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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

Narrative Approaches to Understanding and Responding to Conflict

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords narrative, conflict resolution, development, assessment, evaluation
Authors Sarah Federman
AbstractAuthor's information

    While stories have circulated for millennia and constitute the very fabric of life in society, narrative as an optic for understanding and engaging with conflict emerged in the field of conflict resolution only in the past few decades, and has already amassed an array of significant contributions (Bar-Tal and Salomon, 2006; Cobb, 2013; Grigorian and Kaufman, 2007; Kellett, 2001; Lara, 2007; Nelson, 2001; Rotberg, 2006; Winslade and Monk, 2000). They encompass several spheres of action. Narrative analysis provides a means to locate individual and communal meaning in their discourse and to pinpoint conflicts in their world views that threaten their identity and agency. Further, it helps explain how marginalized people remain marginalized. Narrative interventions allow for conflict transformation, helping people to renegotiate their social positions and reclaim lost agency stemming from marginalized positions. Narrative evaluation highlights the flexibility of that model to measure change through a detection of discursive shifts over time. This article provides an overview of narrative approaches to conflict, answering: (a) What is narrative and what is its potential as a tool for understanding and responding to conflict? (b) How might we conduct a narrative analysis of a conflict? (c) From this analysis, how might we then construct narrative interventions and programme evaluations?


Sarah Federman
Sarah Federman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Baltimore in the department of Negotiations and Conflict Management. Federman completed her doctorate at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution where she studied the role of the French National Railways (SNCF) in the Holocaust and the on-going conflict in the United States over whether the company has done enough to make amends. She used narrative and ethnographic methods to construct a narrative landscape of the conflict over time and to better understand the social construction of victim-perpetrator binaries. Federman began this research as a masters student at the American University of Paris.
Article

Non-Violent Struggle

The 1992 Kenyan Case Study of the Protective Power and the Curse of Female Nakedness

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2015
Keywords non-violent struggle, dynamics of non-violent struggle, strategic planning in non-violent struggle, protective power of the vulva, curse of female nakedness
Authors Dr. Peter Karari
AbstractAuthor's information

    Non-violent struggle is a technique by which the population can restrict and sever the sources of power of their oppressors while mobilizing their own potentials into effective power. Female nakedness is one type of non-violent action that can be mobilized to facilitate women’s emancipation from gendered-cum-patriarchal oppression, violence and marginalization. A literature review indicates that female nakedness has been used for many centuries around the world to stop wars, ward off enemies, agitate for rights, prevent pests and increase harvests. Studies show that the effectiveness of non-violent struggle requires strategic planning and understanding of the dynamics involved. This article analyses the 1992 women’s nude protest in Kenya aimed at pushing for the release of political prisoners. This study investigates three questions: (1) In what ways was the 1992 women’s nude protest in Kenya a success? (2) What were the struggle’s flaws? (3) What strategic plans and/or dynamics of non-violent struggle could have been employed to make this protest more effective? The findings of this research indicate that: (1) The nude protest was partially a success because it secured the release of all political prisoners and nurtured democratization; (2) the struggle failed to embrace some strategic planning and/or the dynamics of non-violent struggle in addition to hunger strike and female nakedness; and (3) the protest could have been more successful if it embraced particular strategic plans and/or dynamics of non-violent struggle such as negotiation, power relations, prioritization of tactics and methods of non-violent struggle, access to critical material resources and clear monitoring and evaluation strategies.


Dr. Peter Karari
Dr. Peter Karari will be joining Karatina University, Kenya in September 2015 as a faculty member in the school of education and social sciences where he plans to start a department in Peace and Conflict Studies. He is a PhD graduate in peace and conflict studies from the Arthur Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, University of Manitoba. He also has a Bachelor in Social-Work from the University of Nairobi in Kenya and a Masters in Peace and Conflicts Research from Otto-von Guericke University in Magdeburg Germany. His areas of focus includes; ethnopolitical violence, transitional justice, peacebuilding, conflict-management, conflict-resolution, conflict-transformation, and human rights. His doctoral research was on ethno-political violence, transitional justice, and peacebuilding in Kenya. He has diverse field and work experience with Non-governmental and community based organizations. He was the Country Program Manager of Drug Abuse Education Program Kenya, Project Coordinator Compassion International Kenya, and Chief Executive Officer Kibera Slum Education Program, an Oxfam GB assisted project in Kenya. Peter has served in various capacities as a student leader, community leader, and as a member of the University of Manitoba senate. He has a great passion for the marginalized and the vulnerable people in the society and has greatly been recognized for his community leadership and human rights activism. He is the winner of the 2010 Nahlah Ayed Prize for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship, University of Manitoba; 2010 Paul Fortier Award in Student Activism, University of Manitoba Faculty Association; 2011 University of Manitoba Alumni Award; 2012 University of Manitoba Dean of Graduate Studies Student Achievement Award; and 2014 University of Manitoba Emerging Leaders Award. Apart from mentoring his students to explore new perspectives and ideas that address their inquisitiveness as human beings, Dr. Karari envisions to actively participate in peacebuilding initiatives to make the world a better place for all to live in. He envisions Perpetual Peace in the World!
Article

