Guide Cultural Variation in Conflict Resolution: Alternatives To Violence

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Peace and Conflict Studies: An Introduction. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing. Kool, V. The Psychology of Nonviolence and Aggression. New York: Macmillan-Palgrave. Mayton, D. New York: Springer. MacNair, R. The Psychology of Peace: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Cultural Variation in Conflict Resolution: Alternatives to Violence

Pruitt, D. Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement 3rd ed.


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Ramsbotham, O. Contemporary Conflict Resolution 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Sandole, D. Handbook of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. London: Routledge. Wallensteen, P. Webel, C. Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies. New York: Cambridge University Press. Berkowitz, L. Van Gennep adopted a process view of rituals, arguing that they should be considered as social institutions that enable marked transitions in social status. He identified three parts of the ritual process: separation, transition, and incorporation.

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The separation phase marks the beginning of ritual events. It signals the departure from the normal social world and its attendant values, norms, and habituated patterns of behavior.

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The transition represents what scholars term a "liminal state. Turner describes the liminal state as "anti-structure," connoting the relaxation of the mores and rules of the everyday social structure. The potential fluidity of liminality is central to understanding why rituals are often essential in enabling social groups to adapt to and institutionalize change. The term "anti-structure" is also suggestive of another aspect of liminality; liminal social arenas can be highly stylized, representing a parallel universe with its own norms and expectations that are often the inverse of the usual social structure.

For example, Turner describes African ceremonies in which chiefs, who usually command respect, are ridiculed and even stoned. Such ritual events can have their own internal logic and rules.

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Finally, the incorporation stage consists of what Turner calls "reintegration," the activities that facilitate reentry into the everyday social milieu, albeit a somewhat changed one, since rituals are often associated with change, such as alterations in a person or groups' status, the merging of various social units, or the loss or addition of group members.

In the s and s, the Manchester school of anthropologists applied elements of van Gennep's approach to conflict processes. In their studies of African societies, Max Gluckman and Victor Turner noted how, in addition to rites of passage, ritual events were also prominent in conflict management. His book The Ritual Process [5] is essential reading for those interested in further exploring this topic. In what was probably the first cross-cultural study of negotiation and mediation, Philip Gulliver drew from his research in Eastern Africa and North America to describe what he considered an underlying structure to the negotiation process [6].

Gulliver's eight-stage model began with setting the stage and ended with the ritualization of the agreement. The following section will undertake a closer examination of ritual activity in conflict processes with reference to Carolyn Nordstrom's study in A Different Kind of War Story of the Mozambican civil war and its aftermath [7].


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  7. Rituals have a complex role in violence and peacemaking. For example, the process of becoming a soldier has ritualistic elements. During boot camp, prospective soldiers occupy a special social status as initiates, their appearances are changed-their heads are shaved, their previous dress is replaced by uniforms, etc. The experience of soldiers exhibits many parallels with that of initiates in other social groups such as prospective priests, youths undergoing puberty rites, and so forth.

    Peacebuilding efforts also often involve symbols and rituals, and Western-led post-war demobilization and integration programs could benefit from having a ritual component. A Different Kind of War Story is, in part, a chronicle of how a population resisted violence , often using ritual and symbols to do so. For example, she relates how villagers kidnapped some forcibly conscripted soldiers and rebels and returned them to their families and communities.

    Religious figures played a key role in rural residents' resistance to war and violence. Spirit mediums persons who communicate with spirits and populist religious leaders such as Manuel Antonio were instrumental in mobilizing villagers. Based on his reputation of supernatural prowess and his practice of imbuing his recruits with magical protection against violent injury, Antonio formed an anti-war organization that secured entire regions, creating oases of calm in war-torn Mozambique. While Nordstrom is an anthropologist, A Different Kind of War Story represents a valuable read that is a relatively accessible work for a conflict resolution audience unfamiliar with the discipline of anthropology.

    After the conclusion of the civil war, Mozambique, like other countries in similar situations, faced the problem of how to effectively demobilize former combatants and persuade them to abandon their violent lifestyles.

    Armies socialize their soldiers so that they will adopt the proper perspective and be able to overcome inhibitions against violence. Soldiers are given a new identity that accompanies their training and psychological preparation to kill, a training that encompasses the dehumanization of the enemy and the overcoming of the normal social prohibitions against violence and killing. In civil wars, fighters on both sides often become accustomed to the casual use of violence and the easy availability of booty. This, combined with the social-psychological ramifications of violent conflict, often make post-conflict reintegration very difficult.

    Mozambican villagers were able to craft creative solutions, however. They engaged in rituals designed to heal the veterans and their support staff and reintegrate them into their community.


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    4. As they put it, they had to "take the war out of these soldiers" [8]. Mozambicans' usage of ritual demonstrates the significance of both of the two major factors in social science - structure socially defined pathways of action and agency the ability of individuals to make conscious choices. As Nordstrom underlines, villagers and spirit mediums relied on both their collective knowledge and their individual creativity to oppose violence. In other words, they used their intelligence and social knowledge to consciously craft their strategies of resistance.

      However, their practices also demonstrated the importance of structure, as they did not simply create new procedures out of thin air but built upon the legacy of existing values, norms, and patterns of behavior in their society. According to Nordstrom,"violence is not a fixed entity, a "'truth' to be dealt with, but instead it is a social, political, and cultural construction that noncombatants - the targets of most violence - can redefine to assert their own political will" [7].

      Thus, unmaking violence involves reconstructing the social world or ethnoscape. Violence and war are, in many ways, the antithesis of the ideal of ordered, harmonious communal life. Violence and village life are thus oppositional to one another. Part of reintroducing former combatants into a functional and relatively pacific social existence thus involved reintegrating them into their communities and rebuilding their bonds with the community members; bonds which in Mozambique, as in most collectivist societies, acted to maintain social order, as the presence of others is vital to curtailing anti-social behavior and maintaining taboos.

      For discussion of these and associated issues see M. Brigg and K. CrossRef Google Scholar. For example, see M. Cai and E.

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      Faure and G. Faure and J. See, for instance, F. Wautischer ed. Dirks ed. See M. Clifford and G. Fox ed.

      enmejofer.ml Said, Culture and Imperialism , London: Vintage, , p. Yol Jung ed. Another dualistic tension that has inhabited culture is that between idealism and materialism.