Against Resolution: Dialogue, Demonstration, and Dispute Resolution
56 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2020 Last revised: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: August 9, 2020
Critical race theory has long argued that the methods of alternative dispute resolution inhibit systemic, structural transformation by particularizing social conflicts into small-scale disputes. At the same time, the principles of interest-based dispute resolution have also been used by those working within the critical race theory tradition to forge what Derrick Bell called “interest convergences” that advance racial justice. In the present moment, amidst nation-wide protests following the killing of George Floyd and others, it is essential to understand what the methods of ADR have to offer for advancing racial justice, and how to use these methods responsibly.
This article brings Bell’s interest convergence thesis into dialogue with interest-based dispute resolution to understand the limitations of ADR, and to find opportunities to use ADR’s flexibility and informality to effect structural transformations. It does so by proposing dialogical methods that emphasize the need for ongoing engagement regarding visions of a just society, rather than seeking the swift resolution of disputes.
Keywords: dispute resolution, critical race theory, legal history
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