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Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair Paperback – Oct. 1 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 125 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher : Arsenal Pulp Press (Oct. 1 2016)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1551526433
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1551526430
  • Item Weight : 454 g
  • Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.91 x 22.86 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 125 ratings

Product description


Conflict's publication could not be timelier ... A sharply observant and relevant text that is already getting its wish for action granted. -Lambda Literary

With awesome brilliance and insight, Sarah Schulman offers readers new strategies to intervene on all relations of domination both personal and political. The core of this book provides ways to think and move beyond blaming and/or assuming victimhood -- so that each of us may come to understand the role we assume in creating and sustaining conflicts in all our relations. Sharing myriad ways, critical vigilance can help us all understand that conflict need not be viewed as abuse, that essential distinctions may be made between the hurt we experience in conflict and the violence of abuse, Schulman offers a vision of mutual recognition and accountability that liberates. -bell hooks

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. -Claudia Rankine

Conflict is Not Abuse should prove to be essential reading for people interested in psychology, group dynamics, and social justice activism. -Global Comment

A compelling call out of call-out culture and everything that it messily dredges up, brings forward, and shunts away. -Canadian Art

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. -Village Voice

Schulman's new work is a provocative rethinking of intimate and civil discourse for a rapidly shrinking world ... a rallying cry for civil engagement and engaged civility. -Gay City News (Gay City News)

Conflict Is Not Abuse presents a gestalt shift in thinking about conflict, power relations, harm and social responsibility. -The Globe and Mail (The Globe and Mail)

About the Author

Sarah Schulman is the author of eighteen books: the novels Maggie Terry, The Cosmopolitans, The Mere Future, The Child, Rat Bohemia, Shimmer, Empathy, After Delores, People In Trouble, Girls Visions and Everything, and The Sophie Horowitz Story, the nonfiction works Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness To a Lost Imagination, Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences, Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America and My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years, and the plays Mercy and Carson McCullers. She is co-author with Cheryl Dunye of the movies The Owls and Mommy is Coming, and co-producer with Jim Hubbard of the feature United in Anger: A History of ACT UP. She is co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project.

Her awards include the 2009 Kessler Award for "Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies" from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Publishing Triangle, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and two American Library Association Book Awards, and she was a Finalist for the Prix de Rome. She lives in New York, where she is Distinguished Professor of English at City University of New York (College of Staten Island) and a Fellow a

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
125 global ratings
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Top reviews from Canada

Reviewed in Canada on March 22, 2018
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Reviewed in Canada on April 11, 2019
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Reviewed in Canada on November 17, 2018
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Reviewed in Canada on December 21, 2016
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Reviewed in Canada on July 24, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

M. A. Ellison
3.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally engaging but possibly simplistic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 22, 2017
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10 people found this helpful
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Mr Alan Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential critical reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars Victim-blaming, anti-email, pro-stalking
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2020
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1.0 out of 5 stars Victim-blaming, anti-email, pro-stalking
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2020
I regret buying this book. I was expecting to find a read that would challenge me and push the envelope on my existing views. I got to page 67, where she defends stalking (apparently if both people don't consent to a cease of contact, it doesn't count), and had to quit. Overview up to that point:

- The author is not a psychologist and doesn't seem to have much understanding of psychology. Her insistence that we will only fix the world when EVERYONE is willing to be self-aware to a very extreme extent is uttetly unrealistic. Apparently everyone is supposed to be aware of things that they are shielding from themselves. There's really no discussion or expectation that you'll be handling situations with people who aren't up to the level of self-awareness and openness the author advocates, or that you'll ever interact with thoughtless people or outright jerks.

- The author's threshold for abuse is extremely high. Either your life is in imminent danger, or you are SO psychologically abused that you literally "are unable to exercise separation or independent action". Anyone else who behaves badly toward you is apparently just trying to get you to realize uncomfortable truths about yourself. See above, apparently no one ever interacts with outright jerks.

- People who feel uncomfortable as a result of romantic overtures, threatening or not, need to examine their own contributions to being hit on, according to the author. That is, if a guy hits on you and you turn him down, saying you have no interest, then you're just playing the part of the perfect victim. You were probably putting out signals you WERE interested, you just aren't willing to accept that about yourself. "When I hear 'when a woman says no, she means no,' I know that that is too simple." Sorry, Ms. Schulman, but no means no. It IS that simple.

- Apparently email is a great evil among humankind. There was a long screed against email. Also, "there is no reason why people do not return phone calls except for the power-play of not answering."

- Setting boundaries appears to be highly discouraged. You certainly must never send an email (the horror) saying "do not contact me." Relatedly, "refusing to be shunned for unjust, nonexistent, or absurd reasons is not 'stalking'." This, combined with "no doesn't always mean no," above, suggests that Ms. Schulman has been rather predatory in the past and seeks to defend her own past behavior. The rest of the book is probably even more problematic, but I'm not going to keep reading to find out.
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54 people found this helpful
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Isabel Youngs
4.0 out of 5 stars Profound book that is necessary to read, but there are a few areas of concern
Reviewed in the United States on July 29, 2017
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119 people found this helpful
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Daniel Björkman
2.0 out of 5 stars A push in the right direction - but I don't like the intended destination
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2018
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82 people found this helpful
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