Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2022

A few years ago, the College began celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, so the College is closed, and classes don’t begin until tomorrow!

MLK Day is always an important one for our program given our commitment to studying and understanding the powerful and nonviolent pursuit of more just and collaborative relations, as well as the structures of power and inequality that inhibit lives well-lived.

As Dr. King’s Day reminds us, the work can be both dramatic and slow, with the work bearing fruit for decades and more. I just returned recently from visiting family in Nashville , Tennessee and read this morning in the New York Times that a statue of the Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest on Interstate 65 near my home has finally come down. I also learned that the plaza in front of Nashville’s courthouse has been named after Diane Nash, and the city’s newest high school will be named after Dr. James Lawson, both instrumental in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins and other campaigns during the civil rights movement.

Moreover, inequality and militarism remain dominant in American society. On this MLK Day I would like to re-share the video reading of Dr. King’s Riverside Speech that students, faculty, and staff organized earlier this year. In this powerful speech King warns us about the intersecting dangers of racism, militarism, and materialism.

Let me also remind us of this week’s event on January 21, 2022 titled “Polarization as Possibility: The Justice Strategizing of Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr.” featuring our own George Lakey and Professor Terrance Wiley of Religion and Africana Studies at Haverford College. I hope to see some of you there.

Lee Smithey, Coordinator, Peace and Conflict Studies Program

poster featuring an image of Bayard Rustin

Polarization as Possibility: The Justice Strategizing of Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our friends at the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship at Haverford College are sponsoring an exciting online event on January 21, 2022 titled “Polarization as Possibility: The Justice Strategizing of Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr.” featuring our own George Lakey and Professor Terrance Wiley of Religion and Africana Studies at Haverford College.

Conflict is challenging for many of us, but the insights of King and Rustin offer hope.  King encountered violent conflict across America yet received the Nobel Peace Prize. His mentor Rustin urged “angelic troublemakers” to act more boldly.  What can we learn from the organizing leader behind much of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin, who was born in nearby West Chester, PA, and raised in a Quaker household? How did King and Rustin’s theories of change leverage polarization toward possibility, and what does it mean for us in today’s environment? 

Read more and register.

We’re hiring! visiting assistant professor position

The Peace and Conflict Studies Program of Swarthmore College, home of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, invites applications for a full-time three-year Visiting Assistant Professor position, beginning Fall 2022.

Please share widely. Thank you.


Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies
Swarthmore College: Peace & Conflict Studies Program

Location
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Description
The Peace and Conflict Studies Program of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time three-year Visiting Assistant Professor position, beginning Fall 2022. Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Swarthmore College is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Qualifications
Candidates should demonstrate expertise in peace and conflict studies. Applications from candidates in the humanities are encouraged. We welcome regional expertise in areas besides Europe. The successful candidate for the position will be expected to teach four courses per year in our interdisciplinary undergraduate program, which may include the introductory course and the senior capstone course for majors. We seek a candidate with a compelling classroom presence, strong teaching and research skills, and a knowledge and passion for peace studies that will support student advising and contribute to the development of a dynamic program. The strongest candidates will demonstrate a commitment to creative inclusive teaching and a research program that speaks to and motivates undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. A Ph.D. in peace and conflict studies or in another discipline should be in hand by September 2022, accompanied by intellectual and professional engagement in the field of peace and conflict studies.

Application Instructions
Please apply at https://apply.interfolio.com/99927   Direct inquiries to the program coordinator, Lee Smithey, at lsmithe1 at swarthmore.edu

Full consideration will be given to all applications received by January 24, 2022. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Candidates should send:

  • a cover letter, including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, and research agenda
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a writing sample
  • three letters of recommendation.
PCS students peace sign

New Course: SPAN103 – Trauma, afecto y derechos humanos en la literatura centroamericana

We are excited to share a new course coming in Spring 2022! Professor Nanci Buiza’s will begin teaching honors seminar SPAN 103: Trauma, Afecto Y Derechos Huamnos en la Literatura Centroamericana. This course is an elaborated companion to her course PEAC 038: Civil Wars and Neoliberal Peace in Central America. We congratulate Professor Buiza on receiving a Mellon Course Development Grant to create this new course.

What’s the difference between PEAC 038 and SPAN 103?

Prof. Buiza writes, “The PEAC038 course focuses on the sociopolitical and historical causes and consequences of armed conflict in Central America (1960s-early 1990s), the transition to peace and democracy, and the implementation of neoliberal economic reforms that came with the arrival of peace in the mid 1990s. The course, however, really does not study the cultural production (literature, film, art, music) related to these decades of instability in the region. My honors seminar in Spanish will focus on the cultural production of the region and how it relates to and engages with the above mentioned sociopolitical and historical forces.

The focus will be on the Central American region, mostly the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The seminar will incorporate theory to discuss issues of ethics, social justice, and human rights in a war-torn society. It will allow students to weave together critical and theoretical concepts of peace and conflict studies that they have learned in the program and apply them to our analysis and study of how cultural representations engage with sociopolitical turmoil; how performance artists engage with issues of social justice in nonviolent ways; and how cultural production as whole invites people to think about other possibilities to violence and state repression.”

Here is the course description. We highly recommend Peace program students consider registering for SPAN 103.

This honors seminar studies contemporary Central American literature and culture with a focus on theories of trauma to discuss cultural representations of human suffering, empathy, and pain. The seminar explores the social disintegration and legacy of violence left by decades of civil wars, genocide, and revolution in the region, as well as theories of trauma, memory, affect, aesthetics, philosophical cynicism, and human rights. These theoretical approaches will help us reflect on the relation between literature and human rights; the sociopolitical upheavals and their cultural representations; and how cultural production engages with issues of peace and conflict in the neoliberal era. We will pay special attention to representations of social disaffection, political disillusionment, and survival in a postwar context shaped by socio-economic precarity. In addition to reading literary works by some of the main authors in the region, we will analyze scholarly debates surrounding Central American literature, as well as watch films and performances that probe into the issues of ethics, historical truth, social justice, reconciliation, historical memory, and the human predicament in a postwar society.

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 Participates in Harvard Kennedy School Public Policy Leadership Conference

Ramiro Hernandez

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 started his fall break off with a bang, taking part in the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2021 Public Leadership Conference earlier this month.

One of just 68 undergraduates from across the U.S. chosen, Hernandez relished the chance to build community with his fellow attendees.

“Hearing all of the projects, initiatives, and change-making that other students are pursuing at campuses across the country was inspiring,” says the honors medical anthropology, peace & conflict studies, and educational studies special major from Hidalgo, Texas, “and I found comfort in sharing a virtual space in which everyone was vulnerable enough to discuss our fears and aspirations.”

The mission of the conference is to inspire student leaders — particularly those from historically underrepresented and underserved communities — to pursue careers in public service. Participants learn what it means to study public policy in a graduate school environment and have opportunities to connect with current Harvard Kennedy School students, faculty, and staff as well as their fellow attendees

“I also really enjoyed hearing from the representatives of various public policy programs, as I learned a lot about financial aid opportunities and fellowships that I was not aware of,” Hernandez says. “I finished the weekend with the confidence that pursuing a career within the field of public policy is the path I’m meant to take.”

After missing the cut for the conference two years ago, Hernandez was nervous about opening the notification email for this year’s event. But being selected at this time proved fortuitous.

“I’ve become much more grounded in my politics, my beliefs, and the multiple truths I hold dear,” he says, “and I feel much more confident in my change-making abilities.”

Among Hernandez’s activities at Swarthmore are serving as student body vice president, a programming intern with the Intercultural Center, campus treasurer of the Petey Greene Program, and co-chair of the League of United Latin American Citizens Federal Training Institute Partnership. Earlier this year, he was chosen as a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

A first-generation college student, Hernandez has a broad interest in public service that is grounded in his experience as a second-generation immigrant growing up in a border community in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is intent on using every opportunity he receives to move resources where they are most needed, ensuring that future generations have everything they need to live well in their communities.

Reflecting on the conference, Hernandez points to the excitement of “meeting 67 other folks who come from backgrounds similar to mine and are just as passionate as I am about improving the conditions of various communities around the world.”

[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Ryan Dougherty.]

Spending our carbon budget

Professor Smithey has been teaching his course, “Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking” again this semester, and right now the second of two delegations of Swatties are on their way to Glasgow Scotland to observe the COP26 meetings (read their daily blog), so many of us have been thinking in considerable detail about the pace of climate disruption, who is responsible, impacts with respect to positive and negative peace, how to steer a global economy into an unprecedented turn, and more.

For reference, we want to just leave this carbon countdown clock right here:

Peace Day September 21 Pealing of the Bell

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Dear Students,

On September 21st at 2:00 PM, you will hear our bell ring 21 times to mark the International Day of Peace. During the ringing, you might wish to reflect on the state and significance of peace in our world today. Additionally, we encourage you to join us on the Parrish Beach by the Clothier Bell Tower at this time. After the ringing finishes, we will hold a moment of silence, a few words will be shared on the importance of this day, and we’ll form a giant peace sign. On behalf of the Peace & Conflict Studies Program and the Lang Center, we hope to see you all there!

