Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Travis Warrington

USA

MA-SID/MA-COEX '13

Using cultural norms to resolve conflict

Travis Warrington investigates West Africa's longest ongoing modern conflict.

Travis Warrington, a dual master's degree student in SIDCO, and recipient of both the Boren Fellowship and PON Summer Fellowship, traveled to the region of Casamance in Senegal for his fieldwork to complete the program. In Casamance, which contains West Africa's longest ongoing modern conflict, he enrolled in two months of intensive language training in the Pulaar dialect of Pula Puta and then spent the next four months looking at conflict management cultural norms and practices of the Fula ethnic group. He conducted an independent research project using observation, focus groups and interviews in one pilot study village and three research villages (three weeks per village) which involved a total of 200 participants. Travis' research project was implemented with the help of three Senegalese research assistants. After the research project, he analyzed his research data and compared it to current methods and approaches, and gave recommendations of how cultural norms can, in fact, be used to resolve the conflict in Casamance. His research, analysis and recommendations were given to the Government of Senegal as a white paper. In addition, Travis makes a strong case that the use of cultural norms and practices with regard to conflict management and peacebuilding is not just limited to Casamance, but may be a better and more sustainable approach to future peacebuilding efforts for conflicts throughout the world. Since his research, Travis has been approached on how to design more effective joint peacebuilding and developmental projects in Casamance.

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