2012 fellows Bijoyeta Das and Jolanta Steciuk on the Columbia campus
Based at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR), the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA) is a convening body which aims to facilitate exchange among scholars, advocates, and organizations dedicated to historical dialogue and accountability.
AHDA brings together academics, representatives of civil society organization, journalists, educators and artists as well as policy makers who all pursue historical dialogue in conflict, post-conflict and post-dictatorial societies. They address the political ramifications of the historical legacy of conflicts, as well as the role and impact of the memory of past violence on contemporary politics, society and culture. These ramifications often continue to haunt contemporary societies and the memories that shape the identities of protagonists in numerous conflict and post-conflict countries around the world. AHDA builds networks and facilitates comparative as well as interdisciplinary dialogue among its members.
Historical dialogue remains an underutilized mechanism for addressing conflict. Prominent activists and academics in conflict and post-conflict countries engaged in the process of historical dialogue share similar challenges, including minimal dialogue between like-minded peers, often a result of geographical and political isolation; insufficient exchange between disciplines who work under the umbrella of historical dialogue; limited knowledge of best practices; little access to available resources, including funding opportunities and conferences; and a lack of a recognized and clearly defined field with which those working on historical dialogue can identify.
The AHDA Program seeks to respond to these challenges through a number of initiatives.
2012 fellows are introduced to the archival collection at Columbia by the librarian for the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Pamela Graham.
The Dialogues on Historical Justice and Memory brings together scholars and practitioners concerned with historical dialogue, justice and memory in societies in which past and present conflicts or historic wrongs impinge on the present; as a network, it encourages interdisciplinary, transnational and comparative research and advocacy on issues relating to the memorialization and historicization of conflicts and historic wrongs, historical and transitional justice, the promotion of sustainable peace and participatory democracy, and reconciliation and historical dialogue. It aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge across the divides of academic institutions, disciplines and fields, of national and local contexts, and of theory and practice. The Dialogues is a joint initiative of the Historical Justice and Memory Research Network (HJMRN), housed at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, in Melbourne, and of the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA) at Columbia University.
Fellowship for Historical Dialogue and Accountability
Established in 2012, the fellowship enables seven to ten practitioners of historical dialogue and accountability from conflict, post-conflict and post-dictatorial societies to engage in both training and academic study at Columbia University. Practitioners of historical dialogue include representatives of civil society organizations, journalists, filmmakers and artists. The aims of the Fellowship are to build a network of historical dialogue advocates, to foster a dynamic academic environment for Fellows to initiate and develop new projects, and to facilitate discussion about the past in their respective societies. Learn more about the fellowship program. Apply for the 2013 fellowship program.
AHDA Annual Conference
Professor Klaus Neumann, one of the speakers on the plenary session of the conference, speaks on “History, Memory, Justice.”
Beginning in 2012, AHDA holds an annual conference that seeks to bring affiliates together, many for the first time. These scholars and activists are given the opportunity to present their projects, scholarly papers, and case studies. The conference provides a space for networking, opportunities to share knowledge and experiences, and to consider the state of the field of historical dialogue, and the directions it should take in the future. Our first annual conference, “Local Memory, Global Ethics, Justice: The Politics of Historical Dialogue in Contemporary Society,” took place from December 11-14, 2012. For more information participants and panels, click here.
The Dialogues network is working with Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, a repository for the archives of major human rights organizations, including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch to enhance the visibility and accessibility of these collections through high-profile programs, collaborative projects and library services. AHDA affiliates will have the ability to both digitally preserve documentation of their work in the archives, as well as have the opportunity to learn from materials stored by fellow affiliates.