Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


GREYZONE Report Summary

Project ID: 637709
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GREYZONE (Illuminating the 'Grey Zone': Addressing Complex Complicity in Human Rights Violations)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The grey zone of bystanders, collaborators and beneficiaries of violence escapes the scope of main Transitional Justice (TJ) institutions and poses tough questions for scholars and architects of post-conflict societies. This interdisciplinary project shifts the focus of academic and political debates by pursuing three objectives: conceptually, it departs from the dominant victim-perpetrator paradigm and theorises the many faces in the grey zone by analysing the interplay between structure and agency; normatively, it argues that no account of TJ is complete without engaging the grey zone; empirically, it tests if, in tackling the grey zone, cinematographic and literary representations can supplement typical TJ mechanisms (trials, truth commissions, lustration). Four cases are analysed: authoritarianism plus military occupation (Vichy France), apartheid (South Africa), totalitarianism (Romania 1945–1989) and military dictatorship (Argentina 1976–1983). The cases provide a variety of contexts of complicity and feature the most frequently used TJ mechanisms. They serve to a) examine the relationship between the official story emerging from state-orchestrated TJ mechanisms and artistic narratives of complicity; b) contextually distinguish disclosive from obscuring artistic representations of the grey zone; c) explore the contribution of these representations to TJ efforts by studying their effect on public debates about—and institutional responses to—the past. Working at the frontiers between political science, philosophy, history, law, literature and cinema, this pioneering project has critical and institutional impact. Critically, it discloses the limits of current TJ theory and practice by emphasising the negative political effects of ignoring general complicity in violence. Institutionally, it seeks to enrich the toolkit of scholars and practitioners by pointing to the potential use of cinema and literature in civic education aimed at deterrence and reconciliation.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"Since the inception of the project, the PI has organised and coordinated the following milestones:

I. Recruitment of team members

Through international searches, two post-doctoral fellows and one PhD student have been recruited for the GREYZONE team. Dr Maša Mrovlje and Dr Hugh McDonnell (post-doctoral fellows) and Gisli Vogler (PhD).

Maša’s contribution to the GREYZONE objectives:
1. Responsibility and the GREYZONE: she draws on contemporary political theory to understand and conceptualise judgement, responsibility, complicity, guilt and resistance under the complex circumstances of political violence and oppression;
2. The politics of narrative: she engages philosophical and theoretical insights into the ethical and political potentials of narrative (in literature and cinema) in dealing with ascriptions of responsibility in the GREYZONE;
3. Focus on South Africa: she examines the tension between official and artistic engagements with the GREYZONE of complicity and resistance.

In her work, she combines textual and conceptual analysis with a historically-attuned, narrative approach to the GREYZONE problematic, and draws upon philosophical as well as cinema and political and literary texts.

Hugh’s contribution to the GREYZONE objectives:
1. Responsibility and judgement and the grey zone: he builds on his experience as a historian engaged with political, social and cultural theory to examine how these phenomena have been understood and mobilised by a range of state and non-state actors to make sense of the grey zone of violence and oppression;
2. He is particularly interested in the representation of 'the official story' regarding the memory of the grey zone of Vichy;
3. As part of his research agenda, he examines the politics of narrative, including culture and art’s political role therein. He enquires, for example, what role literature, films, documentaries, exhibitions and ceremonies – both in conjunction with and independent of historians and state actors – have played in foregrounding or obscuring the grey zone.

Gisli’s contribution to the GREYZONE objectives:
1. Responsibility for political action: combining insights from Arendtian and current social theoretical accounts on what it means to be human, his thesis seeks to answer these questions: how can we assume responsibility in politics? What factors determine our judgments and actions in the public sphere? To do so, his thesis develops a theoretical framework which substantiates a theory of reflective judgement with insights on reflexive human agency in late modernity;
2. Case study analysis: The second part tests the merits of the theoretical framework in the case of processes of TJ. Initially focusing on Romania, Gisli analyses the relationship between active human agency and complicity, resistance, and solidarity, as humans engage with the greyzone during the communist regime. For this, his thesis relies on different narrative accounts of the period, which provide the crucial micro-level perspective to illuminate the obscure mediation between structure and agency.

