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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.

    As the nature of global violence shifts and conflict becomes increasingly characterized by intrastate violence, theoretical underpinnings of violence and aggression based on Westphalian models have become insufficient. Contemporary warfare is no longer confined to acts of violence between states using large-scale weaponry where non-combatants are rarely at the front lines. Instead, small arms have allowed rebel groups to bring the front lines of conflict to villages, resulting in a much deadlier age of violence against civilians. This shift has led to an increase in attention to the impact of violent conflict on civilians, including a consideration of the gendered experiences of women, men, girls and boys.
    Of particular concern in this article is the way in which a discourse of victimhood, mobilized through international policy and intervention, can further marginalize and disempower women in postwar contexts. Drawing on ethnographic data from fieldwork with women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, this article will highlight the usefulness of a narrative framework for understanding how individuals make sense of violence, and the discursive politics at work in how these experiences are storied. To this end, the article endeavours to expand the theoretical base from which to understand women’s experiences of conflict in order to ensure postwar interventions do not confine women to the role of “victim,” but support a full range of their expression of agency.


Jessica M. Smith
Jessica Smith is a PhD candidate at the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University. Her research is focused on exploring the intersection of photography, narrative theory, and women’s postwar political agency as a point of inquiry for developing a richer understanding of how to meaningfully engage women in conflict transformation processes. Currently, she is a fellow for the Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution and the Managing Editor of Narrative & Conflict: Explorations in Theory and Practice.

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.
Article

The Truth of Fiction: Literature as a Source of Insight into Social Conflict and Its Resolution

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords literary approaches to conflict resolution, narrative theory, mass movements, social transformation, social injustice
Authors Angelica R. Martinez and Richard E. Rubenstein
AbstractAuthor's information

    The study of literature, although relatively new to the field of peace and conflict studies, has proven to be a valuable way to develop our understanding of violent social conflicts and the possible methods of resolving or transforming them. Literary texts present students of human conflict and conflict resolution with an appreciation of the power of “thick” descriptions of the human experience and the problems with “thin” modes of expression. Narrative and literary works reveal the indelible marks that violence and conflict inscribe on those left in their wake. Examining conflict through literature also grants students access to the ethical and moral dilemmas that people face as they navigate complex and oppressive social systems. A graduate-level course in “Conflict and Literature” taught for the past ten years at George Mason University provides evidence of these uses and suggests the possibility of further pedagogical developments.


Angelica R. Martinez
Angelica R. Martinez is a PhD candidate at George Mason University and the Branch Chief of Policy and Assessment for NATO’s Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey. She taught in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point).

Richard E. Rubenstein
Richard E. Rubenstein is University Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. His most recent book is Resolving Structural Conflicts: How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed (2017).
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

A Case Study of a Narrative Restorative Conference

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords restorative conference, restorative justice, narrative practice, case study, community of care
Authors John Winslade
AbstractAuthor's information

    The overall purpose of a restorative conference is to address the conflict implied in the committing of an offence. The conference convenes a community of care around the offence and invites participants to take up responsibility for addressing the situation. Through a case study drawn from a role-played scenario, this article shows how a restorative conference process in a school might be performed, after an offence has taken place. A transcribed role play is used here to illustrate a narrative practice in the facilitation of restorative conferences. This practice has been written about before, but here, the dialogue is made prominent, while around the dialogue, a commentary aims to make clear the purposes behind what is said.


John Winslade
Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling, College of Education, California State University San Bernardino: 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA, 92407, USA. Email: jwinslad@csusb.edu; Tel. +1 909 327 8217.
Article

Reflexivity, Responsibility and Reciprocity

Guiding Principles for Ethical Peace Research

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords ethics, peace research, peacebuilding practice, research methodology, reflexivity
Authors Angela J. Lederach
AbstractAuthor's information

    The application of peace research to settings of violent conflict requires careful attention to the ethical dimensions of scholarship; yet, discussions about the ethics of peace research remain underdeveloped. This article addresses a critical gap in the literature, outlining a framework for ethical peace research broadly encompassed in three guiding principles: responsibility, reciprocity and reflexivity. The first section provides an overview of the ethics of peace action and research, introducing key contributions that practitioner-scholars have made to the ethics of peacebuilding. In the second section, I explore how the guiding principles of reflexivity, responsibility and reciprocity offer a flexible framework for engaging in everyday ethical research practices. I conclude with preliminary recommendations to encourage further conversation about the ethics of peace research, offering ideas for future action.


