From Revenge to Forgiveness: Strengthening Durable Peace in Post-Conﬂict Societies
Ongoing (not at GLD)
In November 2019, GLD Senior Research Fellow Kristen Kao (Principal Investigator), Michael Bang Petersen (Aarhus University), and Kristen Fabbe (Harvard University) were awarded 3.2 million SEK (approx. 320,000 USD) to study the drivers of reconciliation for rebel collaborators in Iraq. In 2020, Kristen Kao won an additional grant from the Folke Bernadotte Academy for 396 000 SEK (approx. 42,000 USD) to supplement the project.
Civil conﬂicts gravely damage state legitimacy. Institutions are rendered incapable of providing security, social trust among citizenry diminishes, and non-state actors step in to ﬁll the vacuum of power. Following conﬂict, the state needs to re-establish itself as the legitimate arbiter of processes aimed at bringing former rebel collaborators to justice. Unless it carefully considers subnational variation in the drivers of forgiveness and reconciliation with rebel collaborators, the state may generate new grievances among some communities, increasing the chances of rebel recidivism or the outbreak of new conﬂict.
This project develops and tests a novel framework integrating political science theories of legitimacy with psychological theories of forgiveness, feelings of (in)justice, and desire for revenge. To test this framework, we conduct in-depth interviews, hold focus group discussions, and implement three large-scale surveys with embedded experiments (N=3,600) in Iraq. This project employs innovative tools to identify both the subnational drivers of violent resentment towards the state and the drivers of reconciliation. It provides policymakers with the information necessary to design successful strategies for reconciliation, re-establishment of state legitimacy, and lasting peace. The ﬁndings of this project will have lasting impacts in Iraq and beyond. Collaboration with local Iraqi institutions will also create lasting international linkages between the project team and Iraqi researchers, policymakers and development practitioners.
Kristen Kao. "From Revenge to Forgiveness: Strengthening Durable Peace in Post-Conﬂict Societies." Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School, October 31, 2019. AFS/General Research Seminar, Gothenburg University.
Kristen Kao. "Retribution or Reconciliation? Attitudes Toward Rebel Collaborators in Iraq." Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School, December 9, 2019. Hosted by Tarek Massoud.
Kristen Kao. “From Revenge to Forgiveness: Strengthening Durable Peace in Post-Conﬂict Societies.” The Folke Bernadotte Academy, Stockholm, Sweden, February 6, 2020.
Kristen Kao. "Retribution or Reconciliation? Post-Conflict Attitudes Toward Enemy Collaborators." Comparative Politics Working Group, University of California, San Diego, December 2, 2020.
Kristen Kao and Mara Revkin, "Retribution or Reconciliation? Post-Conflict Attitudes Toward Enemy Collaborators," International Relations and Methods Workshop, UCLA Department of Political Science, Online, March 8, 2021.
Kao, Kristen; Revkin. R, Marwa; Reyes, Liana. (2021). "Limits of Legitimacy: Legal Pluralism in Iraq." (Presenter and co-organizers). APSA 2021, October 2.
Kao, Kristen (2021). "Conflict, Gender and Political Representation." (Chair). APSA 2021, October 3.
Kao, Kristen. (2021). "Islamist Armed Conflicts, Networks and Negotiations." (Discussant). Research Workshop on Resolving Islamist Armed Conflicts, The Folke Bernadotte Academy, October 10.
Kao, Kristen. (2021). "Narratives, Resistance, and Lingering Perceptions." (Panelist). Research Workshop on Resolving Islamist Armed Conflicts, The Folke Bernadotte Academy, October 10.
Kao, Kristen. (2021). "Islamist Armed Conflicts in the Middle East: between legitimacy and authority." (Ignite speaker). The Folke Bernadotte Academy Research-Policy Dialogue, October 11.
Kao, Kristen and Revkin, Mara Redlich. (2018). “To punish or to pardon?” The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper No. 17, University of Gothenburg. https://gld.gu.se/en/publications/gld-working-papers/wp-17-to-punish-or-to-pardon-reintegrating-rebel-collaborators-after-conflict-in-iraq/
Kao, Kristen and Mara Revkin. (2019) "How the Iraqi crackdown on the Islamic State may actually increase support for the Islamic State." Washington Post/Monkey Cage. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2019/01/07/is-iraqs-post-islamic-state-justice-strategy-misguided/
Kao, Kristen and Revkin, Mara. (2021). "Retribution or Reconciliation? Post-Conflict Attitudes toward Enemy Collaborators." American Journal of Political Science. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ajps.12673
February 2021: "Understanding and Measuring Punishment, Revenge, and Forgiveness in Post-Conflict Settings”.
Participants: Top scholars from the fields of political science and psychology including Michael McCullough (University of California, San Diego), James Gibson (Washington University), Daniel Posner (University of California, Los Angeles), Everett Worthington (Virginia Commonwealth University), Alexandra Hartman (University College London), Muslih Irwani (Salahaddin University-Erbil, Iraq), Karin Dyrstad (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Salma Mousa (Yale University), Fotini Christia (Massachusettes Institute of Technology), and Marsin Alshamary (Brookings Institution).
This project is supported by the From Revenge to Forgiveness: Strengthening Durable Peace in Post-Conflict Societies grant (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond – P19-0761; Folke Bernadotte Academy – 20-00312), PI: Kristen Kao.