2018 Session 8

8.1 Politics of Nonviolence – Panel

  • “Nonviolent Resistance Movements in the Age of Trump— Building on Earlier Collective Nonviolence Movements,” Linda Groff (Calirornia State University Dominguez Hills)

This paper/presentation has two parts.  Part I deals with the earlier collective nonviolence movements of both Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritually-based or purposive nonviolence and Gene Sharp’s strategic nonviolence, along with the followers in each tradition. It will examine differences between both versions of nonviolence, as well as where both versions may overlap.  It will also look at any exceptions to a commitment to nonviolence in the Gandhian tradition. (Material for Part I will draw on a published article: Groff, Linda. “Holistic, Evolving Aspects of Nonviolence for Bringing About Needed Social-Political Change, and Important Practitioners of Nonviolence,” in Creating a Sustainable Vision of Nonviolence in Schools and Society, Ed. by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Swaranjit Singh and Dr. Nancy D. Erbe.  IGI Global, Jan. 2017. http://www.igi-global.com)
Building on Part I, Part II looks at seven different nonviolent resistance movements that have arisen or continued in the age of Trump, in response to inflammatory, derogatory comments and attempted or actual policies by Trump against each group.  These seven groups are: (1) Blacks, (2) Mexicans and Latinos, (3) Muslims, (4) Indigenous; (5) Women, (6) Youth, and (7) the scientific community.
The movements that emerged from each of these groups respectively are: (1) Black Lives Matter (against police brutality and killing of innocent blacks); (2) opposition to building a U.S.-Mexican border wall and political and court efforts to protect DACA youth from deportation; (3) ongoing court opposition to Trump’s efforts to ban Muslim immigrants on religious grounds (which is illegal); (4) Indigenous tribes protesting at Standing Rock to preserve sacred lands against an oil company pipeline; (5) the much larger women’s march in Washington, D.C. the day after Trump’s inauguration as President, followed by the Me Too movement of women against more powerful men’s sexual assaults against them, which sought their silence, with Trump vulnerable here ; (6) the March for Our Lives movement of very articulate youth, following the Parkland School shootings, against ongoing shootings of white and minority students in schools & communities, including voter registration drives, battling the NRA and vowing to hold political representatives accountable; and (7) the movement of scientists against anti-science, anti-factual policies of Trump and the EPA on issues like climate change, which seek to reverse important previous gains on various issues.
Each of these movements will be discussed in order, first with representative, inflammatory quotations by Trump against each group, followed by a summary of the nonviolent resistance movements that have emerged in each case. This paper/presentation will conclude with what can be learned from earlier nonviolent peace movements—by Gandhi and Sharp and their respective followers, and then by seven current nonviolent resistance movements that have arisen on a range of issues in the age of Trump, and how nonviolent peace movements must keep adapting to the age and issues existing at any given time and place.

  • “The Escalating Force to Strategic Incapacitation: The Fate of Non-Violent Protest, 1968 to Today,” John Noakes (Arcadia University)

On February 29, 1968 The President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders—more commonly known as the Kerner Commission—issued a wide ranging report on the social unrest in America.  Included in its reports was a critique of the police response to social protest, calling on police across the country to move away from the use of force as the primary means of responding to political protests. Police were not immediately receptive to the Commission’s report.  Later that summer, for example, Chicago police would beat protesters outside the 1968 Democratic Convention. And over the next few years anti-war protesters continued to meet forceful responses to demonstrations, culminating in the shooting of four students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in 1971.  But the findings of the Kerner Commission report were a key step toward the eventual replacement of force as the first and primary response of police to protesters. For about a quarter century, from the mid-1970s through 1999, street demonstrations were comparatively tranquil as police and protesters negotiated the basic parameters of social protests.  This period of negotiated management ended in Seattle during the 1999 WTO Meetings, when clashes between police and protesters led to the shutdown of the first day of this large international meeting. Since then, police and protesters have been engaged in a tit-for-tat struggle to define the limits of protest. Police have crafted a strategic incapacitation response to mass demonstrations.  No longer able to confidently predict the activities of protesters, police have become far less tolerant of community disruption and placed a lower priority on the protection of First Amendment rights than they had been during the negotiated management era. Among the concrete ways this manifests itself is in the establishment of larger no-protest zones and the increased use of impenetrable barriers to channel all demonstrators, not just the transgressive ones, into smaller spaces further away from the targets of their protests.  Police also employ less-lethal weapons and engage in other means of managing risk and controlling space. This argument is built from first-hand observations of the police response to protesters at the two major 2016 national conventions and at the most recent presidential inauguration. Particular attention is paid to the effect that these new policing tactics have on non-violent protesters and demonstrations.

