The last year has been a turbulent time, not least for all those who are interested in peacework all around the globe. Restrictions and security measures due to the global pandemic have influenced nearly every part of daily life. Still, they have also given rise to many new ways to creatively approach the situation we find ourselves in. The Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies Innsbruck, which I am part of since 2020, is no exception. I invite you to follow me on my journey, and to explore how my quest for inner and outer peace has led me here.
International Academic and Active Peace Practitioner
I was born to a Roman Catholic Filipino Mother and a South Indian Hindu Father. Due to their professions, I spent my childhood on three different continents. Born in Mumbai, India, I grew up in an international environment in Nigeria and later migrated to Canada.Despite their different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, my parents raised us with common values of humanity. My Mother shared her views that one’s faith is always within them. My Father embodied ways of living and breathing, that may be understood as ‘yoga’, as part of daily life and ritual. I believe that these experiences shaped me as a human being in search of inner peace and guided me as a peace and conflict worker seeking outer peace in our global society.
After completing my BA in Political Science in Canada, I worked with a human rights organization in the UK and South Africa. Following my MA in Development Studies, I moved to Switzerland and worked eight years for a peacebuilding organization on business and peace and conflict sensitivity. I also quenched my thirst for knowledge by completing a PhD in Political Science and later postdoctoral research, both on topics connected to post-war Sri Lanka. I have been drawn to understanding issues related to Asia and Africa, which I see as directly linked to my mixed descent and upbringing.
Mother and Woman of Colour
As I later found myself travelling to conflict affected contexts such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Nepal for ‘outer peace’ projects, I realized that the nurturing of my ‘inner peace’ projects required more self-care. Exploring ancestral practices of peace such as yoga and meditation has been integral to understanding my place and role in the world.
As a Mother to two multicultural, multilingual and multiracial daughters, issues such as gender, diversity and equality have taken on whole new meanings. I embrace my daughters as my ‘true teachers’ and my ‘ultimate students’. They inspire me to explore what is possible as a peace worker in a world where the representation of Women of Colour in leadership positions and as role models in this field remains scarce.
Creative Peace Innovation in Times of Pandemic
I joined the team at the Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. While adapting to new ways of learning is not easy, it has been encouraging to witness how we can still find ways to cultivate relationships and trust, feel heart connections and impart knowledge, all while building an engaged virtual peace community. It is now that we harvest the fruit of all these processes, as we are right now successfully hosting our first full online semester.
The pandemic also influenced the making of this volume of the Many Peaces Magazine, and required some adaptability. Congratulations to all the editors, authors, and helpers who contributed to this ongoing process. The need for innovative approaches towards unfamiliar situations is a constant one, and as change is always an opportunity for transformation, let us come together in the spirit of this volume – creativity.
- Rina Alluri practicing yoga (Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II pose) in ancient temple ruins of the Vijayanagara empire in Hampi, Karnataka, India – Copyright: Rina M. Alluri (2019)