Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution

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This collection contains ETD documents from the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution


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    Reducing Negative Social Boundaries: Utilizing Integrated Threat Theory
    Martin, Emily; Korostelina, Karina
    The United States currently suffers from social division which has produced extreme polarity and a divisive social environment. There is a need to understand successful mechanisms that aid in the dissolution of negative conflict. Using Integrated Threat Theory as the theoretical framework for this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives from each political party with the goal of understanding successful conflict resolution mechanisms used in real-life scenarios. Analysis of their experiences with social and political conflict was performed using thematic analysis by clustering codes to create themes and subthemes. This study found mechanisms concerning ethical and emotional personality traits most successful when building bonds with others. In addition, this study identified four types of coping mechanisms used by participants in response to political conflict: Avoidance, Compromise, Engagement: Fact-based and Engagement: Through Relations. These findings will help contribute to further research within the conflict resolution field with the goal of resolving polarized political and social conflict.
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    The Role of Climate Change in Driving Sex Trafficking in Louisiana
    Jordan, Marissa L; Dwyer, Leslie
    This thesis examines how anti-trafficking service providers of East Baton Rouge Parish and Orleans Parish, Louisiana understand climate change’s role in driving sex trafficking. In exploring their understanding, this project investigates whether climate change is a factor in sex trafficking patterns and whether anti-trafficking service providers see climate change as a factor. I argue that climate change is a factor in sex trafficking patterns as climate change exacerbates vulnerabilities to sex trafficking. By drawing on interviews done with two service providers of East Baton Rouge Parish, four service providers of Orleans Parish, and one with relations in both locales, this project uses narrative theory to draw out the perspectives of service providers on these issues and the reasoning for those perspectives. Including their perspectives will add to the limited knowledge of the climate change and sex trafficking nexus. Through localizing this knowledge, I hope to foster specific policy responses to this phenomenon.
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    Jihadist insurgency, Civilians' Targeting, and Conflict Dynamics in the Sahel: A Case Study of Burkina Faso
    (2022) Bere, Mathieu; Rothbart, Daniel
    This study addresses a theoretical and empirical puzzle that both counterterrorism practitioners and scholars experience, namely the uncertainty surrounding terrorist attacks against civilians and the logic guiding such attacks. This dissertation offers a case study of Al Qaeda or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliates operating in Burkina Faso in West Africa's Sahel region. This study addresses the following two research questions: first, why do these so-called jihadist groups target noncombatant civilians?, and second, how have their attacks against civilians impacted the various stakeholders’ responses and the dynamics of the conflicts that fuel the violence? To investigate these questions, the study employs mixed research methods by collecting, carefully triangulating, and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data gathered from various sources: four datasets, jihadists’ statements, semi-structured interviews with 27 key informants, and an online survey with more than 100 respondents from Burkina Faso. Then, it resorts to different analytical techniques to identify trends and patterns in the terrorist attacks against civilians, the targets' characteristics, and the perpetrators' modus operandi and motivations. About the targets of terrorists’ attacks, the data analysis reveals significant variations in the numbers of terrorist incidents and the fatalities when one compares these incidents by target type, by year, and by geographic region. The findings of this case study suggest that there is a strong association between the terrorist targeting of civilians and some factors such as the geographic location, the targets’ profile, the perpetrators’ ideology, or strategic objectives. In most incidents, civilians have been selected and attacked by jihadist militants based on: 1) their being perceived as a threat, 2) their attractiveness, and 3) their accessibility. Violence against civilians by jihadist groups and government counterterrorism forces has also been used as an instrument of social control aiming at setting standards of acceptable conduct and punishing behavioral deviation. Moreover, this case study demonstrates that the perpetrators were motivated by: (i) strategic objectives, including financial profit; (ii) psychological and personal reasons; (iii) ideological-religious reasons based on a military interpretation of the Islamic concept of Jihad, and lastly, (iv) unknown or mixed motives. Furthermore, the study assesses the humanitarian, economic, social, political, and geopolitical impacts of the terrorist crisis and shows how terrorism may damage interpersonal, intergroup, and inter-state relationships without helping its perpetrators achieve their policy goals. The study closes with a critical review of policy options, although further research is needed for establishing an early warning system for civilians’ protection in the Sahel.
