that we go from office to office, talk to each other –students can come by. I don’t think that happens enough these days. But it was something and still is important in CJP. And we do have potlucks, faculty have have retreats that are very important to not just talk about what we’re doing next academically, but to really get to know each other in a deep way, a lot of vulnerability and, um, and safety in that vulnerability. I think that’s critical to build these relationships.

patience kamau
Yeah, shared vulnerability helps create a sense of trust among one another, and build a stronger community. In your time at CJP, have you realized anything that has particularly puzzled you? You’re still wrestling through?

Barry Hart
Well, there’s a lot of puzzles in life. I’m not sure that I’m wrestling too much with, um issues, I think what is most puzzling, though, is why we…you know, we’re known around the world and wherever I travel, and I’ve heard this from colleagues and former students, –that everybody lifts us up as, you know, doing good work, and I think that’s the case. I’m just not sure why we haven’t gotten, in one sense, more visibility, which could and should lead to maybe some financial stability for scholarships and building a new building for C JP.  You know, we’ve been talking about that for a long time, so that’s a bit puzzling to me, you know? Where is the  institutional support in that regard, why haven’t we uhm found the partners that can enhance that more? Why haven’t we been more imaginative in that regard? So I think that’s still a bit of a puzzling element for me. Uh, we have this interesting CJP building [laughter] that when students come, and they’ve heard about us, and they say, “oh, this is where you are?” [Laughter] And I love this, I love this place, actually, but I think it’s time to have something more.

patience kamau
Mm-hm, mm-hm, inshallah, maybe it be a prayer that’s heard. 

Barry Hart
Exactly.  

patience kamau
Uhm, what’s been most challenging professionally for you in your time here? And could you have done it differently?

Barry Hart
Most challenging –when I have not really paid close enough attention in class, to some of the needs of different people. I kind of see myself as a person who does that, but I’ve missed that point few times along the way and that it’s been frustrating. It’s been hurtful to classroom environment, in some cases, and obviously to the individual student, along with myself. So I think in that regard I’ve worked at that, and I think some good things have come out of that, Uhm, but I could have probably handled it differently, brought colleagues in sooner, to talk about it and really involve –depends on circumstances– but involve the class more in that situation. So, you know, teaching here for nearly 25 years, I’ve had a lot of very good experiences, but there’s been one or two situations that could have been better, and that’s, it’s been frustrating to me. But even, well I shouldn’t say but, and I’m continuing to work at that.

patience kamau
Were these situations that you realized on the spot, or was it in reflection and looking back? How how did they unfold?

Barry Hart
Yeah, I realized on the spot, and we’re not talking about multiple situations here…

Barry Hart
Right…right, you said two… 

Barry Hart
…but, they’ve been real. I notice it, or interestingly enough, a colleague has pointed it out to me because the individual student is more comfortable speaking to someone about it than directly to me, and I understand that. But, um, that needs to be encouraged too. But you know, there’s, there is a power difference between students and teachers –we work at that not being the case, but the reality of it is, there is. And so sometimes, I miss that and students miss that, or really do get that, and, uh, it’s not working for them.

patience kamau
[Transition music begins]
So, we’d love for you to participate in celebrating this 25th year milestone. For details about events and activities in which you can participate, check out emu.edu/cjp/anniversary.  
[Transition music ends]

patience kamau
We began…you said that you’ve been in the peacebuilding field since the nineties? The early nineties?

Barry Hart
Well, even before that. Uh, no, I started in mediation in the early eighties. Did a number of things in the mid-eighties in Northern Ireland related to mediation and what we were calling “conflict resolution” at the time. So things evolved from there and I started to do…I was doing a lot of local work in terms of counseling and jails and prisons and starting a halfway house for ex-offenders and living there. But at the same time, the the work that I was doing internationally, I think one could say, that started in the mid-eighties.

patience kamau
What have been the most significant changes in the field?

