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Conflict Is Not Abuse
Cover of Conflict Is Not Abuse
Conflict Is Not Abuse
Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair
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From intimate relationships to global politics, Sarah Schulman observes a continuum: that inflated accusations of harm are used to avoid accountability. Illuminating the difference between Conflict and Abuse, Schulman directly addresses our contemporary culture of scapegoating. This deep, brave, and bold work reveals how punishment replaces personal and collective self-criticism, and shows why difference is so often used to justify cruelty and shunning. Rooting the problem of escalation in negative group relationships, Schulman illuminates the ways cliques, communities, families, and religious, racial, and national groups bond through the refusal to change their self-concept. She illustrates how Supremacy behavior and Traumatized behavior resemble each other, through a shared inability to tolerate difference.

This important and sure to be controversial book illuminates such contemporary and historical issues of personal, racial, and geo-political difference as tools of escalation towards injustice, exclusion, and punishment, whether the objects of dehumanization are other individuals in our families or communities, people with HIV, African Americans, or Palestinians. Conflict Is Not Abuse is a searing rejection of the cultural phenomenon of blame, cruelty, and scapegoating, and how those in positions of power exacerbate and manipulate fear of the "other" to achieve their goals.

Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and AIDS historian, and the author of eighteen books. A Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow, Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. Her novels published by Arsenal include Rat Bohemia, Empathy, After Delores, and The Mere Future. She lives in New York.

From intimate relationships to global politics, Sarah Schulman observes a continuum: that inflated accusations of harm are used to avoid accountability. Illuminating the difference between Conflict and Abuse, Schulman directly addresses our contemporary culture of scapegoating. This deep, brave, and bold work reveals how punishment replaces personal and collective self-criticism, and shows why difference is so often used to justify cruelty and shunning. Rooting the problem of escalation in negative group relationships, Schulman illuminates the ways cliques, communities, families, and religious, racial, and national groups bond through the refusal to change their self-concept. She illustrates how Supremacy behavior and Traumatized behavior resemble each other, through a shared inability to tolerate difference.

This important and sure to be controversial book illuminates such contemporary and historical issues of personal, racial, and geo-political difference as tools of escalation towards injustice, exclusion, and punishment, whether the objects of dehumanization are other individuals in our families or communities, people with HIV, African Americans, or Palestinians. Conflict Is Not Abuse is a searing rejection of the cultural phenomenon of blame, cruelty, and scapegoating, and how those in positions of power exacerbate and manipulate fear of the "other" to achieve their goals.

Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and AIDS historian, and the author of eighteen books. A Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow, Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. Her novels published by Arsenal include Rat Bohemia, Empathy, After Delores, and The Mere Future. She lives in New York.

