Session 4

Ethics of solidarity (both activism and research)- Panel

Michael Loadenthal (Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Miami University & Executive Director, PJSA), Mark Lance (Georgetown University), (Moderator: Matt Meyer (IRPA))

Working with communities that are not one's own raise delicate issues. On the one hand, solidarity is not only good, but often a duty. But whether we are present as researchers or as active participants in struggle, there is a fine line between supporting and imposing, between offering ideas and setting the agenda. Presenters in this session will draw on decades of experience working with disparate communities in the US and internationally to raise these issues and offer some insights as to how to navigate them.

Teaching War and Peace (PART 2)- Panel

Susan E. Cushman (Nassau Community College/SUNY), Michelle Collins-Sibley (University of Mount Union), Nicole Johnson (University of Mount Union), (Moderator: Amanda (Mandi) Donahoe)

On this panel, we wish to examine the practices of teaching about peace and war in an atmosphere characterized by too much of one and not enough of the other. Teaching about the complexities of peace and war is often an exercise in balancing idealism and pragmatism. What is more, it is also a normative endeavor that tends to draw students who are genuinely interested in making the world a better place. How are these students best engaged? What should they learn in our courses? This panel focuses on pedagogies and best practices in teaching our field.

Civil Resistance in the United States and Around the World: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow- Panel

Annalis Mitcho (International Programs Fellow, American Friends Service Committee), Douglas Juarez (Guatemalan Migration Program Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee), Max Carter (Retired Campus Ministry Coordinator, Guilford College), Kerri Kennedy (Associate General Secretary of International Programs, American Friends Service Committee), (Moderator: Daryn Cambridge (Senior Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace))

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice. Since 1917, AFSC has worked throughout the United States and around the world to protect civil and political rights, resist war through nonviolent action, and build movements for peace and justice, among other program areas. Currently, AFSC provides direct support for immigrant and refugee communities across the U.S. while advocating in Washington, D.C., for humane policy reform. AFSC also endorsed the policy platform put forward by the Movement for Black Lives, a national network of over 50 organizations engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement to end state-sanctioned killings of African Americans and institutional oppressions that condone them.

AFSC proposes an interactive style panel to highlight how lessons from AFSC’s movement building and activism of the past 100 years relate to today’s current global and domestic context.  AFSC will discuss how its works over time has changed and adapted, building on lessons learned and responding to current context. The purpose of this session is to connect past social movements to movements of today, with a focus on immigration.

Cognition and Communication- Panel

(Moderator: Swasti Bhattacharyya)

“Pericentric and Telecentric Communication”, Josh Stewart 

  • To advance peace, understanding how communication and technology affect human behavior is paramount. Humans, as a species, are developing increasingly advanced technology in the area of communication. With the inventions of the internet and smart phone, information and communication have become virtually seamless, regardless of physical location. Such technology and information can be used to the benefit of a society or to its detriment by influencing individuals, groups and even nations. By clarifying communication and media, thus creating a greater understanding of the communication process and its affect, socioeconomic and cultural barriers are more easily overcome. It is also easier to recognize which media are more reliable in a variety of social contexts. With recent phenomena such as “fake news,” now more than ever, it is very important we reexamine the evolving nature of human communication and the media employed to facilitate it. If we do not, we run the risk similar to global warming, where, in the past, we did not consider the long term consequences of new technology, we simply employed it. Communication and its required media can be dangerous when it isn’t fully understood and employed irresponsibly. Thus, it can have a profound affect on the individual and the society in which they reside, even creating schisms in generational attitudes toward various media.

“Letters to Hell – Correspondence with Death Row Inmates”, Richard D Clark (John Carroll University) and Amy Kato (John Carroll University)

  • Death row inmates are often considered to be abandoned people, those who are sentenced to a long period of isolation before they are to be executed by the State. Interestingly, however, death row inmates often acquire pen pals, those who write them letters on a regular basis. While there has been anecdotal writings regarding correspondence with death row inmates; most of these stories are about an individual set of letters between a single person and one inmate. We have been unable to find a detailed study of who writes to inmates sentenced to death, why they do so, and how this experienced has shape the writers lives and emotions. This project looks at an internet sample of individuals who regularly correspond with individuals sentenced to death in the United States. It explores their rationales for writing, the methods used to select inmates for correspondence, the topics discussed with their ‘pen pals’, their thoughts about the possibility their pen pal will be executed, the amount of social support they received for their activities, and how this process has impacted the writer. In addition to the surveys themselves, the findings will be supplemented by an in-depth analysis of a series of letters written by inmates to an elderly woman named Mary. Over a period of twenty years, Mary communicated with 23 inmates, many of whom were on death row with some being executed. The ‘Letters to Mary’ will be used to further explore some of the topics noted above.

