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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

Does Our Field Have a Centre?

Thoughts from the Academy

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2013
Keywords Conflict and Peace studies, peacebuilding, pedagogy, George Mason University, S-CAR
Authors Kevin Avruch
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article is a personal reflection on the development of the field of conflict resolution/peace and conflict studies from the perspective of the classroom: how what is thought necessary to teach has changed as the field has grown and reacted to often turbulent political change


Kevin Avruch
Henry Hart Rice Professor of Conflict Resolution & Professor of Anthropology, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. I thank my colleagues Arthur Romano, Richard Rubenstein, and Dennis Sandole for their careful and critical reading of earlier drafts of this essay, and Oliver Ramsbotham for his critical reading of a later one. Their various suggestions greatly improved the work.
Article

The Historical Contingencies of Conflict Resolution

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2013
Keywords History of ADR, consensus building, multi-party dispute resolution, theory development, conflict handling
Authors Carrie Menkel-Meadow
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article reviews the historical contingency of theory and practice in conflict engagement. World War II and the Cold War produced adversarial, distributive, competitive, and scarce resources conceptions of negotiation and conflict resolution, as evidenced by game theory and negotiation practice. More recent and more optimistic theory and practice has focused on party needs and interests and hopes for more party-tailored, contingent, flexible, participatory and more integrative and creative solutions for more than two disputants to a conflict. The current challenges of our present history are explored: continued conflict in both domestic and international settings, the challenge of “scaling up” conflict resolution theory and the problematics of developing universal theory in highly contextualized and diverse sets of conflict sites. The limits of “rationality” in conflict resolution is explored where feelings and ethical, religious and other values may be just as important in conflict engagement and handling.


Carrie Menkel-Meadow
Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California Irvine Law School and A.B. Chettle Jr. Professor of Dispute Resolution and Civil Procedure, Georgetown University Law Center.
Article

Relational Constructionism

Generative Theory and Practice for Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2013
Keywords Conflict transformation, conflict resolution, action research, positioning theory, relational constructionism
Authors Nikki R. Slocum-Bradley
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article draws upon relational constructionist ideas to facilitate a meta-theoretical shift in conflict engagement and transformation. Based upon insight into conceptual and relational inter-dependency, two tasks are suggested as key aims for future work: 1) nurturing a profound respect for inter-dependent self/other and appreciation for relationships, and 2) developing skills to construct nurturing, generative relationships. Underscoring that research, theory-building and other aspects of scholarship are in themselves practices, the author encourages the design of these and other practices to facilitate conflict transformation. Exploring the implications of relational constructionist insights, an approach is proposed that merges the boundaries of theory-building, research methodology, and conflict engagement: Action Research for the Transformation of Conflicts (ART-C). While ART-C provides a process that facilitates the construction of cooperative relationships, insights from Positioning Theory illuminate how actors co-construct relationships by evoking meanings and norms that guide action. These concepts are applied to a variety of examples from around the globe that illustrate the transformation of identities, relationships and conflicts.


Nikki R. Slocum-Bradley
Associate Research Fellow, United Nations University (UNU-CRIS).
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