This essay review is focused on Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart's book Peace-Making and the Imagination: Papua New Guinea Perspectives but also discusses in some detail other ethnographic and historical works. The reviewer finds that, in every case of peacemaking in Papua New Guinea that Strathern and Stewart consider, the exodus from one conflict proves to be the genesis of another, and he concludes that the insuperable question posed by their study is whether any peace ever transcends the war that it supposedly concludes. The reviewer also finds that, unobtrusively, Strathern and Stewart offer transcultural wisdom about conflict resolution, and he lists seven exemplary instances. To this list, he adds a few more of his own, drawn from his reading of works by the ethnographer Rupert Stasch and the historians Rogers Brubaker and Tara Zahra. This set of principles, which is commended to the improbable attention of students of diplomacy, is founded on belief that imagination, rather than instrumental reason, and ritual action, rather than negotiation, are the best means of achieving peace.
Jeffrey M. Perl; PAPUAN PEACE. Common Knowledge 1 May 2016; 22 (2): 341–346. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3465046
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