Robarchek, Clayton A. 1997. “A Community of Interests: Semai Conflict Resolution.” In Cultural Variation in Conflict Resolution: Alternatives to Violence, edited by Douglas P. Fry and Kaj Björkqvist, 51-58. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
In this chapter, Robarchek describes the becharaa’, a conflict-resolution process used by the Semai Senoi people of Malaysia. The Semai are one of the most nonviolent cultures in existence. The author first provides a description of the Semai world view, noting the key values of nurturance, dependency, and nonviolence. An analysis is then presented of how the community headman, disputants accompanied by their kin, and any other interested community members meet to resolve conflicts through the becharaa’ process, and how this procedure deals with both emotional and social-relational aspects of conflict. Robarchek concludes by considering implications for reducing violence in modern, complex societies. He suggests that attempts could be made to restore the psychological salience of local communities, which support the development of individual identities, in order to promote prosocial behavior among members, via enhancing meaningful reference groups (relationships) and communicating shared prosocial expectations of behavior. (Editors’ introduction)
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