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The process of choosing peace after violence


Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence demonstrates how imagination, empathy, and resilience contribute to the processes of social repair after ethnic and political violence. Adding to the literature on transitional justice, peacebuilding, and the anthropology of violence and social repair, the authors show how these conceptual pathways—imagination, empathy and resilience—enhance recovery, coexistence, and sustainable peace. Coexistence (or reconciliation) is the underlying goal or condition desired after mass violence, enabling survivors to move forward with their lives. Imagination allows these survivors (victims, perpetrators, bystanders) to draw guidance and inspiration from their social and cultural imaginaries, to develop empathy, and to envision a future of peace and coexistence. Resilience emerges through periods of violence and its aftermaths through acts of survival, compassion, modes of rebuilding social worlds, and the establishment of a peaceful society.

Focusing on society at the grass roots level, the authors discuss the myriad and little understood processes of social repair that allow ruptured societies and communities to move toward a peaceful and stable future. The volume also illustrates some of the ways in which imagination, empathy, and resilience may contribute to the prevention of future violence and the authors conclude with a number of practical and policy recommendations. The cases include Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Colombia, the Southern Cone, Iraq, and Bosnia.

Eve Monique Zucker is Lecturer in the Departments of Anthropology at Columbia University and Yale University.

Laura McGrew is a practitioner and researcher who completed her PhD in peace studies at Coventry University.

“Contributors to this volume illustrate how recovery from mass violence is a complex and multidimensional task, the outcome of which is never guaranteed. With in-depth examinations of cases that emphasize the agency of non-state actors while using the lenses of ‘imagination,’ ‘empathy,’ and ‘resilience,’ Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence makes an important contribution to the field by offering insight as to how it might nonetheless be possible.”
—David Simon, Yale University

- David Simon, Yale University

“The transitional justice literature has largely focused on how external actors can create reconciliation following serious sociopolitical upheaval. Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence breaks new ground in probing the factors within individuals and societies that can facilitate the rebuilding of social harmony, showing how victims and perpetrators heal themselves.”
—Craig Etcheson, Visiting Scientist, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

- Craig Etcheson, Harvard University

“At a time when the world faces the dangers of nationalist fervor, demagoguery, and militarizations large and small, we are in urgent need of reminders about the lessons of the past and examples of how conflicts are resolved and societies repaired and renewed. Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence does this important work and is a welcome reminder of the power of empathy and the moral imagination.”
—Alexander Hinton, Rutgers University

- Alexander Hinton, Rutgers University

“In this thoughtful study on coexistence and reconciliation after mass violence, Zucker and McGrew bring together a diverse group of scholars to consider the aftermaths of mass violence in various social, geographical, historical, and cultural contexts, showcasing the many different pathways to peaceful coexistence.”
—Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University

- Douglas Irvin-Erickson, George Mason University

“Each essay is clearly anchored in an analytic framework, and either shows how their evidence fits into that framework, or helps theorize a new analytic frame/theoretical intervention.”
—Kristin C. Doughty, University of Rochester

- Kristin C. Doughty, University of Rochester

“A strength of the book is the fact that each author has engaged local or ground-level activities rather than approaching a case from above or outside, through a standard scholarly or ‘official’ approach. Each is informed by people in the midst of post-violence societies who are living the reality of those situations.”
—Henry Theriault, Worcester State University

- Henry Theriault, Worcester State University