This Special Issue brings together five articles from different disciplines. It aims to contribute to the emergent critical voices in research about collective trauma and collective healing by introducing novel perspectives and inviting further debates on the relevant issues evoked. For this reason, the Special Issue focuses on collective healing through a number of prisms. First, it delves into the notions of wounding and trauma, with a view to advance a well-argued theoretical framework for understanding collective healing. Second, it identifies underlying ethical pillars for collective healing, especially the principles of equality and well-being that affirm human dignity founded on our intrinsic non-instrumental value as persons. Third, it interrogates one of the deeply seated root causes of transatlantic slavery, and establishes a connection between capitalist expansion and systematic subjugation of human beings to brutal forces for the sake of materialistic production and wealth accumulation. Thus, this Special Issue attempts to survey historical dehumanisation in some of the mass atrocities, probe their continued legacies in contemporary societies in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and highlight some of the political, psycho-social and grassroots approaches to collect healing in various contexts. In doing so, it further reflects on the conceptual, methodological and structural challenges involved when moving towards collective healing.
On 1st June 2023, during the second session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, a Special Event was co-created by the UNESCO and the GHfP Institute, featuring our team’s presentations on how the intergenerational dialogue and inquiry has contributed to healing, resilience and well-being.
Our partners highlighted the magic of the dialogue circles and that it is in the circle where the legacies of enslavement and colonialism are acknowledged, the transgenerational trauma recognised, the human bond cherished, and systemic transformation imagined.
One of young participants articulated clearly as follows: “I lost faith in the current systems, but I regained faith in the circles.” The encountering, listening, storytelling, and re-storying, continue to unfold in the circle where participants of different generations and backgrounds collaborate in healing and co-creating a system of caring.
The UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project and the Global Humanity for Peace Institute, University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD), are jointly hosting an exciting international webinar series entitled: New Perspectives on Collective Healing, Social Justice and Well-Being. These webinars are supported by AfroSpectives, and Spirit of Humanity Forum.
Dr Ali Moussa Iye is a writer and researcher. He holds a PhD in political Science from the Institute of Political Science (Grenoble, France). He was a journalist, Editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper and Director of Press and Audio-visual in his country (Djibouti) before joining UNESCO. Within UNESCO, through various posts, he actively contributed to the elaboration of the UNESCO Strategy against Racism and Discrimination and the creation of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism. From 2004 and 2019, Dr Moussa Iye was the Head of the History and Memory for Dialogue Department and directed two important UNESCO Programmes: the Routes of Dialogue (Slave Route Project and Silk Roads Project) and the General and Regional Histories (History of Humanity, General History of Africa, General History of Latin America; General History of the Caribbean, History of Civilisations of Central Asia; Different Aspects of Islamic Culture). He has initiated and coordinated the pedagogical use of the General History of Africa and the drafting of the last three volumes of this prestigious collection to update it and address the new challenges faced by Africa and its diasporas.
Dr Moussa Iye is currently pursuing research in the field of political anthropology and is working in particular on the revalorisation of African endogenous knowledge. He is the founder and Chair of the Think-Tank “AFROSPECTIVES, a Global Africa initiative” to re-imagine Africa’s presence and contribution to the World. Among his publications are “The Verdict of the Tree: An Essay of an African Endogenous Democracy” (2014) and “Slavery, Resistance and Abolitions: A Pluralist Perspective” (2019).
Esther A. Armah is an author, playwright, international public speaker, and former journalist. She is CEO of The Armah Institute of Emotional Justice (The AIEJ), a global institute creating racial healing resources and tools working across Accra, New York, and London. She is author of “EMOTIONAL JUSTICE: a roadmap for racial healing“, a #1 New Release on Amazon in the category General Sociology of Race Relations for six straight weeks. Emotional Justice is a racial healing roadmap Esther created over a 15-year period through assignment, research and community engagement in Accra, Philadelphia, South Africa and New York. As a journalist she has worked in London, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Esther was the Spring 2022 Distinguished Activist in Residence at New York University’s Center for Black Visual Culture. Her Emotional Justice essays are featured in the New York Times best-selling book “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America“; the award-winning Love with Accountability, Charleston Syllabus, and Women & Migrations (II). She has written five Emotional Justice plays that have been produced and performed in New York, Chicago and Ghana. For her Emotional Justice work, she won the ‘Community Healer Award’ at the 2016 Valuing Black Lives Global Emotional Emancipation Summit in Washington DC. Esther was named ‘Most Valuable NY Radio Host’ in The Nation’s Progressive Honors List for her work on Wake-Up Call on Pacifica’s, WBAI.
The UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project and the Global Humanity for Peace Institute, University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD), are jointly hosting an exciting international webinar series entitled: New Perspectives on Collective Healing, Social Justice and Well-Being.
The 2nd webinar of the Series featured the presentations from the keynote speakers, Dr Joy DeGruy and Thomas Hübl (PhD), who are both renowned for their insights into intergenerational trauma and collective healing.