II. Identification of new directions of research:
All members of the research team have been working on reviewing the multiple literatures relevant for this project. We have been studying materials in the fields of transitional justice, arts and political memory, the epistemic value of art, case-study focused analyses in relation to transitional justice processes and artistic production on the subject of these processes. The following themes emerged from the literature review and the analysis of artistic products:
1. Resistance and solidarity as the flipside of complicity – any account of complicity must take these adjacent concepts into account;
2. The need to consider how questions of power, addressed in social theory on power, actively shape the judgement of complicity and require reflection on our narratives about reality and what it means to be human;
3. Complicity with human rights violations sits between structure and agency – this is why a complex theory thereof will take individual agency (through action, reflexivity, and judgement) into account while remaining aware of its situatedness within structures that make it possible and normalise it;
4. The epistemic challenges of learning about and seeing the grey zone;
5. The tension between the epistemic and political dimensions of both official and unofficial projects of memory making in relation to the grey zone;
6. The need to focus on the role of the imagination and that of memory in engaging with artworks that problematise complicity in violence;
7. The epistemic registers of art: art affects viewers cognitively, affectively, and sensorially, not always in ethically appropriate directions;
8. The value of interdisciplinarity: only by crossing disciplinary boundaries between philosophy, sociology, aesthetics, law and cultural studies can we unpack this difficult issue;
9. The value of narrative voice in addressing the difficulties of representation, truth, and testimony as they are brought forth by the murky issues of complicity;
10. The possibility of extrapolating certain theoretical conclusions about the grey zone from contexts of political repression to contexts of imperfect democratic politics, marred by systematic injustices, such as racism, gender oppression, etc.;
11. The relevance and relation of the GREYZONE case studies to other contexts and times: Our research has raised the question of the precise ways that memory of complex complicity travels from the context of, for instance, Vichy France to post-war French decolonization conflicts and post-war intellectual contests.

III. The publication of the website:
The site is the main means for disseminating the results and events of the project.

IV. Twitter account: @greyzone2017

V. Events
Past events:
1. The first international workshop – scheduled for Year 1 of the project – took place in April 2016. To take advantage of cost-sharing opportunities, the event was co-sponsored with the European Consortium of Political Research and Dr. Mathias Thaler’s JUDGEPOL Marie Curie grant. It gathered 17 participants from a variety of academic backgrounds, who examined the relationship between the imagination, political memory and violence:
A special issue of the international, blind peer-reviewed journal Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy has been approved based on several of the papers presented in the workshop. We are currently awaiting review scores for all articles. We aim to submit the revised and completed issue back to the editor of the journal by September 2017.
2. In March 2017, the first film series took place at a local cinema: Cameo, Edinburgh. Four films from the four case-studies have been shown. They were introduced by the team members, in collaboration with other researchers from the University of Edinburgh. A brief description is appended below:

Complicity: Film Series
How are we to judge actions, inactions and rationalisations of people who find themselves in a murky grey zone of complicity with violence? What does ethics demand of us in dreadful, even impossible, situations? The film series explores cinematic depictions that bring the thorny issue of complicity to the fore, focusing on Nazi-occupied France, apartheid South Africa, Argentina's Dirty War and communist Romania. In selecting this international range of critically acclaimed films, we aimed to provoke reflection on ambiguous aspects of violence and human rights abuses. A guiding premise of the event was that reckoning with such experiences is essential to learning from past atrocities and preventing future catastrophes.
The films were introduced by expert academics and will be followed by brief Q and A sessions with the public. All projections took place starting from 5 pm.

