Project

Narrative Approaches to Conflict Resolution

Goal: Developing innovative ways to both analyze and work with narratives to influence public discourse and transform conflict between groups. I develop this through academic articles, as well as my blog www.languageofconflict.com, through teaching and in public forums.

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Project log

Sarah Federman
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This forthcoming anthology (Cambridge UP), challenges binaries in the aftermath of atrocity, by showing the overlapping roles people often play. The book also shows how legalism's push towards victim-perpetrator binaries can thwart positive peace. Ronald Niezen
 
Sarah Federman
added 3 research items
A more publicly accessible version of the article: Ideal Perpetrators- The Social Construction of Accountability - the case of the French National Railways published June 1 2018 in Security Dialogue. The blog summarizes the following: Mass atrocity requires the participation of numerous individuals and groups, yet only a few find themselves held accountable. How are these few selected? This article offers a framework that is useful for understanding how the condemned often embody attributes that makes them “ideal” perpetrators. Because unexamined discursive norms used to identify perpetrators can set the context for future violence, long-term security requires interrupting both the actions of perpetrators and the discourses about them. A form of praxis, this study of the contemporary conflict over the French National Railways’ (SNCF) amends-making for its WWII transport of deportees towards death camps considers how certain perpetrators come to stand for the many. The SNCF remains in the spotlight not because of greater culpability or an unwillingness to make amends, but because it embodies attributes of an “ideal” perpetrator: It is 1) strong, 2) abstractable, 3) representative of the nature of the crime, and 4) has a champion-opponent who focuses attention on the perpetrator. Understanding the labeling process makes visible who and what we ignore at our own peril.
Mass atrocity requires the participation of numerous individuals and groups, yet only a few find themselves held accountable. How are these few selected? This article offers a framework that is useful for understanding how the condemned often embody attributes that makes them "ideal" perpetrators. Because unexamined discursive norms used to identify perpetrators can set the context for future violence, long-term security requires interrupting both the actions of perpetrators and the discourses about them. A form of praxis, this study of the contemporary conflict over the French National Railways' (SNCF) amends-making for its WWII transport of deportees towards death camps considers how certain perpetrators come to stand for the many. The SNCF remains in the spotlight not because of greater culpability or an unwillingness to make amends, but because it embodies attributes of an "ideal" perpetrator: It is 1) strong, 2) abstractable, 3) representative of the nature of the crime, and 4) has a champion-opponent who focuses attention on the perpetrator. Understanding the labeling process makes visible who and what we ignore at our own peril.
Sarah Federman
added a research item
While stories have circulated for millennia, narrative as a way of understanding and engaging with conflict is relatively new. Only since the 1990s, has the field seen a vast proliferation of narrative as applied to conflict resolution. (Cobb, 2013; Lara, 2007; Nelson, 2001) These scholars and others recognize that communities function so long as they have a “capacity for resolving conflicts, for explicating differences, and renegotiating communal meanings.” (Bruner, 1990; 47) Narrative approaches provide a means of locating individual and communal meaning and renegotiating understandings of identity which allow for conflict transformation. Narrative analysis also helps explain how marginalized people remain marginalized. Narrative intervention helps people renegotiate their social positions and reclaim lost agency from these marginalized positions. Narrative evaluation can be used to measure discursive shifts over time. This article provides a theoretical 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 program evaluations?
Sarah Federman
added a project goal
Developing innovative ways to both analyze and work with narratives to influence public discourse and transform conflict between groups. I develop this through academic articles, as well as my blog www.languageofconflict.com, through teaching and in public forums.