About the Centre

The PRIO Centre on Culture and Violent Conflict (CCC) is an integrated part of the PRIO network. It is located at PRIO’s headquarters in Oslo, and its staff is composed of PRIO and guest researchers.

CCC is dedicated to studying the relations between culture and violent conflict, aiming to contribute to a more peaceful world. Violent conflict is constructed, understood, justified, organised and mediated through culture. In order to defuse and prevent violent conflicts we need to understand how people invest them with meaning.  The CCC was established to answer three overarching questions:

  • How does culture generate or trigger violent conflict?
  • How does violence affect the production of cultural expression and discourses of war and conflict?
  • How can culture prevent, mitigate and end violent conflict? 

Cultural production has always been intimately connected to conflict dynamics, whether within societies or between them. An enemy is constructed through a process of cultural production and estrangement – the creation of a hostile “other”. Collective violence requires a justification founded in a cultural discourse – people need a reason or justification to fight.

We understand the concept of culture in a broad and deep sense. It is broad in the sense that it includes a wide variety of cultural expressions – from snapchat communication to paintings like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ to the design of computer war games. It is deep because we argue that culture is not only the production of art and entertainment but a fundamental organising principle of politics and society as well as the medium for understanding human existence and place in the world.

In everyday usage, the concept of ‘culture’ often imbues groups of people with certain primordial and timeless traits, values and practices. Such attempts at capturing the postulated essence of a given society based on a set of purportedly shared values and beliefs can easily lead to distorted images of the Other as well as unwarranted generalizations. Our research aims to show the complexity of cultural realities and help translate the web of meanings in different societies. At the same time, this work can help us understand the ways in which cultural essentializations are related to violent conflict.