Whether our differences concern gender, race, class, political party, or views on a contested issue, many people usually avoid talking about deep differences in the hope that they won’t matter.

But differences do matter, and suddenly we find ourselves in conversations that escalate to the point of shattering individual relationships and societal peace.

Strong Language: Negotiating Deep Differences while Promoting Peace is a public lecture being given by Susan Hirsch, a cultural anthropologist, at San Anton Palace on Friday.

Exploring our differences is essential to crafting more peaceful societies. Current challenges to doing so openly include the lack of safe space and civility, the shifting norms of political correctness, and the violence of language itself.

Hirsch’s own experiences in contentious conversations about gender, Islamic law, hate speech, and the American death penalty illustrate the pitfalls and possibilities of talking about our differences.

Hirsch is a professor in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in the US, where she specialises in legal anthropology.

She is currently a Fulbright lecturer in the Law Faculty of the University of Malta, where she is also affiliated with the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies.

Those interested in taking part are asked to send their application to Francesca Borg at The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society by e-mail at pfws.opr@gov.mt by 5.30pm today. Places are on first come first serve basis.

The lecture starts at 5.30pm.

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