Barry Hart
I think that’s really important! For me, I mentioned the intangibles before, and I think what I’ve seen –and it needs to continue and grow– is making sure that every situation, whether it’s domestic or international conflict or violent situation, that we’re paying attention to, not just the tangible issues. For example, in postwar circumstances, you wanna rebuild the infrastructure, you know, you wanna put roads and power lines and you want to rebuild the houses and the schools, all very important and all very meaningful in terms of people’s well-being and identity. At the same time, there are those issues of trauma and identity and dignity violations that need to be addressed as well. So what I’ve seen, and we’ve been doing that I think a long time here at CJP, the field itself has started to really take hold of these things as well. And so I’m I’m really pleased, but I’m really, I’m working on that even more and more, and I think that’s one of the most significant things that has taken place. I’m sure there are many others.

patience kamau
Can you tell us more about what you mean by “the intangibles”?

Barry Hart
An “intangible” would be again, those kind of interior elements of who we are or where the group is –their identity.

patience kamau
Okay. They’re not apparent just by looking at a person?

Barry Hart
Well, no. And they’re not even a parent sometimes, to the people themselves, so they don’t realize, for example, where their identity comes comes from. And as I said earlier, if it’s, it is actually coming from the fact that they’re not “the other,” that’s that’s only one element of understanding who you are, there’s many more. So if we can help people understand kind of the roots and the core identity issues that helped shape them and their worldview, then that can be helpful. The same is true with trauma. You know, people have these symptoms, you know ,they can’t sleep, they have headaches, you know, they can’t focus; well, this is where trauma awareness comes in! It has a lot of people that say, “oh, yeah, now I understand what this is.” And again the dignity violations, and I’m focusing on these three things, there are more, are also true, recognizing that like Mandela, said Nelson Mandela, no one can take your dignity away. They can push it down, but it’s always there, and so we can help people who have had their dignity violated –pushed down if you like– to understand that, that’s still there, that’s who they are, and bringing that value and worth forward…  

patience kamau
…they can reclaim it!

Barry Hart
…reclaiming as you say, absolutely critical. And so those “intangibles,” along with those other very important “tangibles” of infrastructure or whatever, combining those is what is really necessary.

patience kamau
What “intangibles” define you? What…how do you see yourself over the years? How have you come to see yourself, has there been anything surprising that you’ve discovered about yourself?

Barry Hart
I think in the…more particularly, and this goes back to the wonderful students we have and how they challenge us, you know, I’ve been in this field a long time, and this also goes back to my Children. I have Children that are 18 and 20 years old. So I as an older parent, you know, I entered parenthood and I entered into this peacebuilding field with, with some some skills and some understanding and so forth, but I’ve had my buttons pushed in a lot of situations, So students have pushed my buttons, in a good sense –I’m not saying you know, and it’s just kind of say “oh I didn’t think about that, thank you, that’s that’s a good one,” or “wow, I actually did miss and I’m sorry that I did.” So that constant involvement –relationship– with, whether it’s my children or in the classroom, (and I’m not making exact comparison here),  I’m just talking about how exciting it is to be in that learning process as an individual. And so I’ve learned about my own issues, my own dignity factors, my own understanding of who I am, and I’m still learning that it’s a journey. And the more I learn, the more complex it gets in terms of trying to understand it, and, you know, that’s also good. You know that. I know there’s complexity and I’m not going to fully understand it, but I want to continue to journey, in that complexity so I can find those wonderful elements more, I don’t know if I want to call him simple elements, but those elements that actually give some understanding to the complexity around me.

patience kamau
What are you working on right now? Within the peacebuilding profession?