7 March 2017 The Headless Woman/La mujer sin cabeza (2008, Lucrecia Martel); introduced by Dr Charlotte Gleghorn (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Mihaela Mihai (University of Edinburgh)
14 March The Paper Will Be Blue/Hartia va fi albastra (2006, Radu Muntean); introduced by Dr Claire Duncanson (University of Edinburgh) and Gisli Vogler (University of Edinburgh)
21 March Skin (2008, Anthony Fabian); introduced by Dr Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Maša Mrovlje (University of Edinburgh)
28 March Une affaire de femmes/Story of Women (1988, Claude Chabrol); introduced by Dr Cristina Johnston (University of Stirling) and Dr Hugh McDonnell (University of Edinburgh)

4. In May 2017, we are organising a film screening of the new Hannah Arendt documentary, Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt by Ada Ushpiz. The screening will be followed by roundtable discussion on the present relevance of Arendt’s thought and will feature three prominent Arendt scholars: Professor Patrick Hayden (University of St Andrews), Dr Stephan Malinowski (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Liisi Keedus (University of York). The discussion will address Arendt’s insights into the complexities of judgement, responsibility and complicity against the background of thought-defying evil, and their significance for confronting the challenges and failures of contemporary politics. The event is scheduled for 29 May.
5. In July 2017, we will take advantage of professor Alia Al-Saji’s presence in the UK (she is based at McGill University, Canada) to invite her to give a lecture on reception of visual art by victims of systemic human rights violations. Her talk is scheduled for 5 July.
6. In September 2017, The PI, in collaboration with Cindy Holder from the University of Victoria, will co-organise a MANCEPT workshop (their proposal has been accepted) on the topic: Seeking Knowledge of/in a Dark Grey World: The Epistemic Dimensions of Responses to Systematic Wrongs.
7. We have started the organisation of the GREYZONE Summer School for June 2018. We are in the process of confirming dates with the invited speakers.

VI. Conference Participations
Below is a list of conference participations by each member of the research team:

Mihaela Mihai
1. “Art, Emotions and Transitional Justice,” within the workshop a workshop on ‘Transitional Justice and the Emotions,” at the University of Warwick, November 2016.
2. Keynote at CIAP2016 “Emotions in Politics and IR”. Paper title: ""Scabs, Scars and Freespaces: The Architecture of Radical Hope."" Leeds University. October 2016.
3. Invited talk, “Art and the GREYZONE”, University of Southampton, Politics Department, October 2016.
4. Invited talk, “Art, Solidarity and Responsibility,” presented at the founding meeting of the Political Responsibility Network, the University of Durham, June 2016. The network gathers researchers from a variety of international institutions, working on the various facets of political responsibility.
5. Invited talk, The Art of Solidarity presented at the annual Critical Theory conference, held at the Czech Academy of Science, Prague, May 2016.
6. Invited talk, “Engaging the GREYZONE”, at the Contemporary Political Thought seminar series, University of Cambridge, February 2016.
7. “Artistic Reparations,” presented at the international conference “Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future”, the University of Edinburgh, November 2015.
8. “The Epistemic Value of Art,” presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco, September 2015.

Maša Mrovlje
1. “Political Judgement and Narrativity,” Political Theory Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 30 March 2016.
2. “Sartre, Camus and the rebellious potential of the dirty-hands paradox,” ASPP Rebellion, Resistance, Revolution conference, 27-29 June 2016, London School of Economics and Political Science, London.
3. “Sartre, Camus and the problem of dirty hands: Reclaiming the dignity of political action,” at the CEEISA-ISA Conference, 23-25 June 2016, Faculty of Social Sciences, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
4. “Narrative imagination and responsibility for the world: Confronting the challenge of collective responsibility in the context of transitional justice debates,” at the BISA 41st Annual Conference; 15-17 June 2016, Edinburgh.
5. “Camus, Arendt and the Political Significance of Narrative Imagination: Confronting the ambiguity of political action,” at ECPR Joint Sessions 2016, workshop on “Imagining Violence: The politics of narrative and representation,” 24-28 April 2016, Pisa, Italy.
6. “Judging Violent Resistances,” Political Theory Research Seminar, 1 February 2017, University of Edinburgh.

