Understanding the Other’s “Understanding” of Violence: Legitimacy, Recognition, and the Challenge of Dealing with the Past in Divided Societies

  • Marcel M. Baumann


Post-conflict societies which have achieved a cessation of violence and embarked on a political conflict transformation process cannot in the long-term avoid a process of dealing with the past. Case studies of South Africa and Northern Ireland confirm this normative claim, showing that within the post-war society as a whole a social consensus on how to “understand” and “recognize” the use of violence that occurred during the conflict is necessary: understanding the other’s “understanding” of violence. A mutual understanding must be reached that both sides fought a campaign that was just and legitimate from their own perspective. The morality of the “other’s violence” has to be recognized.
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