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Article

Pondering over “Participation” as an Ethics of Conflict Resolution Practice

Leaning towards the “Soft Side of Revolution”

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords participation, structural violence, narrative compression, master-counter narratives
Authors Sara Cobb and Alison Castel
AbstractAuthor's information

    “Participation” has been defined as the engagement of local populations in the design and implementation of peace-building processes in post-conflict settings and it has been presumed to be critically important to sustainable conflict intervention. In this article, we explore this concept, so central to the field of conflict resolution, focusing on a set of problematic assumptions about power and social change that undergird it. As a remedy to these issues, we offer a narrative as a lens on the politics of participation. This lens thickens our description of our own participation as interveners, a reflexive move that is notably missing in most efforts to redress the dark side of “participation” – that it has often been used as a means to upend structural violence, only to contribute to its reproduction. Drawing on the work of Ginwright, specifically his work with black youth in Oakland, CA, we explore participation as a process involving the critical examination of master/counternarratives. By offering a narrative lens on participation, we hope to illuminate a framework for the ethics of conflict resolution practice that enables practitioners to ethically navigate the politics of “participation.”


Sara Cobb
Dr. Sara Cobb is the Drucie French Cumbie Chair at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University. She is also the Director of the Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR that provides a hub for scholarship on narrative approaches to conflict analysis and resolution. Dr. Cobb is widely published and a leader in narrative approaches to conflict resolution.

Alison Castel
Dr. Alison Castel is faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she teaches the core curriculum in Peace and Conflict Studies for the International Affairs program and is the Associate Director of the CU in DC internship program. She holds a Ph.D from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University, and is an affiliate of the Center for Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR.
Article

Culture-Sensitive Mediation: A Hybrid Model for the Israeli Bukharian Community

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2014
Keywords Community mediation, traditional communities, ethnic, conflict resolution, cultural sensitivity, Bukharian
Authors David Shimoni
AbstractAuthor's information

    Background: Attempts to practice standard (Western) mediation in a traditional ethnic community – Jewish Bukharians in Ramla, Israel – failed owing to the incompatibility of this mediation with the community’s customs and norms. Purpose: To develop a hybrid model for conflict resolution in this community and traditional communities in general, following an extensive inquiry that examined the cultural characteristics of the Bukharian community in Ramla and the preferences of its members with regard to intervention in conflicts within the group. Methodology: Mixed methods research, combining questionnaires, a focus group and three interviews. Findings: The findings provided an in-depth understanding of the Bukharian community in Ramla, its cultural characteristics and their preference when dealing with conflicts. Largely, from the sample I studied it can be suggested that the Bukharians accept power distances as something natural, that they can tolerate ambiguous situations and tend to avoid direct confrontation and expression of emotions. Most of the informants have a clear preference to turn to respected members of the community when they seek assistance in handling conflicts. These findings allowed the construction of the hybrid mediation model composed of six stages: Intake, Framework Formation, Opening Statements, Emergence of Interests, Options Generation and Agreement. This model calls for co-mediation of a traditional indigenous dignitary with a professional mediator who together conduct a tailor-made mediation. Practical implications: This unique model is most suitable for the Jewish Bukharians, but can also be used by other groups worldwide that share the same cultural characteristics of the Bukharian Jews.


David Shimoni
David Shimoni, PhD, is the director of Goshrim Mediation Center in Israel and a lecturer at the Beit Berl academic college in Israel. His email address is: david@goshrim.com.
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

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.
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