Between Idealism and Realism – Critical Peace Education in Divided Post-Conflict Contexts

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This paper navigates through Critical Peace Education (CPE), a concept that emerged in response to criticisms of peace education as ‘politicised’, ‘propaganda’, ‘not objective’ and ‘lacking criticality’. CPE aims to develop students’ critical consciousness that would enable them to explore contradictions in their social, political and economic realm. It would also prepare them to act against these contradictions. This paper compares and contrasts theoretical grounds of CPE with three other approaches to education, namely Allport’s (1954) Contact Theory, Taylor’s (1994) Multiculturalism and Gallager’s (1996) ‘teaching contested narratives’. Building on the epistemological similarity between CPE and these three other approaches and given the scarcity of CPE application and evaluation (Bajaj, 2015), I find that scrutinising applications, evaluations and implications of these approaches in conflicted contexts must yield valuable insights to CPE. Accordingly, I explore two conflict/post conflict contexts, namely Rwanda and Israel-Palestine. I review relevant literature that examines and evaluates these approaches and I highlight three challenges to their application; ‘The Power of the victor’, ‘identity accentuation’, ‘social transformation: The individual or structural asymmetry?’. The paper concludes with suggesting three parameters that are worth considering when conceptualising CPE: ‘Practicality’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Scalability’.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Keywords: Critical Peace Education, Contact theory, Multi-culturalism, contested narrative


3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Education has a critical role in rebuilding fractured post-conflict societies and preventing further conflict (Gallagher, 2004). Educators who believe in the potential of education and its role at the heart of social transformation started teaching for peace to create a common positive vision of the future (McGlynn and Zembylas, 2009). However, in a divided society, education is an important tool for conflicting parties to legitimatise and enhance their position (Davies, 2004). Given this, there is a dire need to pay due attention to the content, role, value and purpose of a peace education programme (Bajaj, 2015). The current paper responds to this need by exploring pedagogical calls in the field of peace education to critically engage students with the conflict. It problematises these calls and assumptions and reviews relevant literature to examine the feasibility of their application in some post-conflict contexts. In this paper, I focus on words that I find standing at the heart of much of what post-conflict critical peace education seems to be influenced by; ‘multiculturalism’, ‘contact’ and ‘contested narratives’, and seeking to achieve; ‘recognition’ and ‘criticality’.  I take these words to be precarious. This is mainly due to their theoretical aura that fades into a mirage when put to implementation and praxis in some post-conflict divided context with complex dynamics.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 1 Because the topic is heavily informed by literature from the field of peace education, the paper focuses on the concepts of peace and peace education as an entry point to this review. Following this, two main sections are presented. The first one starts by identifying ‘misrecognition’ as an aspect of structural violence in a post-conflict divided context, which peace education scholars try to address by their recent calls to critical peace education (CPE). Then, I trace CPE in conflict contexts back to Allport’s (1954) Contact Theory, Taylor’s (1994) Multiculturalism and Gallager’s (1996) ‘teaching contested narratives’. As I find these approaches to education intrinsically linked to CPE, I briefly discuss conceptualisations relevant to each one of them before elaborating on those of CPE. After establishing an epistemological connection between the four approaches and given the scarcity of CPE’s application, I draw on two contextual resources where ‘Multiculturalism’, ‘Contact Theory’ and ‘Contested Narratives’ have been applied or studied. I highlight some reported challenges to their application and draw some insights in light of CPE. Ultimately, I leave it to the reader to locate post conflict critical peace education on the idealism–realism spectrum. I turn now to unpack the concept of peace and explore the goals and aspirations of peace education.

Peace and Peace Education: Mission and Aspirations

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Defining peace is not the most straightforward undertaking. This is mainly due to how wide the concept is and how it varies according to the context and within different cultures (Groff, 2002). While moral conceptualisations of peace are mostly connected to war and conflict, some cultures emphasise the distinction between inner and outer peace and use spiritual capacities to experience connections between the inner and outer world (Harris, 2004). Indeed, a recognition of the complexity of the concept seems to be the best contribution to the field of peace education in the 21st century. This complexity has been captured by Bevington, Kurian and Cremin (2018, p. 1418) in what they expressed as a need for “a nuanced understanding of the plurality of peace”. Put differently, there is no single umbrella that can house all the experiences of people around the world (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000). Therefore, it is justifiable to argue that peace is contextual and interactional (Zembylas and Bekerman, 2013).

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 In essence, peace education is concerned with creating structures that facilitate building a just, equitable and peaceful world (Bajaj and Hantzopoulos, 2016), increase tolerance, reduce prejudice and change perceptions of the self and the other (Bar-Tal, 2002). Recognised as the father of peace studies, Johan Galtung significantly contributed to defining the field (Lawler, 1995). Galtung distinguished between the two concepts of positive and negative peace (Galtung, 1969). The significance of his contribution lies in shifting the focus to the process-oriented understanding of ‘peace’. In other words, while achieving negative peace requires stopping direct violence such as physical harm, reaching a state of positive peace is a more complicated process because it implies removing indirect violence that includes both structural and cultural violence (Harris and Morrison, 2003). Examples of a structural violence in a society include injustice, inequality in education, health services or life chances (ibid.). Cultural violence does extend both direct and structural violence by legitimising them and reproducing them across generations (Galtung, 1969).

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 1 Galtung (1990) advocates that peace education must abolish direct, structural and cultural violence. This stance has been substantiated by other prominent scholars in the field such as; Bajaj (2008); Harris and Morrison (2013) and Reardon (2001). Similarly, Page (2008) criticises understandings of peace education that draws on the definition of peace as the absence of overt violence. He believes that such definitions exclude the existence of structural violence that prevents individuals from reaching their full potential. Building on these declared goals, it is justifiable to conclude that a successful peace education initiative in a post conflict context should be concerned with addressing structural and cultural violence given that direct violence will have supposedly stopped by the time of the implementation. Starting out from this juncture, the following section seeks to explore two main points that are of paramount importance towards reaching a conclusion of what content should take a priority in a post-conflict peace programme.

The Content of a Post-Conflict Peace Education Programme

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 This section consists of two main parts. It first explores one aspect of structural violence that is most likely to be found in a post-conflict divided society, namely ‘misrecognition’. Then, it discusses ‘critical peace education’ which is perceived as a necessary tool towards demolishing different aspects of structural violence. Before delving into conceptualisations of CPE, I examine some similar approaches to education.


Misrecognition as Structural Violence

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1 Injustice and inequality are two main forms of structural violence (Galtung, 1969). Martinea, Meer and Thompson (2012) described how ‘misrecognition’ in a post-conflict society evolves into epistemic injustice where localised knowledge goes unheard or is silenced. Accordingly, structural violence in a post-conflict society can exist in the form of a lack of recognition of one of the previously conflicting parties. This usually happens because of unbalanced power relations and dynamics when one of the conflicting parties wins or prevails over the other (Lau and Seedat, 2017).  Tiger (2009) argues that oppression is not only in what is done to people but also about what is taken from them. Interestingly, to unveil structural forms of violence that are often disguised, Lau and Seedat (2017) analysed community leaders’ narratives from marginalised peri-urban township of Thembelihle in post-apartheid South Africa and concluded that positive peace is contingent on social justice, representation and recognition of the knowledge and voice of its communities. Participants described their community members as being voiceless victims of oppression. This violence of misrecognition affirms a Manichean[1] worldview in a society where groups are identified as ‘good’ or ‘bad’(ibid.). Ben-Porath (2005) argues that an essential component of recognition in a post-conflict context is acknowledging social groups past relations, how they wronged each other and the impact that past practices have on their present conditions. To achieve this end, it requires the content of a peace education programme to recognise the historical perspective of the other while allowing different parties to hold on to their own version of the conflict (ibid). The following explores the concept of CPE which seems to respond to this specific point.


Theoretical Responses: Critical Peace Education

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Despite the love, compassion and nonviolence philosophy of peace education, mainstream peace education has been critiqued for working towards developing technical proficiencies without focusing on broader issues of social justice and liberation (Zembylas and Bekerman, 2013). It has been argued that an uncritical application of peace education could perpetuate structural and cultural violence (Cremin 2016; Wessells, 2012) and accordingly render peace projects part of the problem and the reality they are pretending to address (Gur-Ze’ev’s, 2001; Zembylas and Bekerman, 2013). Therefore, there have been calls to problematise theory and praxis in the field. Responding to that, peace education scholars started drawing on other fields like Critical Pedagogy (Giroux, 2003; McLaren, 2003) to develop a theoretical foundation for a critical peace education. Additionally, philosophies of social transformation have greatly contributed to the field. Main contributions come from Reardon (2009, 2012, 2013), Snauwaert (2011) and Reardon and Snauwaert (2015) who argue that peace education should equip people to think critically about their reality and develop their capacities to work towards transforming the world order and changing the reality of the presently unjust and violent world.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 When it comes to the content of a peace education programme in a post conflict context, CPE seeks to present problems of violence objectively. Instead of convincing students with the correctness of one side, it engages students critically with the conflict. Moreover, it aspires to disrupt asymmetrical power relationships and unpack their political, economic, social and historical roots (Bajaj, 2015). It empowers individuals, enable voices to be heard and boost the participation and agency of the marginalised (Diaz-Soto 2005; Bajaj 2008; Bajaj and Brantmeier 2011; Brantmeier 2011; Trifonas and Wright 2012; Hantzopoulos, 2011).

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Reflecting on CPE’s goals and ambitions, the following reviews relevant literature and establishes connections between CPE’s argument and those of Allport’s (1954) ‘Contact Hypothesis’, Taylor’s (1994) ‘Multiculturalism’ and Gallager’s (1996) ‘contested narratives’. The following first briefly discusses each of them and then more details about CPE are presented.

Allport’s (1954) Contact Hypothesis

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Allport (1954) believed that ignorance of the perspective of other groups and communities results in prejudice and fear. Therefore, he suggested that group contact could enable individuals to learn about the other and accordingly alleviate conflict between groups and develop positive intergroup emotions and attitudes towards them (see also Amir, 1976; Pettigrew, 1998). Other scholars further developed this hypothesis into a theory (Hewstone and Brown’s, 1986) and established its original proposition that intergroup contact decreases intergroup prejudice (Pettigrew and Tropp, 2006).

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 It is worth noting, however, that Allport (1954) proposed some conditions as prerequisites for effective contact. These conditions include; equal status[2], support by an institutional and social authorities[3], cooperation[4] and superordinate goals[5]. Later, Hewston and Brown (1986) suggested that to achieve an effective reduction of intergroup conflict, identities should be highlighted, and controversial issues should be discussed.

