2018 Session 6

6.1 Revolutionary Action Abroad 2 – Panel

  • ​“Negotiation Justice & Peace for All,” Bernedette Muthien (Constitutional Rights Commissioner, South Africa)

South Africa is a participatory democracy since 1994, with a Constitution and Bill of Rights, and also institutions to promote and protect rights. There are three key constitutional rights commissions dealing with (i) broad human rights, (ii) gender equality, and (iii) cultural, religious and language community rights. The Constitutional Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Language Rights (CRL Rights Commission), is mandated to not only promote and protect cultural, religious and linguistic rights, but also “to promote and develop peace, friendship, humanity, tolerance and national unity among and within cultural, religious and linguistic communities, on the basis of equality, non-discrimination and free association”.
Several actual cases dealt with by CRL Rights Commission 2014-2018 elucidate the complexities of cultural, religious or linguistic rights of communities, which at times spar with derogable and non-derogable Constitutional rights, such as gender equality.
(a)        Ukuthwala: originally a benign form of elopement of an adult man and woman, it more latterly refers to the violent abduction, rape, forced marriage and continuous abuse of usually girls and young women, with full awareness of many rural and some urban communities. Promoting a historic, arguably benign practice is challenging when it is so misused against a societal sector (girls and women), pitting cultural rights against gender equality and basic rights to freedom from violence.
(b)        Peer regulation of churches to prevent abuse by pastors and other faith leaders, usually against girls and women. The proposed regulation is vehemently opposed by those who argue religious freedom, even though many of the leaders of “pop up” evangelical churches routinely violate especially girls and women. Threats of violence were issued against the CRL Rights Commission.
(c)        Legal recognition of Muslim marriages, hitherto usually unrecorded by the state, is opposed by those who argue that the courts, law and state cannot govern their holy texts and holy religions. Opponents also argue that the state should not intervene even when religious law contradicts the Constitution (e.g. treating women and men differently and/or discriminating against women and girls and/or privileging men and boys). A “jihad”, later clarified to be a “nonviolent jihad”, was called against the CRL Rights Commission for participating in this groundbreaking regional court case destined for the Constitutional Court.
(d)        A film documenting male initiation, Inxeba (The Wound), was banned after protest action by traditional leaders, apparently not because the film centrally narrates a homosexual love triangle, but because of “blasphemy” and other “insults to culture”. Traditional leaders intimidated cinemas to not screen the film.
Thus these violences, stemming from inequalities that are historic and systemic, pervade society, requiring creative analysis and strategic intervention, more so even than the Mandela-inspired reconciliation and nation building during the heady 1990s. The contestation of community rights over individual rights, culture and tradition and religions that may be patriarchal and challenge non-derogable Constitutional gender equality, these challenges are at the core of a society fractured by spreading inequalities, poverty and unemployment, a society which needs peace building especially now.

  • “Nonviolent Struggles against US Military Bases in Okinawa,” Yuichi Moroi (Meiji University)

This paper examines the on-going nonviolent protest against US military bases in Okinawa. In the aftermath of WWII, Okinawa was placed under direct American military rule for 27 years; even after the reversion of the islands to Japan in 1972, the presence of the US military—along with its crimes, accidents, environmental pollution and destruction, and psychological burden on Okinawans—has been still recognizable and raises a question of the sovereignty and human rights in Okinawa. This paper focuses on the thoughts and actions of Okinawans’ resistance to the US military bases in the past and today, and investigates how the indigenous nonviolent struggles in Okinawa emerged and has been evolving. Key questions are: How did protesters interpret the situations and act upon them? On what ground did they choose nonviolence? How has the indigenous Okinawan/Ryuku culture intertwined and been shaping the nonviolent struggles against US military bases today? Sources consulted are testimonies published and unpublished by the protester themselves, other primary and secondary literature, and interviews and participant observation. The paper will argue that there has been continuous indigenous cultural elements in their nonviolent struggles, which will be thrown into relief especially when compared with nonviolent direct actions in the Civil Rights and antiwar movements in the United States.