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    Looking Ahead of the Wave: Reimagining State Sovereignty in an Era of Climate Crisis
    (2022) Moore, Brigit; Hirsch, Susan
    Climate change threatens to produce destabilizing impacts across the globe, up to and including violent conflict. If climate change is not sufficiently mitigated, certain states, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS), may even face the novel situation of state extinction due to disappearing territory, mass migration of citizens, or both. Although scientific studies suggest how climate change will alter environmental conditions across the globe, little is known about how leaders who will have to make critical decisions in this new and potentially cataclysmic context respond to this information. This dissertation seeks to fill this gap by examining how leaders in the Pacific understand and respond to the risks and impacts of climate change as they plan for an uncertain future. More specifically, this research investigates if and how climate change may alter conventional conceptions of statehood and sovereignty. The findings, which emerge from a comparative case study of two Pacific atoll SIDS, Kiribati and Tuvalu, whose existence is most threatened by climate change, show that Pacific leaders work to preserve their state’s existence, not only through climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, but also by reimagining state sovereignty to include non-Western priorities. One priority is clarifying international law to preserve maritime sovereignty in perpetuity, regardless of the impacts of climate change-induced sea level rise. The second priority is including cultural sovereignty, or the ability to live according to Pacific cultural values within their homelands, as a priority in maintaining state sovereignty. The reimagining of state sovereignty that is emerging from the Pacific in the context of climate change-related uncertainty has broader implications as well. Overall, it may even serve as a starting point for examining how the Western, state-based system might be reconceptualized as the global community contends with an era of climate crisis.
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    Toward a Broader Theory of Affective Political Polarization and How It Impacts Electoral Regimes
    Addison, Douglas Michael; Addison, Douglas Michael; Flores, Thomas
    Across the world, a growing number of incumbent political parties are unwilling to ensure inclusive and fair contests for power. This thesis provides insight into how affective political polarization might play a role in this unfortunate contemporary history. The analysis offers a more detailed picture than what is available in the literature of how affective political polarization interacts with various combinations of incumbent-led electoral violence, autocratization, and democratization. At an abstract level, evidence is provided that affective political polarization is correlated with global trends of increasing electoral violence and autocratization at the expense of democratization. More practically, the thesis establishes the beginnings of a broad framework that might explain several common within-country transitions from one combination to another, from one election to the next. Analysts and practitioners may find the framework useful for further thinking about political conflict in electoral regimes.
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    Peacebuilding Evaluation by Civil Society Organizations in Mindanao: Towards Robust Evaluation of Peacebuilding Programs
    (2022) Torres, Wilfredo Magno; Allen, Susan
    Peacebuilding and conflict resolution is an exciting field of study and engagement. But trying to find out if peacebuilding efforts are really making a difference is often a tedious and painful process for many project managers and practitioners. This is especially true for peace and conflict resolution projects that operate in real-world conflict and fragile settings as these often pose serious and unique challenges to existing evaluation methodologies. This dissertation investigates the experiences of civil society organizations (CSOs) in evaluating their peacebuilding efforts by exploring their understanding of key evaluation issues and how these relate to peacebuilding and evaluation theory and practice. The central question that frames this study is: How do CSOs working in conflict and fragile settings in Mindanao want to improve evaluation to support peacebuilding efforts in that region? This qualitative study elicits the tacit knowledge of CSOs and their subjective understandings on how they think their peace projects are making a difference in addressing conflicts in their respective contexts, based on how they conduct evaluations. The study gathers data on at least three spheres of CSO endeavor: peacebuilding efforts, evaluation practices, and CSO understanding of key evaluation issues, dimensions, or concepts such as: causation, impact, attribution/ contribution, effectiveness/ success, issue of transfer, complexity, sustainability/ adaptability to change; and the effects on drivers of conflict. Data gathered on these key evaluation issues are used as a set of lenses for guiding the process of inquiry in scrutinizing evaluation approaches and challenges, and the possible improvements to make evaluation more supportive of peacebuilding efforts. The knowledge shared by CSOs based on their own experiences of peacebuilding and doing evaluations, compared with the current state of peacebuilding and evaluation theory, generates new insights that can provide some clarification on the commonly contentious issues in the evaluation of peacebuilding efforts, thereby enriching the peacebuilding and evaluation fields as a whole.
