вторник, 13 февраля 2018 г.

Fourth dialogue marathon “Narratives and conflict”

The format of dialogue marathons on the Donbass Dialogue platform (DD) includes meetings of the representatives of the international expert group on a closed offline platform. Experts have the opportunity to observe (but not participate) a live dialogue between representatives of the divided community on the most acute, often taboo topics. Before the dialogue speakers introduce topic to the audience in the online mode and share their experience and knowledge on the issue under consideration. After each online dialogue where dialoguers from any part of the world could participate where there is Internet, the expert group studies the issues raised by speakers and prepares its conclusions, which then be part of the final document.

During dialogue marathons, online dialoguers exchange views on the situation and personal stories, and invited experts see them on the screen on a closed offline platform, listen, compare the reality of the dialoguers with their own understanding of the conflict and look for ways to solve the problems discussed. Experts can not intervene and influence on the dialogue process. Thus, the opportunity to hear and appreciate the vision of the participants in the dialogue in a pure, undistorted form is opened for them here and now. This information is important both for experts and for peacebuilding projects that will be developing in the east of Ukraine.

Considering that the narratives become extremely relevant and even trendy topic, the fourth DD marathon was devoted to this very issue in order to work out with the problems that practice of using narrative as a tool and an instrument for working with the conflict provided. Since a live story of the event makes it possible to evoke a vivid sense of the context of this event, the storytelling could be used both to improve an empathic understanding of the audience, and to demonstrate a personal position of the narrator. By telling the stories, the dialoguers establish the connections between the obvious and permanent aspects of their lives and the changes that are taking place, thus becoming intelligible to the listeners and themselves. The narrative allows us find meaning and make sense of our own practices, that is especially valuable in post-conflict life. About this side of the online dialogue, the dialogues mentioned in their responses after the marathon.

This marathon was entered into a series of events that showed the recognition of the practice of online dialogues of DD by professional community at the ukrainian and international levels. Literally on the eve of the marathon, the Donbass Dialogue project was presented on the Geneva Peace Week, an initiative for collective actions in peacebuilding and conflict resolution organized by the United Nations in Geneva (Switzerland). And in a week after the marathon, a project coordinator Daria Kuznetsova flew to represent Ukraine at the annual conference Build Peace 2017 to Colombia.

Technical aspects of the preparation and conduction of the dialogue marathon “Narrative and Conflict”

The online dialogue methodology developed by the Donbass Dialogue Platform team for the project allows to reduce the project's dependence in an offline mode and support in the interaction of the network of dialogue participants continuously. The task of the technique is to support integrate people into a new reality which a vicious conflict has created.

The contradiction between stereotypical behavior and reality breaks the habitual ways of interaction, as a result of which the contacts in communities are destroyed.

The work of restoration of the broken relations is to help people to identify, find, exchange and appropriate new values during interaction with other people, even if they are on the other side of the line of demarcation. The exchange of personal stories is an adequate tool for solving this problem.
The disintegrating interaction appears in a situation where people ignore changes because they perceive world as a system of reversible processes and act in the new situation stereotypically. To overcome stereotypes, return, be integrated into an irreversibly changing world new meanings help which already found by other people.

DD conducts dialogues between residents of mainland Ukraine (government controlled area - GCA) and uncontrolled territories (NGCA), without violating the Laws of Ukraine and endangering the participants. This is possible thanks to crowdsourcing technique and online dialogue technologies. Such dialogue promotes constructive communication between people with different views and positions and located on different sides of the line of demarcation. The technologies used protect the dialoguers from outside pressure.

The Internet environment allows every inhabitant of the planet to access not only almost any information on the network, but also to any member of the network. The advantage of online dialogue is that it helps to overcome technical limitations (time, space, cultural and language differences), is a safe environment, allows to keep a psychological safe distance and control the level of participation, number of meetings and participants in the process. It is also important that this process is very economical, in terms of organizational and financial costs (comparing to the organization of prolonged offline dialogues). However, the online dialogue as a tool for peacebuilding requires preparation and facilitation. Since there is a third party — facilitator who helps and respects the rules and principles of dialogue. Also the quality of communication and video stream, the stability of the received signal, the sufficient size of the monitors to transmit a video image to all participants in the process are important.

Preparation for dialogue also requires special attention. DD is using crowdsourcing for this purpose.
Crowdsourcing as a tool for resolving conflicts helps to solve the problem of finding meaning as well. Each time when a large number of people independently of each other commit actions (personal chose), gestures and share these actions (aggregation) — then there is an actual alternative to the usual way of action with which they came to a new situation. In this case, the result of crowdsourcing is presented for each participant in the form of an algorithm and in a language that is understandable for use to everyone.

