Complex Political Victims by Erica Bouris

By Erica Bouris

Photos of the political sufferer are robust, gripping, and essential in supporting us is sensible of clash, fairly in making ethical calculations, picking who's "good" and who's "evil". those photographs, and the discourse of victimization that surrounds them, tell the overseas group whilst finding out to acknowledge convinced participants as sufferers and play a task in shaping reaction rules. those guidelines in flip create the possibility of long-term, reliable peace after episodes of political victimization. Bouris unearths weighty issues of the dichotomous belief of actors in a clash, which pervades a lot of latest peacebuilding scholarship. She as an alternative argues that sufferers, very similar to the conflicts themselves, are complicated. instead of use this complexity to be able to push aside sufferers or demand limits at the reaction from the foreign group, the booklet advocates for higher and greater responses to clash.

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Moeller 2002, 40–42) The image of the “babe in arms” is perhaps most telling, for what could be a more “normal,” more “natural” a behavior than a mother holding her child? Moeller’s arguments also include reference to the “hierarchy of innocence,” in which victims are prioritized in relation to their presumed innocence. At the top of this hierarchy are children. They most perfectly match the “innocent victim” image, and all other victims are recognized in varying degrees depending upon their conformity to this image of the innocent victim—the victim who is doing nothing wrong, who perhaps, like a child, is not even capable of doing anything morally wrong.

When looking at a conflict situation, we look for images of the victim that match our own preconceived images of victimization, which frequently are heavily biased toward the innocent and pure. This is indeed related to Huyse’s (2002) argument about the manner in which what he deems “cultural” ideas about victims influence who is recognized as a victim and who is not. Victims are not defined simply by their adherence to a particular legal or official definition; they are, in a sense, interpolated through the interplay of existing victim discourse(s), relatively stable legal norms, and the specificities of a given political context.

Schirch (2004) identifies three primary strategies of conflict resolution: rational, relational, and symbolic. Lederach (1997) characterizes conflict resolution as necessarily different than the realpolitik interest-based approaches and instead argues that conflict resolution is a strategy informed by social psychology and reaching for a much deeper social reconciliation (see also Kriesberg 2001). And certainly there are numerous debates about specific tactics employed during the process of conflict resolution (such as the use of force).

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