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    Deconversion as Conflict: The Moral Grammar of Latter-day Saints and Ex-Mormons
    Hill, Oakley Thomas; Hill, Oakley Thomas; Simmons, Solon
    In religious psychology, deconversion is often studied as an intrapersonal phenomenon, a shift from religious belief to disbelief. But deconversion is at least analogous to (if not coterminous with) social conflict in that both are complex, non-linear social phenomena characterized by destructive relational patterns and protracted social identities. Hence this thesis presents a theory of deconversion as conflict. This theory is informed both by original research and the literatures of religious psychology, peace and conflict studies, and narratology. Original research includes a root narrative analysis of a triangulated dataset—five focus group interviews and a small sample of representative texts from three conflict parties. This includes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its current members, and its former members. This analysis demonstrates stark differences in moral grammar that make it difficult for each party to understand the points of view of the other. Who one group sees as a hero, the other sees as a villain; and what one group sees as their primary method of overcoming abuse, the other sees as an abuse of power. These disparate moral systems influence each party to choose resolution strategies such as evangelism and apologetics that fracture their relationship and prevent reconciliation. These findings suggest: a) deconversion transforms the relationships between believers and the newly formed disbeliever, b) evangelism and apologetics are win-lose modes of interaction unfit for the purpose of conflict resolution, and c) a healed relationship between believers and disbelievers will not occur automatically but requires renegotiation.
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    The Impacts of Oil on Secessionist Groups in the Oil Producing Regions: The Case of Kurdistan Region of Iraq in 2017
    (2022) Saeed, Yerevan; Saeed, Yerevan; Paczynska, Agnieszka
    This dissertation explores the causes of the 2017 independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and specifically gauges the impacts of oil on the process. The study argues that the referendum was a result of a fusion of intertwining grievances and overlapping opportunities, enhanced by the Kurdish frustration with the West, in particular the United States. Accordingly, the referendum was held because of: 1- the growing Kurdish disappointment with Baghdad in post -2003 due to the outstanding political, territorial, financial, and security grievances, 2- the surface of unprecedented opportunities¬– a weakened central government, Kurdish territorial expansion, doubling oil production, and Western support¬– because of the advent of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and 3- the Kurdish frustration with the West’s broken promises regarding the future of Kurds in Iraq. The findings also establish that oil had anti-secessionist effects on the outcome of the Kurdish secessionist bid because oil created an illusion of political and economic independence.
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    The End of Peaceful Exceptionalism: How the Dual Transitions of Economic and Political Liberalization Impacted Micro-Level Conflicts and Cleavage Dynamics in Tanzania
    (2021) Schaerrer, Alexandra; Schaerrer, Alexandra; Paczynska, Agnieszka
    This dissertation examines the conditions that have compressed social relations and political order in Tanzania, in order to understand when and why social unity and state-society relations unravel. Further, this dissertation sheds light on the type of cleavages emerging from localized instances of violence in Tanzania, as well as their regional dimensions. Theoretically, this dissertation joins a rich literature concerned with unpacking the origins of political disorder, communal violence, and the activation of new or pre-existing social tensions and anxieties. By applying frameworks on horizontal inequalities, democratization, transitioning states, and the liberalization-conflict relationship, this research examines how economic and political interventions have contributed to the conditions that currently threaten Tanzania’s political and social unity. While existing models of instability successfully demonstrate under what conditions a county is most likely to experience state instability, they often fail to unpack the mechanisms that impact these conditions, and in what way they contribute to the onset of instability, why, and along what lines of tension. Instead, existing lines of tension are often treated as a ‘given,’ most often falling back on the ‘ethnic’ as the de facto basis for group-based discord in Africa. This dissertation contributes to the conflict field in several important ways, and demonstrates that state capture need not be ideationally motivated at all. Instead even equal opportunity crony capitalist factions can compete for state capture. Further, and in what translates well beyond Tanzania and Africa, this dissertation finds evidence indicating a need to look at corruption as a leading conflict mechanism and source of societal fractures. By presenting original evidence on Tanzania, this research demonstrates that the fractures emerging from state instability are not intuitive. Instead, as societies experience huge processes of political and economic change, and depending on their historic context, they fracture along multiple lines of division, including the political, racial, regional, religious, communal, and ethnic.