Currently, crowdsourcing is mostly hand-held in a facebook group of Donbass Dialog (DD) facebook.com/groups/DonbassDialog using the Google Disk tools that are freely available.
The increase in the number of interested and involved participants requires the permanent inclusion and adequate tools for managing the crowdsourcing process from platform. During the marathon, the DD platform makes it possible to run and consistently provide the following processes:
  • research — expert study of the problem, formulation of the task, creation of scenarios of crowdsourcing processes;
  • involvement of participants — discussion of the problem on thematic platforms with the invitation of active participants to the development of proposals and solutions.

Outside the process are tasks that either handled manually by the platform team, or not yet announced due to the lack of tools:
  • selection of participants — there should be presented as many different points of views as possible on the the platform, which can not be achieved on the Facebook that is used currently;
  • immersing participants in crowdsourcing — immersion in topics, familiarity with the interface, discussion of the problem;
  • aggregation of choses — collection, evaluation and ranking of decisions;
  • group study of decisions — for each decision groups are formed, in which they are discussed, worked through and brought to the required type of project details (in part, the task is solved in offline during the marathon);
  • the publication of projects created in groups;
  • selection of the best solutions and awarding the winners;
  • archive the results of the completed crowdsourcing.

Preliminary work on the themes of the 4th dialogue marathon

At the previous marathon, an expert discussed the main directions for next fourth marathon. The proposals were reduced to two options: to continue working on the already announced topic or to start working on a narrative approach for online dialogues. In the end, I won the narrative approach.

Online dialogues between representatives of the parties to the conflict in the hot phase require careful and lengthy preparation. Each marathon earns certain content, which is partially published, partly goes into the reports and in one more part remains in the form of an unfinished discussion on the site. The question of what to do with the material worked on the marathon remains open. Perhaps the relevance of the topics worked will again increase and then there will be a chance for the continuation of these dialogues.

In the process of crowdsourcing for the fourth marathon, the discussion focused on three themes: “The influence of narrative”, “Treaty narratives” and “Radical narrative”. Already in the process of aggregation, there was another theme — “Historical narrative”.

Discussion and aggregation of results

Discussion on the topic was held on the platform from April to November 2017.

It resulted in three lists of questions in three directions. The discussion and clarification of which was reflected in a Google-form. This allows to conduct a survey to determine the leading topics of the dialogues during the marathon.

The groups of questions were following:

“The influence of narrative” direction:

  • What events could you insert into your narratives to create a positive context for the people from Donetsk?
  • Is only Kiev in contrast to Donetsk?
  • "And how would you act in my place?". Yes, how?
  • Where, at what level of complex and multifaceted conflict in the Donbass is the greatest bitterness?
  • And how do the civil citizens of Donbass like the DPR/LPR authorities?
  • Where did the DPR/LPR project come from and whose is it?
  • Why Donbass was the weakest link, the most vulnerable to the invasion and establishment of an illegal terrorist regime?
  • (about the conflict in the Donbass) Is this collusion of the oligarchs, frightened redistribution of property after the Maidan?
  • What could unite people who have badly quarreled?
  • How does it possible to deal with terrorism and banditry at all? What Donbass uniqueness does the Kiev dictate attempt? Maybe Kiev prohibits the russian language, the ROC, and celebration on May 9? Or is the memory of the bright totalitarian communist past so dear to the people of Donbass?
  • And why is the Kiev dictate more terrible than degraded marginals and lumpens with guns in power, beating down civil aircraft by buk missile systems?
  • Kiev needs to negotiate with the Donbass, ie. Donbass is a subject?
  • It is clear that a peace agreement is possible. It is clear that this is a matter of political will and the possibility of compromises. It is clear that the process is possible if the parties strive to fulfill the agreements. What prevents now?

“Radical narrative” direction:

  • Is the neo-Nazi ideology something unique for Ukraine?
  • Do the manifestations of national-socialist ideology tell about some serious public illness?
  • (About nazism) What is it, who is it and why does it exist?
  • I met with a person who supported the idea of ​​national socialism in the past. I wonder how do people get out of this state and change their identity?
  • Is it possible to make as many people who could distinguish between themselves and the environment this infection in order to rebuild from it, not to succumb to provocation?
  • (About Donbass) What is the peculiarity of this region, which inevitably led to the establishment of a terrorist regime?
  • (About LPR/DPR) So does this mean that this terrorist regime was organized and established by the oligarchs?
  • Donbass rules, or is this ruled by the Donbas?
  • The question is not only where does this game come from, but what promotes its reproduction?
  • (On the signs of fascism by Umberto Eco) What instead of fascism?

