Review: Searching for Peace: The Road to TRANSCEND

Johan Galtung And Carl G. Jacobsen Pluto Press, London (UK) And Sterling (USA) 2000.

By Joanna Santa Barbara (reviewer)

Anyone who might take an interest in the TRANSCEND approach or in Galtung's perspective on the work of Japanese comfort women, the wars in Somalia, Yugoslavia, and the Cold War would benefit by reading the third part of The Road to TRANSCEND. The "Transcend" dialogue method is the product of Johan Galtung's 40-plus years as a peace researcher and mitigator for large-scale conflict resolution. That "Conflict transformation" has come into use as a term admits not all conflicts are amenable to short-term resolution. Rather, the application of creative thinking might enable a constructive transformation out of violent or otherwise destructive processes.

The Road to TRANSCEND gives a history of Galtung's application of this developing approach to forty conflicts in forty years (remarkable achievement!); together with psychologist Finn Tschudi he explores some of the psychological processes involved. Co-author, the late Carl Jacobsen was a professor of International and Conflict/Peace Studies at Carleton University. (He died of cancer only as we were going to presse.) Some of The Road to Transcend was written with his son Kai, a prodigy in peace studies. This is intergenerationally interesting since Jacobsen uses the first part of the book to overview the development of peace studies.

Alongside a historical approach Carl Jacobsen offers an analysis of the unsatisfactoriness of state-based peace making processes. In particular, he criticizes the use of coerced agreements such as Dayton (Balkans) and Oslo (Middle East) contrasting these with those from the more positive Transcend method. The writing style through this sections can at times be laborious since the reader isn't given any sense of where s/he is being led. Section two is all about geo-politics. It includes Galtung's interesting analysis of the NATO-AMPO (US-Japanese security treaty) pincer squeezing Russia, China and India. Section 4 is a return to examining modes of conflict mitigation a circle back to the beginning pages of The Road to Transcend. There is much interest in this book, but it is a tough read.

The way Galtung taught this method to UN disaster workers can be downloaded from www.transcend.org.

Reviewed by Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2001

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2001, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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