Myths of the nation, of unity and of heroic pasts play a crucial role in stimulating political mobilisation and sustaining collective identity. In divided societies they can sometimes serve a unifying function but they can also help to stoke tension, accelerate polarisation and accentuate divisions. The communication media through which myths circulate have undergone deep changes in the modern era, from the pamphleteering of the 18th century through the mass circulation newspapers of the 19th century to the spread of radio and television in the 20th. In the 21st century the new online media of social networks and websites have transformed the circulation of discourses of collective identity and political contention. New media are marked by decentralisation, acceleration, and innovation in the circulation of information, including the myths, rumours and misinformation that can contribute to escalating violence and extremism. It is increasingly difficult to distinguish the sources of information, to assess its veracity or to identify lies and deceptions.
This course examines the role of myths in divided societies and the way in which changing communication media alter the way in which myths and rumours circulate and have political effects in divided societies.
We encourage the participation of students and scholars in the social sciences, law and humanities and other fields and disciplines studying social phenomena such as divisions, cleavages, conflicts, borders, migration, ethnicity and diversity.
This post/graduate course will be organized as a rigorous academic interdisciplinary programme structured around lectures, workshops and conference-oriented presentations of scholarly research. Course participants will engage in active discussions on the theoretical, methodological and practical issues of research in divided societies. Graduate and postgraduate students’ presentations are also welcome. In addition, the course offers personal inter-cultural experiences of students and faculty from other contexts in an unforgettable setting of a city that was itself the target of a destructive conflict.