“The Cognitive Science of Stereotyping”, Mike Sloane (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

  • This presentation will examine how characteristics of information processing processes, explored by cognitive scientists and cognitive neuroscientists, contribute to the behavioral phenomenon of stereotyping. There are many fundamental cognitive processes such as categorical perception, selective attention, implicit learning, generalization and category formation, confirmation bias, and attribution that provide heuristics allowing fast, efficient, and automatic processing of vast amounts of information faced by the brain. The utility of these processes predisposes us to form and retain stereotypes of others in social interaction situations. Given the inaccessibility of information about dispositional attitudes (motivations, thoughts, beliefs, intentions etc.) of other people we encounter there is a strong tendency to use available information, often in the form of salient, observable characteristics as a surrogate in making inferences about internal characteristics and traits. These external characteristics can be facial (eye and/or nose shape, facial configuration) somatic (skin pigmentation, height, weight, age, gender characteristics, hair type or style, accent, breast size, penis size, etc.), non-somatic (clothes, body piercings, tattoos, etc.), or things like location of residence, occupation, nationality, educational history, place of worship, etc. If there are no discernible signs by which we can enact discrimination then historically we have created one, e.g., Jews forced to wear Star of David patch in Nazi Germany, Hindus forced to wear yellow identity patch in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The tendency to use available external characteristics to make inferences about internal dispositions is exaggerated under conditions of increased uncertainty such as when we encounter strangers or members of an outgroup. The fact that there are many cognitive processes designed to optimize the speed and efficiency of information processing that are extremely useful in many cognitive domains does not mean that we are hard-wired to be prejudiced and condemned to use negative stereotyping. It is important, however, to be aware of the brain-based origins of our behavioral tendencies if we are to inhibit them or reduce their potency.

“A Peace of Music: Thoughts on Peace portrayed through music and song”, Renee Gainer (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

  • From Gustov Holst’s Mars: The Bringer of War to The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key, Music has always been the Mascot of War. Armies have marched into battle and celebrated victory, accompanied by music and song. Brutality and violence hidden within musical themes has been prevalent throughout time. But is this an accurate view of music? This presentation will offer examples of music throughout history, which contain lyrics or themes of peace, unity and nonviolence. Music is found in all known cultures, each with its own style of music, despite differences in economy, or social structure. It is thought that music has been in existence for at least 55,000 years. Maestros have written and conducted concertos of peace since the invention of sheet music. Songwriters wrote anti-war songs during the 1960’s, in response to the Vietnam War. Historic music, as well as popular music of today will be highlighted in this presentation. Visionary organizations, which unite people through music today globally be discussed. War divides people, ravages nations and strips away infrastructures. In contrast, music builds relationships, brings joy and unifies those on opposing sides of conflict. Music deserves to be represented not as a mascot of war but a vehicle of peace.

“Pericentric and Telecentric Communication”, Josh Stewart (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

  • To advance peace, understanding how communication and technology affect human behavior is paramount. Humans, as a species, are developing increasingly advanced technology in the area of communication. With the inventions of the internet and smart phone, information and communication have become virtually seamless, regardless of physical location. Such technology and information can be used to the benefit of a society or to its detriment by influencing individuals, groups and even nations. By clarifying communication and media, thus creating a greater understanding of the communication process and its affect, socioeconomic and cultural barriers are more easily overcome. It is also easier to recognize which media are more reliable in a variety of social contexts. With recent phenomena such as “fake news,” now more than ever, it is very important we reexamine the evolving nature of human communication and the media employed to facilitate it. If we do not, we run the risk similar to global warming, where, in the past, we did not consider the long term consequences of new technology, we simply employed it. Communication and its required media can be dangerous when it isn’t fully understood and employed irresponsibly. Thus, it can have a profound affect on the individual and the society in which they reside, even creating schisms in generational attitudes toward various media.

