Earlier this week, at a conference on international law and human rights, Bekim Blakaj of the Humanitarian Law Centre made a reference to the importance of contact in sustaining peace and in reducing the potential for recurrence of conflict among members of different groups.
The reason contact works so well as a peacebuilding tool, according to Thomas F. Pettigrew and Linda R. Tropp-who undertook a meta-analysis of intergroup contact theory involving more than 250,000 subjects in 38 countries-is that it works primarily at the emotional level.
In other words, at the individual level, I may still hold certain prejudices or stereotypes about members of the other group, but regular contact means that I may feel better about the group as a whole since I have had the opportunity to know and perhaps even grow to like specific individuals.
I thought about this again last night as I watched the interactions of the members of an inter-ethnic and inter-generational group of top-notch Kosovar musicians that had gathered at the Hotel Ulpiana in Gracanica at the end of a long day of discussing the role of the artist in creating the conditions for a more peaceful future in Kosovo.
Music is, in my opinion, an especially effective means of contact, as it is a non-verbal, highly emotional form of communication that transcends notions of nationality, ethnicity, religion, etc.
So, on that note 🙂 let me stop here and simply share a sample of this particularly effective form of contact: