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Learning from Zu˜ni war gods Repatriating alternative dispute resolution for practice and research

Issue: Vol 2 No. 2 (2017)

Journal: Mediation Theory and Practice

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/mtp.34015


This article applies lessons learned from the Zu˜ni people of the southwestern United States about successful and sustainable intervention as a metaphor to address common tensions among alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scholars and practitioners. These tensions are found in professionalisation, institutionalisation and identification of best practices. Through example of Zu˜ni efforts to repatriate sacred artefacts known as Ahuy: da, I argue that ADR is an intervention that works best through direct and ongoing dialogue rather than rigid adherence to a set of standards. The problem lies in how such adherence can limit and distort rather than inform or support best practices in research as well as mediation practice. I propose qualitative, ethnographic field research as a way to address this problem, and provide an example from ongoing study of a US family court mediation programme.

Author: Alexandra Crampton

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