Conflict Is Not Abuse – Sarah Schulman

I just came across this book at Hard Feelings, and it is incredible. I’m still quite early on, but the language, depth, and scope really captivate me. I’m learning so much more about power dynamics in the world and becoming much more aware of my own actions and how they can impact the community.

Sharing a blurb here that was just too good (apologies as it includes references not included):

“Brown and Garner did absolutely nothing but be Black. Janay Rice expressed normative conflict. Gazans resisted unbearable treatment. In all of these cases the police, the husband, and the nation overstated harm. They took Nothing, Normative Conflict, and Resistance and misrepresented these reasonable stances of difference as Abuse. From the most intimate relationship between two people, to the power of the police, to the crushing reality of occupation, these actors displayed distorted thinking in which justifiable behaviour was understood as aggression. In this way they overreacted at a level that produced tragedy, pain, and division. It is this moment of overreaction that I wish to examine in this book. My thesis is that at many levels of human interaction there is the opportunity to conflate discomfort with threat, to mistake internal anxiety for exterior danger, and in turn to escalate rather than to resolve. I will show how this dynamic, whether between two individuals, between groups of people, between governments and civilians, or between nations is a fundamental opportunity for either tragedy or peace. Conscious awareness of these political and emotional mechanisms gives us all a chance to face ourselves, to achieve recognition and understanding in order to avoid escalation towards unnecessary pain.

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