Barry Hart
One of the exciting elements –number of years ago, I wrote an article that included the concept of psychosocial peacebuilding, again bringing the “tangibles” and “intangibles” together. And I’ve been working with a group of people mostly meeting in South Africa on…who are coming from the mental health field, psychosocial field and the peacebuilding field. And so we’re learning from each other, and we’ve actually gotten to the point where just the third workshop has been done, it was done in Tanzania, we had done one in Kenya and one in South Africa, where we brought people from these fields together and and gave them a context specific role-play to work at and find out how they worked on the same plane, how they differed, and what they could learn from each other. And our whole purpose of this was to help those three fields, and of course, we need up many fields working at this larger peacebuilding idea, but have those fields –at least– working together in helping people in post-conflict situations, whatever paying attention to: yes, the mental health, yes, the psychosocial element –that nexus between mental health and societal realities– and then peacebuilding locally but also writ large, that is really, truly a multi-sectoral approach to change. And it’s just been exciting because  these three workshops are going to give us the information we need, the data that we need to develop workbooks and so forth, that will be geared towards these three fields. And so we’re encouraging a lot of…we’ve done a lot of field studies and so forth, but we’re encouraging these fields to work together, and we’re hoping that the work we’re doing will show that it’s important to work together and it’s possible to do so.

patience kamau
The workshops, have they all already happened? 

Barry Hart
Yes they have!

patience kamau
Okay, um, and you’re going to produce…

Barry Hart
…a workbook. We did a lot of interviews, I think it was 60 some groups across the spectrum of mental health and peacebuilding and psychosocial support, and so we can go back to those and say, this is what we found, it’s important and we want to encourage you to consider working together and where we can help that happen, we will.

patience kamau
How can people access that workbook? Is it ready? And might it be ready sometime in the future?

Barry Hart
We’re are planning, probably in the early part of the year, to have a final meeting to put together the data from the workshops, the learnings, and then start the process of writing that workbook. So my hope is that maybe mid-2020 we will have it.

patience kamau
Okay, all right, that’s great! What is psychosocial trauma?

Barry Hart
That’s that interface between the psychological issues, including well-being of people in their social environments. Because we just don’t kind of live that interior psychological life, that pain of trauma, for example, manifest in our family relationships, in our community relationships and so forth. And so we want to have a deeper understanding of how trauma awareness, again the identity issues and so forth, can play out better in a social context. So when we put psychosocial together with peacebuilding that looks at infrastructures as well as systems and so forth and justice issues and hopefully there’s a greater understanding and practice of doing peace with justice and having psychological well-being.

patience kamau
You said that one of the workshops you had a role play –are you able to explain how the role-play was? What was it?

Barry Hart
Well, I guess I did say role-play…

patience kamau
…is that not what you meant?

Barry Hart
Maybe I meant case-study.

patience kamau
Case-study! Okay. Okay.

Barry Hart
Sorry, glad you caught that. But the idea of the case-study –that it was actually written by people from the three fields about an actual case on the ground, and then they had their colleagues, through a work-week, go through that case together. So they did the analysis, they did the theories of change, they did the the intervention strategies, they did the monitoring and evaluation, and every group does it a little bit differently. So we wanted to see what those differences were, but we wanted to also see where the similarities were and to get people from these groups to see the similarities and say, “ah, well, this is a good thing, I didn’t catch that element…I didn’t see how that element was important in doing my work.” And so that larger peacebuilding framework can be helpful to all people.

patience kamau
So that the ideas are cross-pollinating? 

Barry Hart
Yup!

patience kamau
So we’re almost done, uhm, but outside of CJP and outside of peacebuilding, what do you do that helps give meaning to your life?

Barry Hart
Well, I mentioned my children, and they certainly give meaning –they’re both in university now, so the house is empty.  

patience kamau
You have a cat!

Barry Hart
I have a cat…

patience kamau
What’s his or her name?

Barry Hart
Omblez! No, that’s my former cat. This is Rivkah. Yeah, it’s interesting I said Omblez. I had a cat when I lived with a Benedictine monk in France and uh, her name was Omblez, which was from a village right down the road from where I lived. 

patience kamau
Oh, she was impactful, you still remember her!

