Jun 2009 – Aug 2009
The MA thesis project investigates why former belligerents change their identity and are able to reconcile with each other in the post-conflict situation. By identity change I mean the process by which belligerents transform their conflictive identities towards peaceful ones. By doing so belligerents are able to accept and respect other identities. This may lead to a process of reconciliation that changes the destructive attitudes and behaviours of belligerents.
The project used theories on identity and reconciliation from multiple disciplines and used extensively primary sources and other material collected from several archives in Europe.
The case study of Zimbabwe (1980-1989) and South Africa (1990-1998) found that in both cases attitudes changed inconsistently over time. The introduction of a superordinate identity, had positive effects on belligerents, but factors like the truth processes or overemphasize on subordination under the new identity, altered this development. The initially positive development of attitudes in Zimbabwe was traced back to an understanding of reconciliation as impunity, what kept a societal security dilemma in place. This caused a failure of the change of attitudes beyond strategy and enabled subsequent outbreaks of violence. Contrary the cautiously emphasized and introduced competitive superordinate identity in South Africa brought constructive change, in reducing a societal security dilemma. But this was altered by the white perception of collective blame due to the result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The MA thesis was written at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University and supervised by Professor Peter Wallensteen. The project was supported through a student scholarship by the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and also supervised by Inger Skjelsbaek. The thesis was successfully defended at the end of June 2009.