Joram Tarusarira’s first few days in Groningen have made a good impression on him already. ‘Both the University and the city are bursting with life and really international in outlook. I’ve been made to feel most welcome, both by colleagues and by people on the street. Passers-by have stopped several times already to ask if I need any help when I’ve been looking at my map. I’ve encountered the same interest and willingness to help in my colleagues. Many of the researchers here have been abroad so they know what it means to be new in a place. And yes, I think that I will soon be getting a bike!’
Joram Tarusarira has been Assistant Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies since the start of September. He will also be closely involved in the Faculty’s Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain (CRCPD). Dr Erin Wilson, the director of the CRCPD, is enthusiastic about Tarusarira’s arrival in Groningen. ‘Dr Tarusarira’s expertise in conflict resolution and research into peacebuilding are an exciting addition to our research profile. Joram is energetic and enthusiastic and has many new innovative ideas that will enrich the expertise and activities at our centre. He will be of immense benefit to our students.’
Tarusarira earned his PhD degree from the Institute for African Studies at the University of Leipzig in Germany, with an interdisciplinary study of the role of religio-political organizations pursuing democratization and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. Until this summer, he worked at the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Prior to that, he earned his Master’s degree in Reconciliation Studies from Trinity College, Dublin; this was at a time when protracted political conflict had ravaged Zimbabwe and a transitional government was being formed. Before that, he studied in Zimbabwe and Canada.
‘My research is at the interface between religion, politics, peacebuilding and reconciliation,’ Tarusarira explains. ‘A specific example of the practical application of my studies and research into reconciliation and transitional justice is my work as a consultant for various civic organizations in Zimbabwe. I’ve given workshops on peace, recovery and reconciliation, and developed policy documents on these themes, following two decades of political conflict. I consider transitional justice to be part of the reconciliation process, because I believe that reconciliation is both a social and a political process. So if you talk about reconciliation you need to include events from the past and administer both retributive and restorative justice.’
Joram Tarusarira is looking forward to working with students and colleagues, and learning from each other. ‘I hope to put religion, conflict and peacebuilding even more on the map, and to make use of my international connections to raise the profile of the department and the CRCPD. And it’s very important for me to conduct research that has a practical influence in the public sphere, so I really want to participate in departmental activities that benefit society,’ he adds. ‘In Shona, the principal language of Zimbabwe, we say “Chitsva chiri murutsoka”, which means something like “when you travel you learn new things”. I am very eager to learn and am looking forward to learning a lot here in Groningen and sharing my knowledge and experiences.’
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