Memory: Concepts and Grounds

Most of the literature emphasizes the correlation between location (topography, in the broadest sense), human activities (in a social, relational or communitarian way) and related meanings (cultural, moral or ideological ones) towards a more meaningful “sense” of space. The model space by Edward Relph (1976), outlined in his fundamental Place and Placelessness, provides crucial keys of understanding to address the notion of space (physically and figuratively) from the point of view of the relations you can engage and the (social and moral) meanings you can derive from that.

A human need of any nature, in fact, exists in the extent to which it is associated to a place, which is a physical or a conceptual space, and connected to a texture of a social relations, which is a kind of common ground for actions and interactions. If we choose to ignore this need and allow the forces of displacement to continue undisturbed, then the future can not be more than an environment where places (presence of places, sense of places, memory of places) will not have any importance and relations will be downgraded up to make human meanings and feelings disappearing.

If we choose to respond to that need and transcend the displacement, then this can generate a potential for the development of a positive environment (geo-human) where places “are for” people, representing and hosting a variety of human experiences and cultures, relationships and sociality. Which among the possibilities, or even if there are further ones more, can not be determined with certainty, but one thing, at least, is clear: if the world we live has a confused, mixed and displaced geography, empty in places and experiences, or, instead of this, a human geography, full of significant places and meaningful links, the responsibility will be exclusively ours.

The lesson we can learn from this is especially a lesson for security issue, for civilian defence and democracy topics: a place we can consider significant from the point of view of the human experiences and the human relations you can establish in, is also a secure and safe place, where the matrix of safety and control is no longer solely related to police stand and military check. This is a great social achievement, if you think the topic in terms of civilian defence, human security and, finally, peace work.

The European Parliament Recommendation B4-0791, issued in 1999, advices the European Commission and the European Council to set up a Civil Peace Corp and a Preliminary Feasibility Study for such a Civil Peace Corp inside the European Foreign and Security Policy. The document recommends to activate a minimal flexible structure, in order to record, prepare and mobilize either NGO-based resources and institutional resources granted by Member States and to concur to their mutual coordination.

The CPC is conceived as a professional organization of European peace-oriented civil society, mostly inspired by non-violent vision, in charge of intervening after an expressed instance coming from local context-based civil actors, in the pre-conflict situation (prevision and prevention), in the on-going conflict situation (interposition and protection) and in the post-conflict case (unarmed and non-violent civilian peace-keeping and peace-building), with tasks such as: violence prevention, violence’s consequences overcoming, facilitation, mediation and social re-composition.

The European Parliament also suggests a “standard composition” for a CPC made by:

a. a little group made by qualified people with different qualifications and full-time employed with tasks for management and continuity (a secretary to manage, assume, prepare, intervene, evaluate, link and collect studies and reports),
b. a large group made by specialized people to send to missions one after another (like experts, volunteers and professionals, adequately prepared) for specific tasks, projects and missions, as “professional operators” (and non-violent objectors).

The suggested issues for an operational path addressed to CPC operators should be like:

1. non-violent conflict management (either in everyday life and different social contexts),
2. changes in the war and in the way to act the war in the history,
3. conflict analysis and conflict pre-assumptions and warnings analysis (war prevention),
4. history, contexts and circumstances about human rights and gross violations,
5. psycho-social aspects of discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices,
6. socio-anthropological aspects of “Majority and minority” relations,
7. ways, methods and tools to change the “Majority and minority” relations,
8. descriptions of experiences and activities of international civil peace corps,
9. “conflict sensitive” economic cooperation and humanitarian relief in conflict areas,
10. project work for conflict management and peace-making approaches and actions.

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