The Dream Project

Re-assessing the dreamlife responds to the urgent need to appreciate alternative ways of knowing violence and managing peacebuilding that do not align with dominant peacebuilding approaches. Across time and regions, dreams have been associated with activities such as journeys the mind takes out of the body, communications with the dead, malign desires from a third party, dialogues with the subconscious, and neurological phenomena. The well-known but often neglected fluid, sensorial, bodily, spiritual dimensions of dreams will be mobilized to discuss underlying pluriversalism.

With an emphasis on dreams and pluriversalism, this stream of the projec assesses, challenges and aims to improve mainstream framings of conflicts and peace interventions with decolonial aspirations. 

Despite a call for closer attention to local contexts, such critical scholarship still tends to marginalize what is perceived as “feminine” or “native” ways of knowing that take emotional, bodily and spiritual dimensions seriously (Hudson 2016, Andrä et al 2020).


By engaging seriously with dreams, this project follows decolonial feminist calls to re-asses what we know, how we know it, and what we take seriously in our own research encounters in peace and conflict research (Lugones 2010, Anzaldua 1987). The extensive critique of the universalistic and western centric logics of peacebuilding justifies an interrogation of what pluriversalism means for responses to large-scale violence.


Seeking an entry point to confront peace interventions to the extensively known but neglected visual, spiritual and bodily experiences and the pluriversal cosmovisions they constitute, the dreamlife appears as an ideal and innovative material. Indeed, a consideration of the non-linear and sensorial texture of dreams, as well as their multiples social functions in the awake lives (e.g. premonitory, communication with the dead, curses by third party, spiritual revelation, etc) has the capacity to explore the articulation of pluriversalism, peace and violence. 

Deploying decolonial, ethnographic and participative arts-based methods in South Kivu and Burundi, research participants and researchers will jointly reflect about how dreams are understood personally, socially and spiritually. Doing so, they will engage with sensorial forms of knowledge that confront linear visions too often deployed by the peacebuilding industry.

Decolonising the reflection about how we know what about violence; and how do we respond to violence, this stream of the project is dedicated to offer

  1. a theoretical reflection on post-coloniality, knowledge production, violence and peace;
  2. a methodological reflection about what pluriversal fieldwork research means;
  3. an empirical reflection on how to articulate different individual responses to violence along the navigations and negotiations pluriversal cosmovisions, i.e. how to operationalise different understandings of the world.