Hugh McDonnell
1. “Jean-Paul Sartre's Europe,” at Political Theory Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 9 March 2016.
2. “’Tetanus of the Imagination’?: The Presence of Vichy France in the Algerian War of Decolonization, 1954-1962” at ECPR Joint Sessions 2016, workshop on “Imagining Violence: The politics of narrative and representation,” 24-28 April 2016, Pisa, Italy.
3. “Tetanus of the Imagination”: Violence, Imagination and Memory. Soldiers’ Testimonies of the Algerian War of Decolonization, 1954-1962, in Les Temps modernes and Esprit at Political Theory Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 8 March 2017.

Gisli Vogler
1. “Hannah Arendt, Margaret Archer, and the Humanising Project of Political Judgement in Late Modernity,"" Political Theory Research Seminar, 5 October 2016, University of Edinburgh.

VI. Publications



1. Mihai, Mihaela, Negative Emotions and Transitional Justice, Columbia University Press, 2016. The book was in preparation at the time when the ERC grant was awarded (December 2014). It outlines the official narrative of transitional justice in three of the 4 case studies covered by GREYZONE.

2. McDonnell, Hugh, Europeanising Spaces in Paris, Liverpool University Press, 2016. This book examines discourse of Europe and Europeanness in post-war Paris, including in relation to the GREYZONE case study of the experience of the Vichy regime and German occupation.

Blind Peer-reviewed Articles

1. Mihai, Mihaela. ""Theorizing Change: Between Reflective Judgment and the Inertia of Political Habitus"" European Journal of Political Theory, (2016) 15(1): 22–42. This paper explains how difficult it is for the imagination to travel into the shoes of the other and how this difficulty enables practices of complicity with injustice and oppression – rather than resistance and solidarity. This argument will be part of the PI’s monograph as it helps us calibrate our expectations in relation to the possibility of resisting complicity with human rights violations.

2. Vogler, Gisli “Power between habitus and reflexivity: introducing Margaret Archer to the power debate.” Journal of Political Power, (2016), 9(1): 65-82. This article situates humans’ reflexive agency alongside Bourdieu’s habitus, to strengthen the explanatory power of human agency without losing sight of constitutive, structural power, enabling a nuanced view on the issues of intentionality, responsibility, and complicity in between structure and agency of the greyzone.

3. Mrovlje, Maša “Forgiveness, Representative Judgement and Love of the World: Exploring the Political Significance of Forgiveness in the Context of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Debates” Philosophia, (2016) DOI: 10.1007/s11406-016-9726-7. The paper explores the dilemmas of forgiveness in response to the tragic situations of our indirect complicity with oppressive systemic forces that we have not directly brought about or been unable to alter.

Book reviews:

1. Mihaela Mihai. 2016 Truth Commissions: Memory, Power, and Legitimacy, Onur Bakiner. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), Perspectives on Politics, vol 14, no. 4,
pp. 2-3.

2. Maša Mrovlje, “Simone de Beauvoir`s Philosophy of Age: Gender, Ethics and Time” The European Legacy 2016, 21(2), 234–6.

Forthcoming publications (accepted):

A special issue based on the first GREYZONE workshop has been approved and is currently in preparation with Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. At the time of this report, the articles have been sent out for blind peer review. We aim to submit the final version of the issue in September 2017.

A critical exchange – co-edited by the PI – is forthcoming in Contemporary Political Theory on the relationship between democracy, theory and critique. The PI will intervene on the role and duties of the theorist who is faced with complex wrongdoing and solidified patterns of violence and oppression. The text has been submitted to the journal for review.

