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Mediating Across Difference

Mediating Across Difference: Oceanic and Asian Approaches to Conflict Resolution

Morgan Brigg
Roland Bleiker
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Mediating Across Difference
    Book Description:

    Mediating Across Differenceis based on a fundamental premise: to deal adequately with conflict-and particularly with conflict stemming from cultural and other differences-requires genuine openness to different cultural practices and dialogue between different ways of knowing and being. Equally essential is a shift away from understanding cultural difference as an inevitable source of conflict, and the development of a more critical attitude toward previously under-examined Western assumptions about conflict and its resolution.

    To address the ensuing challenges, this book introduces and explores some of the rich insights into conflict resolution emanating from Asia and Oceania. Although often overlooked, these local traditions offer a range of useful ways of thinking about and dealing with difference and conflict in a globalizing world. To bring these traditions into exchange with mainstream Western conflict resolution, the editors present the results of collaborative work between experienced scholars and culturally knowledgeable practitioners from numerous parts of Asia and Oceania. The result is a series of interventions that challenge conventional Western notions of conflict resolution and provide academics, policy makers, diplomats, mediators, and local conflict workers with new possibilities to approach, prevent, and resolve conflict.

    2 illus.

    Contributors:Roland Bleiker; Volker Boege; Morgan Brigg; Stephen Chan; Frans de Jalong, Sr.; Lorraine Garasu; Mary Graham; Hoang Young-ju; Carwyn Jones; Joy Kere; Debra McDougall; Norifumi Namatame; Chengxin Pan; Oliver Richmond; Deborah Bird Rose; Muhadi Sugiono; Tarja Väyrynen; Polly O. Walker; Jacqueline Wasilewski.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6096-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Roland Bleiker and Morgan Brigg

    From global terrorism to local community conflicts, cultural difference is widely invoked in conflicts that beset today’s world. Examples range from regional conflicts in the Balkans, Sudan, or Sri Lanka to an alleged global clash between Western secularism and Islamic fundamentalism. Individuals will agree or disagree about the origin, nature, and consequences of these and other confrontations, but we cannot ignore that dealing with the dilemmas of cultural difference is one of the most challenging tasks we currently face. Nor can we overlook that existing political attitudes, by tending to see cultural difference as an inevitable threat rather than a...

  5. I The Values and Limits of Western Approaches to Conflict Resolution

    • Chapter 1 Postcolonial Conflict Resolution
      (pp. 19-37)
      Morgan Brigg and Roland Bleiker

      The argument for drawing upon non-Western cultural traditions of conflict resolution can be made in direct terms. Local traditions of conflict resolution have been neglected because prevailing ways of dealing with conflict are typically focused through Western approaches to conflict resolution. There is a clear need, then, particularly in the context of conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts of recent decades, to expand our approaches through engagement with local processes and sources of insight. If one recognises this predicament, then a number of important questions immediately arise: Why have local traditions been neglected? Why should we draw on these traditions rather...

    • Chapter 2 Silence in Western Models of Conflict Resolution
      (pp. 38-56)
      Tarja Väyrynen

      Western models of conflict resolution tend to privilege speech over nonverbal means of communication. Speech is thought to be vital for dialogue and, therefore, for conflict resolution and peacebuilding after a violent conflict. A large domain of silent interaction is thus left unnoticed and unexamined by the dominant Western forms of conflict resolution. The complex and underexaminedproblématiqueof silence in conflict resolution can be approached by understanding silence as a nonverbal means of communication and as a form of social and political action. Silence relates intimately to reconstructing and narrating a community after violent conflict. Some issues are narrated...

    • Chapter 3 Local Conflict Resolution in the Shadows of Liberal International Peacebuilding
      (pp. 57-72)
      Oliver P. Richmond

      Scholars and policy makers concerned with conflict resolution and peacebuilding have recently turned their attention to the importance of local community participation in efforts to generate sustainable peace. But the Western frameworks through which local engagement is promoted displays very specific cultural biases. The dominant form of international engagement with local practices of conflict resolution is strongly shaped by liberal approaches to peacebuilding. Such approaches revolve around a top-down approach that prescribes and then enforces particular understandings of governance. Traditional liberalism seeks to establish a contract between ruler and ruled that enables the preservation of life, liberty, and property. The...

  6. II Australian Aboriginal and Māori Approaches to Conflict Resolution

    • Chapter 4 Conflict Murri Way: Managing through Place and Relatedness
      (pp. 75-99)
      Mary Graham, Morgan Brigg and Polly O. Walker

      Aboriginal Australian people have had many millennia to reflect upon fundamental human questions: How do we live together without killing each other off? How do we live without substantially damaging the environment? Why do we live? And how do we find answers to these questions in a way that does not make people feel alienated, lonely, or murderous?¹ The answers to these questions manifest in Aboriginal Australia not so much in prescribed conflict resolution processes but in nuanced and sophisticated social and political governance systems for managing human relations. What might the resulting cultures and social and political systems of...

    • Chapter 5 Conflict Resolution and Decolonisation: Aboriginal Australian Case Studies in ‘Enlarged Thinking’
      (pp. 100-114)
      Deborah Bird Rose

      Australian Aboriginal people manage conflict and seek resolution in ways that challenge mainstream Western practice and worldview. Attentiveness to place, relatedness, violence, emotions, and the inclusion of ancestral and nonhuman others are in many respects incompatible with key Western institutions that dominate Aboriginal and Settler people’s lives as a result of colonisation. And yet mutual accommodation between Australian Aboriginal and Western institutions and practices is possible. Globalised commitments to Indigenous people’s rights and the flexibility of institutions—when they are committed to fairness—help generate mutual accommodations across difference. Some Western institutions, particularly the law, have shown a willingness to...

