Updates: Dr Melanie Garson

C&C member Dr Melanie Garson’s recent work was published in the Ethnopolitics Journal. In the article—titled “Defying Gravity: Evaluating the Trickle-Up Effects of Reconciliation Programmes”—Melanie draws on a unique collection of surveys and interviews of alumni of reconciliation activities and reconciliation entrepreneurs to explore the potential of reconciliation rippling and rising to transform conflict identities from the individual to society at large.

Melanie’s research generally focuses on the role of reconciliation in stabilising peace agreements and the reversal of conflict psychologies in protracted identity conflicts. She is particularly interested in the social-psychological dimensions of conflict and terrorism, processes of radicalisation and de-radicalisation, and the role of emerging technologies in conflict resolution.

Read the full article here.


The process by which grassroots reconciliation activities facilitate change in individual conflict identities gravitating upwards to shape other levels of society is often under-explained. In most aspects of the peacebuilding process impact is measured downwards, but reconciliation usually starts with micro-level attitudinal shifts rather than large-scale societal change. Yet, successful conflict resolution and reconciliation depends upon significant mass support. Therefore, the long-term success of reconciliation programmes lies in the paradoxical process of these individual changes simultaneously sinking into the heart of post-conflict societies, whilst rising to effect institutional change. Isolated group shifts need to both ripple outwards and trickle-upwards to shape decision-making processes and affect the course of the conflict. In order to evaluate the potential of reconciliation rippling and rising to transform conflict identities from the individual to society at large and above, the author draws upon a unique collection of surveys and interviews of alumni of reconciliation activities and reconciliation entrepreneurs in Israel-Palestine and Bosnia. The outcome of this research contributes to understanding the dynamic that facilitates the trickle-up effect of reconciliation, as well as providing practitioners with an evaluation mechanism to assess the impact of grassroots reconciliation programmes through its constituency building potential.