Taylor’s (1994) Multiculturalism

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 ‘Multiculturalism’ is meant to offer learners a chance to learn about the others and acknowledge the multiplicity within a nation (Taylor, 1994). Multiculturalism which is based on political science theories such as Pluralism and Liberalism has prompted various curricular developments especially in societies with relative peace (Niens, 2009). Multiculturalism is thought to aim to facilitate social cohesion in democratic societies (ibid.) and have little impact on peace education in conflict contexts (Bekerman and McGlynn, 2007). Despite this, one important aspect of the multicultural thought that seems to align well with the implications of critical peace education in conflicted settings revolves around the importance of acknowledging rather than dismissing past wrongs, which multiculturalists find essential to overcoming mutual hostilities (Taylor, 1994).

Teaching Contested Narratives

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 In post-conflict societies, a country’s history is often a central concern (Freedman et al., 2008; Smith and Vaux, 2003) and questions of how to deal with past narratives are critical (Dierkes et al., 2007). Therefore, the focus on exploring how we should teach history in such conflicted contexts has significantly increased (see for example Gallagher 2004; Smith and Vaux 2003; Tawil and Harley 2004).

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 A multi-perspective, enquiry-based model of history teaching began in England in the late 1960s[6] (Shemilt, 1980). From the 1990s, international agencies such as OSCE and the Council of Europe have been promoting principles of this model in contexts emerging from conflict (McCully, 2012). In line with this enquiry-based model, Gallager (1996) advocated that history teaching should equip students with critical thinking and moral reasoning skills. Such a skills-based approach helps students to reach informed and balanced conclusions after being exposed to various viewpoints (ibid.). This, in turn, contributes to a deeper social understanding (Smith, 2005) and reinforces peaceful tendencies in societies emerging from conflict (Cole and Barsalou, 2006). This stance is also enhanced by VanSledright (2008) who views using history education to construct one collective memory as an ideological indoctrination that limits students’ chance to develop their cognitive abilities. Also, Buckley-Zistel (2009) believes that providing a ‘more situated version of the past’ (P.48) where different stories from the population are represented helps to avoid further conflict.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 On the other hand, however, Cole (2007) advises that such interventions in the history curriculum should only be done after addressing other structural legacies. Another interesting remark comes from McCully (2012) who warns against making generalisations concerning a positive impact of a multi-perspective, enquiry-based history. McCully believes that all such claims lack empirical evidence and there is a need for a systematic research scrutiny of classroom practices.

Critical Peace Education (CPE)

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Some aspects of the three previous arguments are interrelated with the aims of post conflict critical peace education. Similar to them, CPE promotes ‘taking the other’s perspective’ and ‘recognising other historical narratives’ (Ben-Porath, 2005). The ultimate goal of CPE is developing students’ critical consciousness that would enable them to explore contradictions in their social, political and economic realm and prepare them to act against them. CPE scholars such as Fisher (2000) reports how some practitioners realise that peace education should shift its focus from making people nicer to each other to promoting a ‘culture of resistance’ against propaganda and manipulation of government, media and powerful people. Fisher (2000) believes that a peace education programme should include ‘3Es’; ‘exposure, encounter and experience’[7].  In a similar vein, McMaster (2002) believes that to lead people out of a culture of violence, there is a requirement for antagonists to walk through history together to achieve critical probing and shatter reductionist readings of historical narratives.  Bajaj (2008) argues that peace education research and efforts should be made towards developing understanding of how to practically achieve these ends.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 To provide practical guidelines, Bajaj (2015) builds on Brantmeirer’s (2011) stages for critical peace education[8] and comes up with six core competencies[9] that she thinks CPE initiatives should be oriented towards. She also suggests some possible education activities that could help achieve each competency. Of relevance to my argument here are the possible education activities that Bajaj suggests for promoting ‘conflict transformation skills’ competency. Bajaj sees exploring the roots of violence and attending to the power relations of entrenched conflicts as possible education activities. Moreover, Harris and Morrison (2013) contend that the role of peace educators is to present a variety of points of view so that students receive as comprehensive an understanding as is possible.


21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 I find establishing the link between the three arguments of ‘Multiculturalism’, ‘Contact Theory’ and ‘Teaching contested Narratives’ on one hand and CPE on the other necessary and enlightening. This is due to the undeniable similarity in the epistemological and theoretical rhetoric of these arguments which renders a careful drawing on each other’s research findings, implications and practical recommendations not only justifiable but necessary and insightful. This is particularly effective for CPE. While the theoretical propositions in CPE field are rapidly growing, there is a stark lack of application in contexts with different conflict natures, levels and dynamics. As a result, there is also a scarcity in evaluation research that is needed to constantly develop the theoretical grounding of the field. Accordingly, seeking insights from such arguments and from contexts where they have been applied responds in a way to Zembylas and Bekerman’s (2013: P. 206) call to revisit the theoretical groundings of our vision of peace education and attempt to ‘move away from limiting epistemologies to pragmatic ontologies’.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 While all four arguments sound attractive and of an emancipatory promise, such pedagogical approaches require a responding and cooperative political climate to facilitate their application. Also, because of the vast variety of conflict natures, there is a need to articulate the theoretical groundings of these arguments in an intricate nuanced way. Considering this last point reveals the following:

