In this episode, Visualising Peace student Otilia Meden interviews Dr Roxani Krystalli, a lecturer in International Relations at the University of St Andrews. Roxani's work covers a broad range of topics, from storytelling in politics to the presence of care, beauty and joy in times of war. She applies feminist approaches to peace and conflict studies, and brings over a decade of experience as a practitioner in humanitarian action, transitional justice, and peacebuilding to her academic work.
Roxani is in the final stages of writing a book entitled Good Victims, in which she examines how humanitarian practitioners, transitional justice professionals, peacebuilders, and people who identify as victims of violence in the wake of war construct and contest the politics and hierarchies of victimhood. She also studies the politics of nature and place, researching how different landscapes can illuminate and shape people's experiences of peace and conflict. Together with her colleague, Dr. Philipp Schulz from the University of Bremen, she is embarking on a major new study called 'A different kind of war story: centring love and care in peace and conflict studies'. They have outlined their approach in this recent article, where they identify their key research question as follows: 'How can centering practices of love and care illuminate different pathways for understanding the remaking of worlds in the wake of violence?'
During the podcast, Roxani explains her reasons for embarking on this important work and what difference she hopes it will make to how we understand and approach war and peace. She also reflects on the value of taking love and care into account in broader political contexts, emphasising how vital loving and caring practices are to all humans. Drawing on her experience of peacebuilding work on the ground, Roxani highlights the subtle acts of care and love that regularly occur in areas affected by conflict. Despite their recurring importance in everyday life, little attention gets paid in peacebuilding theory to the powerful impact which they can have. In noting this, Roxani invites us to think carefully about the voices and experiences of peace and conflict that often get marginalised, and who we should consciously make space for in future conversations. She suggests that by looking beyond conventional academia, we can pay attention to, and recognise different perceptions of love, care, and peace, which is an essential aspect of taking love and care seriously in peacebuilding.
Audre Lorde discusses (self-) and communal care, in the books A Burst of Light and Sister Outsider. On self-care beyond candles and baths, Roxani recommends this recent article. The Mercy Corps project and publications led by Dr Kim Howe which Roxani references on the podcast are available here. Roxani also references bell hooks’ conceptualisation of love as a practice in the book All About Love; and Q Manivannan’s work on care, grief, and protest.
For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising Peace website.
Music by Jonathan Young; sound mixing by Zofia Guertin.