© 2014

Community Resilience to Sectarian Violence in Baghdad


Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 1-21
  3. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 41-52
  4. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 63-80
  5. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 81-94
  6. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 95-106
  7. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 107-118
  8. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 119-131
  9. Ami C. Carpenter
    Pages 133-148
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 149-156

About this book


The recent conflict in Iraq evolved from an insurgency against the interim U.S. led government (the Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA) into a sectarian civil war. Violence became widespread, especially in areas of Baghdad City such as Sadr City, Al Amiriyah, and Al Adhamiya. However, a number of multiethnic neighborhoods in Baghdad successfully prevented sectarian attitudes and behaviors from taking hold. Four communities stand out in their self-organization to prevent the escalation of violence. This book looks at what makes these communities different from other areas within Baghdad. In-depth interviews in Sunni-dominant, Shia-dominant and Mixed neighborhoods generated a few key insights about conflict-resilience, or the capacity to prevent structural changes associated with conflict escalation. Key factors turned out to be the organization of non-sectarian self-defense groups, place attachment, collective efficacy, active intervention to de-escalate tensions, and also the presence of local religious leaders who forbid sectarian attacks. The continuity or strength of interpersonal relationships supported by the integrated physical structure of these neighborhoods and internal versus tribal conflict resolution mechanisms played a role as well. This volume examines the characteristics of the communities that have successfully prevented the rise of violence, and how they are able to maintain qualities of resilience to violent conflict.

Community Resilience offers a window into a little studied aspect of protracted conflict --  positive deviance resisting violence is possible!  Ami Carpenter provides a rare, grounded, and in-depth examination of how communities sustain relationships across deep divides and repel the escalation of violence in the midst of war.  A must read and a terrific contribution to our wider understanding of peacebuilding.

John Paul Lederach, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, IN

Carpenter provides a sorely needed and unprecedented analysis in the research on Iraq, dealing with the Iraqis who sought to overcome the post-invasion sectarian tensions.  Her narrative is the story of the Iraq I know as an Iraqi-American rather than the one portrayed in mainstream discourse.

Ibrahim Al-Marashi, California State University San Marcos, CA


Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) Ja’ish Mahdi Army (JAM) Sectarian violence Shiite Islam Sunni Islam Sunni-Shiite political relations

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Joan B. Kroc School of Peace StudiesUniversity of San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

About the authors

Ami Carpenter is an Assistant Professor at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at University of San Diego. Her research focuses on community resilience to violence, and the criminal dimensions of political conflicts. Area studies have included research in Iraq, Guatemala, the United States, El Salvador, and Zimbabwe. Dr. Carpenter works on numerous initiatives as a mediator, facilitator, trainer, and conflict resolution consultant. She served as a Fulbright Specialist to assist the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in Zimbabwe to set up the country’s first academic program in peace and conflict studies. Currently, she is researching vulnerability and resilience to violent conflict in Iraqi, Guatemalan, and US communities, including engagement strategies with transnational gangs and criminal networks in Central America.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Community Resilience to Sectarian Violence in Baghdad
  • Authors Ami C. Carpenter
  • Series Title Peace Psychology Book Series
  • Series Abbreviated Title Peace Psychology Book Series
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science Behavioral Science and Psychology (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4614-8811-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-4939-5473-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4614-8812-5
  • Series E-ISSN 2197-5787
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 156
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 4 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Cross Cultural Psychology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site