    • Chapter 6 Māori Dispute Resolution: Traditional Conceptual Regulators and Contemporary Processes
      (pp. 115-138)
      Carwyn Jones

      One of the key questions debated in Aotearoa/New Zealand today is how well the Crown has met its obligations under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty requires the Crown to protect Māori interests, including land, natural resources, and cultural interests such as the Māori language. As a result of mounting Māori activism and protest in relation to these issues, a commission of inquiry, the Waitangi Tribunal, was established in 1975 to hear Māori claims. The tribunal, an independent body made up of judges, historians, Māori elders, and other experts, makes recommendations to the government. A separate arm...

  7. III Melanesian Approaches to Conflict Resolution

    • Chapter 7 Christianity, Custom, and Law: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Postconflict Solomon Islands
      (pp. 141-162)
      Debra McDougall and Joy Kere

      In recent years the area of the Western Pacific known as Melanesia has been dubbed part of a geopolitical ’arc of instability’ by Australian policy makers and political scientists.¹ Challenges arise in part because Melanesian states are young—Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia in 1975, Solomon Islands from Britain in 1978, and Vanuatu from both Britain and France in 1980. National boundaries also cut across older cultural affinities and trade networks in a region with the highest degree of cultural and linguistic diversity in the world.² Politics is fluid, even chaotic, with a combination of traditional “big man”...

    • Chapter 8 Bougainville: A Source of Inspiration for Conflict Resolution
      (pp. 163-182)
      Volker Boege and Lorraine Garasu

      After almost a decade of war (1989–1998) and the bloodiest violent conflict in the South Pacific since the end of the Second World War, Bougainville has gone through a comprehensive peacebuilding process. This process is a rare success story in contemporary postconflict peacebuilding. Because the conflict occurred during a time of statelessness in Bougainville, space was opened for a renaissance of nonstate customary institutions and processes. In the absence of state institutions, local practices resumed their central role in the life of the communities. In many places elders and chiefs, assisted particularly by women and local church people, became...

  8. IV East Asian Approaches to Conflict Resolution

    • Chapter 9 Crossing Borders: Indonesian Experience with Local Conflict Resolution
      (pp. 185-204)
      Frans de Jalong and Muhadi Sugiono

      Several centuries of interaction across ethnic and religious difference in the Indonesian archipelago have been accompanied by the evolution of local ways of resolving communal disputes and violence. We term the resulting norms and practices ‘local conflict resolution’. The development of these ways of mediating across difference has itself sometimes been violent, yet the accompanying local conflict resolution processes are dynamic and pluralist. They are open to revision and adaptation, including to the input of outside and new forces and actors. For this reason our use of the term ‘local’ does not connote a bounded space that excludes outsiders. Rather,...

    • Chapter 10 Mediating Difference in Uchi Space: Conflict Management Lessons from Japan
      (pp. 205-220)
      Jacqueline Wasilewski and Norifumi Namatame

      In Japan, the termuchi(内) is used to denote ‘inside’ or ‘us’ space, as opposed to soto (外), which is ‘outside’ or ‘them’ space. Japan’s relatively recent conflict-prone colonial past revolved around the tension betweenuchiandsoto,between inside and outside. As a result, scholars and practitioners have largely forgotten, or at least neglected, that Japan also possesses a long, unique, and potentially very useful cultural tradition designed to manage conflict withinuchispace. In this chapter we explore the ensuing insights and ask: what might be the broader value ofuchifor rethinking our approaches to managing...

    • Chapter 11 Shu and the Chinese Quest for Harmony: A Confucian Approach to Mediating across Difference
      (pp. 221-247)
      Chengxin Pan

      In traditional Chinese culture, conflict is often resolved through mediation. Labelled by some scholars as “the most heavily mediated nation on earth”, China has a long and rich tradition of community mediation that can be traced back to Confucianism.¹ Best represented by the sayings and teachings of Confucius (551–479 BC) and Mencius (c. 372–289 BC), Confucianism argues that “harmony is most precious”(he wei gui)and believes in “harmony with difference”(he er bu tong).While this Confucian emphasis on harmony has long informed China’s community mediation tradition in the past, it has now attracted a renewed interest...

    • Chapter 12 Korean Sources of Conflict Resolution: An Inquiry into the Concept of Han
      (pp. 248-269)
      Roland Bleiker and Hoang Young-ju

      Korea has a long history of linking conflict resolution with particular moral and societal values. In this chapter we explore the potentials and limits of this tradition by focusing on the concept of Han, which many Korean scholars claim as unique to their culture.

      Although there is no direct translation for ‘Han’, it can perhaps best be captured by terms such as ‘sorrow’, ‘regret’, and ‘sadness’. Han emerges as a result of particular grievances: injustices done to a person or a collective. Han, in this sense, can afflict persons as much as groups or even a society at large. Feelings...

    • Chapter 13 Conclusion: Mediating the Mediation with Difference
      (pp. 270-274)
      Stephen Chan

      There is a phenomenon that appears almost everywhere there is conflict. It began with sporadic and uncoordinated interventions by well-meaning people who found they could help influence, shape, and even suspend conflict, particularly in regions remote from the interests of the great powers. This movement of international mediators proved to be a curious hybrid of academic idealism and prescriptive procedures. The mediator was most often male and Western, and he took centre stage, controlling communication among conflicting parties to nudge them into compromises, settlements, and even resolution of their disputes—using techniques extrapolated from, among other sources, marriage guidance manuals....

    (pp. 275-278)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 279-287)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)