Advancing Conflict Transformation: The Berghof Handbook II by Beatrix Austin , Martina Fischer and Hans J. Giessmann (eds). Opladen: Barbara Budrich, 2011. 559pp., £46.95, ISBN 9783866493278
Article first published online: 8 JAN 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Political Studies Review © 2014 Political Studies Association
Political Studies Review
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 111–112, January 2014
How to Cite
Rauta, V. (2014), Advancing Conflict Transformation: The Berghof Handbook II by Beatrix Austin , Martina Fischer and Hans J. Giessmann (eds). Opladen: Barbara Budrich, 2011. 559pp., £46.95, ISBN 9783866493278 . Political Studies Review, 12: 111–112. doi: 10.1111/1478-9302.12041_38
- Issue published online: 8 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 8 JAN 2014
As a process, conflict transformation is generally described as being complex, multilayered and structurally non-linear. Normatively, it has been analysed through a lens that focuses mainly on measuring conflict variation by quantifying change, and that neglects the impact change has on future developments and prospects. However, Advancing Conflict Transformation: The Berghof Handbook II, under the clever editorship of Beatrix Austin, Martina Fischer and Hans J. Giessmann, breaks this slow rhythm of research and advances a novel and systematic approach in the study of conflict transformation by addressing a ‘two-fold task: to take stock of what we have learnt to date through research and practice, and to explore different experiences and new challenges for the road ahead’ (p. 10).
Defining conflict transformation as a ‘process of changing the relationships, attitudes, interest, discourses and underlying structures that encourage and condition violent political conflict’ (pp. 9–10), the book offers a clear perspective on the role of interdependence in understanding contemporary conflict. Dynamic in its interdisciplinary character, Advancing Conflict Transformation integrates a variety of theories and methods in a complex design that successfully meets its purposes. Highly attentive to the particularities of the twenty-first century conflict pattern, the authors of the book inquisitively question the origin, nature, development and future of conflict transformation. From this point of view, what is particularly interesting is the interplay of intellectual traditions and their impact on the transition from the different sections of the book, and an example would be the clear link between the section on third party intervention and that on spaces of transformation. Despite the large number of contributors, the book is structured and it does not overlap, remaining consistent and reader focused throughout.
The use of multiple case studies proves the explanatory power of the volume and further enhances its capacity for advancing ground-breaking theories on issues such as third party interventions, the role of different actors in the transformation process, as well as transitions from war to peace. Advancing Conflict Transformation therefore complements the existing literature on conflict transformation and adds to the scholarly debate a skilfully crafted perspective that establishes common ground with both academics and practitioners.