“Agreement narratives” direction:

  • Is the church's dogma a narrative?
  • Is the personal spiritual practice a narrative?
  • Journalism is not dead, but it is not alive either. For the sake of penny, they drive an empty HYIP, which is neither true nor false. Are they sick of this?
  • Are you ready to listen or to cope with you’ve heard by yourself?
  • What may be we dealing with? What kind problems? Because in any case, it’s a a personal story in public space?
  • Will a narrative help clarify ideas / meanings / stereotypes that create a sense of powerlessness?
  • What would you like to talk about, for what and with whom?
  • What creates history — time, space, emotions?
  • When does a person have a need and desire to tell (a story)?

Participants of the group were asked to rank the entire list of questions (without division into directions) into three categories on a scale from 0 to 5.
It was suggested to answer the question: “To what extent could an answer to each question allow to achieve (please choose one option):
  • understanding of the reasons for the division of communities
  • clarification of the situation
  • the direction of finding ways to restore relationships?”.
Thus, the group members did not answer on direct questions, but determined which issues are most relevant and to which of the three categories it relates.

To process the results obtained, we used the correlation analysis, frequency analysis by categories and ranking of the weights of the questions with respect to each of the three categories.

Results of crowdsourcing

This survey was an intervention by itself. Some participants even refused to participate in it after reading the form with questions. Not all (according to feedbacks) could pass it from beginning to end and completed form with several attempts. The reason is strong emotional reactions to the formulation of questions that did not allow focusing on the main task. As a result, 45 people filled form (it was anonymous), one third of active participants (crowdsourcers) of DD community.

During one week while the survey lasted in the group, the form was opened by 130 participants, 45 of which filled and sent answers in the end. Statistics are traditional for DD group, one third of those who entered the form usually completed the surveys before the previous marathons.

The leader of the rating of questions: “What could unite people who have badly quarreled?”.

According to the participants, the analysis of answers to this question helps to fully understand the current situation, its origins in the past and possibilities of resolution in the future. This statement of the problem and its formulation clearly resonates with the problem that was discussed at the last marathon concerning the Crimea.

Questions that, as a result of aggregation, the expert group proposed for discussion at the marathon:
  • on the subject “The influence of the narrative”. It is proposed to discuss in the dialogue the question “What would I like to talk about, for what and with whom?”;
  • on the topic “Agreement narratives”, all rating questions (half of the list, from first to sixth) are aimed at clarifying the situation. This result confirmed that the choice of the narrative approach for this marathon was correct — until people don’t understand the positions of the other side, their motives and interests, it is simply not meaningful to proceed to discuss options for a possible peace agreement (which was proposed as an alternative topic). Such agreements will not be realized. The highest rating was the question “And how do the civil citizens of the Donbass like DPR/LPR authorities?”;
  • on the topic “Radical narrative” the highest rating was the question “(About nazism) What is it, who is it and why does it exist?”.


Donetsk region, Ukraine, November 13—17, 2017.

First day

The first working day of the marathon was devoted to the development of the “The influence of narrative” direction.

The right to an opening section of the marathon was given to Steinar Bryn, senior consultant of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue (Lillehammer, Norway), the famous Norwegian peacebuilder, who, along with the DD team was at the forefront of the practice of online dialogue marathons in Ukraine. In the expert group in offline, Goran Lojancic, a friend and colleague of Steinar Bryn, current representative of Nansen Center directly jointed marathon. During discussion Steinar answered questions coming from audience about the practice of the Nansen dialogue and outlined the main criteria for assessing the impact of dialogue on the conflict.

The main speaker of the first day was Alexander Pelin, a sociologist, professor of Uzhgorod University, a head of the Uzhgorod regional mediation group. In his speech “Narrative as a tool”, A.Pelin presented the history of definition “narrative”, the basic concepts about the role of narrative in culture, history and in the knowledge of the material and spiritual world. The narrative as an instrument was presented as a linguistic act, derived from the framework of ontology, in relation to narrative history it is impossible to make claims about its objectivity or probability. Also it was important to mention for the audience the concepts of “meganarrative”, purpose of which is to substantiate the existing reality, “micronarative”, which justifies everyday experience and “thesaurus” as a kind of box of meanings suitable for all cases. These concepts have proved to be an operational tool for analyzing online dialogues for now and future. Narrative — a special tool. claimed A.Pelin. The main feature of the narrative (according to Roland Barth, philosopher and semiotics specialist) is self-sufficiency. Narration happens just for the sake of the narrative itself, and not for the sake of influencing the subject. This is exactly quality of narrative that is used to construct a dialogue in the acute stage of the conflict.