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    (2021) Joel Amegboh
    Not long ago, Mali was considered a beacon of stability and a model of democratic evolution in West Africa. However, since 2012, when Mali experienced a military coup, many parts of the country, especially the central and northern regions, have become insecurity hotspots of activity by violent extremist groups, military operations, and intercommunal violence. With the Malian state unable to establish its authority and exercise the monopoly of force in these regions, chronic insecurity reigns and undermines prospects for peace and economic development. As interest in young people has gained significant traction in both policy and academic circles, partly informed by the correlations between a “youth bulge,” youth involvement in violent extremism, and the failure of national and international military presence to curb insecurity across Mali, Local Youth Non-Governmental Organizations (LYNGOs) have become key actors in preventing young people from joining violent extremist groups. LYNGOs have contributed in different ways to the proactive prevention of violent extremism through peacebuilding initiatives. They have flourished in ways that validate the local wisdom and indigenous conflict resolution and prevention techniques of indigenous population groups. Their presence within and service to communities has positioned them as effective interlocutors to tackle many of the ongoing development, political, and socioeconomic challenges that give rise to an environment conducive to violent extremism. Despite their rapid rise, there are still significant gaps in the development and security sphere regarding LYNGOs’ strategy and what LYNGOs in Mali do in specific contexts. In addition, existing academic research does not provide an in-depth analysis of the strategies and instruments that LYNGOs implement in preventing and countering the engagement of young people in violent extremism. This research aims to help fill these gaps. Through an in-depth analysis of three LYNGOs working to prevent youth enrolment into violent extremism in central and northern Mali, this research seeks to identify the strategies of these LYNGOs — and then to situate them within broader theories of conflict analysis and resolution that are relevant to efforts to prevent violent extremism.
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    Civil-Military Cooperation: CIMIC in NATO Together we are Strong, Divided we Fall
    (2021) Edi Jurkovic
    Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in post-conflict environments is a practice of long-standing historical significance, but rigorous, outcomes-based research on the topic is relatively rare. Over the millennia of organized warfare, military forces have often been required to engage in certain civilian tasks in post-conflict societies, with responsibilities including building roads, bridges, and residences, as well as providing food, shelter, and medical attention to the local population. Beyond the altruism of such operations, the goals have often been to win the hearts and minds of the local population and to diminish the chances of a resumption of conflict. Local populations need that kind of aid, especially in conflict and post-conflict areas, where war has often devasted most of the infrastructure and local capabilities for self-sufficiency, prosperity and well-being. However, in the rush to address pressing and poignant needs for post-conflict reconstruction, there is often a plethora of military and civilian government organizations (GO), international organizations (IO), and non-governmental organizations (NGO) conducting similar activities, with little or no coordination. This generates inefficiencies and frictions between military components conducting Peace Support Operations (PSO) and their civilian counterparts. Conflict between military and civilian organizations (IOs, NGOs, and GOs) also adversely impacts on the efficacy of the reconstruction programs themselves, denying basic human needs of the local population which often loses the most during a war. In the absence of an overarching PSO management structure and mechanisms for practical cooperation between military and civilian PSO practitioners, individual projects are often not tailored to meet the actual needs of the local population, with projects being executed in the wrong places in an effort to address perceived needs that may not exist or are of low priority. Examples of such well-intentioned but misdirected projects abound, such as schools built in the middle of the jungle where there was a lack of not only teachers but children and building fishponds in mountainous regions where water is scarce. Because of such disconnects, NATO devised Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) doctrine, with the aim of enhancing and formalizing cooperation between military and civilian organizations as they conduct PSO and associated projects. CIMIC focuses on recognizing the roles and missions of the military in PSO and ensuring that both civilian and military elements achieve synergy in reconstruction projects. While noble in intention, CIMIC sometimes founders on the reality that everyone likes coordination, but no one likes to be coordinated. The present research, based on post-conflict recovery in Bosnia, is designed to offer insights on why CIMIC is not more successful and then to offer some possible recommendations on what needs to be done to increase cooperation between NATO military forces and their civilian counterparts in PSO.
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    (2021) Cynthia Nassif
    With the large influx of refugees into Lebanon, since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, fear of changes in demographics are putting pressures on an already fragile government infrastructure and an unreliable system of governance, which in turn, impacts the sensitive religious and political balance in the country. This research aims to look beyond the general fear of Syrian refugees radicalizing and into the perspective of different Lebanese political groups towards them with respect to categories of identity and difference. It will answer the following research question: What is the general understanding of the Syrian Refugee crisis, regarding the categories of identity and difference, from the perspective of Lebanese political groups? Looking into social identity, positioning, the system of axiology, threat narratives, and other dilemmas; the research will reveal the tension between various perspectives towards the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. Along with background research, interviews with key political party groups’ spokespersons will be conducted. In addition, political parties’ constituents will participate in a questionnaire on the subject matter. Thematic analysis will then be used as a constructionist method to look into clusters/themes that can highlight patterns or trends to engage with peoples’ experiences, understanding, representation, and construction of meaning to provide a rich account of the data collected. Therefore, my research aims to contribute to the literature on refugee-host dynamics and to inform policy by giving space for political leaders and their electorates to share their concerns, needs, strategies, and understanding of the crisis. This will help foster recommendations to address the subject matter.
