From the politics of antagonistic recognition to agonistic peacebuilding: an exploration of symbols and rituals in divided societies

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Abstract

The inclusion of symbols and rituals in peace agreements is often based on the politics of recognition, in which the cultural identities of oppositional groups are awarded equal status in society. Moreover, it is often assumed that the successful regulation of conflicts over symbols and rituals is dependent on the resolution of seemingly more important issues that divide warring groups, like demilitarization and the reform of the justice system and the government. Yet, symbols and rituals generate specific problems that merit the design of innovative mechanisms to ensure peaceful stability in divided societies. This article explores how the politics of recognition often fails to successfully regulate violent conflict and instead creates a context for destructive intergroup clashes. It further assesses the potential of creating shared symbols and rituals, as well as reframing their meaning, before finally proposing Chantal Mouffe’s concept of agonism, the process in which violent group-based antagonism is channeled into peaceful and democratic contestation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-494
Number of pages27
JournalPeace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research
Volume39
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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