Walls – open, closed, sliding? Europe and our World Today

Walls – open, closed, sliding? Europe and our World Today

Creating unity out of diversity - a realistic aspiration or an idealised dream?


3 February 2020

Creating unity out of diversity – a realistic aspiration or an idealised dream?

The European Union was built in the shadow of the Holocaust and in the aftermath of war to avoid a repetition of the horrors of the past. Here is an opportunity to study the sources, consequences and dynamics of atrocity in a safe space and consider whether the idea of creating unity out of diversity is a realistic aspiration or an idealised dream.

As dark clouds gather across the continent, the Union seems to be at risk: fueled by the influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East; the threat of terrorist attack; financial instability; a growing gap between very rich élites and the very poor (‘the people’); and growing alarm over climate change, the latter spawning a culture of intergenerational blame.

Old enmities are being invoked to drive nationalist populism – eg Brexit and the rise of far-right parties across Europe – fueling a wish for borders/walls to keep out the “other”, manifested in the increase of anti-Semitism and racism, and to protect what defines “us/ours”. Meanwhile, the borderless world of social media, offering instant access, expands. How are we to make sense of and orientate ourselves to all this?

Walls – open, closed, sliding?  Europe and our World Today is the title of the next Group Relations conference from the PCCA, directed by Louisa Diana Brunner from 27 -31 August 2020 in the Netherlands. 

This 5-day residential conference offers an opportunity, through experiential learning, to consider these questions in-depth and to study societal tensions involving Germans, Israelis, Palestinians, West and East Europeans and others. This work centres on the experience of the conference participants.

The PCCA project began in 1994 with the Germans and Israelis – the Past in the Present series of conferences which were initiated by the founders of OFEK (The Israel Association for the Study of Group and Organizational Processes) as a unique application of Group Relations methodology to the aftermath of the Holocaust. 

If you’d like more information about or would like to apply for this conference, see here or join the mailing list.

Dr Mannie Sher, from the Tavistock Institute, will be consulting to the conference.

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