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International research aims to put public conflict under the spotlight

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Published on 16 June 2022

Conflict culture
Conflict culture

A professor from the University of Sunderland is leading a team of international experts in a bid to examine growing amounts of hate speech and conflict emerging both online and in the public arena.

Professor Angela Smith from the University has been looking into the increasing levels of argument and confrontation spreading across the western world.

On June 24, Professor Smith will join a panel of community leaders from Sunderland as part of a round table discussion tackling topics including gender, race, Islamophobia, and xenophobia.

She said: “This event is part of a wider project that has emerged from long-standing research into argument and conflict in the public arena by myself and colleagues at Strathclyde University.

“Public conflict, online, in broadcast media, and on the streets, has long been a feature of democratic society.  However, the spread of this has increased internationally in the last few years. 

“This seminar is one of a series that will be held across Europe to explore various aspects of such conflict with a view to exploring ways to ameliorate it.”

Joining Professor Smith on the panel will be Julie Elliott MP for Sunderland Central, former SAFC footballer Gary Bennett, who is a founder member of Show Racism the Red Card, as well as Kumareswaradas Ramanathas from Sunderland’s Young Asian Voices.

It is hoped the event will be the first of series the University hosts with other co-researchers in Sweden and Italy.  They already have centres in their countries that are exploring the rise of hate speech and conflict in society.

Professor Smith added: “We hope to link in with our fellow researchers to develop something along these lines in Britain. 


“In the first instance, we are going to develop an online hub which can be used by journalists reporting such news events, or by those who experience them.  This hub recognises the intersection of various forms of discrimination and conflict, and will provide links to services and agencies such as Young Asian Voices and Show Racism the Red Card.”

The seminar and discussion will be held at the University’s Hope Street Xchange building at City Campus on Friday, June 24.

Kumareswaradas Ramanathas said: "It is important to raise awareness of the conflict and it usually arrives through misunderstandings between those involved.

“Once the conflict is identified we should always look to create an environment where the changes could be made in a positive way to make things better for the future. We need to enable young people to become skilled future leaders which enables society to work together in a peaceful manner."

Anyone interested in attending the event can find out more at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/conflict-culture-tickets-339019485407