ICO’s Youth Council was created in response to a lack of tangible spaces and opportunities for young people to participate in peace-building, conflict-transformation and humanitarian work. The programme has been running since 2022, entering its third year in 2024.
Youth Council member, Sara Pereda’s involvement with ICO has included work which seeks to explore cross-community relationships in Israel and Palestine, de-centering the conventional structural, statist understandings of conflict – and highlighting instead the actors which are often excluded or minimised in this frame of understanding.
Sara Pereda is a researcher and masters student at the London School of Economics, who hopes to recenter marginalized voices while engaging with questions of embodiment, aesthetics and affect. Her undergraduate background began in the field of psychology, but since includes a degree in Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University, and cultural studies at the London School of Economics. She is a proponent of the power of storytelling which can reshape our understanding of belonging through personal experience. Her own positionality as a researcher is firmly based in my identity as a feminist scholar and as a young migrant. Therefore, Postcolonial and feminist theory feature as crucial stepping stones to her analytical approach. Throughout the years she has pursued an education across Spain, Germany and France where she acquired a multilingual education and further knowledge in the field of critical media studies.  Her research approach is creative, interpersonal, and highly interdisciplinary. She views ethnography as an important piece to producing ethical knowledge and aims to bridge the gap between the disciplines of psychoanalysis, sociology and media studies to produce innovative research methods for political communication across social divides. Her goal is to redefine cultural studies through the experiences of individuals, and to develop new understandings of the reflexive subject that portray people as authors of their own lives, but also agents and sources of knowledge for social change.
The abstract of ‘Anonymous Friendship’ follows below, for the full publication, please visit here.

Anonymous Friendship

This fictional story was inspired by the lives of one Israeli and one Palestinian woman, who have shared their experiences living in Israel and Palestine throughout a series of workshops conducted alongside the International Communities Organisation. The project has culminated in the creation of a fictional narrative which describes what it would feel like if two women were to meet from both sides of the divide, firstly as strangers, and lastly as nationals. For the sake of their privacy and protection their names will be presented as pseudonyms. The piece explores how gendered, cultural and national biases overlap to perpetuate dividing narratives, seeking to explore alternative routes to understanding the complex identities that emerge in this situation. Through the daily lives of individuals, this story takes a unique approach to understanding conflict and division by speaking directly with women in their communities. Through this endeavor, new possibilities of being and belonging are made possible by writing fiction that highlights women’s perspectives. Therefore, this is the story of two women who meet under unlikely circumstances as unknown callers on a Saturday afternoon, and begin to unravel their personal story as they seek to identify the other person who lies on the opposite end of the call. This short story brings us from their intimate conversations to their newly forged friendship and finally, to their meeting place in Bethlehem.

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