  • “A Revolutionary Action Campaign towards a Change within the Local Finnish Community,” Hasan Habes and Ingrida Grigaityte (Åbo Akademi University)

In 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe from the Middle East region. This generated a crisis as European countries struggled to cope with the influx as well as it created a division in the EU over how best to deal with relocating people. In the EU as well as in Finland social tensions have been rising due the disproportionate burden faced by some countries and due to the omitted tools and policies to deal with the new arrivals. International migration and immigrants are subjects of a complex security debate and international as well as domestic policies related to human rights issues.  To decrease refugee marginalization in Finland, people at a grassroots level have taken an approach of nonviolent action campaign to call for attention and address issues specifically related human rights and equal treatment for all.
The We See You campaign has started in 2016 as a response to inhuman asylum politics in Finland. In fall 2016, Finnish government has significantly weakened asylum seekers legal safety, which led to many demonstrations organized by the local and foreign population. The most influential demonstrations first took place in the urban areas and latter spread to the smaller communities. Simultaneously, social networks started to be build, media gave a lot of attention to the happenings and the We See You campaign was formed. The data for this study was obtained through ethnographic participant observations and seven semi-structured interviews with the organizers and activists during the campaign.
Manifesting of human rights ethos were done through active engagement of civil society and local population, publicly articulated motives, philosophical reflections and statements of the campaign leaders, campaign’s signs, slogans, theatre, and songs, movement education activities, open letters and active participation in social media. The We See You campaign questioned the work of the Finnish Immigration Service stating that they have made mistakes on handling residence permits due to the faulty interpretations during the asylum interviews, rush in making decisions and outdated country specific information. During the campaign, it was evoked law on illegal limitation on the human rights of non-nationals belonging to vulnerable groups, namely refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers.
This study focuses on how the We See You campaign has developed into a revolutionary movement pressuring and influencing the work of national and local authorities from decision making to community-based institutions and services. The Finnish Immigration Service responded to a pressure by employing more experts to handle more applications and address those more thoroughly. Thus, the campaign has raised awareness among the people, had an impact in shaping their opinions, e.g. during the recent presidential elections, has inspired the rise of other nonviolent campaigns, and exhibited the ways in which a nonviolent peoples’ campaign can lead to a social change in the modern democratic society. The social impact though is not fully evaluated yet since the campaign is still ongoing and has not reached its aim fully.

  • “Arbitrary Jurisdiction: One Dead, Two Arrested,” Ali Askerov (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Some Azerbaijani citizens originally from the occupied lands that have been under Armenia’s control since the early 1990s secretly visit their abandoned homes by using mountain trails or forest pathways. In July of 2014, three of such people, Dilgam Askerov, Shahbaz Guliyev, and Hasan Hasanov, were detected by the Armenian troops in the occupied Kelbajar district of Azerbaijan while they were clandestinely visiting their abandoned village under occupation. One of them, Hasanov, was killed allegedly because he attacked a moving car with Armenian passengers, and the other two were arrested for illegally passing to the “Armenian lands”. They were prosecuted in a court of the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Guliyev was sentenced to twenty-two years, while Askerov received a lifetime term in prison. This paper discusses the ethical and legal aspects of this case pertinent to jurisdiction exercised by the political entities in the region, rightfulness of the trial of the prisoners, and violence emerging from imposing arbitrary jurisdiction. 

6.2 Ritual Space, Art & Music 2 – Panel

  • ​“Impact: Designing a Global Infrastructure for Arts, Culture, and Conflict Transformation,” Polly Walker (Juniata College)

This session will explore the work of an international collaboration among artists, peace and conflict studies scholars, policymakers, and funders to design an infrastructure that will support the work of grassroots organizations and networks and link them with national and international organizations and networks working in the field of arts based peace building.

  • “Holding a Light for Justice,” Emily Welty (Pace University)

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, theaters across the country asked how they could participate in acts of resistance as many of the values and communities that the performing arts how most dear came under more acute attack. The Ghostlight Project was conceived as a way for theaters across the country to make visible their commitments to acting for justice by referencing the theater tradition of leaving a single light burning in their spaces. The project has questions what it means to create a “safe space” for one another while also being involved in making art that sometimes is not designed to make people feel safe. This presentation looks at the role of art, particularly theater, in acts of nonviolent resistance using the case study of the Ghost Light Project both in New York City and beyond. The arts are relegated to Gene Sharp’s “protest and persuasion” category of nonviolence action and analysis of the role of the arts is sometimes less developed than other tactics.  This presentation looks at how theater might be used in a coordinated way to build solidarity and resilience as a way of exercising resistance to injustice.

  • “Long Island Sound(s): Annual Summer Rituals of Songful Protest at Jones Beach and Manhasset,” Susan Cushman (NCC/SUNY)

It would highlight two annual protests (which I attend) that take place on the Island each year: one in May, on Memorial Day Weekend, during the Jones Beach Air (Force) Show; it’s a peace vigil that remembers the fallen and protests the show’s glorification of war; and the other in August (I’m attending tomorrow night, in fact) at UU Church of Shelter Rock in Manhasset, and it’s an annual commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima, including information and protest against nuclear weapons.  Both rituals use song to amplify their protest and reach diverse audiences.  For the session, I could interview the organizers, discuss pushback and/or positive impact, and further discuss the important role past, present, and future of music and song in peaceful protest settings.