  • 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0
  • ‘Contact Theory’ enlists important conditions as prerequisites for its success.
  • Multiculturalism scholars have recurrently disclosed the need for a democratic context for their approach to be implemented.
  • Proponents of teaching contested historical narratives highlight the importance of addressing structural legacies before introducing such interventions and accentuate the need to avoid sweeping statements about a positive impact without solid empirical evidence.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 On the other hand,

  • 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0
  • Although theoretical work in the field of CPE is increasingly on the rise, no attempt at defining some conditions or requirements that could guide CPE scholars to identify different levels of analysis can be detected. Also, no identification of features or particularities of conflict contexts where CPE can be successfully applied or not practically possible can be found. Furthermore, addressing structural legacies is recognised as part of the CPE mission.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Having explored theoretical groundings of the four arguments under focus (Check figure 1), the following second section of this paper reflects on contexts where ‘Contact Theory’, ‘Multiculturalism’ and ‘Contested Narratives’ have been operationalised. This has been done to offer further insights into CPE in practice.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 [10]

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Figure 1[11]. Contact theory, multiculturalism, contested narratives and CPE




Reflection on Contextual Resources

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 The conflict/post conflict contexts of Rwanda and Israel/ Palestine offer compelling insights. In the following, I first justify my selection of these two contexts. Then, I elaborate on three challenges to the application of ‘Multiculturalism’, ‘Contact Theory’ and ‘Contested Narratives’ there.

Rwanda and Israel/ Palestine

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Rwanda is a country that was ripped apart by violence from 1990 till 1994. Two main ethnic groups constitute the population of Rwanda, Hutu and Tutsi. The Rwandan genocide was mainly against the Tutsi.  70% of their population were killed in a 100-day period. However, the genocide ended with the victory of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which was Tutsi-dominated (Buckley-Zistel, S., 2009). In other words, the conflict did not end with a mutual peace agreement where conflicting parties were in a position to impose equal power. This is the exact reason this context was selected.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 Israel/ Palestine is an ideal example to investigate a deeply divided context where Multiculturalism and Contact Theory have been vividly applied to improve Jewish-Arab relations there. While Palestinians formed the majority in Palestine up until 1947, they now constitute a minority, as only a few of them remained after their defeat in 1948[12]. Although Israel is considered a democracy and should technically meet the conditions of Multiculturalism and intergroup contact approaches, its democratic character seems to be struggling with living up to these approaches goals and aspirations. Several failures and challenges have been reported which are worth bringing forward in light of CPE.

Challenges and Insights

The first challenge that cases of Rwanda and Israel/ Palestine yield is the unavoidable power of the victor.

The power of the victor

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Benjamin (1968) famously remarked that history is written by winners. After the end of a conflict, victors manipulate the process of developing the history curriculum (Stover and Weinstein 2004), resist histories that include the presentation of the other side’s perspective (Cole and Barsalou, 2006) and choose which narrative to remember and what to forget (Buckley-Zistel, 2009). As a result, the official narrative usually defines the past according to the interests of those in power, who mostly choose to silence alternative discourses (Conway 2003; Epstein and Lefkovitz 2001).

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 AlHaj (2002) examined multiculturalism in Israel as it was represented in Jewish and Arabs schools’ history curriculum. He found that history curriculums in Jewish and Arab schools reflects the wider social power system and is a tool in the hand of the powerful to legitimise the dominant Zionist ideology. AlHaj concluded that the history curriculum is far from any model of multiculturalism and reflects the asymmetrical relationships between Arabs and Jews in Israel/ Palestine.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 In Rwanda, Straus and Waldorf (2011) reported the challenges of their work on a project that helped move Rwanda closer to reintroducing teaching history into Rwandan schools[13]. Unfortunately, their project failed to include a content that would enable students to engage critically with past violence. The authors justified this failure by the wider political context where the Rwandan government wanted to abolish ethnic identities (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa), and accordingly presented a national narrative that denied the existence of ethnic rivalries before the Belgian colonialism and prohibited any other interpretations of the past. Buckley-Zistel (2009) explains how this national narrative is perceived in the Rwandan context where the government is thought to be following this approach to further its legitimacy, mask the Tutsis’ monopoly of the country’s military and political power and to eradicate all criticism of the government. A sense of resentment among Rwandan people is also reported especially that any account of the genocide other than the official one is a criminal offence added to Rwanda’s penal code in 2002 and is legally prosecuted (Hilker, 2011). A relevant interesting suggestion from Straus and Waldorf’s (2011: P.309) research is that ‘’When one identity group has power and others are subject to that group’s policies, history reform becomes almost an impossible task’’.


