Culture and Conflict Resolution: Reprising the Debate
3 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2011
Two decades have passed since Kevin Avruch and Peter Black’s seminal work on reintroducing political culture into the study of conflict resolution. Since this time, a number of key conceptual advancements have been made in adding nuance to this debate, allowing the increasing application of culture as an analytical and explanatory concept in the study of conflict and attempts at its resolution. However, concurrent with this has been the advancement of adjacent fields of inquiry, notably post-conflict reconstruction and state building. More empirically based, these fields have not fully engaged with the potential usefulness of political culture as a means to enhance political and social reconstruction after conflicts.
Focussing on examples from the Middle East, this paper reprises the debate surrounding Avruch and Black’s initial endeavour, seeking to increase linkages between the analytical utility of culture and the fields of post-conflict reconstruction and state building. In particular, it asks the question of whether political culture can add to the sustainability of practical reconstruction efforts not only in the areas of governance (i.e. political institutions) but also in other key areas such as reconstruction in the health, education, and security sectors. From here, this paper will argue that discussions concerning culture and the role it can play in resolution and reconstruction processes are more vital than ever. This requires a reprise of our assumptions to do with culture and how it connects to the specifics of reconstruction processes.
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