The Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence (IDAV) programme is among the first research clusters to receive targeted doctoral funding from the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) through the Research Project Award Scheme (RPAS). The Programme runs over four years and our first four students commenced their research in October 2010. The second cohort started in October 2011.
Despite being exhaustively documented and analyzed through a range of disciplinary lenses, including socio-biology, psychology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, gender studies, law and political theory, violence remains brutally fecund. Given this the sense is that our analytic grasp on the ever spiralling costs of violence are becoming increasingly inadequate.
But violence is unwieldy and slippery. It also invokes a huge range of issues, topics and practices; yet it is the prime focus of attention in a plethora of organisations - social, cultural and political - including governments, NGOs, policy makers, academics, community workers, the police and judiciary, educators, the media, film makers and artists (not an exhaustive list). Inter-disciplinary knowledge production (which includes cross-sectoral partnerships) is increasingly seen as a key tool in achieving ultimate success in limiting, reducing and curtailing what (in one recent example) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described as a global ‘scourge’ of violence.
One of the aims of this programme is to un-pack both the promises as well as the pitfalls of the idea and practice of inter-disciplinary work in the context of violence. We think it important to specifically focus on the triad that inter-disciplinary work appears to rely so heavily on: theory-policy-practice. A current example of robust confidence in the harmonious promise of the ‘knowledge production triad’ is the RCUK’s current commitment in addressing what they identify as five central and inter-related global threats to security - Poverty (and Inequality & Injustice), Conflict, Transnational Crime, Environmental Stress and Terrorism. To address these systematically the RCUK’s aim is to: “Understand, Predict/Detect and Act”. Though intuitively compelling, in this programme we are especially interested in how this nexus, given increasing faith in it, might, rather than pave ways out of violence, instead be pathologically implicated in (re)producing violence.