35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Reflecting on the ‘Power of the Victor’ presents the first challenge to the implementation of CPE and the ability to propose different viewpoints, let alone to achieve the actual wanted change[14]. In the Rwandan case, critical engagement with the conflict is likely to take place from a new position whereby a third party is to be blamed for the interethnic conflict of the mid-90s. Rwanda’s example suggests that applying CPE there is not practically possible. Ironically, given the penal code introduced in 2002, CPE educators are likely to be legally prosecuted.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 In the Israeli Palestinian case, the main narrative continues to be dominated by the winner group and although there have been efforts to offer a more multicultural balanced perspective of the conflict, the objectives of multiculturalism completely vanish in the history curriculum in the Jewish schools.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Some might argue that in such contexts that are unwelcoming to the idea of involving students with different narratives, it is our mission to ask questions like: ‘Where do we target our interventions?’ and ‘What other forms of peace initiatives can we introduce?’. While my thoughts are in line with this last argument, it is worth remembering that ‘misrecognition’ is an aspect of structural violence and a CPE initiative that starts out reconciling with the fact that addressing structural violence is beyond its capacity is indeed failing before it starts. This is particularly relevant if we are to remember the goals that are established in the field about addressing all forms of violence. Here, we reach a dilemma that raises several questions. A big nagging question is: Does CPE need to articulate more realistic goals that respond to different natures and levels of conflict in a more nuanced way?


Identity Accentuation

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 1 Indeed, Rwandan government’s excuse for suspending to teach history and then teaching one national narrative is its fear of retriggering the conflict. As a result, it chose to evade the possibility of re-igniting ethnic distinctions at the expense of addressing the resulting structural violence. Although some Rwandans view the government approach to the issue as manipulative, some previous research on intergroup contact highlights how intergroup encounters where different identities and perspectives of the conflict are discussed enhance negative attributions and stereotyping among participants (Moaz, 2000a and 2000b). This stance is later substantiated by Bekerman and Maoz (2005) who expressed what they see as an inherent challenge in such initiatives and their tendency to create a context where conditions of the conflict and nationalist discourse can be easily reproduced. Hammack (2009) explored two American-based coexistence programs for Israeli and Palestinian youths.These programmes followthe contact theory approach. Professional facilitators conducted dialogue sessions where the conflict has been directly discussed and participants’ social identities were brought up to the forefront. The overall aim of the two programmes was to achieve a transcendence of a delegitimizing in-group narrative. Unfortunately, results show that the identities of many of these programmes participants were accentuated instead and their identification with the narrative of their own groups was further elevated. Literature in realistic conflict theory (Sherif, 1958) has consistently demonstrated that opening lines for discussing conflict and different perspectives is necessary towards reducing hostility. However, doing so without ‘superordinate goals’ only intensifies a sense of in-group identification and solidarity, increase accusations and recriminations and reproduce conflict. For this reason, Hammack (2009) suggested that identity accentuation in these programmes was normal and expected. Interestingly, while identity accentuation is the least desired outcome for CPE for its implication of conflict reproduction, Hammack (2009) tries to highlight a positive side which is intrinsically linked to an aspect of structural violence, namely ‘lack of recognition’. Hammack views identity accentuation in a positive light because it enables individuals to recognise and express the distinctiveness of their social identities. Furthermore, Hammack calls for a model that embraces identity accentuation as necessary.



39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Reflecting on ‘identity accentuation’ presents the second challenge to the practice of CPE, especially in terms of the ability to move from implementation of ‘exposing students to different perspectives’ to tackling questions like; How are we to sustain the positive side of the tricky result of ‘identity accentuation’ and any other transformative skills students might acquire? The Israeli Palestinian case presents a real challenge where achieving ‘recognition’ in the settings where these programmes are delivered might be pointless and rather counterproductive if those in power are unwilling to lift structural inequalities. In this scenario, minority group members who further recognised their identities and accentuated their narratives might see no other option to regain their rights than generating conflict. Resorting to violence might be their only way to stand up to the macro socio-political reality and other aspects of power imbalance, structural asymmetry and majority-minority relations.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Highlighting the importance of the macro socio-political reality, Bar-Tal (2004) argues that intergroup contact contributes minimally to conflict reduction because it lags behind political change. The following section further elaborates on this point.

Social Transformation: ‘Individual’ or ‘Structural Asymmetry’?

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 One of the criticisms to intergroup contact is that it relies on a bottom up theory of how transformation occurs and views individuals as ‘producers’ and not ‘products’ of a social structure (Hammack, 2009). I argue that this does indeed apply to ‘Multiculturalism’, ‘contested narratives’ and accordingly to ‘CPE’ too. They all connect social transformation to the individual rather than structural inequities or social policies. Interestingly, Hammack (2009) assimilates this with the American Dream myth where individuals are deceived into thinking that they have an equal chance to succeed. The truth is, however, that the huge undeniable structural inequality does disenfranchise minorities from advancement opportunities.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Noteworthy is that this approach was challenged by Tajfel and Turner’s (1979) social identity theory that attribute the origin of conflicts to the social structure that has a significant influence on the individual and not vice versa. Studies of intergroup contact in Israel/ Palestine (Bekerman, 2002; Halabi & Sonnenshein, 2000, Moaz, 2000a) enhance this theory and highlight the importance of the sociohistorical context and the influence of the outside power relations and structural asymmetry on the success of the encounter. Bar-Tal (2004) highlights how intergroup contact projects in Israel/ Palestine completely collapsed when violence erupted in the two Intifadas of 1987 and 2000. Therefore, he contends that coexistence efforts should not be exerted with big aspirations for social change. This is because the effectiveness of these efforts and intergroup relations are inextricably interrelated with an encompassing conflict resolution process where the political, economic, societal and military conditions are in line with the goals of these efforts (Bar-Tal & Bennink, 2004).


