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Article

Reflections on the Field of Conflict Resolution

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2013
Keywords peacebuilding field, culture and conflict resolution, power and conflict resolution, future trends in peacebuilding, critique of peacebuilding
Authors Mohammed Abu-Nimer
AbstractAuthor's information

    Compared with other disciplines in the social sciences, conflict resolution is a relatively new, emerging professional and academic field. Many developments have shaped the current reality and boundaries of the field. This article is an attempt to provide a set of reflections on the major issues, challenges and possible future directions facing the field of conflict resolution. By narrating my own personal and professional journey, I hope to capture certain aspects and perspectives of this field. This is not a comprehensive review or ‘scientific’ charting of the field, nevertheless it attempts to shed light on areas and concepts that are otherwise taken for granted or neglected when the mapping of the field is done through more extensive empirical research. This mapping of conflict resolution after 30 years of practice, teaching and research first involves reflections on the conceptual or so-called theoretical groundings of the field. Second, it examines the various professional practices that have branched out through the last few decades. Third, it identifies some of the current limitations and challenges facing conflict resolution practitioners and scholars in their struggle to position the field in relation to current global realities. The final section discusses possible future directions to address existing gaps and refocus the research agenda of the field.


Mohammed Abu-Nimer
American University, International Peace and Conflict Resolution. E-mail: abunimer@american.edu. Special thanks to Timothy Seidel who reviewed, edited, and made critical comments on this manuscript. Also I am grateful to colleagues in the peace and conflict resolution programs who shared their insights and reflections in the process of writing this essay.
Article

Re-thinking Peacebuilding

From Universal Models to Mundane Peace

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2013
Keywords peace and conflict research, culture, peacebuilding, democracy, truth speaking
Authors Tarja Väyrynen
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article re-theorizes peacebuilding through the critique of the universalizing tendencies prominent in peace and conflict research. The critique is targeted both at the medical analogy and liberal peace theory which epitomize universalism in their own ways. By presenting a case study on a seemingly insignificant, minor and mundane event and person, a Finnish woman Kaisu, the article seeks to demonstrate the usefulness of cultural understanding of peacebuilding and the ethnographic fieldwork methods which open up interesting research questions for the research field. It is shown how peacebuilding is about politics that is ‘not yet’. During peacebuilding society needs to face its troubled past with its full complexity and create a space for constant struggle that does not seek consensus, but rather engages the society in agonistic politics and democracy. Ultimately, the article suggests that the agency of parrhestiastes, truth-speaker, opens up a necessary space for post-conflict peacebuilding as it reveals the fragmented nature of the national self.


Tarja Väyrynen
Tarja Väyrynen has theorized conflict and conflict resolution (e.g. Culture and International Conflict Resolution, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2001; “A Shared Understanding: Gadamer and International Conflict Resolution”, Journal of Peace Research, 42(3): 349-357, 2005). Her most recent work deals with war, peacebuilding, gender, corporeality, collective trauma and post-conflict silences. She is Academy Research Fellow in the School for Social Sciences and Humanities and the director of Research Group on Corporeality, Politics and Migration (COMPORE), University of Tampere, Finland. She worked as the Director and Professor in Tampere Peace Research Institute for eight years before taking up the Academy post in 2008.
Article

Crises and Opportunities:

Six Contemporary Challenges for Increasing Probabilities for Sustainable Peace

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2013
Keywords Conflict resolution, peace, evidence-based practice, gender, systems
Authors Peter T. Coleman
AbstractAuthor's information

    The news from the field of peace and conflict studies is mixed. It is evident that the increasing complexity, interdependence and technological sophistication of conflict, violence and war today introduce many new challenges to peace-keeping, making and building. However, it is also likely that these trends present new opportunities for fostering and sustaining peace. If our field is to capitalize on such prospects, it will need to more effectively understand and address several basic dilemmas inherent to how we approach our work. This paper outlines six contemporary challenges, and suggests some options for addressing them.


Peter T. Coleman
Director of International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution and Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College and The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
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