UCL Grand Challenges


De-weaponizing Identities and Education in Armed Conflict and Disaster

A documentary film exploring weaponisation of identities.

male students stand on a hillside

1 October 2019


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2019-20
Amount awarded: £7,000


  • Dr Laila Kadiwal, Department of Education, Practice and Society, IOE
  • Prof Peter Sammonds, Institute for Disaster and Risk Reduction, Maths & Physical Sciences

The manipulation of identity in crisis has been, and continues to be, a significant driver of violence in human societies - a tendency that is described as “identity weaponisation” by some. There is limited understanding on how educational engagement with identity relates to and can transform structural roots of conflict.

This project brought together cross-disciplinary scholars and practitioners working on armed conflict and disaster-affected contexts, with particular focus on the Hindukush and Himalayan region. It aimed to develop the necessary research methods, analytical and strategic tools to counter manipulation of identity in crisis contexts. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the project team worked with films for social change group to produce a documentary highlighting the issue of weaponisation of identities during the crisis in comparative and historical contexts.

 The project has generated a number of outputs, including a film, Covid-19 Blame Game, a documentary tracking the vicious scapegoating of marginalised people by majoritarian political elites around the world during pandemics past and present.

Outputs and Impact

Image credit: IOE