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Abstract

Engaging with the literature on deliberative democracy, this article contends that in the context of ethnic group hostilities, deliberative processes where participants have a genuine opportunity to communicate and ‘hear the other side’ can be a way for inter-group dialogue and reconciliation. Separating the deliberative process into three distinct moments, it offers a framework for understanding how unequal and conflicting parties may be brought together to deliberate, how to grasp the micro-politics of deliberation, and to understand the diffusion mechanisms that bring society back in. The approach we propose aims to bridge the normative-macro and the experimental-micro accounts of deliberation in order to focus on non-ideal real-life contexts and to offer ‘deliberative lenses’ to study the (rare) cases of deliberative inter-ethnic reconciliation. The approach and the three moments are illustrated by the deliberative turn taken to resolve a conflict between the Innu communities, the Quebec government and the local non-Innu in Saguenay-Lac-Saint Jean.

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