Researching Political Violence: TraCe Takes up Work

Five Hessian research institutions cooperate in interdisciplinary joint project

What effect do global developments such as technolo­gization and climate change have on political violence? How can political violence be limited or legitimized by inter­national institutions? How is it interpreted and justified? Since April 2022, these questions have been addressed by the inter­disciplinary joint project "Regional Research Center - Transformations of Political Violence (TraCe)," in which five Hessian research institutes are working together. The Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), the Goethe University Frankfurt (GU), the Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Philipps University Marburg (UMR) and the Technical University of Darmstadt (TUDa) are involved in the center. The joint project is fun­ded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with approximately 5.2 million euros.

With the establish­ment of the Regional Research Center, the participating partner institutions intensi­fy their existing cooperation and bundle their research in the field of violence research. A regional center of ex­cellence for research, teaching and know­ledge transfer is being created that is internatio­nally visible and whose findings systematically contribute to the containment and prevention of political violence. The research center is interdisciplinary: it brings together different perspectives from political science, sociology, history and law, social anthro­pology, social psychology, cultural and linguistic studies, and computer science, as well as various methodo­­logical approaches.

"We are very pleased to begin work on the TraCe collaborative project, which will advance interdis­ciplinary collaboration and international net­working among the participating institutions. The current developments in Ukraine tragically highlight the need to establish a Regional Research Center of this kind to study the causes, dy­namics and effects of political violence," says Prof. Dr Christopher Daase, Deputy Executive Board Member of PRIF and spokes­person of TraCe.

The aim of the joint project is to identify the consequences of current trans­formations of violence for peace within society as well as inter­nationally and to develop strategies for containing political violence under changing conditions. The research project will systemati­cally analyze types and levels of political violence in three thematic research fields. The first research field deals with the changing forms of political violence and the in­fluence of global trends such as technolo­gization and climate change on dynamics of violence. The second research field examines how interna­tional institutions contain but also legitimize political violence and how new forms of violence can be captured institutio­nally. The third research field ad­dresses the complex relation­ships between changing patterns of interpretation and justification of political violence and different memory spaces such as cities. In an over­arching fourth research field, interactions between the changing forms, institu­tional hegemony, and interpretations of political violence are examined.

In order to make the research of the joint project visible to the public, the dialogical ex­change with social actors is sought: transfer events such as workshops, panel discussions and lecture series, but also various publi­cation formats contribute to making the research findings useful for political education, civil society engage­ment and science journalism.

The joint project is the result of a nation­wide call for proposals by the BMBF for the funding and further development of research networks in the field of peace and conflict research. The idea for this joint project arose in the con­text of the close co­operation between PRIF and Goethe University (through the research center Normative Orders and the cluster initiative ConTrust) as well as in the close exchange between the partner institutions involved.