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    Embodied Peacemaking
    (2021) Jerome Armstrong
    The dissertation explores the meaning, explanation, and implications of embodied peacemaking, its exercises and techniques, and even as a way of life, related to practice within the field of peace and conflict resolution. How can these techniques and nonverbal methods become a vital component of understanding embodiment for a peacemaker, and of finding solutions to resolve conflicts? What are they? Can they potentiate a non-verbal dialogue between those in conflict. How do they work with bodily senses, kinesthetic knowledge, and embodied intelligence to resolve intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts? To find out, I survey and categorize embodiment techniques and practices. I include science-based validations for these experiential-based techniques, examples from my own embodied research of the training, nine interviews with professionals who work in peace and conflict resolution, a review of therapeutic-supporting literature, critical analysis, and holistic conceptual thinking. What more can we know about embodiment? I explore the findings, limitations, and implications related to embodied peacemaking among individuals and its applications within the field of peace and conflict resolution. The research will present a theoretical construct for embodied peacemaking with underlying validity, both scientifically and experientially. I will advocate for it as a necessity for the pedagogical embracement to prepare future peacemakers and as a need for more societal adoption to lessen our conflicts and increase peace. I will show how our social advancement depends upon having an ability to become more aware of our embodiment, and move as a culture to have the ability to regulate and embody the presence of peace in ourselves and among eachother. Peace and conflict resolution professionals, as the builders and makers of the solution to our problems, can embrace the embodied components of dialogue, first by becoming aware of it ourselves, in ourselves, then by teaching other peacemakers, and finally, by going into places of conflict and sharing this way to embody peace. When we get this right, and find this within ourselves, the world will change.
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    Engaging with Uncertainty in Anticipatory Intelligence: Narrative Complexity and Conflict Dynamics
    (2020) Lauren Kinney
    The globalization of the security environment has tasked researchers and policymakers alike with addressing the heightened uncertainty of future events, which stems from the nonlinear effects of this highly dynamic, networked landscape. Anticipatory intelligence emerged as one response to this challenge, and while some experts within this domain have drawn on complexity science to navigate the dynamics of national security conflicts, there is a visible gap in methods that attend to the social dimension—the role of meaning—in conflict systems. This research proposes an innovative framework (CITE) as an analytic tool for tracing the dynamics of meaning making in conflict, and pilots the utility of this framework in a case study of the ongoing conflict between the US government and al-Shabaab. Narratives have anticipatory value in revealing the meaning that parties assign to conflict, which indicates the future trajectory of action that parties may take. This research bridges a critical intersection between the intelligence and conflict resolution fields by advancing a tool for analyzing narrative conflict dynamics in order to anticipate and disrupt patterns of interaction that sustain and escalate violence.
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    (2020) Carissa Western
    A brutal 30-year conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda in Acholiland (Northern Uganda) left hundreds of thousands of people dead, and millions of Acholi individuals and communities displaced from their homes. The conflict led to a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions, which was met with much international attention and intervention in its later years. This study involved 15-months of qualitative fieldwork with four communities in Acholiland and identifies and examines a complex web of impacts and changes experienced by Acholi in the midst of conflict and displacement. The research considers changing gender norms and dynamics arising from conflict and takes a critical look at “external” frameworks and benchmarks used to assess complex issues of gender and empowerment in this context. The project stresses the need to look at gendered impacts within a wider socio-cultural context and suggests that externally imagined benchmarks and frameworks will never be sufficient without a deeper understanding of how people view their own experiences, opportunities, and realities. As such the research prioritizes Acholi perspectives and experiences. One of its key findings (and contributions) relates to the identification of Acholi cultural concepts of power, and the recognition that cultural concepts and systems still dictate, define, and constrain individual options and opportunities, particularly those of women, despite significant changes observed in relation to socio-cultural and gender norms. Observations regarding the failure of many external actors to identify and integrate culturally relevant concepts and experiences into their interventions, particularly those related to gender empowerment, also help to highlight common shortcomings in these approaches and point to reasons for the frequent dissonance between well-intentioned project goals and people’s lived experiences, needs, and realties.
