Self and other in conflict theory: postcolonial analysis

Addressing the ways in which identities of self and other, and interests of individuals and groups, can be collaboratively rather than conflictually nurtured has been a central preoccupation of the conflict resolution literature. This literature has generated, for example, models of integrative negotiation and transformative mediation to emphasize how parties in conflict can come to think about their relationship in win–win, mutually empowering terms. In the more comprehensive and complex model of “strategic peacebuilding,” the nurturing of constructive human relations is paired with the need to overcome the structural and direct violence, which impede the flourishing of a human community.

Critics, however, contend that these models underplay structural inequalities, the ambivalent and often pernicious power of dominant (liberal) discourses on security, humanitarianism and development, and gendered relations of power. This risks leaving unattended the root causes of conflicts, favoring the participation of some actors (those who already benefit from existing power arrangements) to the expense of others (those who are marginalized), ultimately failing to redress power imbalances as a condition to a more just society.

Confortini and Ruane (2013),Journal of International Political Theory 10(1) 70 – 93