Online Dialogue

Two additional secret groups, “Online dialoguers” and “Online facilitation” were created two weeks before the start of the marathon in Facebook, where the platform team along with some project participants has began a work on the upcoming dialogues. The need to create such groups includes fact that the practice of online dialogue is developing and its chamber character no longer meets the needs of platform participants, the number of which is also increasing. Groups are allocated, that accumulate problems required preliminary study.

The one topic of online dialogue began to be worked out in advance in these groups. Nevertheless, the question (“What could unite people who have badly quarreled?”) have kept in suspense for one and a half hour. Once again we received confirmation in the effectiveness of the online dialogue: what can be done in an hour and a half in online, in offline is not always possible to achieve during such period of time.

Comments of observers from the expert group:

Natalia Bilyk: “The day is very full, rich in discoveries: people, facts, emotions. Received a lesson in patience and tolerance. It couldn’t be everything in one time ideally, as planned, but what IT is all going on — a huge achievement you could only understand later, when the intensity of emotions decreases. Great!”
Inna Ronshina: “...The on-line dialogue left a strong impression. It has passed quite emotionally .. the tension, emotions and fear of some participants seemed to live himself 😏 and thanks to the high professional level of the facilitator Natalia Roman he was held!! For myself, I’ve again noted how important is a role of openness, desire to hear and listen to the interlocutor in the dialogue”.

Feedbacks from the dialoguers:

The first dialoguer: “...  very grateful for the opportunity and the confidence to participate in the marathon! Dialogue is, in my opinion, what allows a person to reveal himself not only for others, but, first of all, for himself! The last dialogue confirmed this to me. It is incredibly necessary and useful, probably only tool that can and should be used in solving emerging life problems. I do not know the better one yet!!! Dialogue platforms, online and offline parts, it is needed to develop everywhere, this is my personal position. The more, the sooner people will be able to agree on what helps them to evolve, outline common goals and achieve them together. Human is a essence of social, qualitative development both in person and social way, ie a link in chain that is a society. This is possible only when there is dialogue in its various forms and manifestations! Once again, I thank all the organizers and participants of the dialogue platform!”.

Second dialoguer: “I am very pleased to have opportunity to participate in the dialogue. So I am encouraged by responsibility that I observed at the platform organizers to the dialogue space. So, when I dropped out of the information space several times, the organizers contacted me. It was very nice when an opportunity to participate was open. Before the dialogue itself, the connection was checked several times. We have discussed all the nuances of the upcoming event, as well I received answers to all the questions that interested me regarding dialogue. On the day of introduction with the participants of the dialogue, there was option to choose a facilitator. In our case, there was no choice, since only 1 facilitator was available at that time. It did not upset me, as well as the rest of the participants. But I would like to draw attention on it. It seems to me I understand why this option is needed, so I would like to have it.
I was very surprised on the one hand, so my direct participation in the dialogue seemed to me rather short-lived, but still, as I believe, we managed to make substantial progress in the question addressed to us in minimal time. It was something unusual to me from the technical side of the process, so it was difficult at the right time to take the floor sometimes. And such system to speak we developed right on the way. I have clearly felt supported by facilitator at the time when it seemed to me that my thoughts and opinion were being neglected. For me, it was very surprising that there was absolutely no sense that my participation in the dialogue was observed by experts. So, I did not feel any stiffness during process, which I expected from myself. I was very interested to learn about how people see the situation especially on the other side of the barricades. And I got enough information, I felt enough openness of the participants to the process. I asked questions for clarification and shared my thoughts and feelings. During dialogue itself there was some tension between the participants in the discussion. As it seemed to me, the facilitator tracked and pointed to it so everyone could make conclusions for themselves. Thus the tension subsided. I was sort of disappointed that the last 10 minutes of the dialogue were spent without one of the participants, since he allocated time back to back. As a result, I was not able to make a complete picture of the situation.
I’d like to have a schedule with with a small lead time for both, the organizers and the dialoguers. For instance, additional time could be required for all to connect and eliminate network problems that could appear at the last minute, despite the fact that the availability of sufficient connection was checked beforehand. Also, the dialogue could be too tense when the time control was lost, and it could not be interrupted. Or in connection with other unforeseen situations.
By the end of dialogue, I had a sense of completeness that evaporated somewhere in half an hour, when everything was reflected in my head, and new, interesting thoughts appeared. I wanted to express these thoughts to the participants, but it was too late. Therefore, I have a great desire to continue. Also, I would like to delve deeper into the dialogue process itself and get a certain feedback from the experts following the results of the dialogue”.