  • “Denialism and Conspiracies: Attacks on the Nonviolent Left from the Far “Left” the Nonviolent Left,” Stephen Zunes (University of San Francisco)​

As empirical evidence of the efficacy of strategic nonviolent action has become increasingly apparent, systematic attacks against its proponents by certain far left elements has grown, which has spread to widely-read left-leaning periodicals, web sites, and radio shows. Disseminated further by the Internet, false claims have been circulating in recent years that the late nonviolent theorist Gene Sharp and a number of organizations and prominent progressive scholars promoting civil resistance are working in conjunction with U.S. imperialist interests. A related phenomenon has been the denial of agency in popular civil insurrections in various parts of the world, claiming that protests by millions of people against repressive, and corrupt autocratic and semi-autocratic governments were effectively instigated on behalf of imperialist interests, that reputable reports of severe government repression against nonviolent resisters are fabricated, and that leftist scholars and activists who support the resistance are effectively working at the behest of U.S. imperialism and international capital.
This phenomenon first became widespread following the popular overthrow of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, when reports that the opposition movement Otpor had received some limited funding from U.S. government sources led some to claim it was effectively a U.S. coup, despite the fact that the young left-leaning activists—while willing to take the money—had little contact with any U.S. officials and were openly contemptuous of U.S. policy in the Balkans and elsewhere. More recently, the very existence of a massive nonviolent movement which emerged in Syria in 2011 (subsequently crushed by the regime and further marginalized by the emergence of armed Islamists militia) has been denied or seen as a Western conspiracy despite the very limited role of foreign powers during that period. A surprising number of people on the left have similarly denied the ongoing war crimes by the Assad regime and have attacked reputable progressive scholars, activists, and journalists who have disagreed. This paper examines these and other examples of this phenomenon and analyses why such demonstrably false claims have gained such widespread circulation within progressive networks.

  • “The visible effects of ‘Invisible politics’: ‘Infrapolitics’ or ‘Everyday forms of resistance’ and possible outcomes,” Carol Daniel (George Mason University) and Stellan Vinthagen (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

This article evaluates some of the key existing case studies of “everyday resistance” and their assessment of varied “outcomes” and suggest a first exploration of the possibilities for a more systematic research on the political impact of everyday resistance.
Research on “Everyday forms of resistance” or “infrapolitics” has grown since the 1980s, today with a vast range of both theoretical and empirical studies on a multitude of aspects, social groups and contexts. However, due to the evasive nature of everyday resistance, the impact or effects of this kind of subtle and less visible resistance have rarely been studied. In fact, we can only find single case studies that make unsystematic references to varied outcomes in a particular context.
Main theorists within the field, like Scott and Bayat, do suggest a loose hypothesis of some kind of cumulative effects in which (thousands of) individual acts can have significant effect over time, and some triggered mobilization shift into public mass actions. However, in reality we still do not know anything of the effects of everyday resistance, beyond perhaps immediate and local effects in particular examples. Our exploration of the research points to a potential for more systematic studies of outcomes, particularly through comparative case studies.

8.2 Autoethnographies of Peace—Radical Change – Panel

  • “When a Murderer Taught Me Peace,” Wim Laven (Kennesaw State University)
  • “Nonviolence in an age of ‘Terror'”: How Quakerism, teaching overseas, and 9/11 Shaped my Research Agenda,” Maia Hallward (Kennesaw State University)
  • “What I learned in 60 Years of Friendship with Gene Sharp,” George Lakey
  • “Learning Peace and Justice in Rural Tennessee,” Heidi Huse (University of Tennessee)​

Autoethnographies of Peace—Radical Change—this panel looks at the critical reflective of personal narratives within the larger context of wider cultural, ideological, philosophical political, and social meanings and understandings. The discussion looks at the reflective of lessons learned from families and communities during periods of stability and crisis and how those answers, in turn, became internalized and challenged. Our experiences and sources of knowledge have differed but they have delivered similar goals and motivations, these narratives are important. How have our different experiences–our personal narratives–driven us to similar goals? This examination pushes us, ultimately, to radical and revolutionary change.
As scholars, practitioners, teachers, and activists, the panel presents personal reflections, critical engagements, and historical analyses of, from, and for the presenters lives.
The central focus of this discussion will be the examination of the conference themes: visions of the nonviolence—violence continuum, solidarity and engagement in the beloved community, and violence and nonviolence in our communities. These stories are embedded in our practice of peace and justice and our narratives speak to the confrontation of moral disappointment. Panelists answer the question: “how did I become a revolutionary?” with their own narratives.