Reflecting on how applications of ‘multiculturalism’, ‘contact theory’, ‘contested narratives’ and CPE are embedded in a system of structural asymmetry is a third challenge. It is not only the individual change that is needed, but also structures that are in place to enable such a conflict transformation to come to light. Indeed, CPE might successfully manage long term transformation in individuals without achieving a critical mass to make change at scale. Thus, ‘how can we amplify the effects on the individuals that are changed so that they affect the environment? Due to the powerful structural asymmetry as being very strong over us, the question naturally arises of how feasible it is to scale up any prospective ripple effect. Other critical questions are: Is CPE in a need to reconsider its target? sort out its priorities? or just define more modest goals? Noteworthy is that Bekerman and Moaz (2005) identified this challenge to the application of CPE when they advocated a post-positivist realism in the field. This view recognises that although some theoretical conceptualisations are valid and describe the empirical world well, they might be of a little influence due to stronger constructed hegemonies that control our lives and the opportunities available to us. Although this call has been there since 2005, rigorous responses to it in the field are difficult to be detected. 


43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Building on the analysis and the three discussions under ‘The Power of the Victor’, ‘Identity Accentuation’ and ‘Individual or Structural Asymmetry’ sections, I suggest that one way of pushing the field of CPE toward the realistic end of the spectrum could be by conceptualising it in a three-dimensional way: Applicability, Sustainability and Scalability.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Applicability: The parameter of ‘applicability’ acknowledges the complexity of CPE implementation and the particularity of different post-conflict contexts. Therefore, it facilitates the advancement of a context-specific, location-sensitive CPE that is based on a true understanding of local socio-political climates.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 Sustainability: The parameter of ‘sustainability’ acknowledges that CPE can serve as a factor of sustainable long-term change only when an equitable social structure and reality provide a background for it.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Scalability: The parameter of ‘scalability’ acknowledges the tricky relationship between individual transformation and social structural change. Therefore, it has a modest vision of the scale at which CPE can effectively operate. It also decides on targeting CPE efforts based on answers to the question: ‘How effective is individual agency in the face of structural asymmetry in this particular context’?



47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 There seems to be a need in the field of peace education to be reoriented towards a more realistic view of its role in a post-conflict context. This can possibly start with acknowledging reality and articulating goals that respond to different natures and levels of conflict in a more nuanced way. The field might benefit from enlisting some prerequisites to its application.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 A political will is needed to be in line with CPE objectives and to provide background for it. CPE needs to reconsider the possibility of accentuating students’ identities by exposing them to different views of the conflict especially in contexts with aspects of power imbalance, structural asymmetry and unjust majority-minority relations. It is informative to pose questions around the chances that CPE would serve as a factor of sustainable change in such contexts.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Finally, there is a need to reconsider the relationship between individual transformation and social structural change. This paper invites peace education scholars to contemplate some critical questions such as; Can CPE goals be achieved by targeting all our efforts towards transforming the individual? Does CPE need to sort out its priorities and be more critical on how to operate in conflict/ post conflict contexts?

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 References

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 Al-Haj, M., 2002. ‘Multiculturalism in deeply divided societies: The Israeli case’. International Journal of Intercultural Relations26(2), pp.169-183.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Allport, G (1954). The nature of Prejudice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Pub.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 Amir, Y. (1976). ‘The role of intergroup contact in change of prejudice and ethnic relations’. In Katz P.A. and Segall, M., (1976), Towards the elimination of racism. New York; Oxford: Pergamon Press. pp. 245-308.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Bajaj, M. (2008). Encyclopaedia of peace education, USA: IAP publishing

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Bajaj, M. (2015). ‘Pedagogies of resistance and critical peace education praxis’. Journal of Peace Education, 12(2), pp.154-166.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 Bajaj, M. and Hantzopoulos, M. eds. (2016). Peace education: International perspectives. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Bajaj, Monisha, and E. J. Brantmeier. (2011). ‘Possibilities and Praxis of a Critical Peace Education’ Introduction to the Special Issue of the Journal of Peace Education On the Politics.’ 8 (3): 221–224.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Bar-Tal, D.  (2002).  The elusive nature of peace education.  In G. Salomon & B. Nevo (Eds.), Peace education:  The concept, principles and practice in the world. (pp.27-36). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 Bar-Tal, D. and Bennink, G.H. (2004). ‘The nature of reconciliation as an outcome and as a process’. In Bar-Siman-Tov, Y (2004) From conflict resolution to reconciliation. Oxford : Oxford University Press

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 Bar‐Tal, D. (2004). ‘Nature, rationale, and effectiveness of education for coexistence’. Journal of social Issues60(2), pp.253-271.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 Bekerman, Z. (2002). ‘The discourse of nation and culture: Its impact on Palestinian—Jewish encounters in Israel’. International Journal of Intercultural Relations26(4), pp.409-427.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 Bekerman, Z. and Maoz, I. (2005). ‘Troubles with identity: Obstacles to coexistence education in conflict ridden societies’. Identity5(4), pp.341-357.

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 Bekerman, Z. and McGlynn, C. eds. (2007). Addressing ethnic conflict through peace education: International perspectives. USA: Springer.

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 Ben-Porath, S.R. (2005). ‘Multicultural education, peace, and democracy: Considerations of civic education in wartime’. Philosophy of Education Archive, pp.87-95.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 Benjamin, W. (1968). Theses on the philosophy of history (H. Zohn, Trans.). In H. Arendt (Ed.), Illuminations (pp. 253-264). New York : Shocken Books. (Original work published 1950).