Intriguing message was delivered by Ekaterina Dolgiy, speaker from Donetsk “Historical narrative and its role in the conflict” in the of the day. It was about the legality of the usage of documentation for land and property, which could be used during considering such issues by international authorities in order to identify the legal owner of this tangible property. Speaker proposed to consider the situation to the process of separation of Ukraine, as a historical unit, that today has this name, will enter the current stage. It was offered a reasoned explanation of what kind of historical unit it is and why it does not appear in historical sources, being densely populated and replete with historical and archaeological material. And also what can be done to create acceptable, safe living and developed conditions for the people of this complex region. At the same time, that not everybody will come out of this analysis of the situation as winners.

Second day

The second working day of the marathon was devoted to the development of the direction “Radical narrative”.

On the second day, timeline of program have changed according to the broadcast of speakers from different time zones. Due to the fact that one speaker session was postponed to a later time, it was opportunity to reflect and discuss previous day. It was sharing opinions from the experts and feedbacks to the facilitator and platform team. There were many impressions, anxiety and doubts, but the general opinion of the expert group was that it was a whole and alive process of immersion into the problem of the role of narrative in the conflict and its place in the dialogue.

The logic of the second day began to line up with the online dialogue. Participants of the discussion returned to the beginning of the confrontation in Ukraine, spoke about the mechanisms of the formation of radical narratives, its capture of people's consciousness. The question that was proposed to dialoguers for discussion (“(About nazism) What is it, who is it and why does it exist?”) proved to be so much important and emotionally loaded that during dialogue a role reversal happened — facilitator become a dialoguer, and one of the dialogues took on the role of facilitator for a while. In this situation, intertextuality of narrative was especially evident: an observer (facilitator), a narrator, the content of history and context of the story (it was a manifestation of radicalism during the events on the Maidan in 2014 in Kiev) equivalent, interact and create intertext that subjugates as a narrator, and a listener, and facilitator.

This experience requires additional reflection and analysis. A dialogue turned out to be successful, which is evident from the feedback received from the participants. However, there was a feeling of understatement. During the discussion about the process after dialogue within the expert group a criticism towards the facilitator was voiced. But there were a fair objections as well, that “taking off a hat” of facilitator and transferring it to another participant, the responsibility for the process of dialogue is transferred also. There is the question remains that how justified is this maintenance of dialogue by facilitator? Should the facilitator begin to struggle with the intertext until the process ends and the dialogue is over? But here there is an additional problem of the influence of the interface that packs this intertext — a dialog could easily be interrupted by participants by simply pressing a button of keyboard, but they are reluctant to do it.

Feedbacks from dialoguers

The first dialogue. Dialogue with a team member:

  • The first dialoguer: “All was right. In general, everything went fine, but the conversation turned out to be incomplete, and kind of wasted. In this dialogue we’ve certainly missed my previous interlocutor. I think that it would be more interesting if he participated in it (dialogue).
  • Valeriy (member of the DD team): Thank you. This time he was able to come to the offline platform himself. He watched this dialogue. Could you please be more detailed? An incomplete conversation, what is about? Why do you think a topic wasn’t enough revealed? Is it related to organization, topic, selection of participants?
  • The first dialoguer: Maybe with the selection of participants…
  • Valeriy: What could you advise?
  • The first dialoguer: Basically, two participated as the facilitators in this dialogue, and I, maybe it was worth to add participants.
  • Valeriy: I see, thank you”.

The second dialoguer. Dialogue with a team member:

The second dialoguer: “In general, the impressions of two specific interlocutors, one of whom is a facilitator. Since the audience is not visible during the dialogue, you do not remember about it. However, if the dialogue was offline and the audience was just as spectators, I would also “disconnect” from it and focus on the interlocutors..
In total — the facilitator and my partner in the dialogue. It follows from the conversation that one could be among the armed people, who serves the duty to protect the current president and law and order (law enforcement officer). He was not almost by sheer chance. And the second, in opposite, was among the activists of the maidan. It seems to be formally it's people on different sides of the “barricades”. But I am a citizen of another country, and I have never heard before 2013 about the maidan, either about the orange revolutions in Ukraine (do not ask how, but that's normal in a particular environment — everything that is not related to the professional activity, simply rejected as “noise”). For me they were just citizens of one country, who live different lives for different reasons.
Are there insoluble contradictions between the policeman (or what it was called there) and a protest activist? A policeman who at work does his job. If he acts within the framework of the law, in accordance with the established functions, he does everything right. ... But I also find incredibly important never to forbid the citizens peaceful forms of expressing their disagreement with something that is happening in the country, city and so on.
A facilitator in this dialogue suddenly got me thinking that maidan is not such a bad idea at all. After all (for some reason I thought about it only now) if there is a development of civic activity, then what form could it be realized? Maybe sometimes is it needed and necessary to go out into the streets? Maybe yes. And while the police will always stop attempts to go beyond the “permissible freedom”. And while the torrent of hatred and other negative emotions is inevitable? But here within my partners of the dialogue — there is no negative between them. They just told about their own and do they seem to listen to each other? In any case, this impression remains. And the fact that they were engaged into a dialogue, and what they said gave me the impetus for reflection on the maidan (that as I’ve already mentioned, was simply torn away by me, completely crossed out) ... They are adequate people who can already conduct a dialogue, and together explore the mechanisms by which normal peaceful means of expressing disagreement with something compromise people themselves, deepened them into conflict, and then the war.
I liked this.
And it would be desirable, that the exactly opposite people in terms of views and social functions could participate in such researches in the future. Once upon a time, I was a volunteer in a drug prevention organization, where I taught how to explain and explore how it “works”. This works as a percentage of ninety of trained completely refuse any suggestions to “try” (well, I do not know really as for the truth, but it looked very effective — something about awareness).
I did not like…
I think that with some of my statements maybe I “hooked” people in the audience, more than it was acceptable at that moment? I did not like that there is still no “feedback” from the audience and, perhaps, the audience in online-dialogues should be a “subject”, but I am not sure about it. In any case, I have an impression that even to the small thing that I say, what I feel and think, the audience is not ready at all, and it's an unnecessary. But this is an “aftertaste”. In the dialogue itself, there was nothing negative, and personally for me both of the participants were just people to me whom I feel strong sympathy and regret that “this is how it all happened” (with the feeling that it could ... well, with feeling that it was something missed, but you can understand it and find “this”).
Yes, I would like to continue, simply because I feel that all processes are the same everywhere, that all the divisions are from the evil one, and if I learn something and can change something here and now, then and there (where are you, for example), that is everywhere — something will change. And I'm confident that is for the better. And what are the options? We must do something to make the war impossible, at least once. Not just stopped now, but it became impossible.
  • Valeriy: Thank you, and when you write “‘hooked’ people in the audience” what do you mean by it?
  • The second dialoguer: I think retrospectively that maybe when I speak about attempts to ban the tatar language (restrict) in Russia, I'm clinging to the topic of the russian one in Ukraine (I heard a hundred times that nobody forbade it, well) about mediators, who “lost” neutrality publicly, maybe.
  • Valeriy: And about the lack of feedback. Is this about the fact that it is not enough to publish report on the results of the marathon on our site?
  • The second dialoguer: No, it's more about a direct response (in mediation, you need to see all the reactions of all participants, including passive at any given moment).
  • Valeriy: Thank you. Are there any recommendations for the process of facilitation and participants selection?
  • The second dialoguer: No. One of the participants wrote to me later that I had replaced the facilitator in some moments, but I do not think that it meant that the facilitator somehow did something wrong. Rather and vice versa, if it doesn’t bother participants (the dialoguers).
  • Valeriy: The fact that outside of the DD process the participants of dialogue wrote is very interesting. Thank you.
  • The second dialoguer: Not at all 😊

Varvara Pakhomenko as a marathon speaker shared her experience of observing and analyzing the processes of forming a radical narrative and, what turned out to be especially valuable for the marathon, an experience of deradicalization. Since the main mechanism for the formation of closed radical groups is a mutual guarantee, and its main function is to protect their members and ensure their security, then the deradicalization should be aimed at solving the same problems (extract of group members from the system of relations of mutual responsibility and ensuring protection). Deradicalization is always individual. Deradicalization can be a very effective process aimed at resolving conflict and postconflict settlement, since it is the authority of former radicals that can help create sustainable peace trends in the divided communities.

At the end of the programme for this day, speaker Karina V. Korostelina who is a Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (George Mason University, Washington DC USA) presented a mechanism for the formation of radical narratives. She directs the Program on History, Memory, and Conflict and is co-director of the Program on Preventing Mass Atrocities. Since 2003 she has been conducting researches on the identity of conflicts in Armenia, Georgia, Morocco, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine). Karina Korostelina spoke about the methodology of research and conflict resolution, with which the ukrainian audience is not familiar.

The conversation was about how people form identity through narratives, how they sacrifice their values ​​to be accepted in a group, how psychological biases affect our perception of “others”. The professor spoke about the stages of separation and polarization of society and other important question was raised — how to move the process in the opposite direction, how to depolarize different groups with their various narratives?

