Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

Shadowing Pádraig Ó Tuama: Common Ground is Not the Goal

While debriefing Narrative 4 circles I facilitate in and beyond Nashville, I often hear people say things like, “This experience reminds me of how much we all have in common. Most of the time, we’re all focused on all our differences, but we just need to remember that we are all more alike than we are different.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and one that may even be true. But it also might not be. While prioritizing the search for common ground has great use, it also runs the risk of assuming we must do this because difference is bad.

Understanding Conflict, part 3: Mediation

Like conflict itself, responding to conflict is complex and multi-faceted. Though likely quite obvious, it is important to note that responding to conflict should be context dependent. The scale, roots, intensity, proximity, etc. all impact how one engages conflict. Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC) identifies five main categories of conflict responses: avoidance, accommodation, compromise, control, […]

Understanding Conflict, part 2: The Social Dimension

When considering social conflict, one must surely acknowledge the work of Edward Azar, who put forward the notion of protracted social conflict, defining it as “the prolonged and often violent struggle by communal groups for such basic needs as security, recognition and acceptance, fair access to political institutions an economic participation.” (Qtd. in Ramsbotham, et […]

Understanding Conflict, part 1: The Biological Dimension

Peacebuilding is a multi-faceted endeavor. Numerous activities, players, and approaches make up its practice.[1] Among the many threads composing the fabric of peacebuilding is that of mediation. Colin Craig’s Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC) engages this thread of peacebuilding, practicing mediation in Northern Ireland and numerous other countries throughout the world. Having participated in DPC’s […]

On Conflict Resolution: Toward the Transformation of Conflict

Belfast, N. Ireland To conclude this small series on understanding conflict resolution, I want to move away from just the presentation of different perspectives in the field and offer my personal take on the issues discussed in post three: i.e., the debate between conflict resolution and conflict transformation. WHAT’S THE TELOS? When deciding which terminology […]

On Conflict Resolution: Pluralism or Cosmopolitanism?

Belfast, N. Ireland (This very brief post is not for assessment. I just found the conversation between pluralism and cosmopolitanism to be interesting, and thought I would share.) I find it helpful when introducing myself to the field of conflict resolution to have a basic knowledge of the conversation between the “pluralist” and “cosmopolitan” hopes […]

On Conflict Resolution: Some Critiques

Belfast, N. Ireland We would be remiss if we did not consider at least a couple of the many non-transformation critiques of CR. What follows here will primarily be taken from a very helpful chapter in Contemporary Conflict Resolution.[1] The chapter outlines four major critiques: the realist, critical theory, post-structural, and non-Western/non-Northern. Here I will […]

On Conflict Resolution: Between Resolution and Transformation

Belfast, N. Ireland Important in understanding conflict resolution is addressing the ongoing debate in the field between the terms resolution and transformation. Advocates of transformation language might suggest that the word resolution contains shortsighted tendencies toward quick-fixes. In my estimation, since the introduction of the term conflict transformation in the 1980s by John Paul Lederach, […]

On Conflict Resolution: Grasping Some Terms

Having rudimentarily addressed the nature of contemporary conflict, we shall now glance at some conflict resolution (CR) vernacular. Most of us are likely familiar with many of CR’s common terms, such as negotiation, mediation, problem-solving, etc. Though we do not always have well-articulated definitions of these terms, we essentially “know them when we see them.” […]

On Conflict Resolution: The Nature of Contemporary Conflict

Belfast, N. Ireland This is the first of a series of six posts I have done on understanding conflict resolution. This was an assignment for my class “Conflict Analysis and Models of Intervention.” Engagement is most appreciated. *     *     * Conflict resolution is a strange beast. The term is one most […]