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Localizing Peace Initiative

Annotated Bibliography

Amyla Kids

While in no way a comprehensive list of the literature on Localizing Peace, this annotated bibliography contains books, articles and movies that serve as a good introduction to the topic of localizing peace.

Localizing peace is a dynamic paradigm, one that covers a broad spectrum of topics and issues.  While localizing peace should be informed by actual usage in daily life and approached in a holistic fashion, there has been extensive research done on the benefits of using local mechanisms for peacebuilding within communities.  While in no way a comprehensive list of the literature on localizing peace, this annotated bibliography contains books, articles and movies that serve as a good introduction to the topic of localizing peace.


Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. “Conflict Resolution, Culture, and Religion: Toward a Training Model of Interreligious Peacebuilding.” Peace Research 38, no.6 (2001): 685-704.
The author of this article studies the role of religion in Peacebuilding through existing theories as well as through data collected through workshops and other qualitative approaches. The literature suggests the central role religion plays in the identity of persons can be drawn upon to facilitate cooperation toward peace rather than the promotion of animosity and violence. Religious Peacebuilding addresses negative attitudes and behaviors about the “other” by examining religious values of both exclusion and inclusion. The article concludes that interreligious trainings require different content and process than other trainings and due to the limitations of cultural models of behavioral and attitude change, future models are needed.

Chappell, D. W. Buddhist Peacework: Creating Cultures of Peace. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1999.
Eighteen Buddhist leaders respond here to the recent United Nations document Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace. Peace, according to the collection's editor, is more than merely the inner tranquility sometimes ascribed to Buddhism; it requires the recognition that all beings suffer, and that "we are not separate from others." The book's contributors include monks and laypersons from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, speaking not just theoretically about peace, but from their personal experiences of life in war-ravaged or unjust societies. The contributors' perspectives on peace are illuminating, but the most intriguing stories deal with the justice-oriented offshoots of the Buddhist tradition, such as the revival of Chontae Buddhism in Korea.

Jafari, Sheherazade. “Local Religious Peacemakers: An Untapped Resource in U.S. Foreign Policy,” Journal of International Affairs 61, no. 1 (Fall/Winter 2007): 111-130.
Based on interviews with local religious peacemakers (including a few that were featured in Peacemakers in Action, see below) this article argues that such actors can be critical partners in diplomacy. They have an in-depth knowledge of their communities and the conflict, as well as legitimacy with their communities that is unmatched by foreign peacemakers and aid workers. The article concludes with recommendations on how U.S. government officials and diplomats can benefit from the efforts of local religious peacemakers, thereby enhancing their own security and policy objectives in facing contemporary challenges.

Little, David, ed. Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
This book consists of case studies of 16 religiously motivated peacemakers in different conflicts: El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Sudan, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, and West Papua (Indonesia). This book provides examples of (relatively) unknown local religious peacemakers from around the world and the “techniques” they use in different contexts.


Brigg, Morgan. "Mediation, Power, and Cultural Difference." Conflict Resolution Quarterly 20, no. 3 (2003): 287-306.
In this article, Morgan Brigg addresses the issue that dominant mediation practices which define conflict and violence as negative, reflecting Western ideology. Many non-Western cultures do not share this assumption; instead, conflict plays a constructive and productive role in many societies. Thus, in intercultural mediation efforts, this cultural difference can cause difficulties for the peace initiative as established mediation techniques are grounded in a Western framework, which doesn't consider different approaches to peace and conflict resolution. Briggs supports the idea of localizing peace efforts in the way that they should be grounded in the local cultures, in which they are used, as only then, a successful result can be produced.

Lederach, John Paul. Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995.
As one of the key contemporary scholars in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution field, John Paul Lederach offers an important lens from which to view the concept of localizing peace. He writes about the need to reexamine our epistemological assumptions as practitioners, arguing that, “trainers should do their homework in becoming aware and recognizing the cultural assumptions implicit in their model”(121). Lederach advocates for an illicitive approach—drawing from the belief all the tools and knowledge necessary for resolving a conflict is already present within the community, and knowledge does not need to be imported from external (often Western) sources.

