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Mediator’s dilemma: Mediation in South Africa – an unequal, deeply divided, transitional society.

Henkeman, Sara
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) tidsskrift for norsk psykologforening. 47: 731–733.

When one attempts to mediate interpersonalconflicts in an unequal society, the notion of mediator neutrality can be severely challenged. It could be argued that in certain cases, neutrality translates into support for the status quo. In this essay I attempt to expose the reader to some of my experiences in the field. It shows that neutrality on my part would have meant that I should ignore unequal power relations embedded in the continuities of racial and economic oppression of the apartheid era. To contextualize,I briefly outline (a) the South African context after apartheid and (b) how lingering social and economic inequality along racial lines, inform every aspect of mediation at a micro level; and (c) how the case hereunder, became the catalyst that set me on a course of deep questioning of
the role of mediators in unequal societies.The case exemplifies the contradictions of our craft as mediators in unequal contexts. (excerpt)


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