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Storytelling and Narrative Construction in Peace and Conflict Studies

A presentation (2013) documenting the emergence and utility of storytelling and narrative construction in contemporary Peace and Conflict Studies.

Jeffrey Aguiar

on 8 March 2017

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Transcript of Storytelling and Narrative Construction in Peace and Conflict Studies

Conflict escalation and de-escalation (Ramsbotham et. al, 2011, p.13)
Essential Questions
Bringing Forth
Hidden Narrative:
Storytelling in
Peace and Conflict Studies

Jeff Aguiar
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
"History is written by the victors."
--Attributed to
Winston Churchill
Some of the Players:
Government Officials
Aid Agencies
Interest Groups
What role does narrative play in current Western Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS)?
Whose narrative guides PACS processes?
Can narrative work in multiple PACS processes (e.g. mediation, negotiation and reconciliation)?
Third Parties
Truth and Reconciliation Commissions
Generally focused on fact-finding to establish "truth"
Accounts from both victims and perpetrators
Reinforces asymmetry in conflict
Can happen with or without structural intent
What is the role of narrative in Western Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS)?
How does narrative impact PACS processes?
What challenges do PACS practitioners face in utilizing narrative?
What opportunities exist for narrative in inter-disciplinary PACS arenas?
Current literature and research highlights narrative as:
Historical fact
Present truth
By-product of PACS processes
Conflict is happening or has occurred.
Multiple parties are involved.
Due to protraction, most conflicts are culturally entrenched and can be connected to conflict party identity.
Narrative is storytelling in a contextual or constructed manner.
Applying Formal Theory to Narrative
Exposition/Given Circumstances
Inciting Incident/Rising Action
Rising Action
Applying formal theory creates a linear model; when overlaying the escalation/de-escalation model, very strong connections exist between narrative construction and the phases of conflict.
Falling Action/Resolution

Constructed narrative utilizing formal theory generally establishes causal relationships between events and data, generally employed in negotiation, political structures and legal systems. It often neglects human elements in conflict and peacebuilding.
Moving from 2-D to 3-D
Basic Pyramid Formula (in PACS):
Personal Perspective
Desire or Willingness to Heal
Challenges in Narrative Construction in PACS
Individual Characteristic Theory
Social Process Theory
Asymmetric Conflict
Identity (ethnic, social, etc...)
Practical Implications
Structural Theory
No Direct Action Intimated
Multi-level Approach Necessary
Protracts Solution Timetable
The Role of Narrative:
The Largest Challenge:
How do PACS practitioners discover hidden narrative?
Current PACS processes across the globe:
Allude to restorative justice & reconciliation processes including developing empathy and moving toward narrative incorporation
Echo of indigenous and traditional peacebuilding practices (accepting responsibility in the conflict and circle processes)
Past decade has shown application of strategies outside of ethnoterritorial conflict
Professor Dan Bar-On
Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME)
Professor Sami Adwan
Maureen Hetherington
The Junction:
Toward Understanding and Healing
Memory Controversies in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Beyond the Breach: Transforming White identities in the Classroom
Opportunities and "designing a way forward"?
Continue developing current research in ethno-territorial and identity-based conflict, searching for hidden and neglected narrative
Strengthening ties between
western and indigenous/traditional peacebuilding practice
Explore inter-disciplinary research centered around conflict management and resolution, including feminist theoretical structure, social and behavioral health methodologies, faith-based practices and transformative education.
Elisabeth King
Marc D. Rich
Aaron Castelan Cargile
Retrieved November 18, 2013 from http://marriagecoaches.wordpress.com/helpful-articles/
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