Identity, Human Rights, and Dignity- Panel

(Moderator: Amanda Smith Byron)

“Identity, Rights, and Awareness: The Power of Discourse to Change Systems of Oppression”, Jeremy Rinker (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

  • While caste identity in India is forged in opposition to other, more privileged, identities on a graded scale of inequality, the meaning and significance of caste identities is always conveyed through narrative talk. A comparative case study of three prominent and contemporary anti-caste social movements based in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, India, this work attempts to tease out the common narrative threads in privileging identity, rights, and awareness as means to create a platform for structural change of caste conflict. While narrative is no silver bullet for creating positive social change, it is a key element in meaning-making and an important social actor in any process of conflict transformation. How do social movements use narrative? Are they aware of the full power of narrative discourse to mobilize, frame, and create opportunity structures for lasting change? In attempting to answer these questions, the paper provides a provocative and critical call for the Pan-Indian anti-caste movement to move into elite circles of Indian society by narrative means. Drawing connections to other worldwide movements to overcome oppression, this presentation aims to open dialogue about the relative importance of identity, rights and awareness in effective protest and change.

“Post-Colonialism and Colorism: A Critical Analysis of Identity, Race and Culture in the Caribbean and South America”, Rolanda J West (Alternative Education Research Institute)

  • Currently in Belize, there has been much debate as to how and why racism and particularly, colorism (discrimination based on the lightness or darkness of skin color) is enacted by people of color. While Belize gained its independence in 1981 through transition rather than violent revolution, it stands to reason that the passive de-colonialization of Belize gave its population of Afro-Descendants a potentially skewed understanding of how they were affected by the initial enslavements and subsequent colonialization of their most recent ancestors. It is my hypothesis that because the Afro-descendants of the slave trade throughout the Americas and the Caribbean have accepted, to a large degree, and therefore enacted/practiced racism by interpreting and engaging in discriminatory practices against one another based on degrees of lightness and darkness of skin tone, that racism, particularly in the Caribbean, is perpetuated without the aid of dominant cultural oppressive regimes.
  • The act of oppression is perpetrated by the descendants of diaspora themselves. It is my estimation that it would be beneficial to the population to gain a more thorough understanding of how the slave trade was implemented and the subsequent psychological effects of: the generations post-slavery and colonialism, ancestral lineage, and agents of oppression.
  • Additionally, the research will show how the perpetuation of discrimination based on skin color systematically enforces domination at the hands of the oppressed populations. This understanding could garner strength in understanding cultural practices while potentially dismantling internalized feelings of and overt systems of oppression in the Caribbean and South America. 

“Seeking Human Dignity in an Era of Divisiveness”, Amanda Smith Byron (Portland State University)

  • The field of Peace and Justice Studies typically focuses on the social and political transformations that are necessary to increase the peace. Within that larger domain, this paper reviews liberal peacebuilding in an effort to better understand the central role that human dignity plays in the peacebuilding process, and considers how the presence or absence of human dignity can influence the success of reaching the goal of peace. This exploration is particularly important at times when divisiveness rules the day, as has been proven throughout history, and is especially true in today’s world. Drawing from the fields of Human Rights and Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and weaving in the literature of storytelling as a social change mechanism, this paper recognizes the importance of engaging dignity as a vital component in peaceful process, and as a necessary ingredient to achieve peaceful ends.

“Disability Rights As Human Rights: Understanding the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in International Law”, Tina Kempin Reuter (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

  • This paper examines disability rights within a human rights context on the international level, with a specific focus on international law approaches. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first human rights agreement of the 21st century and one of the fastest growing treaties in the history of the UN. It is a complex and comprehensive convention, reflecting a major global shift towards “social-justice” and human rights oriented approach to addressing disability. From an international law perspective, the CRPD is groundbreaking for three reasons: 1) the Convention is the first international treaty to include an extensive list of both civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural human rights; 2) the CRPD specifically focuses on implementation of the treaty to a much larger extent than any other treaty before; and 3) the inclusion of NGOs representing persons with disabilities in the preparatory meetings of the Convention, in the text itself, and in the implementation process showcases a shift in which human rights realization is achieved in global governance. This paper analyses the depth and breadth of both text and implementation of the CRPD considering the three novelties described above.

International Challenges to Peace- Panel

(Moderator: Kate Meehan)

​“The Humanitarian Consequences of War: The Case of the Syrian Displaced People”, Amal Khoury (Global Studies Department, University of North Carolina-Charlotte)

  • One of the major humanitarian consequences of war is human displacement. A recent report by the UNHCR stated that as of December 2015, a record high 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution. Of those displaced, 21.3 million crossed national borders in search of safety and became refugees in neighboring countries –mostly in the developing world. The Syrian war, which has been raging for over 6 years, created the worst humanitarian crisis of our time: over 6 million IDPs and 5 million refugees. Taking Syria as a case study, this paper focuses on the complex issue of displacement as a major challenge confronting policy-makers and critically examines policies and programs targeting this vulnerable population. The paper argues that while short-term humanitarian assistance is essential, long-term development efforts are needed to create the conditions necessary for the return of displaced people. Without such repatriation, when conditions permit, lasting and sustainable peace in Syria is impossible.