Following their keynote presentations, Joy DeGruy and Thomas Hubl engaged in a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of healing the wounds of history and ancestral trauma, and how global communities must take responsibility for supporting a flourishing future for the whole of humanity.
Dr Joy DeGruy is a nationally and internationally renowned researcher and educator. For over two decades, she served as an Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work and now serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Joy DeGruy Publications Inc. (JDP). Dr DeGruy is committed to the healing of those that continue to suffer from past and present injuries and for the well being of all people.
As a result of twelve years of quantitative and qualitative research, Dr DeGruy has developed her theory of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, publishing her findings in the book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome – America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing”. The book addresses the residual impacts of generations of slavery and opens up the discussion of how the black community can use the strengths we have developed in the past to heal in the present.
Thomas Hübl, PhD, is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose lifelong work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. The origin of his work and more than two decades of study and practice on healing collective trauma is detailed in his book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds. Thomas’ next book, Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World, will be published in September, 2023.
Mysticism and the principles that guide the actualization and practice of embodying these profound experiences are at the heart of Hübl’s teachings. In all his courses, participants can expect to learn from his extensive experience as a teacher of meditation and study of wisdom traditions. His didactic talks draw from evidence-based research and the leading edge of transpersonal, interdisciplinary studies.
The UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project and the Global Humanity for Peace Institute, University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD), are jointly hosting an exciting international webinar series entitled: New Perspectives on Healing, Justice and Well-Being.
In this opening session held on Monday 3rd April on Zoom, Mrs Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, was joined by Professor Medwin Hughes, the Vice Chancellor of UWTSD, to introduce the series.
The keynote speaker for this session was Zeinab Badawi, the award-winning international TV and Radio journalist who has worked on a major 20-part TV series on the History of Africa.
Following the keynote presentation, Mrs Gabriela Ramos and Ms Zeinab Badawi engaged in a deep dialogue about UNESCO’s Routes of Enslaved Peoples project and the significance of learning from the history of Africa, including exploring the importance of giving voice to people of African descent, and valorising their culture and contributions to modern societies.
Zeinab Badawi a BA Hons in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a post-graduate degree in history (awarded with a distinction) from SOAS, London University. She has worked extensively in the British media for four decades, and is best known for her work in the BBC’s international division at BBC World News TV and BBC World Service Radio on programmes such as ‘Hard Talk’, and ‘Global Questions’.
Zeinab is President of SOAS, London University, a member of the International Advisory Boards of think-tanks Afro-Barometer and the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, a member of the high-level panel of the Africa Europe Foundation, a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, a council member of the Arts, Humanities and Research Council of UKRI, a director of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Royal Opera House and Hampstead Theatre in London, and she is a member of Italy’s annual Venice Seminar.
Zeinab was a member of the Rhodes Commission (2021) on the future of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford. She has previously served on the boards of the British Council, BBC Media Action, the National Portrait Gallery, the Institute for Historical Research, the Overseas Development Institute and has been Chair of the Royal African Society and Article 19, the freedom of speech advocacy organisation. She was also on the advisory board of the Foreign Policy Centre.
Zeinab has received many media awards as well as honorary doctorates from SOAS, London University, York University, and the University of the Arts London; and she is an honorary fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford University. Other awards include the President’s Medal of the British Academy for her services to broadcasting and education, the UN Association-UK Sir Brian Urquhart award for distinguished service to broadcasting, education and the UN, and International TV Personality of the Year awarded by the Association of International Broadcasters.
Since 2021, the Healing the Wounds of Slavery project has been recognised as an important initiative of UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples. This work focuses on advancing collective healing, social justice and global well-being. Therefore, we have decided to change the default website URL from ‘Healing the Wounds of Slavery’ to ‘Collective-Healing’.
Until this time, the UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project dedicated last three decades to breaking the silence about the histories of transatlantic slavery, and encouraging our shared recognition of the continued intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of structural dehumanisation. Now it is time to introduce future-facing strategies that aim to engage global communities in collective healing.
Currently, the Collective Healing Initiative consists of four mutually reinforcing iterative processes:
1. Collective Healing, Social Justice and Global Well-Being:
- To launch intergenerational dialogue & inquiry pilots in communities in four continents and explore historical wounds connected to the legacies of slavery and colonialism.
- To invite and gather narratives of resilience and examples of indigenous knowledge, wisdom and practices of collective healing.
- To co-develop a bespoke Collective Healing Programme based on learnings from the inquiries.
- To pilot the programme in the community facilitated by women and youths.
2. Empowering Women and Youths:
- To establish an innovative UNESCO Future Leaders Academy
- To offer co-created transformative competences programmes for empowering women and youth facilitators – the driving forces of the bespoke collective healing programmes in different communities.
- To nurture, enable and support women and youths to become pillars of their communities who will collaborate in confronting systemic discrimination and intolerance in worldwide communities.
3. Research, Evaluation and developing UNESCO Policy Brief:
- To develop academic and interdisciplinary research for understanding and evaluating participating communities’ experiences of collective healing, well-being and regeneration.
