Justpeace Prospects for Peace-building and Worldview Tolerance: A South Asian Movement’s Social Construction of Justice




Rinker, Jeremy A.

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This dissertation is an attempt to understand the meta-narratives of justice operating within the Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha, Sahayak Gana (TBMSG), a dalit Buddhist social movement active in Maharashtra, India. The movement, a vestige of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 1956 conversion to Buddhism, is actively fighting for dalits rights by exposing atrocities and rights abuses against dalits, as well as, advocating an identity for dalits as newly self-aware Buddhists. Such a social action approach has supported both inclusive and exclusive conceptions of social justice, and this dissertation is intended to develop an understanding of the dialectics involved in the various conceptions of social justice within the movement. With the broader aim of explaining how such understanding can inform conflict resolution practitioners engaged in peace-building practice among marginalized populations, this dissertation is based on a social constructionist epistemology. In analyzing the justice/injustice narratives routinely produced by movement activists and leaders, this dissertation takes an action science approach of helping the group make better use of the deployment, limitations, and contradictions of the narratives it weaves. The aim of the present work is to build upon theories that address the nexus between conflict resolution and social justice in developing an epistemological framework for understanding, in theory and use, actors’ normative commitments to justice. By unpacking the social justice commitments of TBMSG members, this dissertation exposes the rationale for understanding how, in practice, narratives are produced and deployed, as well as, constructive of movement members’ conceptions of social change. In short, this dissertation is a peeling away of layers of reality inherent in movement members’ justice/injustice narratives in order to begin to understand the implementation of social justice as an ideal.



Social Justice, Narrative, Peacebuilding, Ambedkar, Buddhism, Worldview