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 Bevington, T. Kurian, N and Cremin, H (2018) ‘Peace Education and Citizenship Education: Shared Critiques’ in The Palgrave Handbook of Citizenship and Education. Edited by Davies I., HO, L.-C., Kiwan, D., Peck, C.L., Peterson, A., Sant, E., Waghid, Y. Palgrave Macmillan: London

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69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 Cole, E.A. (2007). ‘Transitional justice and the reform of history education’. The International Journal of Transitional Justice1(1), pp.115-137.

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 Cole, E.A. and Barsalou, J. (2006). ‘Unite or divide? The challenges of teaching history in societies emerging from violent conflict’. Report of a Conference in United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 Conway, B. (2003). ‘Active remembering, selective forgetting, and collective identity: The case of Bloody Sunday’. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research3(4), pp.305-323.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 Cremin, H. (2016). ‘Peace Education Research in the Twenty-First Century: Three Concepts Facing Crisis or Opportunity?’ Journal of Peace Education 13: 1–17. doi:10.1080/ 17400201.2015.1069736

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 Davies, L., (2004). Conflict and education: Complexity and chaos. London: Routledge Falmer

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 Diaz-Soto, L. (2005). “How Can We Teach Peace When We Are So Outraged? A Call for Critical Peace Education.” Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education 9 (2): 91–96.

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 Dierkes, J., Yoshida, T., Clark, P., Kitson, A., Valls, R., Oglesby, E., Sherlock, T., Bleiker, R., Hoang, Y.J., Dorschner, J. and Chapman, A., (2007). Teaching the violent past: History education and reconciliation. USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Freedman, S.W., Weinstein, H.M., Murphy, K. and Longman, T. (2008). ‘Teaching history after identity-based conflicts: The Rwanda experience’. Comparative Education Review52(4), pp.663-690.

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81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 Gallagher, T. (2004). Education in divided societies. Basingtoke: Palgrave Macmillan

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 Galtung, J. (1969). ‘Violence, peace, and peace research’. Journal of peace research6(3), pp.167-191.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 Galtung, J. (1990). ‘Cultural violence’. Journal of peace research27(3), pp.291-305.

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 Giroux, H. (2003). “Theories of Reproduction and Resistance in the New Sociology of Education: A Critical Analysis.” In The Critical Pedagogy Reader, edited by A. Darder, M. Baltodano and R. Torres, 27–51. New York: Routledge.

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 Groff, L. (2002). ‘A holistic view of peace education’ in: Peace Education for a New Century, Harris, Ian and Synott, John (eds.).]. Social Alternatives, 21(1), p.7.

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 Gur Ze’ev, I. (2001). ‘Philosophy of Peace Education in a Postmodern Era.’ Educational Theory 51: 315–336. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5446.2001.00315.x.

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 Halabi, R. and Sonnenshein, N. (2000). ‘Consciousness, identity, and challenge to reality: Educational approaches at the Neveh Shalom School for Peace’. Identities in dialogue, pp.16-27.

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 Hammack, P.L. (2009). ‘The cultural psychology of American-based coexistence programs for Israeli and Palestinian youth’. In Peace Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies (pp. 127-144). USA: Palgrave Macmillan

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 Hantzopoulos, Maria. (2011). “Institutionalizing Critical Peace Education in Public Schools: A Case for Comprehensive Implementation.” Journal of Peace Education 8 (3): 225–242.

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 Harris, I.M. (2004). ‘Peace education theory’, Journal of Peace Education, 1:1, 5-20

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 Harris, I.M. and Morrison, M.L. (2003). Peace education. Jefferson, N.C. London: McFarland

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94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 Hilker, L.M. (2011). ‘The role of education in driving conflict and building peace: The case of Rwanda’. Prospects41(2), pp.267-282.

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 Hodgkin, M. (2006). ‘Reconciliation in Rwanda: Education, history and the state’. Journal of International Affairs, pp.199-210.

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 Lau, U. and Seedat, M. (2017). ‘Structural Violence and the Struggle for Recognition: Examining Community Narratives in a Post-apartheid Democracy’. In Enlarging the Scope of Peace Psychology (pp. 203-220). Springer International Publishing.

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98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 Maoz, I., (2000a). ‘Multiple conflicts and competing agendas: A framework for conceptualizing structured encounters between groups’ in conflict—the case of a coexistence project of Jews and Palestinians in Israel. Peace and Conflict: Journal of peace psychology6(2), p.135.

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 Maoz, I., (2000b). ‘Power relations in intergroup encounters: A case study of Jewish–Arab encounters in Israel’. International Journal of Intercultural Relations24(2), pp.259-277.

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101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 McCully, A. (2012). ‘History teaching, conflict and the legacy of the past’. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice7(2), pp.145-159.

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 McGlynn, C. and Zembylas, M. eds., (2009). Peace education in conflict and post-conflict societies: Comparative perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 McLaren, P. (2003). Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 McMaster, J., (2002). ‘Transforming conflict and visioning peace in Northern Ireland: an educational process’. Sang Saeng Asia Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding4, pp.22-32.

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 Niens, U. (2009). ‘Toward the development of a theoretical framework for peace education using the contact hypothesis and multiculturalism’. In Peace Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies (pp. 145-159). Palgrave Macmillan US.