Oetzel, John, G., Bibiana Arcos, Phola Mabizela, A. Michael Weinman.  "Historical, Political, and Spiritual Factors of  Conflict:  Understanding Conflict Perspectives and Communication in the Muslim World, China, Colombia, and South Africa."  in The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Communication:  Integrating Theory, Research, and Practice, edited by John G. Oetzel and Stella Ting-Toomey, 549-574. Thousand Oaks, CA:  SAGE Publications, 2006.
This book chapter develops an analytical framework for understanding key cultural concepts associated with conflict and constructive conflict resolution in four non-Western, collectivistic cultures:  Arab-Islamic, Chinese, Colombian, and South African.  The authors emphasize the role of history and politics (including colonial legacies) as well as spiritual beliefs in shaping cultural perspectives on conflict and attitudes toward its resolution.  Particular attention is given to specific cultural values associated with social harmony and facework, and criteria for addressing conflict constructively within each cultural context.

Schirch, Lisa. Ritual and Symbol in Peacebuilding.  Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc, 2005.
The author explores the use of rituals as symbolic acts in peacebuilding.  The pre-existing rituals that limit violence and build relationships within each culture can be used as a tool in peacebuilding.  Schirch also talks about the communication styles of certain cultures and how most peacebuilding institutions or seminars teach the western style of communication which emphasizes the English language and direct verbal communication. This is often problematic and sometimes offensive in collective cultures.  Furthermore 60-90% of meaning comes from non-verbal cues, further highlighting the usefulness of ritual in communication.

Selin, Helaine, ed. Nature across Cultures:  Views of Nature and the Environment in Non-Western Cultures.  Norwell:  Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.
This book consists of about 25 essays dealing with the environmental knowledge and beliefs of cultures outside of the United States and Europe. Included are articles surveying Islamic, Chinese, Native American, Aboriginal Australian, Indian, Thai, and Andean views of nature and the environment as well as essays on Environmentalism and Images of the Other, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Worldviews and Ecology, Rethinking the Western/non-Western Divide, and Landscape, Nature, and Culture. The essays address the connections between nature and culture and relate the environmental practices to the cultures which produced them.


Anderlini, Sanam Naraghi. Women Building Peace: What They Do and Why it Matters. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007.
This book examines the ways in which women contribute to the peace process, including where they are most active as well as limited/marginalized.  Anderlini draws from case studies of women in conflicts around the world, placing them within the framework defined by the international policy community:  conflict prevention; negotiation; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; post-conflict governance; and transitional justice and reconciliation. The book concludes that despite women’s critical roles in the peace process, and despite the great success of activists and scholars who have advocated on behalf of women peacemakers, the international community has remained largely unresponsive.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell. DVD. Directed by Gini Reticker. 2008. Sydney, Australia: Fork Films, 2008.
A documentary film documenting the women's interfaith grassroots organizations that led Liberia to become a democratic country. A moving and encouraging story of how women and locals can transform their countries from violence to peace.

Mazurana, Dyan, Angela Raven-Roberts, and Jane Parpart, eds.  Gender, Conflict, and Peacekeeping.  Lanham:  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005.
Through case studies and legal and institutional analyses, the various authors examine the intersections of gender and power in today’s complex and multifaceted conflicts, as well as the contemporary peacekeeping and humanitarian operations that intervene.  They also examine the development of key legal instruments for the protection of women’s and girls’ rights. This book offers strong evidence on the need for a gender perspective in local peace efforts, especially given the types of seen today.  It also provides some background on how international instruments can help strengthen local peace efforts, as well as how communities can learn from each other (as in the case of El Salvador and Guatemala).

Western Interventionism

Dayley, P. "Challenges to Peace: Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region of Africa." Third World Quarterly 27, no. 2 (March 2006): 303-319.
This article evaluates the inability for strictly western models of peace processes to produce a peace process conducive to African countries. Rwanda, DRC, and Burundi are used as examples to the ineffectiveness of peace agreements. The author suggests the premise of peace processes must be transformation not re-constructive. Concluding, the author suggests that peace agreements must incorporate a regional component due to the inter-relatedness of conflicts, a new approach to addressing economics within the state, and a more local emphasis on justice for crimes against humanity.

MacGinty, Roger and Oliver Richmond. "Myth or Reality: Opposing Views on the Liberal Peace and Post-War Reconstruction." Global Society 21, no. 4 (2007): 491-497.
In this editorial, Roger MacGinty and Oliver Richmond elaborate on the different and opposing views on liberal peace in the current arena of Peace and Conflict Resolution. For the study of Localizing Peace, this article is helpful as it elaborates on the different views of Liberal Peace, which form a necessary background knowledge to develop an understanding of the emerging field of Localizing Peace, the often understood opposite to it, and the environment it finds itself in.