“As Above, So Below: A Synthesis of Trauma & Conflict Transformation Theory and the Role of Agency for Social Change after Group”, Nicholas R Sherwood 

  • Trauma, as first propositioned by Freud and his contemporaries, is classically understood as a moment (or many moments) of impact on the biopsychosocial functioning of an individual with insufficient intrapersonal resources to cope with the massive stressor(s; Herman, 2015). As clinical practice and investigation, through the development of sophisticated bio- and psychometric technologies, expanded their purview of the deleterious effects of trauma, other academic fields have taken a keen interest in trauma-informed research (Krippner & Mcintyre, 2003). Trauma speaks not only of the mind’s internal workings, but of the external behaviors of a traumatized individual in his or her waking life. Similarly, the oftentimes alienating viewpoints and disciplines of the investigation of trauma should and must reflect the complex nature of this violation of the human condition. Trauma does not exist in a vacuum, and traumatized individuals interact with the world around them in ways distinct from non-traumatized individuals. The goals of trauma research are both to prevent the occurrence of future trauma and to treat the sufferers of trauma past; these goals are interdependent and, as this paper will show, have the potential to alter the human landscape in post-conflict societies.
  • Though the antecedents and outcomes of trauma differ from the top-down or bottom-up approach, growing interest in the transformative potential of trauma transcends illusory boundaries erected by both camps in trauma research. A philosophical shift within both fields now emphasizes the role of resilience, hardiness, resolution, and transformation in trauma research and practice (Herman, 2015; Salinas, 2007). The mutual shift in emphasis is, this paper will argue, the key to synthesizing trauma from above and trauma from below. Alchemists once used the phrase “as above, so below” to describe oneness; elements from the earth and elements from the sky are one in nature. Though perspectives change, the substance does not; transformation can occur whichever orientation (from above or from below) the alchemist aligns him- or herself. Using this metaphor, trauma, whether explained from above or from below, is best understood by its transformative capabilities. Though its capacity for destruction is well documented at the micro- and macro-levels alike, the potential for prosocial transformation remains the same.
  • This paper will combine the ‘above’ and ‘below’ elements of trauma through the lens of transformation in traumatized actors, whether at the individual, familial, societal, or cultural level. First, the biology of trauma, most notably the role of allostatic load, will be used in conjunction with the theory of psychological transference to explain how trauma is felt and communicated at the individual level. Second, the socialization of trauma in families and the psychical cascade of traumatic reaction down the generations will explain how trauma is transmitted to actors not directly involved in the original traumatic event (typically including violent conflict). Third, the impact of trauma on society and culture alludes to the key to utilizing trauma for ultimate healing and empowerment in a post-conflict society. Finally, elucidating the differences between recovery, healing, and transformation will provide a blueprint for the normative response to traumatized actors on any level of analysis.

“Awareness Toward Human Rights: A study of rural women of Chamoli District in India”, Himanshu Bourai (Prof.& HOD Department of Political Science & Director of Women Studies Centre, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India)

  • Human rights are the basic rights of every individual. An individual of the society has the inherent right to be treated with dignity in all situations. The hill women are not exceptional from human right's point of view. In rural areas Women are considered to subordinate to men in every respect. On the same time because of lack of literacy, migration of male population, tough topography and the environmental degradation has intensified their problems. Even today women in hills of Uttarakhand spent 14 to 16 hours /day for different activities.
  • The present study is data based study. Data were obtained from a sample of 200 rural women from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India, to examine their awakening towards human rights. The study shows that not all but those who are aware about the human rights have no way to avail them because of the practical challenges.

