Defining Culture – Impacting Our World

Special Editions


MAY 2024

Edited by Huib Wursten


Huib Wursten,

Eric Alexander DeGroot,

Culture and Peace

Editorial: Editorial-culture-and-peace/

Grigory Yavlinsky  (founder of Yabloko, the only remaining liberal political party in Russia): Two years of war. Stop the killing

The intense warfare between Russia and Ukraine has continued relentlessly now for two years — people are dying every day. Continuation of the military actions in any form — offensive or positional warfare — will not deliver any positive outcome for Russia, Ukraine or Western countries. Any continuation implies endless and irreparable tragedy. “Ending the conflict “on the battlefield,” as some dream, will not work”, — I penned these words in my article in The Nation Magazine Stop the Killing, published a year ago in February 2023. In the article, I called for the immediate conclusion of a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine. This text, which is now a year old, could simply be reprinted. All I would need to do is replace the assumptions and warnings with assertions and a statement of the facts.

For the full article click: Two-years-of-war-stop-the-killing/


Willem Mastenbroek: Struggling with violence and fanatics

We are living in the late Middle Ages!’ According to Norbert Elias in 1984. Overcoming conflicts by peaceful means is still an exceptional ability. From a historical point of view, terror, flight, ideological fanatism, and perennial warfare are the normal ways to deal with conflicting interests and power struggles. From a global perspective, negotiating as an alternative to violence is a scarce and precarious skill. In this contribution, I will describe how negotiation skills developed over the centuries.

For the full article click  Struggling with violence and fanatics

Paulo Finuras: On the nature of war

War and violence have always been part of human societies in such a way that we can say that they exist before cultural differences and not because of them. It is a persistent phenomenon among our species, but it is not a phenomenon that is prevalent or exclusive to human beings, and it tends to be increasingly rare among us.

What are the causes of war, what is it for, and how does it develop among human beings? What kinds of wars do we wage and why do they continue to persist? These are some of the aspects that make up this reflection, which uses the evolutionist lens to understand and explain this phenomenon in an absolute way.

For the full article click: on-the-nature-of-war/


Peter Knip: Reflections on the municipal alliance for peace in the Middle East. A project aiming atcooperation between Palestinian and Israeli local authorities.

The Municipal Alliance for Peace in the Middle East (MAP) was a framework for Israeli-Palestinian municipal dialogue, with contributions from foreign municipalities and their associations and other international actors. 

MAP was established at a conference in The Hague in June 2005. 33 Israeli and Palestinian mayors endorsed its founding in the presence of municipal representatives from 15 countries and a range of international organizations, including UN-Habitat, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), UNDP, WHO, the Glocal Forum, and UNESCO. 

MAP was run by an International Board consisting of the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), the Union of Local Authorities of Israel, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the European Network of Local Authorities for Peace in the Middle East (ELPME), the City of Hamar, the City of Rome, the City of Barcelona and the City of Cologne. 

The President of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) chaired the board. 

For the full article: Reflections-on-the-municipal-alliance-for-peace-in-the-middle-east/


Huib Wursten: To build bridges you must know where the shorelines are.         In earlier papers, like in Culture-and-geopolitics-are-we-converging/, it was shown that people tend to talk too loosely about bridging differences because they lack a real understanding of the fundamental issues. The pragmatic reality is that bridges can only be built “if the shorelines are identified”. A core finding in defining the shorelines is that Culture has a “gravitational” influence. In combination with the big five Personality differences, 16 important  “shorelines” are distinguished.

For the full article click: To-build-bridges-you-must-knw-where-the-shorelines-are/

Reiko Tashiro: Culture and peace. Lessons from Hiroshima.

Seventy-eight years have passed since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Despite numerous efforts towards nuclear disarmament, as of early 2022, it is estimated that nine countries, including the United States and Russia, possess 12,705 nuclear warheads. The theory of nuclear deterrence remains prevalent. Concerns persist over the proliferation and modernization of nuclear arsenals by nuclear-armed states such as China, the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons by North Korea or Russia, escalating tensions between the US, China, and Russia, and the risk of accidental nuclear use. The threat of nuclear weapon use continues to escalate daily.

The article is divided into two parts.

The first part reflects on the author’s support for her mother’s testimony activities as a Hiroshima survivor since 2007, highlighting the power of storytelling by survivors in advocacy.

The second part raises a fundamental question: Why is achieving peace so

challenging despite the global desire for it?

For the full article:


Marie Sheffield and Bruce St. Thomas: Collective Trauma and human suffering: Energizing Systematic Change through Collective Healing Action

In their work titled “Cultivating Collective Healing: Understanding Recovery through Culture, Trauma, and Intercultural Community Resilience,” St. Thomas and Sheffield delve into the intricate interplay among culture, collective trauma, and the journey toward healing. They emphasize the pivotal role of collective cultures in fostering a sense of belonging and interdependence, which is crucial for both individual and societal well-being. Drawing upon examples such as the ongoing conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, they illustrate how collective trauma manifests across physical, psychological, and cultural dimensions, hindering the healing process and perpetuating cycles of violence. By drawing parallels with historical figures of dictatorship, the authors elucidate the pervasive nature of collective trauma as it affects individuals, communities, and entire cultures. Their article sheds light on the disruptive impact of rapid global changes, which often marginalize traditional societies, leading to social exclusion and the erosion of cultural identities. Recognizing diverse cultural identities as intrinsic connections to shared humanity, rooted in natural and human ecologies, facilitates meaningful connections across diverse backgrounds, ultimately fostering collective healing and revitalizing fragmented systems. Offering strategies to address systemic trauma and cultivate sustainable peace, the authors advocate for the revitalization of collective healing principles and the recognition of shared narratives as vital steps toward promoting peace, equity, and resilience in an increasingly fragmented world.

