Tutu Fellows boost global reconcilation - RMIT Newsroom

18 Dec 2009

The awards were presented at the Pathways to Reconciliation Summit in Amman, Jordan.

Supported by HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan, RMIT University and Monash University, the summit brought together more than 300 reconciliation experts to tackle global cultural, racial, religious and political difference.

Themes included health and medicine, arts and culture, money and livelihoods, spirituality and celebration, education and learning, and sport and recreation.

The summit, co-convened by Professor Paul James, Director of RMIT Global Cities Research Institute, introduced the Living Archive, a resource for learning about exemplary grass-roots reconciliation.

Professor James said: “A simple and ‘ordinary’ act of reconciliation to counter the ‘ordinary’ acts of displacement might involve some Arabs, Jews, Christians and others working together across the Middle East, the Balkans and beyond to reopen a mosque, a church and a synagogue that have been over the years submerged in the rubbish of continuing violence.”

The fellowship winners were presented with their awards by Prince Hassan.

Elizabeth Langslow is a photographer/film-maker who has worked in Uganda and Central Australia. Ms Langslow, based in regional Victoria, works with ACMI and local government in “digital storytelling”. She filmed the summit.

“The iPhone, iPod revolution means, more than ever, unheard people can broadcast their stories and influence agendas, globally,” Ms Langslow said.

Ian Campbell is an Australian-trained doctor based in London, formerly Director of the International Health Division of the Salvation Army, now the Founding Director of Affirm Associates, which he funds from his own part-time work as a doctor. Affirm helps facilitate community responses to HIV and AIDS.

“Progress with HIV worldwide depends on openness to reconciliation. Every community counts and no neighbourhood should be left behind. Rwanda, Liberia, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Australia have applied learning from local HIV experience to local conflict reduction and peace building,” Dr Campbell said.

Katarina Pejovic is a Zagreb-based artist, who is working in an urban environment on intermedia projects together with Boris Bakal within the frame of Shadow Casters artistic organisation to reconstruct the possibility of community in a time of ruthless social change.

“In the present world of social and political turmoil on all geographical coordinates, the role of artist may be as revealing and relieving as ever.

“Our work is a constant quest for those common denominators among people that might not be perceivable at first glance and that, sifted through various performing and intermedia forms, ultimately bring about different viewpoints,” Ms Pejovic said.

Summit patrons included Sir William Deane, Dr Lowitja O’Donaghue, the Reverend Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Jose Ramos-Horta, Professor Bernard Lown and Professor Amartya Sen.

“Being Arab: Arabism and the Politics of Recognition”, edited by Christopher Wise and Professor James (Arena Publications, Melbourne), was launched at the event.

The book pursues the theme of the historical meaning of Arab identity in the hope of strengthening viable, non-sectarian and democratic alternatives to Islamist fundamentalism in the Arab world.


Victoria Baldwin