Talking about war

Your phone is a conflict zone

Your phone is a conflict zone

I'm often asked questions by people here in the UK about my research, whether it's on children's experiences of political violence, or the transmission of forbidden histories in societies that are overshadowed by past atrocity, or reconciliation as it manifests in the lives of nuns who inhabit situations of violence. People want to hear the stories. Their reactions range from fascinated, to horrified, to antagonistic, to impressed. And often I feel as if they relate to these stories as they might to a spellbinding fairy tale, as if I'm relating something that is too distant to be real - a story that happened "once upon a time and far, far away." 

This sense of mass violence as something that happens to other people a long way from us is reinforced by the language that echoes across the news. War-torn region. Conflict zone. These phrases make it sound as if war-affected areas can be neatly labelled and colour-coded into different zones like a sprawling map of the London Underground, and they reinforce the idea that war is something separate from our own lives. Yet in reality, it resides on our desks and in our back pockets. Your phone is a conflict zone.