1st Edition

Shifting Protracted Conflict Systems Through Local Interactions Extending Kelman’s Legacy

Edited By Tamra Pearson d’Estrée Copyright 2024
    384 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume explores the evolution of theoretical and practical approaches to intervening in protracted conflicts, following the work of Herb Kelman.

    Interactive problem solving, as developed by Kelman and others, sought to increase understanding about the microprocesses of international relations. Kelman early on emphasised the centrality of an interactive approach for constructing new identities, new narratives, and new ways forward. Transforming conflict systems requires strategic attention to the interactions between agents of change that provide stability or induce shift. This volume on interactive conflict approaches includes both critical reflections and new ideas from scholar-practitioners who have developed, revised, and expanded these approaches. Contributors take up important issues, from the shape and likelihood of solutions in intractable conflicts to how individuals can exist in realities with seemingly irresolvable inner and outer conflicts. The volume represents the best of current thinking about how the mechanisms, theoretical framework, and application of interactive problem solving should be moved into the twenty-first century context of increasing complexity, increasing uncertainty, and increasing polarisation.

    This book will be of interest to students of peace studies, conflict resolution, and international relations.


    John Paul Lederach


    Wolfgang Petritsch

    1. Introduction

    Tamra Pearson d’Estrée

    Part I: Complex Intractable Conflict, Theoretical Lenses, and the Vision of Herbert Kelman

    2. Interactive Conflict Transformation through a Complexity Lens: Local Actors, Interaction, and the Dynamics of Change

    Tamra Pearson d’Estrée

    3. Kelman’s Theoretical Brilliance: Complete Social Psychologist and Consummate Conflict Resolution Scholar–Practitioner

    Ronald Fisher

    4. ‘Conceptualizing Change in the World System’: Towards a More Complex and Comprehensive Understanding of Peace and Conflict Research

    Werner Wintersteiner

    5. Critical Realism and Interactive Conflict Transformation: Connecting Integrative Metatheory, Multi–dimensional Social Theory, and Transformative Practice

    Wilfried Graf, Gudrun Kramer, & Oliver Fink

    Part II: Expanding Our Scope

    6.  Interactive Conflict Engagement 2.0: From Solving Problems to Enabling Systems to Sustain Peace

    Peter Coleman

    7. Individual Agency in Interactive Peacemaking: Insights from Georgian–South Ossetian Experience

    Susan Allen

    8. Building a Human Infrastructure Across Conflict Lines for Reconciliation and Coexistence: The Case of Cyprus

    Maria Hadjipavlou

    9. Broadening the Use of Interactive Problem Solving

    Christopher Mitchell

    10. Addressing Persistent Fault Lines in Multi–Ethnic States: Using Inter– and Intra–group Dialogues on Widening Identities and Narratives, Commemoration and Minority Rights

    Juergen Pirker

    Part III: Evolving Our Focus

    11. Exploring Reconciliation’s Identity Paradoxes

    Tamra Pearson d’Estrée

    12. Moving Beyond Dichotomies of Narratives and Identity: The Transformative Process of Dialogue

    Maya Kahanoff

    13. Acknowledging, Understanding, and Adapting to the Complexity of Radical Disagreement

    Oliver Ramsbotham

    14. Engaging in the Face of Non–Negotiability: From Resolution to Transformation

    Ofer Zalzberg

    15. Learning to Accommodate Others’ Worldviews

    Jeffrey R. Seul

    16. Applying a Complex Systems Lens to Interactive Conflict Resolution: Themes and Lessons

    Tamra Pearson d’Estrée


    Tamra Pearson d’Estrée is Professor of Conflict Resolution in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, USA. She is co-author, with Bonnie G. Colby, of Braving the Currents: Evaluating Conflict Resolution in the River Basins of the American West (2004), a co-editor, with Ruth Parsons, of Cultural Encounters and Emergent Practices in Conflict Resolution Capacity-Building (2018), and the editor of New Directions in Peacebuilding Evaluation (2019).

    ‘Our field has seen much development in recent years, with concepts such as "inclusion" and the "local turn" having come to fore.  But we grapple with what these ideas mean in practice.  This book presents clear, readable analyses, which are both practical and theoretically informed.  It is an essential read for anyone working on these questions today.’

    Peter Jones, Associate Professor of Public and International Affairs, and Executive Director of Ottawa Dialogue, University of Ottawa, Canada

    ‘This is an exciting book because the authors of the sixteen chapters are distinguished scholars from many countries, who met together with draft chapters focusing on the evolution of interactive problem-solving practices to overcome protracted conflicts.  The result is an integrated set of important perspectives about many advances to such practices over time, in varying circumstances.’

    Louis Kriesberg, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Syracuse University, USA

    ‘This book does more than assemble former students, colleagues and friends to offer us a Gedenkschrift to honor Herb Kelman’s legacy. It brings together outstanding peace and conflict studies scholars and practitioners to engage in the future of learning about complexity thinking and system dynamics, areas that were championed by Kelman as he pursued knowledge to understand the perplexing challenges posed by protracted conflict. In this volume, the contributors build on Kelman’s work to help us to understand better how systems can be shaped through sustained and meaningful understanding and engagement.’

    Pamina Firchow, Associate Professor of Coexistence and Conflict, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

    “…In extraordinary ways the composite contribution found in this volume helps us understand and engage more strategically with the bridges that connect sustained dialogue with system’s change.  As such, this volume offers both legacy and pathbreaking ideas, a much needed push at this moment globally with the rise of authoritarian impulses and the militarization of both civil and international conflict.”

    Extract from the Foreword by John Paul Lederach, senior fellow, Humanity United, and Professor Emeritus of International Peacebuilding, University of Notre Dame, USA