The problems of social identity that are obviously existing in Ukraine, can work both for the further division and continuation of the conflict, and for its settlement, believes Karina Korostelina. This unexpected conclusion was argued by the fact that people can support reconciliation through the development of a high internal self-esteem based on integration values ​​that contribute to presenting the nation as condescending and forgiving. The ukrainian nation is able to promote the values ​​of tolerance, acceptance, as well as European traditions of liberal thinking. A person can support reconciliation based on faith in membership in a tolerant group that promotes loyalty to all members of this group. Assistance of an inclusive national description that emphasizes tolerance and humanity can increase the support of various groups within the country.

On this high note, the second working day of the dialogue marathon on the Donbass Dialogue platform was finished.

The third day

The third working day of the marathon was devoted to the development of the direction “Narratives of agreement”.

We started with the analysis of the previous day. Work with radical narrative wouldn't let go, expert group could not finish the process in any way. The context was too broad and too many open issues. Participants went to a break with open issues about the roles of the “human”, “facilitator”, “dialoguer” and the relevance and ability to keep and change them during the dialogue.

The program of the day began with the announcement of Paata Zakareishvili “The narrative of the peace after war — at what price”, about the price that the parties of the conflict have to pay and the role of the peaceful narrative. Judging by Paata's assessment, the situation in post-war Georgia resembles a frozen conflict, which does not add optimism to solving problems both with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The price of peace achieved, when the problems that led to conflicts have not been resolved, is high for all parties — both for Georgia and Russia, and for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Twenty-five years after the war did not lead to the changes that these peoples aspired to. Life has become much more difficult financially and politically.

Online dialogue on a fairly conflict-related topic, which we did not even plan to include at the marathon (“How do the people of Donbass like an established authority in the LPR / DPR?”), dialoguers and facilitator conducted very cautiously. Representatives of two generations of social activists have met, divided by war, but equally divided by worldview, experience, and basic principles.

Feedbacks from the dialoguers:

The first dialoguer“An interesting state in response to a request for feedback — again look at yourself and express that is hard to spell out ... It is strange, but I could not formulate what was remembered. But I would like to see the usefulness of the dialogue around as soon as possible. I liked that I begin to understand the depth of what previously seemed ordinary and as it seemed understandable to others. I'm uncomfortable, that understanding of a fact that you understand, it could be easier not understand at all for majority. Because they will not want to live as usual, but it's not clear how it is possible now. As well as to leave a comfort zone, people feel unwillingness frequently. I have a desire to continue. 
There is a desire for practice as well. It seems that the DD format is not enough for me. Probably because the goal, why I’m participating in the DD, is far from the point of implementation…”.

The second dialoguer. Dialogue with a team member:
Valeriy: “Good evening, I just would like to remind you about your impressions after a dialogue? All information that I’m receiving is strictly confidential, and is needed to analyze the process that a team is building. Comments and wishes of the dialoguers could be included in the final report to the donor. In this case, we change names. If this does not suit you, please write it to me (without explaining why).
The second dialoguer: Good
Valeriy: Thank you ) 
The second dialoguer: From my perspective, if the community united by the Donbas Dialogue group sets itself an objective of peacebuilding mission, this remarkable idea can be ruined, and could lose its relevance with such long pauses between dialogues. I understand that there can not be an instant result in this matter. But having sown a grain of doubt or hope, we could not see the shoots or even more disappoint the dialoguers. It is clear to everyone that if a subject entered into DIALOGUE, then the reason for this was not an idle interest, but, first of all, a desire to see the end of this protracted conflict. No doubt the work of the team was done tremendously, but, due to the fact that the number of participants involved is small, I had the impression that everything that happened was a presentation. If so, then everything is fine. It is necessary to increase the circle of communication and conduct daily work without delays. In the process of intensive work, new subjects will start to appear absolutely and groups of people will form united by common interests and problems, of course. This layer will be the starting point of a live dialogue. Exactly this information will help the peacebuilding experts come to develop the adaptation programs.  
Valeriy: Thank you. A marathon is really a presentation of reality to representatives of the expert community from Ukraine and other countries. And for dialoguers, this is a meeting with other — a completely different person, through which, as in a mirror, you can see yourself. I'd be interested to know your views. What could you say about the selection of the participants for dialogue? And what did you see in the interlocutor?
The second dialoguer: Of course, the selection of interlocutors is necessary. The selection criterion is a very delicate topic. In my opinion, they should have at least one same issue for both sides, ie, we assume that everyone is fed up with the war or we want to go skiing in the Carpathians as usual. Perhaps, the dialogue is requested conditions that needed. I mean a certain period of adaptation of the interlocutors to each other. Proceeding from this, it is extremely dangerous to regulate these measures. Dialogue can begin, but there has to be a number of extreme reasons that violate the principles of the essence of the dialogue to limit it. In regard to my interlocutor in general, there are no comments. But he was an opponent in a past life for me. Maybe he did not know about it. Due to the very acute and dangerous agenda “How do you feel about the governance of the DPR?”, it is difficult to express discontent and not fall out of favor with the regime. Therefore, there was a feeling of understatement. I'm not sure that he heard me. But I really would like to. 
Valeriy: And if we talk about facilitator. What can you say? I wonder, do you feel the pressure of the expert audience, which watched the process on the offline site? Did it help, interfere or you just not notice it?