Walker, Polly. “Decolonizing Conflict Resolution: Addressing the Ontological Violence of Westernization” American Indian Quarterly 28, no. 3/4 (Summer-Fall 2004): 527-549.
This article describes the Westernization of conflict resolution models and methods, and the problems of imposing these models on indigenous communities—a process Walker describes as ontological violence. Walker compares Western and Indigenous approaches to conflict resolution and highlights the power imbalances in conflict resolution research and practice between these two approaches. This article is helpful in identifying specific approaches and methods (about fourteen in total) in Western conflict resolution that perpetuate ontological violence and offers recommendations for decolonizing the current methods in order to fully acknowledge and respect indigenous approaches.

Indigenous Methods

Bercovitch, Jacob. Elgstron, Ole. Skau, Carl. “ Regional Organizations and International Mediation: The Effectiveness of Insider Mediators.” Africa Journal on Conflict Resolution (2003): 11-27.
The authors investigate the advantages and disadvantages of mediation efforts by insiders in comparison with initiatives led by the UN. Using the example of the ECOWAS interventions in West Africa, the authors identify strong advantages for the "local" meditation, as it produced positive results; however, the insider's impartiality causes at the same time immense disadvantages. This article is important for the study of Localizing Peace as it highlights the benefits but also the dangers that lie in localized peace-making efforts, and which, therefore, need to be considered before applying this approach in the field.

MacGinty, Roger. "Indigenous Peace-Making Versus the Liberal Peace." Cooperation and Conflict 43, no. 2 (2008): 139-163.
In this piece, Roger MacGinty investigates the compatibility of indigenous forms of peacemaking during civil wars with "the currently dominant Western form of peace-making and peace support, often described as the liberal peace." He does so by acknowledging the recent trend in PCR of considering both traditional and indigenous peace approaches and trying to explain this phenomenon. This article is important for the study of Localizing Peace as it lays out some of the arguments in the debate about whether indigenous peace-making can be combined with the currently dominant Western model or not.

Ruto Pkalya, Mohamud Adan, and Isabelle Masinda. Indigenous Democracy: Traditional Conflict Resolution Mechanisms Pokot, Turkana, Samburu, Marakwet. Edited by Betty Rabar and Martin Karimi. Intermediate Technology Development Group Eastern-Africa, 2004.
This study outlines the indigenous methods of conflict resolution of the Pokot, Tukana, Samburu and Marakwet communities of North Rift Kenya. The authors outline some of the main governance, conflict prevention and conflict resolution structures and methods common in these communities. The authors include information about the marginalization and exclusion of women and youth/children from these conflict resolution processes. This study is helpful in offering specific examples of local peace processes in the Northern Kenya region.

Huang, Reyko and Geoffrey Gunn. "Reconciliation as State-building in East Timor." Lustopie (2004): 19-38,
This article examines the reconciliation processes in East Timor. Specifically, the authors look at the contribution of the Serious Crime Unit (SCU) and The Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (CAVR). Emphasizing the importance of looking at the local context, the authors question the relevancy of a democratic model due to the complexity of the society and history of East Timor.

Peacebuilding Paradigms by Region:

North America

Schlegel, Alice. “Contentious But Not Violent: The Hopi of Northern Arizona” In Keeping the Peace: Conflict Resolution and Peaceful Societies Around the World, edited by Graham Kemp and Douglas P. Fry, 16-28. New York : Routledge, 2004.
The chapter depicting an ethnographic sketch of Hopi life in Northern Arizona explains the social, political, and environmental structures that enable the particularly contentious dynamics to live harmoniously over long periods of time. The authors go over the basic arrangement of society including family organization, social roles, etc. The article discusses the role of violence, retribution, and other conflict dynamics in homicide, rape, and public fights, violence against animals, domestic arrangements, and its relationship with other clans.


Nader, Laura and E. Grande.  "Current Illusions and Delusions about Conflict Management -- In Africa and Elsewhere."  Law and Social Inquiry 27, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 573-594.
This article argues that the popular US-style dispute resolution technique, ADR, can produce more harm than positive outcomes in communities. The authors use examples of ADR techniques applied in Africa to support this argument. This article demonstrates an outsider's different ideological assumptions of his or her surroundings and how, by not localizing a peace effort, can lead to harmful ethnocentric peace-making initiatives that cause even greater harm to communities affected by conflict instead of helping them.

Osamba, Josiah. “Peacebuilding and Transformation from below: Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation among the Pastoral Societies in the Borderlands of Eastern Africa.” Africa Journal on Conflict Resolution, no. 1 (2001).
Josiah Osamba articulates within the context of pastoral communities in Eastern Africa that traditional customs and marginalized indigenous ways of approaching and resolving conflict must be explored and utilized. The article focuses on how indigenous peace methods from pastoral regions in Eastern Africa can improve the sustainability of peace through applying relevant cultural values, actors, and institutions.