- To analyse meaningful impacts across the different communities involved in the Project.
- To propose a UNESCO policy brief that characterises institutional conditions for social transformation.
4. Implementation and Dissemination:
- To improve and implement collective healing programmes in relevant communities.
- To mobilise NGOs and partners to provide continuous support to women and youth facilitators and offer leadership opportunities for them to introduce collective healing to wider societies.
- To distribute and share research findings and disseminate policy briefs and learnings through publications, webinars, and conferences.
“Revisiting Theories and Practices of Endogenous Governance in Africa” Co-Convened by Afrospectives and Global Humanity for Peace Institute took place on Zoom on 11-12 May 2022 at 14.00 – 18.00 UK (Summer) Time. Read about the Symposium below. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SYMPOSIUM FLYER.
Africa, the continent where humanity created its first communities, has always had rich philosophies, wisdom and praxis aimed at developing humanising systems of governance through regulating power, enriching social interactions, distributing resources fairly, and harmonising human’s relationships with nature and other non-human entities. Examples of this rich heritage include the political traditions of Ubuntu of the Bantu peoples, the Kurukan Fuga Charter of the Mandingos, the Xeer of Somalis, the Gacaca in Rwanda, the Gada of Oromos and the Madqa of the Afars, to name but a few. Africa is also home to incredibly diverse socio-political organisations ranging from multi-ethnic and multi-cultural empire structures to small homogeneous community formations. It is the continent par excellence where sophisticated methods of consensus-building, conflict transformation, and relational reconciliation have been elaborated.
More than 60 years after formal independence, the legacies of coloniality that have perpetuated the prejudices, toxic viewpoints and dehumanising behaviours inherited from colonial domination continue to shape the worldviews and imaginations of African decision-makers. In most African countries, political and institutional mimicry of the ruling classes has led to the emergence of fragile nation-states, unsustainable socio-political and economic structures and inappropriate governance policies, all based on Western paradigms. In this context, some countries such as Botswana, Rwanda and Somaliland, have initiated interesting experiments to revitalise indigenous and traditional values and practices in response to people’s needs.
To explore these significant examples of endogenous (vs. exogenous) government systems within the African continent, we are proposing an international symposium, co-convened by the think-tank Afrospectives and the Global Humanity for Peace Institute. The Symposium brought together high-level panellists who are African scholars, experts and practitioners, including:
- Scholars who have done research in the field of concrete systems of governance in Africa
- Experts who have studied policies and practices of traditional governance in Africa at all levels
- Thinkers who have been reflecting on the relevance of African endogenous humanist and political philosophies and their contribution to Africa and to humanity
The panellists and participants were invited to:
- Present the result of their field-research on endogenous systems of governance;
- Identify and discuss specificities and communalities and complementarities between different governance systems in Africa;
- Present and analysis examples of revitalisation and modernisation of traditional systems of governance to respond to current needs;
- Discuss the contribution that African endogenous visions and perspectives on governance could make to the current crisis;
- Define some guidelines for African countries willing to revitalize their indigenous systems of governance.
Together, the panellists and the participants will identify inclusive forms of community decision-making aimed at consensus building, especially those demonstrating respect for diversity, mutual listening, dialogue, and understanding. Practices highlighted are those rooted in values that are more deeply human, more communitarian, and more in tune with the spiritual nature of human life. Thus the examples to be explored can help re-envision the contribution of traditional African governance practices to the emergence of contemporary Africa approaches to democracy.
On 18th November 2021, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, and University of Wales (Trinity St David) jointly launched Global Humanity for Peace Institute. The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Medwin Hughes, and the Chairman of the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Mr Sharif Istvan Horthy, will be leading the Institute’s Board of Directors. Scherto Gill has been appointed as the Institute’s inaugural Chair and Director. She will be facilitating its ongoing programmes and activities.
The following will be the focus of Global Humanity for Peace Institute:
- Fostering collective healing (including healing the wounds from past atrocities and the wounds of our planet), enriching community regeneration, and advancing social justice and global solidarity;
- Developing UNESCO Academy for empowering youth leadership, nurturing youth transformative competences and providing professional development opportunities to facilitators of collective healing and community regeneration;
- Harmonising holistic human well-being with our planet’s flourishing, and supporting the development of governance processes that are values-based, dialogue-centred, and well-being sensitive;
- Encouraging educational transformation and inspiring a culture of caring in educational institutions;
- Creating spaces for deep encounter, deep listening, and deep dialogue for engendering greater harmony amongst all that is.
All these activities will be closely aligned with UNESCO’s objectives.
In his most recent blog, Rob Corcoran asks: “Is it possible that the biggest obstacle to racial equity is white liberals who resist risking these privileges and who focus more on performative anti-racism and cultural battles?” He then investigates how structural racism in the US, such as unequal public education finances, and unconscious white supremacist ideologies are at root of challenges to true racial equity.
Read the full blog here: https://www.robcorcoran.org/2021/07/21/challenges-for-white-liberals/