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    Commemorations and the Politics of Memory: Narrative Dynamics and the Memory of the Second World War in Moldova
    (2020) Jale Sultanli
    This research aims to understand how the narratives about the Second World War in Moldova are deployed in the political agendas and how these narratives perform in the broader social and political context of Moldova. To explore, understand, and analyze how history and memory are harnessed in the processes of establishing legitimacy for political agendas in Moldova, the research focuses on the dynamics of contestations between historical narratives through the commemorations of Victory Day, the end of the Second World War. The research question is: how are memories and interpretations of World War II are used to advance the political agendas of different political groups, and how do these narratives circulate and perform to produce a particular story of Moldova? Drawing on qualitative methods such as participant observations, interviews, textual analysis, and narrative analysis, this project reveals that commemorations of Victory Day are seen as sites of contestation through which political elites seek legitimation of their visions of identity and statehood. The master narrative that emerges from this study is about competing identities and their corresponding historical ‘truth’ that is implicated in justifying certain futures for the Moldovan nation. Attention to politics and narrative dynamics in the study of memory in Moldova reveals how the master narrative of ‘competing identities’ in Moldova constructs and limits the ways memory, identity, and nation are interpreted and discussed. The contradiction between the simplified dominant narrative about memory and the complexity of the experiences of the war in Moldova that emerges in the study highlights the need for critical engagement with the notions of collective memory and collective identities in the conflict resolution field.
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    Post-Conflict Regime Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Eritrea and Namibia
    Most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieved their independence after protracted liberation struggles. What explains the variances in their ultimate political development? Why, for example, did some post-conflict states evolve into democracies, while many others failed to do so? Through a comparative case study of Eritrea and Namibia, this dissertation analyzes the dynamics of political transitions and examines why these transitions vary among countries despite similar historical trajectories. Events leading to elf-governance in Eritrea and Namibia resulted in different outcomes, with Eritrea adopting a non-democratic one-party rule, whereas Namibia began an electoral democratic transition as they attained independence. The selection of these two countries is based on the similarity of their transitions from European colonies to African colonies, as well as the consequential liberation struggles that eventually brought independence to each nation. The case could be made for analyzing the historical transitions of several other countries. However, this study asserts that part of the explanation in this case study can be generalized to include three clear categories that apply to other post-conflict situations. First, this research examines in detail the political cultures of the liberation groups in the two countries. Second, this study explores the strategies devised to end the liberation struggles (either through military victory or negotiated settlement). Finally, this investigation interprets the role of international actors in the development of regime types during the post-independence period in both countries. Comparative analysis provides a rich array of colonial legacies, cultural and political tensions, military strategies, colorful (and destructive) personalities, and democratic initiatives that either failed or succeeded. Taken together, the scholarly literature on these topics provides a stable platform upon which this dissertation’s theoretical structure has been assembled.
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    What is the Nature of Witnesses "Being Heard" in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Testimonies?
    (2020) Gerhard Botha
    ABSTRACT WHAT IS THE NATURE OF WITNESSES “BEING HEARD” IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION TESTIMONIES? This dissertation investigates what it may mean for witnesses to “be heard” during the proceedings of the SA TRC and not only to have the opportunity to be heard. Selected testimonies from the proceedings before the SA TRC are investigated as an instrumental case study from within a critical narrative perspective, supported by perspectives from different traditions on the opportunity to be heard including procedural fairness (or due process more broadly); also aspects drawn from the literature on violence and trauma (termed the “voice” literature herein); and aspects from procedural justice, all which approach the question of “being heard” from different perspectives to form a broad framework in order to conduct the initial research. This initial framework was further supplemented subsequently with insights gained from the inductive research approach adopted in this dissertation. Key findings include that the concept of elaboration of narrative which also forms part of the critical narrative analytic approach emerged as a central concept for a witness to possibly “be heard” and was therefore utilized to develop four narrative organizing principles to analyze and illustrate the different directions in which the testimonies and narratives developed, and also their respective impacts on a witness possibly being heard. A second key finding is that the logic model utilized in the international development to evaluate results could potentially be useful to better understand elaboration and “being heard” specifically within the SA TRC proceedings. This is so, as the TRC was seemingly focused on narrative “results” based on its mandate inter alia to seek facts, truth and reconciliation. The stories and experiences of witnesses were also a focus but still within the framework as set out in the TRC Act and the quasi-judicial nature of the TRC. The logic model was therefore adapted to broadly situate the perspectives, concepts and insights developed in this dissertation within that approach based on the notion that the “outputs,” “outcomes” and “impacts,” which feature in the logic model, are all considered to be the results of the “inputs.” Concepts such as (for instance) narrative public spaces; positioning and repositioning in the narratives; building of a witness’s moral agency; the impact of prior witness statements, interruptions and disruptions on the narratives; empathy from contrasting perspectives; narrative cues introduced by the witness as potentially valuable starting points for further elaboration; the narrative resistance of the witness as she develops her narrative; and even instances of a possible false consciousness being present due to an over-emphasis on procedural justice at the cost of substantive justice aspects, to name a few of the perspectives seemingly important (or not) to a witness possibly being heard, are accordingly situated in the logic model adaptation and discussed.
