Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘ICAR’

Kriesberg at ICAR: Various kinds of intractability

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Just came from the very interesting talk in the Truland building by Louis Kriesberg. I had never seen him and it was great fun to finally put a face to the name and to get a sense of what kind of person had written those things that you had read over the years.  The topic was the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hosted by Marc Gopin and his center, and the crowd turned out dutifully to get some pearls of wisdom on this never ending nightmare of a conflict.

There was good reason to attend (for those of you who had thought about it, but couldn’t come) and I am certainly happy to have gone. The reasons were related not to finding the way out of what we all recognize as one of the world’s worst conundrums, shared from a self possessed guru. Kriesberg was not there to mobilize the masses. Instead, he came off to me as something very familiar–a sociologist. Lou’s style, if this is any guide, is to stay within the range of the data. He spoke of his long experience in the field and in studying this conflict and shared some of this legitimacy with Chris Mitchell, who had introduced him. He spoke of his recent trip to the hill and of his futile attempts to make contact with J Street.  These were not the most powerful examples to our high powered and socially active group. We are so engaged as to be almost trigger happy. We want answers. Kriesberg’s style of answer, to paraphrase, was of the form “explanations of a phenomenon by good science can get you the right answer 60% of the time, which is a darn spot better than flipping a coin.” I assume that most of us were not much happy with that kind of answer; but I was. You see, Kreisberg is that old style University of Chicago sociologist (my Alma mater). He is ambitious and active, but he is also unwilling to say he knows something when he doesn’t. I think he came to ICAR to have a conversation with like minded scholars on a problem that many of us have lived with for a long time. He was unapologetic, and he certainly did what I came for.

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