For the full article:


Anton Carpinschi: Culture and Peace or in Search of Interculturality

Starting from the observation of the worrying increase in destabilizing anti-Semitic manifestations in Romania, a country with a small number of Jews, this essay advocates for addressing the bi-univocal relations between culture and peace by educating intercultural competencies and cultivating the spirit of interculturality. But how could we cultivate the spirit of interculturality in a world in times of crossroads, a world in which civilization built on the foundations of democratic liberalism is increasingly threatened by pseudo-democratic illiberalism or even, frankly, by increasingly totalitarian dictatorial regimes? For therapeutic reasons, the author assumes, at the meeting of practical philosophy, discursive pragmatics, and culture studies, a personalized approach of a reflexive nature inspired by his own life experiences.

For the full article click: Culture-and-peace-or-in-search-of-interculturality/


Luc Zwaenepoel: Is Ubuntu a tool for peace?

This essay combines the elements of an efficient culture of peace with humanistic tools provided by the Ubuntu attitude based on the Bantu philosophy. Ubuntu, a tool for peace and reconciliation was used in the post-apartheid times in South Africa. Ubuntu has no borders and is also seen at work in other societies and cultures (Ubuntu Diplomacy). Education and coaching can assist in resolving problems and conflict in groups, organizations and in personal life. A more attuned leadership based on Ubuntu, with a focus on transformative conflict handling and interconnectedness must be applied in countries with risks of ethnic strife and repetitive conflicts.

Ubuntu demands attuned leadership to be guardians of peace. The state of peace is the opposite of the continuous situation of war, conflict and terror. Ubuntu places the human, “man,” central and not the religion, the history, the race, or the “enemy”. The enemy is also a human being, and not only to be destructed in times of war and conflict. It can assist in avoiding conflict by promoting a humanistic approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Against the backdrop of new conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza, and Africa with the increasing role of more sophisticated arms, is Ubuntu without borders perhaps the sole answer to save humanity and civilization. This essay examines how the culture of Ubuntu can contribute to peace enhancement.

For the full article: Is-ubuntu-a-tool-for-peace/


Fernando Lanzer: Culture and Peace: Why Can’t We All Get Along?

 Every world leader and every beauty pageant contestant will say that they want “World Peace;” so, why is it that humans engaged in wars throughout history and continue to do so in the 21st Century, an era that has been heralded as “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”, a time of harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding? From a cultural values perspective, the explanation lies in analyzing which cultures foster confrontation, the acceptance of conflict, and the promotion of performance to the detriment of caring and quality of life. It is plain to see that some cultural values are drivers of peace, while other values push in the opposite direction. The different World Views that Sigmund Freud called Weltanschauung and Huib Wursten identified as Mental Images of national cultures can help us understand the influence of cultural values in getting some countries involved in wars more frequently than others.

For the full article:


Vedabhyas Kundu (Programme Officer | Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India) & Ishita Thapliyal

Human Interdependence Literacy: The path to nurture peaceful ecosystems to challenge fragmentation and divisiveness.

As we are moving halfway to the second decade of the 21st century, we find ourselves in the midst of a plethora of interconnected global challenges in a world that remains fragmented more than ever before. The different forces of fragmentation continue to fuel divisions and inequalities within societies across the world which lead to different forms of conflicts and violence. Some of these challenges include the conflicts arising out of climate change, serious disparities in income, and unequal access to essentials like health care, education, etc. 

In the backdrop of how the forces of fragmentation in different societies across the world are contributing to vicious cycles of conflicts and narratives of divisions and intolerance, the aim of all those who wish to see the world as a better place to live and encourage peaceful co-existence should be to explore innovative approaches. The approaches should be to promote a spirit of interdependence, promotion of solidarity footprints, coalition-building, and collaborative efforts.  It also calls for furthering the spirit of responsibility both at local and global level. 

In this paper, we use conversational writing to develop an understanding of human interdependence literacy as a strategy for peaceful coexistence.

For the full article: Human-interdependence-literacy/


Sjaak Pappe: The Impact of culture on the vanishing of states

Why do states vanish? The what and or how of nation-building is influenced by culture. But why and or how states vanish may also be influenced by (their or others) culture. Can the deployment of cultural dynamics also help prevent states from disappearing or stop nations from conquering others? This article explores the possible (cor)relation between dissolving nations and culture, based on a limited literature study. It will draft some ideas on how culture might help prevent states from disappearing.

For the full article click: Culture-and-the-vanishing-of-states/


Mikael Søndergaard, Ingrid Van Rompay-Bartels, Fuyuko Takita, Teaching Culture and Peace. Teaching May Matter

A case study: International Seminar in Hiroshima 2023

Teaching, in a wide sense, has long been associated with efforts to facilitate our understanding in favor of peace. For instance, student exchange programs are historically linked to the aftermath of WWI and WWII as such programs started in 1919 and further expanded in 1946 (Bu, 1999). They assume that understanding various cultures is related to peace.  The motivation of these exchange programs is that if you know by firsthand observation about the other culture, you should have a friendly rather than non-friendly relation with individuals from other cultures. Current armed conflicts in the Middle East and in Europe remind us about other key variables at stake, too.

For the full article:  teaching-may-matter/




Huib Wursten,

Eric Alexander DeGroot,