Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation: Multi-level Challenges in Deeply Divided Societies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation

Multi-level Challenges in Deeply Divided Societies, 1st Edition

By Sarah Maddison


304 pages

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This book examines approaches to reconciliation and peacebuilding in settler colonial, post-conflict, and divided societies.

In contrast to current literature, this book provides a broader assessment of reconciliation and conflict transformation by applying a distinctive ‘multi-level’ approach. The analysis provides a unique intervention in the field, one that significantly complicates received notions of reconciliation and transitional justice, and considers conflict transformation across the constitutional, institutional, and relational levels of society. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Australia, and Guatemala, the work presents an interdisciplinary study of the complex political challenges facing societies attempting to transition either from violence and authoritarianism to peace and democracy, or from colonialism to post-colonialism. Informed by theories of agonistic democracy, the book conceives of reconciliation as a process that is deeply political, and that prioritises the capacity to retain and develop democratic political contest in societies that have, in other ways, been able to resolve their conflicts. The cases considered suggest that reconciliation is most likely an open-ended process rather than a goal — a process that requires divided societies to pay ongoing attention to reconciliatory efforts at all levels, long after the eyes of the world have moved on from countries where the work of reconciliation is thought to be finished.

This book will be of great interest to students of reconciliation, conflict transformation, peacebuilding, transitional justice and IR in general.


'Maddison perceptively and convincingly argues against the view of reconciliation as a utopian state where conflict is absent, and instead emphasizes the role of agonistic relationship in constructing a shared polity where disagreements and tension remain part of democracies and post conflict societies. The book is essential to scholars and practitioners who search for a more realistic understanding of conflict resolution and reconciliation' -- Elazar Barkan, Columbia University, USA

'Maddison writes that she hopes that this book will facilitate a deeper understanding of reconciliation in countries scarred by histories of violence and oppression. Maddison eloquently achieves this aim by presenting a complex understanding of reconciliation at the constitutional, institutional and relational levels. Through rich and original comparative material primarily focusing on South Africa, Australia, Guatemala and Northern Ireland, Maddison leaves the reader with a profound sense of the complexity of what it takes to build meaningful conflict transformation and reconciliation. Through in-depth interview work with a range of stakeholders, Maddison charts a way forward, both at the micro and macro levels, for those grappling with the challenges of coming out of conflict. The insights contained in Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation means it should be a key reference point for practitioners, academics and policy makers working in and with societies transitioning from a legacy of political violence' -- Brandon Hamber, Ulster University, Northern Ireland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Truce or transformation? Part 1: Conceptualizing Reconciliation and Conflict Transformation Chapter 1. Understanding divided societies Chapter 2. Conceptualising reconciliationChapter 3. The problem of time Part 2: Constitutional Challenges Chapter 4. Who needs to reconcile? Chapter 5. Settlements and agreementsChapter 6. New constitutional frameworks Part 3: Institutional Change Chapter 7. Equity and redistribution Chapter 8. Education, policing and justice Chapter 9. Civil society and religionChapter Part 4: Relational Challenges 10. Truth, justice, healing and forgivenessChapter 11. Sharing spaceChapter 12. The need for ongoing dialogue

About the Author

Sarah Maddison is Associate Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Recent publications include Beyond White Guilt (2011) and Unsettling the Settler State (with Morgan Brigg, 2011).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution

The field of peace and conflict research has grown enormously as an academic pursuit in recent years, gaining credibility and relevance amongst policy makers and in the international humanitarian and NGO sector. The Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution series aims to provide an outlet for some of the most significant new work emerging from this academic community, and to establish itself as a leading platform for innovative work at the point where peace and conflict research impacts on International Relations theory and processes.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism