Source: (2004) In Foblets, Marie-Claire, and Trutz von Trotha, eds., Healing the Wounds: Essays on the Reconstruction of Societies after War. Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 1-12.

In this first chapter of the book, Trutz von Trotha, one of the editors, provides an introduction to this collection of essays on the reconstruction of societies after conflict and war. As von Trotha notes, two experiences come together in the subject of the book. One is a European experience. The other is a global experience. While the European experience has many aspects, von Trotha highlights two. The first is the experience that peace and reconciliation are possible, even after horrendous injustices, atrocities, and destruction. The second is the significance of the xe2x80x9csemantics of history.xe2x80x9d By this von Trotha refers to the xe2x80x9cbasic narrative,xe2x80x9d the fundamental story whereby the past is woven into the meaning of the present and future of a society or culture and its people, institutions, values, directions, and so on. As seen in the European experience, this basic narrative functions as a key either for or against peace and reconciliation. With respect to the global experience, von Trotha points to the numerous violent conflicts in many regions of the world, conflicts that represent a new form of war. War is becoming less a matter of nation-state against nation-state, and more a comparatively informal, low-intensity set of conflicts between police-like armed units, militias, bands of mercenaries, and groups and organizations of fanatics committed to violent pursuit of their aims. This new form of war is forcing changes in ideas about how to purse peace and reconciliation. With all of this as introduction, von Trotha then surveys each of the contributions to the book.