Constructive conflict resolution through mediation in Cuba
Mediation is often used in contemporary conflict resolution processes in Western societies. Structures, methods and techniques of conflict resolution and mediation are characterized culture-specifically (Busch, Mayer & Boness, 2010). Therefore, it is assumed that conflict resolution processes differ across cultures and interculturally. This study explores conflict mediation in socialist Cuba. In Cuba, conflict mediation has a tradition since the 1990s, however, hardly any research has been conducted on conflict mediation theories and practices in Cuba. The aim of this study is to explore the concept of conflict mediation in Cuba from a culture-specific perspective of conflict mediators practicing mediation in Cuba to generate «thick descriptions» (Geertz, 1973) of the phenomenon. The study is based on a hermeneutical-constructivist, qualitative research paradigm. Data are collected through qualitative semi-structured expert interviews and observations, gathered during a field stay in Cuba. Data are analyzed through the qualitative five-step process of content analysis according to Terre Blanche, Durheim & Kelly (2006). Findings show that conflict mediation plays a crucial role in resolving conflicts in Cuba since the 1990s. Since then, conflict mediators in Cuba use Western tools and concepts of conflict mediation whilst adjusting them culture-specifically. Usually, the phase structure of Western mediation concepts is used. However, in mediation processes in Cuba collectivist interests and responsibilities are considered as more important than individual problems and needs. Quality standards in mediation are valued as highly important to guarantee a enrichting and empowering conflict resolution process. Mediators explain that the professionalisation processes of mediation in Cuba depend primarily on the individual development of the mediator: the mediator needs to develop his/her personality constructively and positively with regard to a constructive and positive attitude and the acknowledgement of self and others. Cultural aspects, such as images of self and other, friends and enemies, as well as collectivism and individualism are important issues in conflict mediation processes in Cuba. In conclusion, conflict mediation in Cuba is viewed as a positive and constructive tool of intervention in conflict resolution processes. Key words: Conflict mediation, Cuba, attitude of mediator, culture in mediation, challenges References Busch, D. Mayer, C.-H. & Boness, C. (2010). International and regional perspectives on cross-cultural mediation. Studien zur interkulturellen mediation Band 5. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: selected essays. New York: Basic Books. Terre Blanche, M., Durrheim, K. & Kelly, K. (2006). First steps in qualitative data analysis. In Terre Blanche, M., Durrheim, K. & Painter, D. (eds.). Research in practice. Applied methods for the social sciences. (pp. 321-344). Cape Town: University of Cape Town.