From the Editor’s Desk

by Kyrstie Lane

Conflict and violence, though often spoken in the same breath, are not synonymous. Violence is what occurs when we do not have the structures, skills, or capacities to efficiently and effectively manage conflict or change. Nonviolent conflict is certainly possible, but also more difficult, and too many of our conflicts today move quickly towards violence. In this issue of Reflections, our authors examine many different facets of violence in conflicts across the world, searching for ways to diminish its prevalence in conflict.

In the U.S., when we think of violence, we usually think of it as something that happens in other parts of the world. But before we rush off to examine the problems that plague other countries, P.K. McCary’s cover story and photo remind us of the violence we face right here at home, in California. The city of Salinas, as she tells us, has become known as the”world capital of gang violence,” and despite efforts by law enforcement and community organizations, violence remains high. McCary’s story reminds us of the help that is still needed here in this country, but also provides a hopeful account of how youth in Salinas are seeking to redefine their city in a nonviolent way.

Fr. Cedric Prakash presents a commentary on his personal area of study: the conflict in Gujarat, India. The horrific violence in Gujarat in 2002 (which continues to manifest in various ways today) and the fact that it is not well known internationally is disturbing, particularly as it occurred in the “largest democracy in the world.” Fr. Cedric delves into the details of this violence and helps us to understand the truth behind this conflict.

This issue’s Picks of the Quarter focus on lesser-known violence against women that is embedded in larger conflicts across the world, such as the turmoil in Mexico and internal violence in Colombia. This column also discusses the controversial “SlutWalk” that is gaining popularity in the U.S. These brief highlights remind us to examine structural and cultural sources that may place a disproportionate burden of violence upon women in a variety of ways.

Dr. Joseph Bock examines the headline-grabbing “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, and offers an analysis of new technologies and old practices that were utilized in this conflict to prevent it from brimming over to widespread violence. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were skillfully managed and planned in order to be largely nonviolent, and Dr. Bock’s piece raises questions about how these same practices can be applied to manage conflict in other parts of the world.

Dr. Kevin Avruch’s article delves into the question of what happens after violence has occurred. How can perpetrators and victims pick up the pieces and move on, attempt to heal from what has happened and prevent it from happening again? This theory-based article outlines what needs to take place in the post-violence period of a conflict, an issue that is too often neglected.

We are also pleased to introduce two new columns in this issue. First is the India Column: as the Centre has offices in India as well as in the U.S., we welcome this opportunity to highlight important conflicts and issues in this country. In this first installation, Dr. Francis Gonsalves analyzes the history and implications of the Maoist violence in central India. Secondly, Pedagogy of Conflict, written by our director, Dr. Pushpa Iyer, presents commentary and analysis of theories and events in the field of conflict resolution. This first column introduces the crucial and widely used theory of structural violence, and discusses the various reactions to this theory and why it is often found to be controversial.

As emphasized in our last issue, conflict in and of itself is not inherently negative: it is when it moves to violence that it becomes such. We hope that the analyses of violence presented in this issue, from theories to case studies, will provide ideas about how we can diminish the use of violence in conflict and encourage nonviolent methods for the benefit of all.

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