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Gisela Hirschmann and Niels van Doesum receive LUF/Gratama research grant

Leiden University researchers Gisela Hirschmann (Political Science) and Niels van Doesum (Psychology) have been awarded a LUF/Gratama grant for their research on the effects of musical peacebuilding initiatives. When ‘enemies’ make music together, does that change the image they have of one another? And does this contribute to fostering peace in conflict areas?

A better mutual understanding?

‘Making music together does contribute to peacebuilding. This idea drives various initiatives to bring together musicians from conflict areas and have them rehearse and perform jointly. For example, young Israeli and Palestinians playing in an orchestra, or an ensemble composed of young musicians from different parts of Iraq. The expectation is that in order to succeed musically, everyone has to listen to one another, which, in turn, will lead to a better mutual understanding. Learning to see things from the perspective of others will reduce the tendency to regard and treat the other as an enemy.’

‘This is a promising thought, of course, but until now not much research has been done on the specific effects of peace inititiatives like these.’ Leiden University researchers Gisela Hirschmann (Political Science) and Niels van Doesum (Social and Organisational Psychology) address this gap with their project Playing with the enemy. The impact of collaborative musical performance as arts-based peacebuilding.

Insights and approaches from political science and psychology

‘Do particular conditions positively affect mutual perceptions? Do the results of musical peace building initiatives spill over from the participants to the broader society? What is the impact of the intensity and the duration of an inititative on the musicians’ behaviour and beliefs? Hirschmann and Van Doesum tackle these questions in an innovative and interdisciplinary project, combining insights and approaches from both political science and experimental psychology.

LUF and Gratama Foundation

Once a year the Leids Universitair Fonds (LUF) Committee for Academic Expenditure (CWB) awards grants for scientific projects of Leiden University researchers, varying from € 5,000 to € 25,000. These grants for academic talent are often an important step towards grants by NWO and other institutions. The Gratama Foundation awards projects from all scientific disciplines—preferrably projects with a positive societal impact.

Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev, ‘Vedran Smajlović performs in Sarajevo's partially destroyed National Library in 1992’, Wikimedia Commons.

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