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    Participatory Action Research with Theravada Buddhist Monks: A Study of Buddhism for Education of Cambodia's Peace Work
    (2020) Philip Abbott
    ABSTRACT PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH WITH THERAVADA BUDDHIST MONKS: A STUDY OF BUDDHISM FOR EDUCATION OF CAMBODIA’S PEACE WORK Philip K. Abbott, Ph.D George Mason University, 2020 Dissertation Director: Dr. Susan Allen Key words: socially engaged Buddhism, peace education, participatory action research, conflict analysis and resolution. What remains remarkable in 21st century Cambodia is the extent of continuity between the extractive economic and political institutions of the Khmer Empire and present-day Cambodia. As I learned through my research with socially engaged Theravāda Buddhist monks at Buddhism for Education of Cambodia (BEC), the Kingdom of Cambodia continues to have an overwhelming atmosphere of exclusionism, where very few opportunities for personal development and fulfillment exists, and reaching one’s potential in all areas of life seems circumscribed. Despite many advances made in contemporary conflict analysis and resolution, the dominance of Western epistemology has generally undervalued and at times confined the understanding and thoughts of Buddhist monks. As the first and only participatory action research (PAR) conducted with socially engaged Theravāda Buddhist monks in post-genocide Cambodia, rather than on or about them, this research explored the underpinning of Buddhist espistemology and how Buddhist monks think about their attempt to cultivate morality and a culture of peace, happiness, and social harmony. Acknowledging the ongoing connection and contention between structure and individual agency, Boutros-Ghali’s (1992) An Agenda for Peace singularly focused on structural change through free markets, the rule of law, and democratic institutions. This predominantly Western peacebuilding paradigm provided a liberal epistemology with a specific ontology and methodological approach to peace distinct from Buddhism. Under the guise of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), liberal peacebuilding in Cambodia was generally unable to consolidate peace or advance morality, a sense of interconnectedness, confidence, and well-being among most Cambodian people. Recognizing the limitations of contemporary conflict analysis and resolution as mostly framed by Western epistemology, I was inspired by the inclusiveness and emphasis on self-transformation being practiced by BEC monks through their peace education programs. The subjective, reflective practice, and empowering nature of participatory action research (PAR) paired with the Buddhist monks’ way of life, encouraged me to rely on a more collaborative and mindful form of inquiry to inform my doctoral studies. As is the case in all research, this PAR study was interested in knowing whether the knowledge co-generated with socially engaged Theravāda Buddhist monks was valid and trustworthy. But because Buddhist monks are opposed to absolutism, judging and comparing, and tend to retreat to the middle path as embodied in the practice of the noble eightfold path and equanimity found in the four sublime states (compassion, loving-kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity), two approaches were used to address how rigor was defined and what validity criteria best distinguished between a good and poor research study. The traditional approach used five validity criteria: process, democratic, dialogic, catalytic, and outcome conceptualized by Herr and Anderson (2015, p. 67), which were linked with the five research goals. In the unconventional approach, a series of semi-formal presentation of the most salient research findings was done with Ven. Hak Sienghia at the Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University in Battambamg, Cambodia. The live video recordings of these semi-formal presentations not only expanded participation to more than one thousand additional participants in BEC’s peace edication programs, but added an ideal venue to share the co-generated knowledge with a broader audience in addressing the relevancy of the research and its findings. It was during these semi-formal presentations where Ven. Hak Sienghai took ownership of the study as conveyed in his presentations, and the actual and virtual feedback from participants was uniformly positive which seemed to validate the research process and findings. Guided by three bodies of literature (socially engaged Buddhism, peace education, and participatory action research), this empirical study both informed and reflected on the research questions by generally following a spiral of action research cycles consisting of four major phases: develop a plan of action to improve what is already happening in BEC’s peace work, act to implement the plan, observe what is taking place during BEC’s peace education programs, and reflect on how BEC monks are cultivating morality and a culture of peace, happiness and social harmony in post-genocide Cambodia. While the research identified many strengths, limitations, and areas for further inqury, the commonality in these findings was that the generation of knowledge has no end. That is to say, knowledge will always be infinitely far from complete and no culturally constructed knowledge is absolute. And similar to this PAR experience, BEC monks did not view the co-generation of knowledge as something fixed or permanent but rather a continuous process of transforming one’s mind or self. From a Buddhist epistemological perspective, clinging to prior knowledge can often cause cognitive fallicies which obstruct or confine understanding