8.3 Global Revolutionary Action – Panel

  • “Nonviolent civil disobedience: vehicle for peace or war?,” Emily Stanton (Ulster University)

Nonviolent civil disobedience is cited as an intervention tool and a technique which can usefully surface structural violence, injustice and advocate for social change (Sharp, 1973; Albert, 1985; Burrowes, 1996). But is it possible that this same technique -if applied without examining the local context- may light a fire of Trouble that burns on for years?
This paper will examine the second civil rights march held in Northern Ireland in Derry-Londonderry on October 5, 1968. Scholars describe October 5th 1968 as a pivotal turning point moment for Northern Ireland (Taggart, 2004; Prince and Warner, 2012).  “More than any other single event, the march and the public reaction to it can be said to have launched the Troubles” (Taggart, 2004 p.26). “[A] strong claim to being the second most significant date in twentieth century Irish history…. The fifth October 1968 did not just mark the shift from one era of history to another, it was essential to bringing about that shift” (Prince and Warner, 2012 p. 4).
The question will be asked, is it possible that the ‘technique’ of nonviolent civil rights marching was imported into Northern Ireland and was not, therefore, germane or responsive to the local context? For example, that undue attention was paid to the nature of the sectarian geography in Northern Ireland and civil rights marching created tensions in flashpoints areas and lit a fuse to escalate violence? Or that a lack of attention was paid to first ensuring that leadership had sufficient preparation and training in how to maintain non-violence in the face of counter-demonstrations?
The paper will use the lens of phronesis, practical wisdom, conceptualized as nuanced knowledge of context- to discuss whether civil disobedience is a tactic that can be applied ‘universally’ as a template or needs to consider the unique, particular and localized ‘context for action.’ The proposed paper will view the fifth of October 1968 as a case study to analyze events on the day to consider whether a tool for peace also may have escalated a war.

  • “With Puerto Rico in my Heart”: The Young Lords and the Struggle for Puerto Rican Independence,” Juan R. Rodríguez Cepero (Louisiana State University)

On January 17, 2017, in one of his final acts as President, Barack Obama signed the commutation of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera’s 33-year sentence. López Rivera was to be transferred from his high-security facility in Indiana to house arrest on the island until March of that year. Lopez Rivera, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, was the last Puerto Rican political prisoner to be released that was a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a clandestine armed movement that sought independence for Puerto Rico. Rivera was arrested in 1981 and charged with sedition, denying his request that he be tried as a “prisoner of war” through Protocol I of the Geneva Convention, which would legitimize his struggle as one against U. S. imperialism. Since the landing of the first American armed forces to Puerto Rico in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, the American government has sought to violently quash pro-independence movements both in Puerto Rico as well as organizations such as the Young Lords, under a variety of pretexts, most notably the “second Red Scare” of 1959 within the context of the Cuban Revolution and, at the turn of the 21st century, the Patriot Act and the crackdown on terrorist organizations. This paper looks at the relations between the Young Lords Organization in Chicago and clandestine pro-independence movements in Puerto Rico, through news articles and opinion pieces in Pa’lante, one of the YLO’s official newspaper, Claridad, perhaps the most important pro-independence newspaper based out of Puerto Rico, as well as an analysis of contemporary mainstream news sources, specifically the New York Times. I argue that these exchanges are important in understanding the Puerto Rican independence movement between 1950 and 1970 in a broader, more transnational context. These writings helped to create within the movement what Benedict Anderson would call an “imagined community” that goes beyond the limits of the island. 

  • “Intergenerational Project of keeping the memory of Hiroshima alive: A new step to a renovation of peace education in Hiroshima,” Shizuko Tomoda (Central Connecticut State University)

The focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has emerged to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world. On July 7, 2017, the Nuclear Weapons Ban was adopted in the United Nations General Assembly by 122 nations.
This treaty, however, also reveals the deep division between the nations and civil societies with their focus on the humanitarian consequence of nuclear weapons and the nations taking their positions on the security dimension.  While the Japanese government calls for global nuclear disarmament in the United Nations, it remains firmly situated under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Japan, the only atomic-bombed country, did not take part in UN negotiation on the treaty.   The Japanese government position was a profound disappointment to the aging hibakusha, who played a key role in the global nuclear abolition movement. No one else can explain the humanitarian consequence of any use of nuclear weapons more accurately than Hiroshima and Nagasaki hibakusha.
As the number of aging hibakusha dwindles, their determination not to let the memory of Hiroshima fade away grows stronger.    How the experience of hibakusha should be preserved and be passed more effectively to a new generation? Over the last 10 years, students from Hiroshima Municipal Motomachi High School’s Comprehensive Creative Expression Course have created over 100 artworks of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, based on the interviews conducted by hibakusha. The exhibitions of their artworks have been well received in the communities and invited a dialogue among the visitors and communities as well.  I recently visited the high school and interviewed the faculty and the students who had completed their artworks last year. In this presentation, I will discuss pedagogical implications of the project of painting the A-bomb experiences to peace education.
A greater understanding of the Hiroshima memory and hibakusha’s experience by a new generation is essential to foster an ability to comprehend the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.  In this regard, this intergenerational project of creating artworks of A-bomb experience by high school students has a very significant meaning and it presents a new step to a renovation of peace education.

8.4 Environmental & Regional Challenges – Panel

  • “Contemporary History of Afghanistan from Lenses of Violence and Nonviolence,” Bahman Shahi (Eastern Mennonite University)

Afghanistan has suffered from war, religious and ideological extremism for almost a century. The primary methods of conflict resolution and gaining power has been through physical use of force and coups. The contemporary history of the country provides several examples of such instances. This paper aims to look upon the contemporary history of Afghanistan from violence and nonviolence lenses. The power dynamic among different ethnicities and understanding of power is contrary to that of nonviolence. Power means having more children, more guns and being more in numbers. The cultural shift in post 2001 era of Afghanistan exposed the country to a new set of ideas and practices. In the meantime, this era brought a set of new challenges. It seems that there is a window of opportunity for establishing a grass-root nonviolence culture through peace education at the school benches, community gatherings and within families.

  • “Climate Change and National Security: When a Nation Must Mobilize,” William C. French (Loyola University of Chicago)

My paper centers on the asymmetry of America’s response to possible security threats posed by hostile foreign powers or terrorist groups and our failure to respond in any similar scale to mounting climate change threats. When it comes to national security against military or terrorist threats the threshold for action is mere possibility of threat.  But when it comes to action to mitigate the climate change, a much higher standard is invoked by many Republican leaders who demand scientific certitude of the future impact to justify national action.
My paper first discusses this asymmetry of threat attention and decision-making.  Second I examine what robust mobilization for national security looks like by looking at Great Britain and America in World War II. I discuss Churchill’s great speech in 1936 condemning Britain’s slowness to mobilize. I discuss how Roosevelt made America an “arsenal for democracy” and pushed a mobilization which in 1944 committed 43% of our GDP to the war effort. To help win the war rich Americans were asked to pay taxes of 94% on their family income above $200,000 (in  today’s dollars $2.5 million). Later during the Cold War US military spending bounced between 8-10 % of GPD and today it stands at roughly 3.2% of GDP.
Third, climate change needs to be accepted as a genuine national security threat and thus responded to as such. Obama and the US Pentagon have rightly named climate change as such a  threat. The response demands closing down coal and oil as energy foundations of our economy but it opens up whole new opportunities of solar, wind and geothermal as the new wave of economic growth and job creation.
Fourth, the costs of responding to climate change need to be placed in comparison to the history of our national military spending.  If America kept our current level of military spending and added an equally scaled budget at $600 billion for an “ecological defense budget” the total of both “defense budgets” would still be a lower percentage of our GDP than was taken during most of the Cold War.  The Brookings Institute estimates that between 1940 and 1996 the US spent $5.8 trillion dollars (in 1996 dollars) just on our nuclear arsenal. Stephen Schwartz, who edited that study, now estimates that since 1940 we have spent $10 trillion on our arsenal. And all this for an arsenal that must never be used.  By contrast, an ecological defense effort would produce wide economic opportunities and job creation in the construction of the new solar, wind and geothermal economy.
Put in a historical comparison, mobilizing our national treasure to commit to mitigating climate change looks most do-able and most responsible. It cannot be said that America can’t afford to divert spending to address climate change.  We have long spent vast sums in national defense. Today we are called to respond to a new range of national and global threats.

  • “Using water to make peace and ameliorate conflicts,” Christiaan Morssink (United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia)

​From the report: “A matter of survival, Water and Peace”, a call is made to bring the concept of peace and conflict prevention to the realm of water management, internationally as well as between communities. Intersectional and interdisciplinary collaboration between professionals and the plurality of stakeholders in the use and supply of water is presented as a format in which peace “professionals” should  and could claim a role in the decision-making processes around water management and water exploitation. Case references from the Nile, Danube, Rhine, Delaware, Mekong rivers will be compared to community level solutions in Cameroon, Darfur, West Bengal.  Who should be at the table, in the board room, in the field?

