Revenge in response to violence risks the escalation of conflict. Andrew Strathern and Pamela J Stewart argue that in communities where violence must instead be paid for through compensation, violent conflict can be contained. Peace-making and the Imagination explores the balance between revenge and compensation in the peace-making process.
With primary reference to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and comparisons with cases from Africa, Pakistan and other arenas of tribal social formations, the authors explore how ritual – wealth disbursement, oath taking, sacrifice, formal apologies – are often used as a means of averting or transcending acts of revenge after violence. Compensation – and its broader ethos of reciprocal exchange relations – enable peace-making by re-framing violent acts and reducing the influence of terror in social life. Peace-making and the Imagination presents a thoughtful and creative approach to the transformation of violent conflict.