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 Page, J., (2008). Peace education: Exploring ethical and philosophical foundations. USA: IAP publishing

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 Pettigrew, T.F. (1998). ‘Intergroup contact theory’. Annual review of psychology49(1), pp.65-85.

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 Pettigrew, T.F. and Tropp, L.R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of personality and social psychology, 90(5), p.751.

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 Reardon, B. and Snauwaert, D.T., (2015). Betty A. Reardon: A pioneer in education for peace and human rights. Basel: Springer International Publishing.

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 Reardon, B.A., (2001). Education for a Culture of Peace in a Gender Perspective. Paris : UNESCO Pub

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 Reardon, B.A., (2012). ‘Meditating on the barricades: Concerns, cautions, and possibilities for peace education for political efficacy’. In Critical peace education (pp. 1-28). Springer, Dordrecht.

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 Reardon, Betty A. (2009). “Human rights learning: Pedagogies and politics of peace.” Paper presented at the UNESCO Chair for Peace Education Master Conference, Rio Piedras, April 15. available on http://www.pdhre.org/HRLreardon.pdf. Accessed November 25, 2018

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 Reardon, Betty A. (2013). “Meditating on the Barricades: Concerns, Cautions, and Possibilities for Peace Education for Political Efficacy.” In Critical Peace Education: Difficult Dialogues, edited by Peter P. Trifonas and Bryan Wright, 1–28. Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-90-481- 3945-3_1.

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 Reardon, Betty A., and Dale T. Snauwaert. (2011). “Reflective Pedagogy, Cosmopolitanism, and Critical Peace Education for Political Efficacy: A Discussion of Betty A. Reardon’s Assessment of the Field.” In Factis Pax 5 (1): 1–14.

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 Shemilt, D.J., (1980). History 13-16. Evaluation study. Edinburgh: Holmes McDougall

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 Sherif, M., (1958). ‘Superordinate goals in the reduction of intergroup conflict’. American journal of Sociology63(4), pp.349-356.

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 Smith ME (2005) Reckoning with the Past: Teaching History in Northern Ireland. Oxford: Lexington Books.

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 Smith, A. and Vaux, T. (2003). Education, conflict and international development. London: DFID

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 Stover, E. and Weinstein, H.M. eds., (2004). My neighbor, my enemy: Justice and community in the aftermath of mass atrocity. UK: Cambridge University Press.

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 Straus, S. and Waldorf, L. eds., 2011. Remaking Rwanda: State building and human rights after mass violence. Univ of Wisconsin Press.

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 Tajfel, H. and Turner, J.C. (1979). ‘An integrative theory of intergroup conflict’. The social psychology of intergroup relations33(47), p.74.

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 Tawil, S. and Harley, A. (2004). ‘Education and identity-based conflict: Assessing curriculum policy for social and civic reconstruction’. Education, conflict and social cohesion9.

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 Taylor, C. (1994). Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition. Princeton: Princeton University Press

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 Tiger, M. (2009). ‘Narratives of oppression’. Human Rights Brief17(1), p.6.

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 Trifonas, P., and B. Wright. (2012). Critical Peace Education: Difficult Dialogues. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 VanSledright, B. (2008). ‘Narratives of nation-state, historical knowledge, and school history education’. Review of Research in Education32(1), pp.109-146.

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 Wessells, M.G., (2012). ‘Cosmology, Context, and Peace Education: A View from War Zones’. In Critical Peace Education (pp. 89-99). Springer, Dordrecht.

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 Zembylas, M. and Bekerman, Z. (2013). ‘Peace education in the present: Dismantling and reconstructing some fundamental theoretical premises’. Journal of Peace Education10(2), pp.197-214.

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 [1] dualistic

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 [2] Members of the two groups should enjoy similar characteristics, qualities and equal engagement in the relationship.

131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 [3] Authorities should support positive contact

132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0 [4] The environment should be non-competitive and encouraging cooperation

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 [5] While political leaders usually see social amnesia as the best way to ‘move on’ and maintain stability (Cole and Barsalou, 2006), many argue that schools’ history curriculum should be revised and a more truthful history should be presented (Hodgkin, 2006; Cole, 2007).

134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 [6] It originated in the Schools’ Council History Project (SCHP).

135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 [7] ‘Exposure’ to the conflict is vital and could be achieved through reading other narratives or people deeply reflecting on their own positioning in a conflict. Afterwards, it is necessary to ‘encounter’ those with opposing views and different stances. Finally, it should include ‘experience’. In other words, allowing students the opportunity to act together with others whom they disagreed with in the beginning.

136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0 [8] ‘’(1) Raising consciousness through dialogue (2) Imagining nonviolent alternatives (3) Providing specific modes of empowerment (4) Transformative action (5) Reflection and re-engagement’’ (Brantmeier, 2011, 356)

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 [9] The six core competencies are: ‘’Critical thinking and analysis, empathy and solidarity, individual and coalitional agency, participatory and democratic engagement, education and communication strategies, conflict transformation skills and ongoing reflective practice’’ (p.162)

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 [11] This figure has been designed by the author of this essay.

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 [12] The rest have been forced out and rendered refugees in surrounding Arab countries and other parts of Palestine.

140 Leave a comment on paragraph 140 0 [13] That was after ten years of no history courses taught in secondary schools.

141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 [14] Critical thinking, participatory engagement, reflective practice, conflict transformation skills.

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