Process Pluralism in Transitional-Restorative Justice

Lessons from Dispute Resolution for Cultural Variations in Goals beyond Rule of Law and Democracy Development (Argentina and Chile)

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2015
Keywords transitional justice, conflict resolution, process pluralism, cultural variation, individual and collective justice
Authors Carrie Menkel-Meadow
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article reviews some of the key issues in transitional justice process and institutional design, based on my research and experience working and living in several post-conflict societies, and suggests that cultural and political variations in transitional justice design, practices, and processes are necessary to accomplish plural goals. The idea of process pluralism, derived from the more general fields of conflict resolution and ‘alternative dispute resolution’ in legal contexts, is an essential part of transitional justice, where multiple processes may occur simultaneously or in sequence over time (e.g. truth and reconciliation processes, with or without amnesty, prosecutions, lustration and/or more local legal and communitarian processes), depending on both individual and collective preferences and resources. Transitional justice is itself ‘in transition’ as iterative learning has developed from assessment of different processes in different contexts (post-military dictatorships, civil wars, and international and sub-national conflicts). This article draws on examples from Argentina’s and Chile’s emergence from post-military dictatorships to describe and analyze a plurality of processes, including more formal governmental processes, but also those formed by civil society groups at sub-national levels. This article suggests that ‘democracy development’ and legalistic ‘rule of law’ goals and institutional design may not necessarily be the only desiderata in transitional justice, where more than the ‘legal’ and ‘governmental’ is at stake for more peaceful human flourishing. To use an important concept from dispute resolution, the “forum must fit the fuss”, and there are many different kinds of ‘fusses’ to be dealt with in transitional justice, at different levels of society – more than legal and governmental but also social, cultural and reparative.


Carrie Menkel-Meadow
Carrie Menkel-Meadow is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine.
Article

Responsibility and Peace Activism: Lessons from the Balkans

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2014
Keywords Responsibility, peace activism, non-violence, conflict, dynamical systems, Balkans, Levinas
Authors Borislava Manojlovic
AbstractAuthor's information

    Background: The notion of responsibility for peace in this article is examined through the analysis of stories told by seven peace activists that have chosen to promote peace in the midst of the violent 1990s conflicts in the Balkans by resisting or rejecting violence. Purpose: This study aims to explore what it means to perform responsible action (i.e. why certain individuals choose peace in the midst of conflict, despite danger and risk for themselves), and what makes their peace activities successful. Methodology: The research is based on seven in-depth semi-structured interviews. By means of dynamical systems theory and Levinas’ concept of responsibility, this study traces the positive attractor dynamics within individual narratives of these peace activists, which includes actions or thinking that produce peaceful outcomes in conflict systems. Findings: The findings suggest that inquiry and openness towards the Other rooted in care and responsibility can serve as a positive attractor in a conflict system. Successful peace activities are enabled through learning from past mistakes and creation of inclusive and diverse spaces for interaction in which historical narratives can be expanded and non-violent strategies can be embraced. Originality/value: This study contributes to the body of knowledge on how change leading to peaceful outcomes can be introduced in conflict systems through peace activism and how we can deal with the current and future violent conflicts more constructively. It also helps to bridge the gap between practice of and research on conflict resolution by giving voice to the practitioners and eliciting lessons from the ground.


Borislava Manojlovic
Borislava Manojlovic, PhD, is the director of research projects and professor at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, USA. Her email address is: borislava.manojlovic@shu.edu.
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