Angela J. Lederach
Angela J. Lederach is a PhD student in Anthropology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include youth and community-based peacebuilding, gender, social and environmental justice, displacement and migration. She is currently conducting participatory research in Colombia alongside the Proceso Pacífico de Reconciliación e Integración de la Alta Montaña, a social movement comprised of campesinos (peasant farmers) who were forcibly displaced as a result of the armed conflict. Her research is specifically focused on the social-political, ecological, and ethical dimensions of retorno digno (dignified return) in rural Colombia.
Article

Scholarship as Activism in the Field of Native Studies

A Potential Model for Peace Studies

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords native, indigenous, activism, practice, peace
Authors Jesse James
AbstractAuthor's information

    Native studies is a field in the United States in which many scholars count themselves as activists both in scholarship and practice because their central focus is service to the American Indian community. This interdisciplinary field provides an interesting contrast to peace studies, a similarly interdisciplinary field that, while normatively committed to the study of peace, consists primarily of research that often does not similarly commit the researcher in service to conflict-engaged communities. This article utilizes first-person interviews and evaluates Native studies scholarship through the lens of activism as a potential model for practice-relevant scholarship in peace studies. The concept of scholarship itself as a peace practice is premised on the consideration of both teaching and publishing as forms of activism, here exemplified by Native studies scholars. When acts of scholarship themselves are considered activism and thus practice, the distinction between scholarship and practice is blurred, presenting a challenge to the binary categorizations that have allowed the academy to privilege the knowledge of scholars over that of practitioners. I argue that the experience of Native studies scholars may offer insight for the construction of a framework for peace studies that accounts for scholarship as activism, and in so doing, is better able to evaluate and include both scholarship and practice.


Jesse James
Jesse James is a PhD student in the joint programme in Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, and the role of international law in assertions of Native and indigenous rights.
Article

Security Sector Reform in Theory and Practice

Persistent Challenges and Linkages to Conflict Transformation

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords security sector reform, conflict transformation, scholarship, practice
Authors Leslie MacColman
AbstractAuthor's information

    In less than two decades, security sector reform (SSR) has crystallized as an organizing framework guiding international engagement in countries affected by violent conflict. SSR is a normative proposition, grounded in democratic governance and human security, and a concrete set of practices. As such, it represents an exemplary case of the dialectic between scholarship and practice and an outstanding vantage point from which to interrogate this nexus. In this article, I explore the dynamic interplay between theory and practice in SSR. In particular, I show how the basic tenets of conflict transformation – present in the first generation of scholarship on SSR – were sidelined in SSR practices. Practical experiences led to strong critiques of the ‘conceptual-contextual’ divide and, eventually, to a second generation of critical scholarship on SSR that has begun to coalesce. I conclude by noting the parallels between recent scholarship on SSR and the insights captured in earlier work on conflict transformation.


Leslie MacColman
Leslie MacColman is a PhD student in the joint programme in Sociology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include governance, police reform and criminal dynamics in urban neighbourhoods.
Article

The Moral Imagination Embodied

Insights from Artists Navigating Hybrid Identities in Scholarship and Practice

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords community art, peace studies, arts-based peacebuilding, practice, theory
Authors Kathryn M. Lance
AbstractAuthor's information

    The field of conflict engagement is riddled with tensions and challenges, such as the ‘science-practice crisis’ or the ‘scholarship–practice divide’. Using interviews and an inductive, interdisciplinary approach and following the framework of The Moral Imagination, this article aims to deconstruct this core tension of ‘scholarship or practice’. It does this from the perspective of individuals often overlooked in our field: artists. This study included interviews with three specific artists who work along the practice–scholarship spectrum. Even though these artists engage in both scholarship and practice, they do not simply define themselves as ‘scholars’ or ‘practitioners’. Instead, they navigate their identities and work in-between these two terms. While practicing, researching and teaching they exemplify – and also move beyond – the ‘both/and’ approach. Using an inquiry-based, inductive approach to glean insight from these artists gives them voice and opens up a space for their views on the relationship between scholarship and practice. Paying special attention to how artists make sense of their location(s) along the aforementioned spectrum unearths fresh perspectives on the debate while furthering our understanding of the nexus between scholarship and practice


Kathryn M. Lance
Kathryn M. Lance is a PhD student in the joint programme in Psychology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on youth resilience and means of addressing trauma in divided societies and conflict settings. She is specifically interested in the effects of arts-based peacebuilding and the relationship between the arts, resilience and trauma healing.
Article

