Transformative mediation, intersectionality and gender Justice: outlining a productive research agenda?
Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana and Dr Heidi Riley from UCD look at some of the the key questions they are looking at through the Talk4Peace project.
How do we make peace mediation more inclusive, not only of women but also of other minoritized groups that have been traditionally ignored in mainstream responses to conflict?
How do we ensure that their experiential knowledges and values matter for transforming conflictual relations and addressing legacies of conflict?
Where do we see interventions in academic and activist spaces that can help us re-imagine mediation through a commitment to intersectionality and gender justice?
Is that even possible or should we relinquish the language of mediation itself and find alternative processes that resonate more with our commitments and communities of practice?
These are some of the key questions we are grappling with in our project Talk4Peace. In our research we set out to explore possibilities and challenges in transforming mediation through engagement with feminist mediation scholarship, theories of intersectionality and gender justice, and in conversation with practitioners and activists committed to transformative practices in mediation and peacebuilding.
Given our positionalities the main focus of this research is the island of Ireland, however the project also draws on wider international perspectives. To begin our thinking, we are mobilising feminist critiques of conventional discourses and multi-track approaches to mediation, in order to scrutinise and build on the potentially productive, yet under theorised, concept of transformative mediation.
Going beyond tracks: a critique of “Big Man Mediation”
In a recent report, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Emma Leslie poignantly writes that
Big men mediation is not about men. It’s about a hierarchical system that has become outdated in our way of approaching mediation and conflict (pg.8).
This is a useful starting point to think critically about established approaches to peace mediation, moving beyond the important, yet somewhat simplistic, concern with “adding more women/other excluded groups and stir”. It is an attempt to challenge the hierarchies of knowledge and power that are reproduced and reified within current approaches to multi-track mediation.
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Article originally appeared on the Talk4Peace blog.