Choudree, R.B.G. “Traditions of Conflict Resolution in South Africa.” Africa Journal in Conflict Resolution (2000), pdf.
This article shows the difference between Western and African CR methods in terms of cultural values.  It also discusses the impact of modern constitution on local methods in South Africa and the role and advantages of traditional/tribal courts vs. modern courts to settle disputes in South Africa.  It includes specific methods by the Pedi, Pondo, and other groups in Kenya.

Hagg, Gerard. Kagwanja, Peter. “Identity and Peace: Reconfiguring Conflict Resolution in Africa.” Africa Journal on Conflict Resolution (2007): 9-31.
The author discusses the recognition of the role of regional peace and security mechanisms in CR in Africa.  The article defines the role of identity in conflict and resolution and discusses the impact of Westernization towards local peace methods and the ineffectiveness of the traditional liberal peace model in resolution and reconciliation.  The article specifically discusses the Gacaca system in Rwanda and the Abashingantahe in Burundi.

Murithi, Tim. “African Approaches to Building Peace and Social Solidarity.” Africa Journal on Conflict Resolution (2006): 9-33.
This paper examines how African methods of peace and resolution can bring sustainable social solidarity to conflict areas in Africa.  It also discusses the value systems that base many societies in Africa and includes the issue of how gender will need to be addressed even within local peace methods.  The author discusses traditional healing practices and reconciliation in Mozambique, methods from Somalia, Somaliland, Ubuntu, Mato Oput in Northern Uganda, and Gacaca in Rwanda.  He puts forth strategies for building peace processes from local peace methods.

Latin American/Caribbean

Alther, Gretchen. "Colombian Peace Communities: the Role of NGOs in Supporting Resistance to Violence and Oppression." Development in Practice 16, no. 3/4 (2006): 278-291.
In this article, Gretchen Alther argues that "nurturing communities in non-violent resistance can save lives and encourage peaceful solutions to armed conflict." She bases this argument on the theoretical investigation of non-violent resistance and grassroots peace initiatives, but even more so, on the case study of four peace communities in Colombia.Tthis article is important for the study of Localizing Peace as it demonstrates one way of how conflict resolution practitioners can support and even compliment local peace initiatives and how local peace projects can "filter up."


Shoemaker, Ann Torfin, Brett R. Noel, and Claudia L. Hale. "Striving to Sow the Seeds of Peace: Conflict Resolution Training in Indonesia." Conflict Resolution Quarterly 25, no. 1 (2007): 137-143.
In this article, the authors share their experiences of conflict resolution education and training with educators and community leaders in Indonesia. They describe the set-up of their efforts and elaborate on the challengers they had to face. They conclude from this example that "the more we can shift from Western examples to local examples of successful peace programs, the more success we will experience." This article provides a firsthand account of an effort undertaken to localize conflict resolution efforts and it supports the paradigm of locally grounded PCR work leading to more successful outcomes.

South Pacific

Howard, Alan. “Restraint and Ritual Apology: The Rotumans of the South Pacific.” Keeping the Peace: Conflict Resolution and Peaceful Societies Around the World, edited by Graham Kemp and Douglas P. Fry, 29-42. New York : Routledge, 2004.
The article outlines an important component within the paradigm of high-conflict/low-violence communities. The authors explain how the Rotumans employ cultural mechanisms to constrain physical violence and resolve disagreements consistently.


Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) website.
This website based out of Canada informs about the mission and activities of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, its purpose is to inform about what happened in Indian Residential Schools. "The Commission views reconciliation as an ongoing individual and collective process that will require participation from all those affected by the residential school experience. This includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis former students, their families, communities, religious groups, former Indian Residential School employees, government, and the people of Canada." Thus, the website informs its audience about the Commission and its mission and keeps them updated on happenings and medial releases. However, at the same time, it functions as a tool for this collective process of reconciliation as it advertises events, where people can meet, as it provides links and resources for people affected by the Indian Reisdential Schools, as it provides advice on how to organize a community event, and as it provides assistance to those wanting to give a statement about their own experiences with Indian Residential Schools.


War Dance. DVD. Directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. 2007. Washington, D.C., USA: Fine Films, 2008.
A documentary film documenting the experience of child soldiers from Northern Uganda now living in a vast refugee camp. The film explores the indigenous reconciliation methods used by the Acholi people. This film closely follows the lives of 3 children who use music and dance as a form of peacebuilding within their communities as well as a means of reconciliation within themselves.