We would also like to highlight two events from our partner, Peace Day Philly.

Political Scientist Dominic Tierney Examines the Past, Present, and Future of Afghanistan

Come join the Political Science Department at the Brown Bag Lunch Thursday, September 16th at 12:30pm to hear Professor Tierney give a short talk on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the international consequences. Email cruzzo1@swarthmore.edu to RSVP. The event will be held in Parrish Tent and lunch will be provided.

KYW Newsradio: The Taliban takeover and sudden collapse of Afghanistan ‘didn’t have to end this way’

Dominic Tierney

Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney recently joined Matt Leon of KYW Newsradio to discuss the American withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict and what could’ve been done differently to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban.

Tierney argues that the rapid collapse of the Afghan government was not preordained in 2001 but had become increasingly predictable over the most recent weeks and months. Most surprising, however, seemed to be the lack of armed conflict that preceded the Taliban’s return to power.

“By and large, commanders of the Afghan army surrendered and basically negotiated deals in a process that had probably been in the works for a very long time,” Tierney tells Leon. “It speaks to the deeper issue that we have never really understood the local dynamics in Afghanistan. It may as well have been on the moon from the view of most Americans and, frankly, most D.C. politicians.”

Tierney also discusses the history of American involvement in Afghanistan since 2001 and identifies a lack of nuance in U.S. foreign policy as a potential cause for ultimate failure in Kabul.

“In 2002, the Taliban reached out to the United States and basically stated that they were willing to accept a negotiated deal,” says Tierney. “The amazing thing is that the Bush administration … didn’t even consider it. At the time, we thought the Taliban and the al-Qaeda were the same guys. They were the bad guys, and we were going to put all of them in one bucket and take them out.”

He argues that this “crusading mindset” led the U.S. to waste the leverage it had at the time and allowed the Taliban to slowly reemerge by 2006, culminating in a nationwide insurgency.

Looking ahead, Tierney believes that it will take time before one can evaluate the impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw, especially as it relates to the rights of the nation’s girls and women.

“It’s very certain that there will be restrictive dress and things like that,” he says. “However, the hopeful story is that Afghanistan ends up looking like Iran: a theocracy, rather than Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe we could see the Taliban accepting women as doctors and midwives, and allow them to have some education. Hopefully, regional powers can use their leverage to strongly pressure the Taliban to allow some rights.”

Tierney also appeared in other outlets, such as The Guardian, to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan:

Time: ‘Major American Failure.’ A Political Scientist on Why the U.S. Lost in Afghanistan

The Guardian: After 20 years and $2tn spent in Afghanistan, what was it all for?

The Guardian: After the chaos in Kabul, is the American century over?

El Pais: Why the United States is no longer winning the war

[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Roy Greim ’14.]

https://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/political-scientist-dominic-tierney-examines-past-present-and-future-afghanistan

Vanessa Julye to deliver Cary Lecture at Pendle Hill: “Radical Transformation: Long Overdue for the Religious Society of Friends”

We are happy to share an important invitation from our friends and neighbors at the nearby Pendle Hill Quaker Retreat Center (in walking distance, just on the other side of Crum Wood).

This year’s Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture will be delivered on September 13, 2021 by Vanessa Julye. Her talk is titled “Radical Transformation: Long Overdue for the Religious Society of Friends”

Vanessa Julye (Courtesy of Pendle Hill)

How have Friends collaborated with and sustained the global system of White Supremacy? George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends envisioned a revolutionary religion which professes the belief that every person has a direct relationship with God. Early Friends proclaimed our capacity for spiritual wholeness comes from the seed of God planted in our hearts. What structures are preventing Friends from living into these beliefs and growing God’s seed?

This year’s lecture is online and free to the public, and we think it will be of interest to some in our peace and conflict studies program. Many thanks to Pendle Hill for their programming and hospitality

Please register for the event and read more about Vanessa Julye and the lecture on the Pendle Hill website…

Walking the Walk on Climate Change

Tim Hirschel-Burns ’17 (@TimH_B on Twitter; now at Yale Law School) anticipates global climate summit in Glasgow in a piece published on the Fellow Travelers blog:

This November, nations will come together for the international climate summit in Glasgow. The summit is the most significant since the 2015 conference that produced the Paris Agreement, and the recent wave of climate disasters only underlines the extreme urgency of global action to fight climate change. The US, now back in the Paris Agreement after the Trump Administration withdrew, aims to play a leading role in the negotiations. But as the US attempts to return to the head of the table, one key question will be in other countries’ minds: why should we believe what the US says?

26 July 2021 on Fellow Travelers.

Read more at Fellow Travelers

IfNotNow, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons