Accepted paper:

Mediation, peacebuilding and the intercultural: native title and Aboriginal Australia

Authors:

Toni Bauman (Dodson Bauman Associates)

Paper short abstract:

Mediation and peace-building approaches often see ‘culture’ and cultural groups as bounded entities of absolute truth and stereotypical beliefs. Meaning, however, is produced inter-subjectively and negotiated out of the conditions in which it is embedded. This paper seeks praxis in which processes involving Aboriginal people area also seen as ‘intercultural’.

Paper long abstract:

Mediation and peace-building approaches often see 'culture' and cultural groups as bounded entities of absolute truth and stereotypical beliefs. Meaning, however, is produced inter-subjectively and negotiated out of the conditions in which it is embedded. This paper seeks conflict management praxis in which processes involving Aboriginal people area also seen as 'intercultural' and takes the relational idea of 'fields of inter-subjectivities' as an appropriate starting point for theorising and designing conflict management processes amongst Indigenous peoples. The paper questions conflict resolution practitioners who suggest that cultural generalisations can be useful starting points in analysing stereotypes in a 'politics of generalisation' which recognises contingency and suggests that a more useful approach is to think of culture's 'work of differentiation' (cf Weiner 2002) and to see culture as a process of meaning making. In this paradigm, meaning is available only through the space created by participating subjects, as opposed to a view of rights and interests in terms of a social ontology of groups and individuals in a liberal discourse where rights are seen to be absolute and groups as homogenous. The paper suggests that mediator capacity, including fetishized understandings of 'culture', is often the cause of failures in Indigenous mediation or peace-building processes rather than, as is commonly suggested, 'cultural difference'.

panel P49
Owning identities