and thoughts about how to analyze and reconcile human suffering and social conflict. Because of my Western constructed knowledge and psychological typology, I had a tendency to priviledge judging, comparing, and binary thinking to frame my understanding and thoughts about reality. A noticeable epistemological feature in my Western Catholic upbringing was to absolutize and project fixed, permanent and unchanging charateristics upon reality. There is a natural tendency to look for past events that confirm our understanding and thoughts of the world, which are often easy to find and treated as absolute truth. The danger in these primarily exclusive views of reality or eagerness for absolute truth, emerges when by clinging to conceptual thoughts and understanding one reacts negatively to opposing views. As a result, anger, fear and even hatred may develop in one’s mind, causing human suffering and social conflict to manifest. It was mindfulness and the unifying influence found in the Buddhist notions of interconnectedness and middle path embodied in BEC’s peace education programs that seemed to trandscend the social condition of greed, hatred and delusion in society and have a self-transforming effect on participants. One of the gaps in contemporary conflict analysis and resolution literature is a limited awareness of how Buddhist monks understand, think and reconcile human suffering and social conflict. Because the primary purpose of this inquiry was to understand how BEC monks think about their peace education programs and attempt to cultivate morality and a culture of peace, happiness and social harmony in post-genocide Cambodia, the study uncovered socially engaged Buddhist monks at BEC and the epistemological foundations of their peace education programs. The relevancy of this research allowed me to examine Buddhist contributions to the post-liberal peacebuilding enterprise. Particularly noteworthy was how Buddhist epistemology can complement Western conflict analysis and resolution approaches to peacebuilding. Through this research experience with volunteer Theravāda Buddhist monks at Buddhism for Education of Cambodia, I learned how one of the more profound challenges facing the Western post-liberal peacebuilding enterprise is the underdevelopment of peacebuilding epistemological foundations. Western approaches to peacebuilding generally lack the capacity to interconnect with organic peacebuilding endeavors as experienced in post-genocide Cambodia. There is a proclivity to think about an object or event in isolation and apply abstract rules to it, which is to invite extreme and mistaken cnclusions. For Buddhist monks, it is interconnectedness and the middle path that guides the goal of reason and critical thinking. This is where a broader understanding of the epistemological foundation of BEC peace education programs could encourage flexibility in constructing new analytical frameworks with the potential to expand understanding and practical application for global peacebuilding endeavors that goes beyond the structure-agency dichotomy in social science. For BEC monks and their core affiliates, it is the transcending nature of the Buddhist middle path or noble eightfold path and equanimity embodied in their peace education programs that allows self or individual agency to go beyond the divisiveness of individualism, separatism and exclusionism found in many 21st century societies. It is the balanced and mental calmness, along with insight (vipassanā) meditation found in BEC’s peace education praxis that goes against all extremes and absolutes, allowing one to acknowledge the Buddhist notion of interconnectedness and elevate the structure-agency discourse to a more complementary and unifying intellectual discussion.
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    Perceptions of Legitimacy of Maps and Mapping in Conflict Resolution
    (2020) Julie Minde
    This research examined the relationship between stakeholder perception of legitimacy of maps/mapping and conflict resolution. Evaluation of perceptions of legitimacy in maps/mapping as part of conflict resolution can manifest as questions or judgments about who has the authority or right to map, what information sources and ways of knowing are legitimate, and what map products and methods are legitimate. A theoretical framework was developed that focused on three areas of legitimacy determined to be fundamental: legitimacy of stakeholder, legitimacy of information, and legitimacy of representation. Two water-related environmental resource case studies, each involving multiple types of stakeholders (e.g., citizen, government, agriculture, environment) involved in conflict resolution working groups, were investigated and comparatively analyzed. The Delmarva case focused on a chicken litter management conflict. The Lynnhaven case dealt with a conflict concerning oyster cultivation. Research results include findings about the importance of social considerations, framing, and abundant participant input concerning their opinions, experiences, and recommendations concerning maps/mapping in conflict resolution. A particularly significant discovery was the central and defining role legitimacy of stakeholder played in both case studies. Lastly, it is hoped that this research might be useful to conflict resolution practitioners in their attempts to “level the playing field” for stakeholders in conflict resolution activities. Therefore, potential implications and recommendations are provided that might be used to guide efforts to ensure appropriate, positive perception of legitimacy of maps/mapping among stakeholders, thereby encouraging constructive engagement, key to conflict resolution success.