Social Technologies for Trust, Transparency and Conflict Resolution and the Imagining of Peaceful Futures: The Engagement of Tamera Ecovillage with Peace Activism in Israel/Palestine

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ana Margarida ESTEVES, ISCTE - IUL, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal
This paper is an ethnographic case study of how the use of social technologies, aimed at promoting transparency and trust in group processes, support pedagogical initiatives for peace activists that aim to promote the imagining and implementation of strategies for peaceful coexistence. The case study is Tamera, an ecovillage and peace research center founded in 1995 in Alentejo, southwestern Portugal.

Tamera is developing a replicable model for sustainable human settlements, based on a post-capitalist economic system and a peaceful coexistence among humans, as well as with other species and elements in nature. Since the early ‘00s, Tamera has been supporting activist groups in conflict regions through educational initiatives aimed at transferring the experiential knowledge it has accumulated, during the last decades, on social and environmental sustainability. At the core of such knowledge is know-how on the implementation of environmentally sustainable technologies, as well as social technologies aimed at promoting trust, transparency and conflict resolution in group processes. At the time of fieldwork (April-December 2015), the educational initiatives for peace activists revolved around three core projects of Tamera: “Global Campus”, “Terra Nova School” and the “Community Course”.

This paper looks at the collaboration between Tamera and peace activists in Israel/Palestine. It makes an ethnographic analysis of how the experiential learning, gained by activists that were present in Tamera for the “Global Campus”, “Terra Nova School” and “Community Course” of 2015, contributes to the imagining and implementing of strategies for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. It pays special attention to how the use of the social technologies promoted by Tamera contribute to the dismantling of propaganda-induced images of “the enemy” and the “us-versus-them” attitude that feeds conflict. The fieldwork on which this paper is based took place in Tamera, as well as in various locations in Israel and the West Bank.