Barry Hart
Yes. Yes, it’s curious that she just came up, but Rivkah is a sweetheart. So yeah, outside of what I do, children are important, I’m really keen on good diet and exercise. I exercise on a regular basis and you know, that that mental health, physical health, dietary health, it’s really, really important. And other than that I’m doing, I’m part of the International Council of Initiatives of Change, and that council is kind of a governing body for the network of Initiatives of Change, which includes about 35 teams around the world. And we’re doing a program called trust-building programs. So, got, a significant grant, and we’re developing…right now we’re in the process of doing three pilot programs, and I’m the chair of the evaluation committee on those programs. So we’re hoping to carry that out over the next many years, these pilots are going to be evaluated, and we’re gonna learn how to, kind of, grow them as we go forward.

patience kamau
Okay. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Barry Hart
No. I really am pleased with your questions and the interview. And I think, uh, 25 years CJP is amazing in and of itself, and I think it  reflects the values that we hold, the ability to be flexible and change and learn and grow, and that’s why I think it may indeed be possible. to see CJP 50 years from now.

patience kamau
May it be so!  

Barry Hart
May it be so!  

patience kamau
All right. Thank you very much Barry.

Barry Hart
You’re quite welcome Patience, thank you!

patience kamau
Have a good afternoon! 

patience kamau
Dr. Hart is the author of “Dignity in Negotiation: It’s transforming Power” and “Psychosocial Peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina: approaches to relational and social change.”  

patience kamau
[Outro music begins]
All the music you hear on this podcast has been composed by the one and only, Luke Mullet. Our audio mixing engineer extraordinaire is Stephen Angello. Audio editing support was generously provided by Michaela  Mast; and I am the podcast executive producer, audio recording engineer, editor and host Patience Kamau. As you are able, please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that other peacebuilders may find it. We’ll be back with a new episode in two weeks. Thanks so much for listening and join us again next time!
[Outro music ends]

6 comments on “1. Cycle of Dignity”

  1. Helen M says:

    I am elan and encouraged to every constructive comment from you Barry and can’t wait to taking your course on Identity. I am definitely still journeying and processing how I can actually tell my stories without causing harm to others or hearing stories from others without doing them harm.
    Thank you.

  2. Elena M Huegel says:

    Hello from Mexico! I really appreciated the podcast especially the focus on dignity and environmental issues, including climate change, as one of the urgent topics we need to address in peacebuilding and also trauma healing and resilience. I think Dr. Hart should develop the insight of the dignity cycle as an appreciative counter balance to the cycle of conflict! I have been teaching and speaking about climate change for about 30 years, and it is discouraging to see how we keep back tracking instead of moving forward towards caring for the planet, our only home. I keep thinking how our traumatic disconnection from the environment is related to our many traumatic reactions towards Earth, people and all living creatures. Living in Latin America, dignity is a key topic with many wonderful insights from the original peoples. In Tseltal Mayan, Ich’el ta muk’, is the term for dignity which loosely translated is "I see the greatness in all that exists." I am looking forward to future podcasts! Thanks so much for the opportunity to listen.

  3. Ron Baer says:

    I have dedicated the beginning of my retirement to working in the struggle against Climate Change, so I was very pleased when Dr. Hart mentioned the possibility of CJP adding the Environment to its priorities. I would be thrilled to have CJP become the Center for Justice, Peace and the care of the Environment. I don’t know what the new acronym would be!

  4. Judith Mandillah says:

    That was great to hear from Barry and his great work of helping others to be at peace. Iam being temptempted to package my encounters in peacebuilding within the criminal justice system.

  5. Keneaa Z. Keneaa says:

    Hi, I am Keneaa, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I have been working in the conflict resolution field in a faith setting for some time. This interview with Dr. Hart highlighted one of the areas I am very interested in working with within my context: identity and reconciliation. I look forward to learning more from and working with Dr. Hart soon.

    Thank you, Patience and team, for a great podcast!

    1. patience says:

      thanks so much keneaa for listening! it is a great pleasure to work on putting this podcast together :)

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