Maša Mrovlje has secured a book contract from Edinburgh University Press. The book – based on her doctoral dissertation – discusses the paramount political significance of narrative-inspired judgement on the problems of transitional justice and reconciliation. The book focuses on the complex issues of responsibility, guilt, revenge and forgiveness in contexts of world-shattering evil, the political promise of public testimony and narrative truth, and the necessarily uncertain character of individual and societal reconciliation. These dilemmas are tackled by building on insights from philosophies of existence and through an analysis of several literary works from the 4 case studies: Beauvoir’s essay An Eye for An Eye, Sartre’s play The Flies, Camus’s play The Just, and Antije Krog’s The Country of My Skull are all featured in the text.

Mihaela Mihai – book chapter, peer-reviewed: ""From Hate to Political Solidarity: The Art of Responsibility"" in Thomas Brudholm and Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, Hate, Politics, Law, forthcoming with Oxford University Press in Winter 2017. In it the author discusses how artworks can move societies away from complicity in violence to solidarity – an analysis that will be part of the PI’s monograph for GREYZONE.

Mihaela Mihai – book chapter commissioned, submitted and peer-reviewed on the relationship between political memory, hope and the imagination in the wake of catastrophic political violence in which complicity is difficult to track – for Architecture and Political Theory, ed. D. Bell, under review with Cornell University Press. Title: “Scabs, Scars and Freespaces: Reconfiguring Democratic Renewal.” This chapter too will be part of the PI’s monograph for GREYZONE.

Mihaela Mihai - blind peer-reviewed journal article: “Epistemic Injustice and the Untapped Power of Art”. Submitted to and accepted by Contemporary Political Theory. The paper outlines how and under what conditions we can learn from artworks and the way they affect us cognitively, emotionally and sensorially. This argument will be part of the PI’s monograph for GREYZONE.

Publications submitted and under review:

Mihaela Mihai, “Complicity, Hope and Time”. Submitted for review as part of the Special issue of Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. The paper seeks to offer a theoretical connection between, on the one hand, the possibility of resistance to complicity and on the other, a consideration of hope as a cognitive emotion sensitive to temporal and social variables. Evaluating instances of complicity is incomplete without attention to the structural and subjective preconditions of hope. At the centre of hope is an assessment of one’s own effective agency, as well as the agency of others, within a temporal horizon. This assessment will influence an individual’s capacity to resist/collude with violence. The paper will provide examples from the GREYZONE case study of France to capture this dynamic relation between complicity, hope and time.

Maša Mrovlje, ""Camus, Arendt and the political significance of narrative imagination: Confronting the ambiguity of political affairs"". Under blind peer review with The Review of Politics. Drawing on the aesthetic sensibility of Hannah Arendt and Albert Camus, the paper develops a phenomenological account of our engagement with literary works as a situated process of assuming responsibility for complex injustices and strengthening our capacity to resist them.

Hugh McDonnell, “Jean-Paul Sartre the European: History, Freedom, Responsibility”. Submitted to Modern Intellectual History. “Revision and resubmit” decision. Reader reports' comments have been incorporated and the article resubmitted. Awaiting final decision. This article relates to the GREYZONE project focus on responsibility and complicity through its discussion of Sartre's interventions on injustices committed in the name of Europe, notably in the context of collaborators in Vichy France. Furthermore, it examines critiques by Sartre's interlocutors that he was insufficiently attentive to the grey zone of complicity.

Hugh McDonnell, ‘“Tetanus of the Imagination”: Violence, Imagination and Memory” Submitted to Memory Studies, under review, decision pending. This examination of the production and use of testimonies of French soldiers about their experiences in Algeria examines how the GREYZONE case study of Vichy France was utilised as an analogy to condemn violence. It also examines conceptualisations of guilt and innocence in relation to the complicity of conscripts in France's war.