  • “Why Stand on a Silent Platform: The College Art Gallery as an Agent of Nonviolent Resistance,” Matthew Clay-Robison (York College of Pennsylvania)

This presentation will challenge participants to consider how they can use their various positions and platforms to give a voice to nonviolent resistance. Dictators target artists and art funding because artists have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in society and can speak truth to power. This presentation discusses my role as a college art gallery director and my primary curatorial mission that gives a platform to artists whose work addresses critical social issues and challenges harmful power structures in our society. This mission and curatorial work fosters necessary dialogue within the campus and regional communities, so that we might build a more just future. By curating provocative shows that deal with issues of racism, sexism, class inequality, homelessness, the prison-industrial complex, and militarism, the art galleries at York College of Pennsylvania have become a space for nonviolent resistance, discussion on difficult social issues, and a source of frustration for those looking to uphold the status quo. Another important example of my mission as a curator was the exhibition Perspectives on Peace, which I co-curated with my wife, Shelly Clay-Robison, that featured several important contemporary artists whose work addressed issues of social justice and conflict transformation. College art galleries can be more than an art space. If you are given a platform, don’t be silent.

6.3 Palestine-Israel, Pedagogy, & Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) – Roundtable

Following the 2014 PJSA meeting, the board recommended and membership voted to approve a resolution for PJSA to join the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Four years on, the situation in Palestine-Israel continues to be important to many in PJSA. This roundtable discussion will be an opportunity for you to hear updates from academics and activists engaged on their campuses and in their communities in the work for justice and peace in Palestine-Israel.

6.4 The Politics of Peace: Intersections of Violence & Non-Violence in Sierra Leone’s 2018 Presidential Election – Roundtable

Like youth in many post-conflict settings across the global south, youth in Sierra Leone are at the epicenter of profound social, political and economic changes. The literature on youth and social change notes the paradoxical role that youth play– they are simultaneously “vandals” or “breakers” who embody societies’ fears of violence and disorder, but also “vanguards” or “makers” carving out new roles for themselves and thereby shifting the socio-political field (Abbink and van Kessel 2005; Honwana and de Boek 2005; see also Bay and Donham 2006 and Diouf 2002). Sierra Leoneans, like citizens of other post-conflict nations, hope that youth will be the harbingers of a long-standing peaceful, prosperous democracy but still fear that the instability brought on by youth poverty and unemployment will lead to violence and potentially thrust the country back into chaos and war.  Thus, the politics and politicization of youth are tightly intertwined with a politics of peace, in which peace is both a contested discursive construct and an actual condition marked by the absence of widespread political violence. This roundtable is a reflection on the findings of a collaborative research project which explored the interplay of youth, violence and peaceful politics in Sierra Leone’s 2018 elections. The research was facilitated by Arcadia Faculty member, Jennifer Riggan and conducted by graduate students in Arcadia’s Peace and Conflict Resolution program. Through the Spring 2018 semester we examined the role that youth played in Sierra Leone’s March 2018 Presidential elections through historical research on youth and conflict in Sierra Leone, interviews with experts, and archival research on media coverage of the election. In early May we visit Sierra Leone to gather data on the ground on youth, politics, democratization and development.

6.5 Rethinking power & democracy in destructive times – Roundtable

This roundtable discussion will consider the current threat to US democracy in light of revolutionary nonviolence as not only a form of contentious politics – resistance and rejection – but also in light of strategic non-cooperation (Gene Sharp) and a relational conception of justice (Rainer Forst). As examples, we will contrast ideological paradigms of competition and cooperation in democracies (David Held). Our discussion will question how nonviolence can be the basis for the struggle to resist reactionary and totalitarian currents in the US and empower the struggle to democratize and seek a more just society.

6.6 How to Engage Students in Community-based Research – Workshop

This workshop is designed for college and university faculty, staff, and administrators who are interested in engaging students in prosocial community-based research and activism.  Community-based research engages students and faculty to conduct research with and for, not on, members of a community. This type of reach focuses on the needs of a community and how new partnerships can be developed between academia, community members, and policy makers.
We will discuss how to develop a community-based research project with college students by  examining ways to identify community partners or subjects of interest, brainstorming ways to network on campus and in the community to gain support, finding funding, and how to identify and engage student leaders. We will present strategies to identify what faculty and students needs or expectations are, discuss how to meet these needs, and learn about ways to keep team members engaged. This is an interactive workshop and at the end of the session participants will have the opportunity to begin developing their own projects.

6.7 Starting Your Career in Peacebuilding – Workshop

This session will focus on sharing with young people starting or considering a career search strategies and approaches that might used.  It will build on the successful session that was held at the Birmingham conference. The session will be elicitive and will seek input from the participants as well as from faculty and career advisors on approaches that might used starting a career.