Documentary Filmmakers

Bridging Practice and Scholarship in Peacebuilding

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords documentary, film, peacebuilding, narratives, storytelling
Authors Dana Townsend and Kuldeep Niraula
AbstractAuthor's information

    In settings characterized by violent conflict, documentary filmmakers serve as a conduit between local experiences and the broader public. Highlighting these experiences requires filmmakers to immerse themselves in a context, digest scholarly findings, interview local sources and organize information into an accessible storyline. Those who utilize this craft often draw from established research or collaborate with scholars to ensure the narrative resonates with people and represents verified events. At the same time, their films contribute to the practice of peacebuilding through a participatory process that focuses on storytelling and community healing. This article explores the dual role of documentary filmmakers by positioning them as potential bridge-builders between practice and scholarship in peacebuilding. Specifically, it looks at the way filmmakers navigate between these realms by countering hegemonic narratives, introducing marginalized voices, contextualizing conflict and sharing stories with a wide audience – while also reflecting on the way their own identities and viewpoints influence this process.


Dana Townsend
Dana Townsend is a PhD student in Psychology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on the impact of political violence on youth’s psychological functioning as well as the ways that youth engage with memories of violence and utilize narratives to position themselves in their social worlds. She is also interested in the use of digital storytelling for community engagement, healing and reconciliation.

Kuldeep Niraula
Kuldeep Niraula is a PhD student in Conflict Resolution at George Mason University and graduated with an MA in International Peacebuilding from the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. His MA Thesis, “Addressing the Neglect of Local Peacebuilding Practices through Documentaries: A Case Study of Everyday Gandhis” analyses the possibilities and challenges of using documentaries to share local perspectives of peace with a wider audience.
Editorial

The Dynamic Interdependencies of Practice and Scholarship

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords peace research, scholar-practitioner, peacebuilding, peace education
Authors John Paul Lederach and George A. Lopez
Author's information

John Paul Lederach
John Paul Lederach is Professor of International Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and Senior Fellow, Humanity United.

George A. Lopez
George A. Lopez is Hesburgh Chair of Peace Studies Emeritus at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame.
Article

From Liberation Theology to (Liberationist) Peace Studies

Practice, Reflection and the Generation of Scholarship

Journal International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution, Issue 1 2016
Keywords liberation theology, theory, practice, peace studies, religion
Authors Leo Guardado
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article illustrates liberation theology’s evolution and method and argues that its approach to bridging the gap between theory and practice serves as a complement and challenge for conceptualizing the dynamic and fluid relationship between scholarship and practice in peace studies. The 1971 publication of A Theology of Liberation made Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez one of the most influential scholars and theologians of the 20th century, but the process that led to this publication rests upon the day-to-day reflective practice of its author. Gutiérrez’ commitment to pastoral practice, especially among poor communities, raises questions about whose and what kind of knowledge is privileged in the academy, about the possibility of sustainably sourcing wisdom from local communities and about the necessity of scholars to locate themselves within the realities and among the communities they study. Given the affinity between liberation theology’s inductive method and the elicitive approach in some currents of peace studies, the article places its emphasis on the convergent contributions of Gustavo Gutiérrez and John Paul Lederach and draws information from personal conversations with both authors. As a whole, the article contributes to the bourgeoning and necessary dialogue between peace studies and theology.


Leo Guardado
Leo Guardado is a PhD student in the joint programme in Theology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include liberation theology, human displacement and the role of church communities for building justice and peace.

    This article demonstrates how international policy frameworks provide space for iterative engagement between peacebuilding scholars and practitioners. I focus on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which prioritized gender mainstreaming in all stages of peacebuilding. This analysis is based on a review of documents and literature that trace the trajectory of UNSCR 1325 from a variety of perspectives, and informal field interviews with practitioners working at the nexus of gender and peacebuilding. UNSCR 1325 was the product of practitioners who felt that gender was central to peace and security in practice and supported their views with theory. The process of drafting and implementing UNSCR 1325 simultaneously legitimized practitioner projects to incorporate women in peacebuilding and narrowed their scope, prompting critique and research from scholars and scholar-practitioners. The ensuing debates reveal how international policy frameworks can provide a space for iterative and productive discourse between scholars and practitioners by reaffirming shared normative objectives and making the contributions and limitations of both theory and practice visible. Scholar-practitioners can expand the frequency, quality and impact of interactions in this space by acting as intermediaries who circulate between and bridge the worlds of scholarship, policy and practice.


Danielle Fulmer
Danielle Fulmer is a former PhD student in the joint programme in Sociology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include local–global collaborations to transform gender norms and the role of intermediary actors in grassroots social movements.
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