Considerations of Culture in Conflict Intervention

The news and social media sites have been filled with stories of refugees fleeing war zones and migrants entering new communities. Unfortunately, the focus is often on heated disputes between newcomers and those who are established within the community (though, there are also many examples of refugees and migrants being welcomed with open arms – but we know the media prefers to focus on more dramatic stories for publicity purposes). With increasing migration, it is important to find ways to communicate and engage with conflict, rather than allowing it to fester and eventually boil over.

Most discussions about culture and conflict resolution revolve around the East-West divide. Moreover, they generalize the behavior of certain individuals based on entire cultures, without giving attention to variations within cultures. While this is helpful on the macro level, it does little to assist mediators and other conflict interveners on the local level at which they interact with individuals, rather than cultures. In fact, having this generalized information may hinder conflict interveners, as they (sub)consciously rely on and apply those generalizations indiscriminately. Doing so may lead conflict interveners to ignore subtle (or even blatant) and unexpected differences between individual and culture, and thus to miss opportunities to create sustainable relationships between the disputing parties. Thus, in light of the ever increasing immigrant community in metro-Detroit, this presentation will focus on the importance of, in the words of some scholars, “de-colonizing” conflict resolution by introducing more non-Western tactics and approaches into our efforts of conflict management.

About 3rd Sider Shahar Ben-Josef

Shahar Ben-Josef is pursuing an MA/JD in Dispute Resolution and International Law at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. During her time at Wayne State University, Shahar has won various scholarships and attended The Hague Academy for courses on public international law. Following graduation in May 2016, Shahar will begin working as a Legal Clerk in the Detroit Immigration Court in September 2016. Prior to beginning her degrees at Wayne State, Shahar earned a B.A. in Middle Eastern and North African Studies, with a minor in Peace and Social Justice from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.


About Shahar Ben-Josef

Shahar Ben-Josef is pursuing an MA/JD in Dispute Resolution and International Law at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. During her time at Wayne State University, Shahar has won various scholarships and attended The Hague Academy for courses on public international law. Following graduation in May 2016, Shahar will begin working as a Legal Clerk in the Detroit Immigration Court in September 2016. Prior to beginning her degrees at Wayne State, Shahar earned a B.A. in Middle Eastern and North African Studies, with a minor in Peace and Social Justice from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.