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Angela Schöpke: Afghan Dance Can Help Win the Peace - Originally published on Navy Captain Edward Zellem's blog. Angela Schöpke is researching the use of Afghan dance as a tool for conflict resolution and reconciliation in a formal research project sponsored by The George Washington University (GWU). Her project is based on previous research she conducted two years ago in Northern Ireland that documented the effectiveness of an Irish government-sponsored dance program that helped reconcile religious and political factions during the “Irish Troubles.”

A formally trained dancer herself, Ms. Schöpke returned to the United States after completing her research fieldwork in Northern Ireland. She soon became involved in a project with U.S. and Afghan youth using dance as an international community-building tool. Based on her experiences in Northern Ireland, she began to wonder if dance and a similar approach also could help build national, ethnic and tribal unity in Afghanistan. She received a fellowship from GWU as a student of its prestigious Elliott School to support her new research project on this idea.

The research question is fascinating. Can an activity such as dancing, which has proven to be effective in Northern Ireland to reconcile conflicting groups, work similarly in Afghanistan? Do Afghanistan’s historical, cultural and religious contexts, which are very different from those of Northern Ireland, affect the answer?

Angela Schöpke speaks here in a 2013 interview with Edward Zellem, a U.S. Navy Captain and author of “Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs.” Read more...

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