WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 10—Violence has been a consistent theme throughout human history.
On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, nearly 150 people gathered at the SGI-USA Washington, D.C., Culture Center to hear a lecture on the themes of peace and violence by Fathali Moghaddam, a professor in the department of psychology and the director of the master’s program in conflict resolution at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Moghaddam spoke as part of the “Culture of Peace Distinguished Speakers Series.”
The series aims to foster a culture that rejects violence and addresses the root causes of conflict through dialogue. Lecturers focus on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace.

Dr. Moghaddam has worked as a professor at Georgetown University since 1990. His research focuses on intergroup conflict and the role of psychology in fostering a more peaceful society.

At the Washington, D.C., event, Dr. Moghaddam talked about cultural conditions that give rise to acts of violence, including the challenges of globalization, which, he stressed, brings about two conflicting trends: assimilation, where minority populations cast off their past cultural identity and adopt the dominant culture; and multiculturalism, where groups strengthen their cultural identity, often overemphasizing their respective differences.

While assimilation can foster cross-cultural exchange, it can also cause the decline of minority cultures, he said. As a result, many individuals from minority cultures respond with a sense of separatism or radical self-assertion, leading extreme factions to radically defend their cultures through violence.

Dr. Moghaddam called for a shift to “omniculturalism,” which he defined as finding cohesion among different groups by emphasizing our most fundamental and common humanity, and on the basis of this common foundation recognize and uphold the value of distinct local identities. Toward this end, he said that dialogue is fundamental.
Dr. Moghaddam also emphasized the powerful role that women play in building a more peaceful society. In fact, the afterword of one of Dr. Moghaddam’s books is titled “The Veiled Solitude—Women as the Solution.” At the root of a nonviolent society is a woman’s ability to nurture and connect with others, he said.