DUO VI: Beirut

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For updated information from the DUO V: Okinawa Conference, please connect to the conference site here.

The focus of “Dialogue Under Occupation” is the ongoing exploration of dialogue and discourse in areas of the world experiencing occupation.

What is Dialogue?  What is Occupation?

Dialogue is presented as a complex concept, requiring 1) the participants; 2) the conditions for dialogue to commence; 3) the goal(s) of the dialogue—pre-established or arrived at through the dialogue itself. First, a minimum of two parties (i.e., individuals or groups of individuals representing a side or perspective) must be present. Second, conditions may include preconditions necessary to bring the parties together, procedures for engaging in dialogue, and a certain degree of mutual respect, without which the dialogue could not proceed and will not lead to any resolutions. Lastly, the dialogue itself must have a purpose—a common, achievable goal that participants can agree upon despite their differing perspectives. Purposeful dialogue has the potential to lead to an outcome that recognizes and respects the needs of the various participants while emerging with an agreement which all parties can abide.

Occupation, however, is a complicating factor which creates a power differential between participants: the occupied and the occupiers. If dialogue under occupation is to be successful, then, the conditions must include 1) the realization that the power differential exists; and 2) the willingness of the powerful to concede their preconceived, often hegemonic, notions of their position. It must also be understood by all parties that engaging in dialogue under occupation does not mean that the less powerful or powerless are accepting the occupation in any form, but that they are willing to confront their occupiers in an effort to be recognized as having equal human rights, including the ability to make autonomous decisions about how they should live and pursue their own definition of happiness.