Vogler, Gisli and Demetris Tillyris, “From the Arendtian to Political Realism: Towards a Realist Account of Political Judgement” Submitted to Journal of Politics, under review, decision pending. The paper links to the theoretical aim of the GREYZONE project of conceptualising the agential and structural complexities of the grey zone."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Scientific impact
The work that has already been published, the texts under review and those in preparation – see section above – show that the team is already producing output that goes beyond the literature review. In response to Question 1 in the Continuous Reporting Form, we identified 11 new directions of research. On the basis of those, we have reached the following findings:

1. The concept of the grey zone: we are arguing that the account of complicity, as presented in the legal and moral philosophical literature, is unduly limited as it is individualistic and ahistorical. We are examining several theoretical frameworks that are better suited for our analysis: existential philosophy and its attentiveness to issues of complex complicity in injustice as they arise out of the situated condition of our human political coexistence (Mrovlje); Arendtian accounts of the complexity of judgment when facing evil (Mrovlje, Vogler); social theoretical accounts of power and structure such as those of Margaret Archer and Pierre Bourdieu, attentive to how reflexive humans shape their social context and participate in their own social conditioning (Vogler; Mihai); feminist accounts of oppression, complicity with oppression, resistance and solidarity are yet another untapped theoretical source for thinking through the structural preconditions of individual acts of wrongdoing (Mihai). Bringing these literatures into a dialogue with a view to dislocating the dominant paradigm for understanding complicity (the moral-legalistic paradigm and its ahistorical methodological individualism) will greatly contribute to the literature on transitional justice and memory studies.
2. The pedagogical value of literature and cinema: we are examining three bodies of literature that can help us conceptualise and understand the educational value to citizens of exposure to artworks in general, and artworks that tackle complicity/resistance in particular. Aesthetics (Mihai) and the literature on narrative sensibility (Mrovlje, Vogler) are our two sources for thinking through the epistemic and political function of artworks in the wake of authoritarianism, war and other forms of historical trauma. The rather optimistic accounts emerging from these literatures are calibrated by an attention to the sociology of art production and art consumption (Mihai). In unpacking and systematically outlining how and under what conditions artworks can have political effects, the team is advancing the conversation in two ways: a) we problematise the assumed beneficial role of art in the wake of violence; b) we substantiate and render visible the mechanisms through which artworks affect individuals along several registers (cognitive, affective, sensorial).
3. The analysis of the case studies: we have divided the cases as follows: Mihai (all four of them), McDonnell (France and Argentina), Mrovlje (France and South Africa). Vogler will include several examples from the four case studies (starting with Romania) to illustrate his theoretical contribution to the literature on judgment, responsibility and the possibility of resistance. We have built a bibliography of literary products and films that are differently positioned in relation to the official narrative of transitional justice in their respective country of origin. We are looking at various forms of representing our guiding theme and we are investigating the migration of representational tropes across historical and geographical boundaries.

With regards to the South Africa case study, we are examining how the grey realities of resistance struggle are depicted in several selected novels and films, and how these artistic depictions can provide a critical mirror to and importantly enrich the TRC’s vision of reconciliation. In particular, we are engaging the tragic moral dilemmas and costs of resistant violence, and discuss how our attentiveness to these dilemmas can illuminate the ambiguities of transitional politics. We have found the following artworks to be especially valuable here: Tatamkhulu Afrika’s The Innocents; Norman Maake’s Homecoming; Mandla Dube’s Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu; Nadine Angel Cloete’s Action Commandant; Bloke Modisane’s Blame Me on History; Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter; Zoë Wicomb’s David’s Story; John Kani’s Nothing But the Truth. We are also exploring how literary works can help us confront the dilemmas of collective responsibility insufficiently acknowledged in the official story of South African transition. Among the themes we are tackling are: how the burdens of responsibility are assumed or avoided by differently situated individuals or groups; how the weight of dehumanising social and political structures can subvert the conventional meanings of ‘morality,’ ‘goodness,’ or ‘choice’; how past disavowals of responsibility influence the present trajectories of transition. In this respect, we are tentatively considering the ethical and political value of the following works: J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron and Waiting for the Barbarians; Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B; Tony Eprile’s The Persistence of Memory; Anthony Fabian’s Skin; Yewande Omotoso’s The Woman Next Door; Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story; Ramadan Suleman’s Fools.

