MEPEACE Chat - March 28

Event Details

MEPEACE Chat - March 28

Time: March 28, 2010 from 8pm to 9:30pm
Location: MEPEACE chat (
Event Type: chat, chat workshop, live chat, live discussion, mepeace chat, signs, symbols, identity, conflict, symbols of conflict, symbols of peace, jerusalem, physical symbols, coexistence
Organized By: Dialogue Team
Latest Activity: Mar 28, 2010

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Event Description

In our current three workshop series we are exploring "Signs & Symbols" in the peace context. Can these elements be interpreted as "symbols of conflict" or "symbols of peace" ? In the first workshop two weeks ago we tried to find our own definitions of symbols and our own answers to what they mean to us.

Now we invite you to the second workshop of this series. Our topic will be:

Buildings and monuments as symbols of exclusion, separation and conflict ?

This will give us the opportunity to discuss the meaning of (physical) symbols - including religious monuments, national heritage, separation fences/walls, but also residential housing - over concrete examples. For instance, Jerusalem is indeed worth being discussed over since it is the city that should be a symbol for the co-existence of three great religions, but is more divided than ever. Elsewhere (Balkans) fights break out when church steeples are higher than minarets. It seems as if the presence of (symbols of) the 'other' is never simply accepted, but always seen as a threat to co-existence and thus as a threat to peace. Underlining this assumed threat is, to many citizens and politicians, more important than promoting dialogue, and thus talking mutually about both similarities and differences. Here, (architectural) symbols stand for power and the strife for (cultural) dominance over the 'other'.

We identify with 'our' culture, tradition and heritage through the use of physical symbols. These symbols shape the assumed differences between 'us' and 'the others' Furthermore, in many places it's the physical closeness to the 'other' that makes people underline difference to an even greater extent. In a number of places worldwide, for instance, xenophobic tendencies are to a greater extent visible in border regions. This becomes a paradox: The closer we physically are to each other the more we seem to distance ourselves from each other, which - in part - seems to be due to the role of phsyical symbols.

The leading questions for this workshop are:

Why do we tend to talk more about similarities/differences instead of figuring out ways to live together? What is the role of (physical) symbols in that?

Why is it so important to show "others" that "we are different" ?


Please note that the event will start on Sunday, 28 March at 20.00 Jerusalem time.

If you have any questions regarding the event, please don't hesitate us to contact us at

We look forward to your participation on Sunday!

The Dialogue Team
Cigdem Yilmazer, Jessica de Souza, Johanna Silverthorne & Oliver Haack

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