“Whose reality: Peace-building and Development Assistance in Afghanistan”, Yutaka Hayashi  (Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan)

  • Although countries can be labelled as conflict-affected, there is sharp difference in perceptions of the situations in conflict-affected countries. This paper will examine the insider-outsider perceptions of reality in Afghanistan based on field work conducted between 2003 and 2015.
  • International assistance for conflict-affected counties is one of the most urgent and imperative efforts for world peace and stability. Although countries can be labelled as conflict-affected, there is sharp difference in perceptions of the situations within conflict-affected countries.
  • Villagers living in a remote area might see their current daily life as safer compare to life in time of civil war. On the other hand, aid workers coming from developed countries may see the situation as deadly due to the sporadic suicide bombings in and around major cities.
  • This paper will use Afghanistan as a case for a close examination of such differences of perception based on field work conducted between 2003 and 2015. First, perceptions of Afghanistan as a conflict-affected country will be examined following the descriptions given by news media and academia. This part will investigate how media and researchers see Afghanistan and highlight the outsiders’ view, that is, as a country with an ongoing armed insurgency. Then, this paper will shed light on the voices of villagers in northern districts of Kabul Province. Villagers and ex-mujahedeen in rural area see the current situation as better than the days of the Taliban era. This difference of perception is, therefore, a reflection of the differently recognized realities for different eyes. If there are multiple perceptions of realities, then, which reality are we trying to tackle and improve? In addition, is there any way to bridge those difference in reality for a better approach toward peacebuilding?

Civil Society and the War on Drugs in Guerrero, Mexico- Panel

 Chris Kyle (University of Alabama at Birmingham), José Díaz Navarro (Colectivo Siempre Vivos), Kara Hofheins (University of Alabama at Birmingham), (Moderator: Fred Shepherd)

“The Policia Comunitaria Movement and the Rule of Law in Guerrero” 

The Mexican state of Guerrero has been at the epicenter of the “war on drugs” for at least a decade. Since 2007, nearly 20,000 people have been killed and untold numbers have disappeared. Uncounted thousands have been displaced from their homes. Despite robust deployments of federal police and military assets, criminal organizations operate with near complete impunity. The violence and insecurity that pervades Guerrero has led to the growth of numerous security and justice related civic organizations. This session focusses on two types of groups that have appeared in recent years, community policing and victim advocacy organizations.

Community policing groups spread widely in Guerrero starting in early 2013. Most groups have claimed legal authority and legitimacy by referencing Ley 701, a provision in the state  constitution recognizing the right of indigenous peoples to administer “justice” in their communities in accordance with  traditional “usos y costumbres.” In nearly all cases these groups have initially succeeded in lowering the incidence of violent crime and improved perceptions of security in the communities where they operate. But questions have arisen about the manner in which the apparent successes of community policing groups have been achieved. Aside from pervasive due-process concerns, community policing groups have in many cases been revealed to be little more than thinly disguised extensions of local criminal organizations. In other cases, they have come to impose “protection” fees that are indistinguishable from the extortion rackets that they originally formed to combat.

Victim advocacy organizations have likewise proliferated in recent years. Composed of the families of missing persons, these groups attempt to press authorities to conduct criminal investigations, search for clandestine burial grounds, and identify remains of the thousands of unidentified bodies that\ have been recovered in the state. They also work to obtain financial support for widows, orphans, and displaced persons and police protection for individuals who face notable risk.

Within both community policing and victim advocacy groups there are sharp differences of opinion regarding relations with state authorities. On the one hand, the state has an exceedingly poor record of investigating crimes and apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators. In many cases, state authorities are themselves suspected of involvement or complicity in criminal acts. At the same time, only the state can legitimately punish violent criminals and provide protection and justice to the victims and their families. Groups have responded to the dilemma by adopting markedly divergent postures vis a vis state authorities, with some groups developing collaborative relations with at least some branches of official agencies while others uniformly mistrust state actors and work only with national and international NGOs and other non-state actors.

After a short survey of the work of community policing and victim advocacy organizations in contemporary Guerrero, this session provides for an open discussion of the prospects for constructive engagement with local, state and federal authorities in the effort to improve security and provide justice to victims of violence.

Dealing with Disruptors in the Classroom- Roundtable

Dean J. Johnson (West Chester University)

Over the last 18 months there has been an increase of emboldened student disruptors in the classroom who are openly hostile and unapologetically racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and/or anti-immigrant. Some of these students use micro-aggressions and bullying while intentionally trying to take over classroom discussions. How have you addressed these concerns in your classrooms? What tactics or pedagogical tools have you used to promote the value of dialogue and civic engagement while not allowing for the outright dismissal of the rights and human dignity of entire groups of people? Come share….

"Can You Tell Me More: Community-based Filmmaking as Method of Student Engagement"- Film

(Michele Forman, Director, UAB Media Studies Program)

"Non-fiction filmmaking and oral history courses offered at UAB use hands on digital media practice to connect students with community members and learn about a range of justice issues in the Greater Birmingham, Alabama, region.  The session will include the screening of a selection of student-produced films and the presentation of the pedagogy."