8.5 Combating racism (in it’s many forms) on college campuses – Roundtable

This roundtable discussion will focus on racial tensions and violence on college campuses and how they have been addressed in the past and how they should be addressed now which is important for understanding how to better address them in the future so that marginalized/oppressed people can receive the justice they deserve. Using Miami University (and all of the recent and previous race related issues here) as a case study, we will discuss how the history of racial violent and nonviolent tensions and conflicts came to be as it is today and discuss ideas of what we can do moving forward. We will start with a description of our case study, showing a powerpoint that includes news articles and videos to show how race relations and racial tension has affected Miami. We will then talk about how these events relate to conflicts in America as a whole, specifically other college campuses. We will have examples and resources prepared that showcase how other universities and institutions have successfully/ unsuccessfully responded to racial conflicts. We as a group will propose what we feel the best way to combat these issues are, and then we will ask the audience to give their input. We will then facilitate discussion focusing on experiences of attendees and their ideas on how to combat this issue. We will also have questions prepared to keep conversation going if needed.
Participant engagement will be a large part of this presentation because this issue has impacted everyone in one way or another so we hope that everyone in the audience will have something to share. We will ask the participants to share any stories they have about race relations on college campuses and we will also ask them how they have seen these issues handled and how they believe these issues should be handled. We will also be prepared with questions to ask the audience regarding the topic of race relations so that we can get as much audience participation as possible.

8.6 Let’s Talk Nuclear Weapons! The facts, the risks, and the path towards abolition – Roundtable

This roundtable will be led by key members from the Pennsylvania Nuclear Ban Alliance, an emerging coalition we’ve formed to educate and mobilize people across PA in support of The Nuclear Ban Treaty and nuclear abolition. We will begin with a short presentation on the impacts, risks, and costs of nuclear weapons and will stress the continued and growing humanitarian threat nuclear weapons pose globally. We will discuss the global movement working to reframe the discourse surrounding nuclear weapons and its role in achieving the groundbreaking 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The second portion of the roundtable will focus on the significance of the Nuclear Ban Treaty and its potential in helping eliminate all nuclear weapons. In particular we’ll discuss divestment as a strategy for fostering state, local, and citizen action on the nuclear ban and pressure that can help shift the political tide in favor of nuclear disarmament and abolition. The roundtable will include a question and answer period and a small group activity where participants will brainstorm potential divestment targets within their communities.

[Endings & Beginings] Faculty & Staff Organizing for Nonviolent Action – Roundtable

In Peace and Justice Studies, we teach and research a great deal about social change, nonviolent action, and empowerment. Some of us find ourselves advising student activists. This session is intended to begin a conversation about the potential for faculty organizing and action at colleges and universities. Foci range from conventional efforts toward institutional reform (on campus or off campus) to nonviolent action and civil disobedience. When I solicited interest in this session on the PJSA list, eight excellent association members responded. There is so much collected practical knowledge, perspective, and wisdom among these individuals that I could not exclude any. Thus, I propose a facilitated discussion with a roundtable format. Depending on attendance, we will be prepared to host four to eight table discussions around questions, such as these:

  • What opportunities and challenges does academia present for faculty organizing and action? How do academic culture and professional expectations influence faculty organizing?
  • How do faculty action and academic freedom relate to one another? What protections are available for faculty who engage in civil disobedience? What protections already exist at some institutions?
  • How do faculty organize in alliance with student activists? With staff? What do faculty bring to the table? When not allied, what roles do faculty tend to play in conflict on our campuses?
  • Does nonviolent action, on-campus or off-campus, offer important teaching, learning, and research opportunities for us and our students?
  • How does nonviolent action align with our institutional missions, educational missions, and curricula?
  • Faculty occupy a variety of positions at colleges and universities (e.g. pre- or post-tenure; full-time or part-time; administrative positions, etc.) How do these positionalities influence the prospects of faculty organizing and action?
  • What empirical experience do we have with regard to faculty campaigns, including those that employ nonviolent action and civil disobedience? What has been effective?
  • What methods work best for sustainable organizing among faculty, especially given heavy work loads and personal and professional responsibilities?

We envision holding a teleconference during the summer of 2018 with the eight discussion leaders listed below to refine the topics and questions to be covered. We will organize the session to efficiently gather as much collective wisdom as possible that we can later collate and share with one another and even the membership of the association. The process itself will be an instructive act of faculty organizing.