Conflict Is Not Abuse

Conflict Is Not Abuse

Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair

Book - 2016
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Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Non-Fiction winner

From intimate relationships to global politics, Sarah Schulman observes a continuum: that inflated accusations of harm are used to avoid accountability. Illuminating the difference between Conflict and Abuse, Schulman directly addresses our contemporary culture of scapegoating. This deep, brave, and bold work reveals how punishment replaces personal and collective self-criticism, and shows why difference is so often used to justify cruelty and shunning. Rooting the problem of escalation in negative group relationships, Schulman illuminates the ways in which cliques, communities, families, and religious, racial, and national groups bond through the refusal to change their self-concept. She illustrates how Supremacy behaviour and Traumatized behaviour resemble each other, through a shared inability to tolerate difference.

This important and sure to be controversial book brings insight into contemporary and historical issues of personal, racial and geo-political difference, as tools of escalation towards injustice, exclusion and punishment, whether the objects of dehumanization are other individuals in our families or communities, African Americans at the hands of police, people with HIV, and Palestinians. Conflict Is Not Abuse is a searing rejection of the cultural phenomenon of blame, cruelty, and scapegoating, revealing how those in positions of power exacerbate and manipulate fear of the "other" to avoid facing themselves.

Publisher: Vancouver, British Columbia :, Arsenal Pulp Press,, 2016, ©2016.
ISBN: 9781551526430
Branch Call Number: 303. 69 SCH
Characteristics: 299 pages ; 23 cm


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Sep 15, 2019

Unlike other reviewers, I saw in her analysis an overdue critique of the new political correctness that stifles disagreements and discussions at universities, within the LGBTQ community and in everyday encounters. This is a critique from the left, of the excesses of our prevailing PC culture. Her observations and proposed solutions of our habit of shunning people who don't agree with us and declaring abuse when challenged, are worth a careful read.

She covers a lot of ground and I would say too much ground, from interpersonal behaviour to the behaviour of Israel and its Palestinian neighbours.

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