On France, we have been exploring the ambiguities of revenge, justice and forgiveness as responses to the complexities of complicity in gross human rights violations. The PI is currently exploring the theme of denunciation and is exploring the connection between individual acts of délation and the social, cultural and legal structures framing these acts. In general, we believe an attentiveness to the grey zones of complicity can help us negotiate the limits of what can be done in attempts to reckon with past injustice. Furthermore, interesting theoretical questions have presented themselves to us in terms of how the memory of the grey zone of Vichy inflected political discourse in post-war France, often in contradictory ways. This connects in turn to the tricky but productive finding that memory of the grey zone of Vichy was anything but static over the years and decades that followed.
Our research has also drawn out fertile empirical examples from Vichy France in terms of how ordinary people adjusted their sense of time in response to the installation of Vichy and the German Occupation. Gender and class are two important axes for examining social experiences of the Occupation, as well as where individuals located themselves on the spectrum between resistance and collaboration. We are also looking into instances of what might be termed “micro-resistance”, whereby ordinary people offer token resistance, often through gestures such as avoiding eye contact with occupying German troops, giving them false directions, shouting at German newsreels in cinemas, etc. Such micro-resistances tend to be over-valued in both political discourse and artistic representations of the Occupation. Finally, our research has also thrown up many fertile questions relating to the accounts people in the grey zone of Vichy France gave of themselves with regard to complicity.

Our organisation of/participation in events has led to the creation of important relationships with various colleagues interested in this theme. We have enlarged our network of interlocutors and hope to jointly prepare further publications and grant bids. The ECPR Workshop in Pisa and the ensuing special issue solidified our collaboration with a number of scholars, working at the intersection of philosophy, political and aesthetic theory, transitional justice and international studies. We also are involved in an engaging, mutually-enriching dialogue with our colleagues from the School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, which led to the organisation of a two-day workshop on “What Is to be Done? Political Ontology, Critique and Democratic Politics.” Further, we have built valuable networks with researchers working on the University of Edinburgh-based, DFID project “Transforming Political Settlements Towards Open and Inclusive Settlements.” In addition, we are part of the “Testimony” research group at Edinburgh, which joins researchers from a range of different disciplines and is currently working on the organisation of a common project, such as a workshop or conference on the ethical, political and cultural of testimonies about political violence. Furthermore, we have developed important contacts with other scholars at the University of Edinburgh from different departments: notably, Emile Chabal in history, and Charlotte Gleghorn in Hispanic Studies. The organisation of the APSA panel on “Philosophies of Existence and the Grey Zone,” finally, has created worthy connections with researchers from Europe, Asia and the US who explore the dilemmas of complicity and responsibility from an existentialist perspective.

Social impact and outreach activities

The PI participated in a roundtable dedicated to the question: Can a Country Be Proud of Its Past?. The event was organised by the Forum for European Philosophy, the London School of Economics and Political Science, in November 2015. The PI emphasised the need to confront historical complicity in processes that reproduce patterns of violence and oppression in the wake of historical catastrophe. More details about the event, including a podcast, are available here.

The PI participated in a conference on Freedom of Expression, organised by the Council of Europe October 2015. She talked about the need to move beyond a legalistic understanding of hate and embrace a more honest reckoning with structural violence and oppression in Western democracies. More information about the conference can be found here.

In October 2016 Hugh McDonnell participated in the Ethics Forum – a series of public roundtables organised by the Just World Institute at the University of Edinburgh. He addressed the following question: ‘Should universities revisit their colonial legacies?’ by linking it to the topic of GREYZONE: structural complicity with wrongdoing.

The film series Complicity –held in March 2017 (description above) – constituted the first major impact and outreach event. It opened a discussion with the public on the grey zone, pointing to the multiple and complex way in which individuals are imbricated in systemic wrongdoing. The films were introduced by the team members and colleagues from Edinburgh and invited a debate with the public.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top