In Disarming Manhood; Roots of Ethical Resistance, David A.J. Richards theorizes on why some men are doomed to perpetuate patriarchy while others deviate into “democratic manhood.” A narrative analysis of Richards’ theory yields a narrative of masculinity so narrow it positions interventions into masculine violence nearly outside the reach of our field. But if considered loosely, Richards’ observations shed light on paths we can investigate.
In all these events and accidents we see human activity and suffering in the foreground, everywhere something which is part and parcel of ourselves and therefore everywhere our interest takes sides for or against. – Hegel, Reason in History.
We all have our own biases within and as the field of conflict analysis and resolution (CAR), which we are taught to recognize, acknowledge and prevent from clouding our impartiality. Despite our work as agents of progress, positive change, and peace it seems we as a field are quite biased towards the status quo – and rightfully so. We also seem to lean away from purely theoretical approaches, ideas that cannot be applied in the field. This, also, is a proper tendency for our field. However, there is one prejudice that is quite hard to agree with. The field of conflict resolution possesses a severe lack of interest toward modern philosophy and toward philosophy in general. This is understandable since philosophy is difficult to apply in practice and is easily dismissed as a luxury we practical people do not have much time for. Precisely because the necessary time is not spent generating new ideas and perspectives for the practical purposes of using philosophy, the field of conflict analysis and resolution misses many opportunities to think more creatively about conflict.
“What you really need to ask yourself is, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
Angela was looking straight in my eyes, and didn’t blink for the next seven long seconds.
I didn’t have an answer for her.
Who was I – some young, naive American, coming in to the small town of San Andres with broken Spanish, anxious to hear what it’s like to have a husband go to the U.S. for work? What was I going to do with the information she was sharing with me, how it was to finally hear from her brother who had been gone for 34 days after leaving Guatemala to cross by foot the Mexico-Arizona border? Was I just going to write it all up for a grade on my Ethnographic Field School paper? What were my ethical responsibilities as a researcher? As an anthropologist? As someone entrusted with the stories told me?
Originally published at Transcend.org on 6-21-2010
This is the Epilogue of a book just to be printed, A Theory of Conflict, TRANSCEND University Press, 2010:
From an essay written in 1968, “Conflict as a Way of Life”:
“If you cannot remove conflict, why not adjust your thinking about it? Why not try and see conflict as the salt of life, the big energizer, the tickler, the tantalizer, rather than as a bothersome nuisance, as noise in perfect channel, as disturbing ripples in otherwise quiet waters? In short, why not treat conflict as a form of life, particularly since we all know that it is precisely during the period of our lives when we are exposed to a conflict that really challenges us, and that we finally are able to master, that we feel most alive”.
Originally published at Transcend.org on 6-14-2010
Nobody would expect the world US Empire and the regional Israeli empire to be falling gracefully, opting for alternatives. The alternatives, more modest, egalitarian, more 21st century are obvious: a North American region Mexico-USA-Canada, a MEXUSCAN for one, and a Six states solution, Israel with the five neighboring Arab states in a Middle East Community for the other. Seeking security the only way it can be found, through peace, particularly with neighbors, and maybe a strong defensive defense. But such alternatives are not on their agendas.
Two growing fields in the social sciences are Conflict Analysis & Resolution and International Development Studies. New programs concentrating on development or conflict are launched every year at universities all over the world. Hundreds of academic journals and trade magazines are devoted to research conducted in the previously mentioned subfields. The recent growth in the two fields has brought many benefits to the study of conflict and development such as the development of more nuanced theories explaining important factors influencing international development and conflict, in addition to a growing number of highly trained scholars and practitioners with in depth training in one of the two subfields.