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About the Author-
  • Sarah Schulman: Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and AIDS historian, and the author of eighteen books. A Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow, Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island, and on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Table of Contents-
  • PART ONE: THE CONFLICTED SELF AND THE ABUSIVE STATE
    Chapter One: In Love: Conflict Is Not Abuse
    —The Dangerous Flirt
    — Email, Text and Negative Escalation
    —Reductive Modes of Illogic
    Chapter Two: Conceding The Personal: The State and The Production of Abuse
    —Understanding is More Important Than Determining The
    Victim
    —Authentic Relationships of Depth vs Bonding By Bullying
    —When The Community Encourages Over-Reaction
    —Using The "Abuse" Apparatus As A Smokescreen
    Chapter Three: The Police and The Politics of Overstating Harm
    —The Police as Arbiters of Relationships
    —"Violence", Violence and the Harm of Mis-Naming Harm
    —Calling The Police On Incidental Violence
    —Calling The Police on The Wrong Person When It's Your Father Who Should Have Gone to Jail
    Chapter Four: HIV Criminalization In Canada: How The Richest Middle Class in the World Decide to Call The Police On HIV Positive People in Order to Cover Up Their Guilt and Anxiety about Sexuality, Their Racism, and a Supremacy Based Investment In Punishment
    —Privileges and Problem Solving in the Canadian and US Contexts
    —Think Twice Before Calling The Police
    —The Racial Roots of Canadian HIV Criminalization
    —Viral Load and The State
    —Being "Abused" Instead of Responsible as State Policy
    —Criminalizing Human Experience
    —Women As Monsters
    —Crimes That Can't Occur
    —Claiming Abuse As Excuses for Control
    —Claims of Abuse As Assertion of Normativity
    —Friends Don't Let Friends Call The Police
    PART TWO: THE IMPULSE TO ESCALATE
    Chapter Five: On Escalation
    —Supremacy Ideology As A Refusal of Knowledge
    —Traumatized Behavior: When Knowledge Becomes Unbearable.
    —Interrupting Escalation Before It Produces Tragedy
    —Control at the Center of Supremacy and Traumatized Behavior
    —The Making of Monsters As Delusional Thinking
    —The Cultural Habit of Acknowledging Distorted Thinking
    —The Denial Of Mental Illness
    Chapter Six: Manic Flight Reaction: Trigger + Shunning
    —The Trigger As Over-Reaction
    —Trigger + Shunning #1: Manic Flight Reaction (Historical Psychoanalysis)
    —Trigger + Shunning #2: Borderline Episode (Psychiatry and Pop Psychology)
    —Biological Consequences of Trauma on the Brain
    —Trigger + Shunning #3: Fight Flight Freeze (Mindfulness)
    —Trigger + Shunning #3: Detaching With An Axe (Al-Anon)
    —Conclusion: Bad Friends and Delay
    Chapter Seven: Queer Families, Compensatory Motherhood and The Political Culture of Escalation
    —Good Families Don't Hurt Other People
    —Queer Families and Supremacy Ideology
    —Queer Families and The State
    —Compensatory Motherhood and the Need To Blame
    —The Family As Justification for Cruelty
    PART THREE: SUPREMACY/TRAUMA AND THE JUSTIFICATION OF INJUSTICE: The ISRAELI WAR ON GAZA
    Chapter Eight: Watching Genocide Unfold in Real Time: The Killing of Gaza Through Facebook and Twitter
    —The Strategy of False Accusation
    —When We Need To Be "Abused", The Truth Doesn't Matter
    —People In Solidarity With Palestine Cannot Shun
    CONCLUSION: THE DUTY OF REPAIR
    —What's So Impossible About Apologizing for Your Part?
    —Friendship and Solidarity
    —People In Solidarity With Palestine Cannot Shun

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 27, 2017
    In this incisive, refreshing work, Schulman (The Gentrification of the Mind), a novelist, documentarian, and social critic, documents how those with power and privilege increasingly tend to conflate any challenge to their authority or ways of thinking with being attacked. Exploring the overlap between the political and personal, Schulman poses thoughtful examples of how conflict and disagreement—especially when marginalized voices try to enter the commons—are met with false accusations of abuse and claims of victimization by those who may feel offended but are not harmed. Unafraid to tackle challenging subjects such as trigger warnings and safe spaces, Schulman also ruminates on what she sees as society’s collective failure to prioritize the teaching of basic problem-solving and relationship skills, resulting in a culture of knee-jerk escalation that, when expressed through physical or emotional force (as in interpersonal abuse and military conflicts) obscures the structural roots of interpersonal and societal breakdown. Like classic works of the early women’s and gay liberation movements, this thought-provoking title expertly analyzes power dynamics inherent to interactions as small-scale as spousal violence and as large-scale as the increasing criminalization of HIV-positive Canadians and the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. A concluding call to address personal and social conflicts without state intervention via police and courts caps off a work that’s likely to inspire much discussion.

  • Claudia Rankine "It's impossible to be invested in the world and not be invested in this groundbreaking and challenging book. From a position of artist and social critic, Sarah Schulman gives us a detailed and considered reading of some of our most overly determined and venomous conflicts. Conflict Is Not Abuse is a book to interrogate, ponder, and discuss."
  • Village Voice "Schulman's book could not have come at a better time ... Conflict is a balm against comforting explanations for violence and abuse, ones we know aren't true, just easy."
  • Claudia Rankine "Conflict's publication could not be timelier ... A sharply observant and relevant text that is already getting its wish for action granted."
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Conflict Is Not Abuse
Conflict Is Not Abuse
Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair
Sarah Schulman
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