LINSTROTH_2007_CONFLICTS_AS_TRAPS_ENGLIS.pdf

It seems though that these traps of abstraction are

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It seems though that these traps of abstraction are too seductive and too many and that such formulations continue and will continue ad nausea as long as theorists believe that it is fine to objectify conflict and remove human elements or to strive for non-humanism in their approaches. The traps are so many to follow the call of discipline precursors in an ad hoc fashion of de jure stare decisis that it brings new meaning to Pierre Bourdieu’s (1988) work of Homo Academicus and requisites about the laws of the academy. I suppose what I am asking is what drives this discourse of abstraction. If researchers are hell-bent on claiming and disclaiming about what conflict is and what it is not and theorizing about formulas how to resolve the most basic dispute to the most internationally-devastating ones, then how did it become so fashionable to leave out victims and their narratives or the perpetrators and theirs? These are intellectual traps and they signify nothing less than keeping the muted mute and maintaining elite perspectives without bothering about what really happens in a conflict and why. These are relations of power and they are not simply about how unequal adversaries reach ‘mutually hurting stalemates’ to use Zartmanian prose but how such reifying abstractions suppose a power relation of researcher over his or her subject of study without giving voice to those afflicted by conflict in any real way. Recurrence: Intractable Conflicts and the Entrapment of Conflicts As much as abstraction of peace is evident from the research above, so too, are the abstractions found in studies of intractable and protracted conflicts. Here instead of abstraction at the how-to-level of training-to-overcome or model-making to mediate, we have abstracts which underline the importance of gradation and categorization of how protracted is protracted and how active or non-active are intractable conflicts around the globe. In terms of the history of ideas I wish to turn the reader’s attention to two classic thinkers, namely Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), familiar to most as one of the Greek philosophers responsible for the foundations of Western thought and scientific ideas, and Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), the prominent mathematician,
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13 physicist, and philosopher of science. I bring them up to illustrate a point. In order for us to grasp the significance of this endeavor of abstracting or even categorizing, I think what Whitehead has to say about Aristotle is illuminating. Quoting Whitehead from his book, Science and the Modern World (1925: 28): …Aristotle by his Logic throws the emphasis on classification. The popularity of Aristotelian Logic retarded the advance of physical science throughout the Middle Ages. If only the schoolmen had measured instead of classifying how much they might have learnt!
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  • Spring '19
  • Madam Masila
  • Conflict, researcher, Protracted social conflict

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