Lynne Cameron

Lynne Cameron 14

Lynne Cameron is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Open University, UK and Honorary Professor in the Institute for Co-operation, Conflict and Security, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham. From 2009-12, she held an ESRC Global Uncertainties Research Fellowship. Her project, “Living with Uncertainty: Metaphor and the dynamics of empathy”, produced a new dynamic model of empathy in dialogue and interaction from data collected in Brazil, England, N Ireland, USA and Kenya. A follow-on project “Empathy Dynamics in Conflict Transformation” (EDiCT) in collaboration with the Birmingham-based NGO Responding to Conflict and NGOs in Kenya and Nepal, applied findings and model to conflict transformation.

Professor Cameron’s publications include the books Metaphor and Reconciliation (2011) and Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (with Larsen-Freeman, 2008), as well as journal articles and working papers from the empathy project (details on website). The EDiCT Manual for peace-builders and others working in conflict transformation will be launched in June 2014 during an exhibition of artworks relating to empathy created by Lynne Cameron.

You can learn more about Lynne’s Living with Uncertainty project here, her work on Empathy here, and her artwork here.

Regarding the aims of this workshop, Professor Cameron is interested in exploring creativity in our shared fields and to what extent the creativity of charismatic individuals is indispensable in effective conflict resolution.

Presentation title: Empathy dynamics in Conflict Transformation Through Interaction

Abstract: I will present the new dynamic model of empathy that I have developed through researching multiple conflict situations: reconciliation in Northern Ireland; the effect of violence on everyday lives in Brazil and England; police-community interaction in USA; inter-community conflict in Kenya. In these situations affected by violence and uncertainty, I have found ’empathy’ to be useful and important in describing and explaining how people interact. Empathy is defined as action in which a person attempts to understand how it feels to be the Other, and it is found to operate at many different levels when people are in dialogue. Ideas from complex systems theory have been employed in developing a multi-level empathy model. The idea of ‘dyspathy’ is introduced to include ideas, thoughts or feelings that block empathy. The push-pull dynamic of empathy and dyspathy in human relations in post-conflict situations can lead to reconciliation or to renewed violence. I show how the empathy model has been applied to the reconciliation process of Jo Berry, whose father was killed by the IRA 1984, and Patrick Magee, who was one of the IRA bombers involved, and to inter-community conflict among pastoralists in northern Kenya. I will also present a newly developed set of resources for conflict transformation practitioners that have emerged from the research.

Professor Cameron can be contacted via the following email address:  lynne.cameron@open.ac.uk