The second dialoguer: Facilitators. Who are they for me? First of all, people who are neutral to the parties of the conflict. Prepared professionals who understand the essence of the conflict. And with certain skills and experience who work with a human resource. A specialist of such format should have intuition, that you will not find it in books. Dialogues aimed at such a goal as achieving peace have a high price. It is a human life in all formats of its existence. Help to find the truth, using only such an instrument as communication. For majority, this is fantastic. Yes, the facilitator is needed! During my dialogue, I did not feel any discomfort — knowing that experts were watching us. Maybe even this worked as a deterrent to the manifestation of aggression. The only remark to the facilitator is excessive care. We lost time and to some extent I even lost my idea. 
Valeriy: Thank you! Perhaps you can share with us your opinion about few more questions. The online service interface for communicating dialogs, did it distract you from the dialogue? Did it help to focus? 
The second dialoguer: On these issues, I have no comments and wishes. Everything was comfortable. 
Valeriy: Thank you. And it seemed or it was difficult for you to have a dialogue with a partner? 
The second dialoguer: We continue our conversation with him. I explained why it happened. But then we leveled off. 
Valeriy:  It's great that the contact does not stop. And the feeling of understatement about which you wrote earlier you manage? 
The second dialoguer: Of course not. I'm delaying the time of tough questions.

Valeriy: Do you need help? 
The second dialoguer: In what ?! After all, I see a fellow (partner of dialogue). In addition, he understands that not everything is great in that kingdom. Time is a healer. 
Valeriy: We can help in organizing the dialogue and ask the facilitator to help you. 
The second dialoguer: We have a normal contact. I opened for him. He knows who I am. Trying to help me in organizing life-being. He is sympathetic, not a fullextremist. For him, today is a start. And for me, what he is talking about is the finish. It's just that he has reached the point of listening to it. But it seems to me that he is not deeply worried much if nobody hear. I'm tired of talking for the last five years. 
Valeriy: Thank you for the answers. If you need help, write”.

Against the background of the ecstasy and euphoria that accompanied the first two days of the marathon, on the third day all the shortcomings, complexities and contradictions of the peacebuilding process accompanying the fading conflict have appeared. As a speaker spoke about this, it sounded in the online dialogue, it was also heard in the discussion in the expert group, since the issue of power in the transition period from war to peace, from violence to legal consciousness is extremely conflict. In the framework of the marathon, problems and difficulties have also appeared. Since it is difficult for speakers, dialoguers, and facilitators to work through the deadlock situations in the dialogue without a breakthrough to a higher level of comprehension.

Thus the history of the successful agreement was not told. The story was shared that there is no such agreement without conflict resolution, that the world without solving the problems that led to the conflict does not bring joy and relief. Maybe it is this result that is the most valuable that happened on the fourth marathon of the Donbass Dialogue platform.

Fourth day

The heated discussion, as “suddenly” flashed on the platform a week after the end of the marathon, just as suddenly and faded, which was provoked by an incorrect status in the network, was logical continuation of the processes and problems manifested in the marathon. Including the dialogues that took place on the fourth day. According to plan, it was a day of the participants' departure, although some of them left on Thursday evening. So, during series of working meetings and conversations on the margins of the marathon on Friday, it was discussions about the development of the platform, strategy of the project and the challenges that will happen in the near future.

Such as.


The Donbass Dialogue is positioned as a platform for dialogue between people from broken communities that can not meet personally because of a military conflict. This is a leading direction and it remains so. However, the project is rooted in the local environment and the problems of the Svyatogorsk community, IDP community, reforms in the country and its manifestation at the local level that could not bypass us, since they affect the people with whom we work on the platform. Communities have been developing, they can not live a long conflict and spend energy on experiencing a trauma of war. They are directed to the future. As with this side, so with that. Therefore, what we did on a volunteer basis, supporting and developing civic engagement, is becoming one of the areas of work of the platform.

In addition, we need: to develop the team; open new online dialogue platforms in the regions on both sides of the line of demarcation; capacity building of staff of online facilitators and develop the professional community of facilitators in general; expand contacts, including the professional community both in Ukraine and at the international level.

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