Historic Golden Rule Anti-Nuclear Vessel Comes to Philadelphia and Swarthmore College

Golden Rule @ Swarthmore: Crew Members Talk & Archival Exhibit Poster

In 1958, an intrepid crew of (mainly) Quakers attempted to sail the small ship the “Golden Rule” to the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, to try to “get in the way” of massive nuclear tests the United States was planning there. They were arrested in Honolulu, but they left a lasting legacy connecting peace and environmental justice concerns. Now, a new crew from Veterans for Peace is using the same ship to campaign against the MAD-ness [Mutually Assured Destruction] of nuclear weapons. Read more about the campaign in the Global Nonviolent Action Database at Swarthmore College.

The Golden Rule, a 34-foot wooden ketch, will visit the Delaware Valley May 9-14, 2023 as part of a 15-month voyage around the eastern half of the USA, making 100 ports-of-call.

The Peace Collection at Swarthmore College is the archival repository of the Golden Rule project and will join the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and the VFP Golden Rule Project to co-sponsor a program by the crew when they arrive in our region. Members of the crew and other guests will offer a presentation, and archival material and memorabilia from the collection will be on display for visitors to explore.

When: Thursday, May 11, 2023, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Where: McCabe Library (Lib Lab) Room 104 at Swarthmore College, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (Google Map)

Download and share a flyer.

The Golden Rule’s barometer resides in the Peace Collection at Swarthmore College.

This event is open to the public. See a map with parking details here. Drop off and accessible parking spots are available at the turnaround circle outside McCabe Library. Primary parking is available at Ben West House and in the North Lot.

Obviously, the Golden Rule is now sea worthy and under sail, but these short videos offer a brief history of the original Golden Rule project, its renovation, and its contemporary educational mission.

The crew, 1958. Photo VFPGoldenRuleProject.org

Here is a schedule for a range of related events in the Philadelphia area May 7-13. Download and share a copy.

Photo: VFPGoldenRule.com

Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project, the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College, and the Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Contact: Department of Peace and Conflict Studies 610-328-PEAC, peacestudies@swarthmore.edu

End-Of-Year Ice Cream party

It is the last week of classes. Peace and Conflict Studies students (and those interested in majoring or minoring) are almost there! Of course, the exam period follows, but it is traditional for us to take a moment to catch our breath together during the reading period. You deserve it!

Let’s gather together on Monday, May 1, to catch up, enjoy some ice cream, and hopefully bask in some fine May weather. Bring a frisbee or beach ball or board game if you like. See you then! (Details below)

Iraq Afterwar(d)s: Epistemic Violence and Collateral Damage

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department is pleased to be a co-sponsor of this talk, featuring Iraqi Novelist and Poet Sinan Antoon, taking place at Swarthmore College.

Sinan Antoon, Iraqi novelist and poet.

Title: Iraq Afterwar(d)s: Epistemic Violence and Collateral Damage
Speaker: Sinan Antoon, Iraqi novelist and poet.
Date & Time : April 25th, Tuesday, 4:30 – 6:30 pm
Location: 
Kohlberg Scheuer Room
*This event is open to the public.

This talk will address the genealogy of the destruction of Iraq and its ongoing effects. While most accounts begin in 2003, the talk will trace it back to the first Gulf War of 1991 and throughout the economic sanctions (1990-2003). In addition to material destruction, the talk will discuss the epistemic violence of U.S wars and its effects on knowledge production in and about Iraq.

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist, translator, and scholar. He was born and raised in Baghdad where he finished a B.A in English at Baghdad University in 1990. He left for the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. He earned a doctorate in Arabic literature from Harvard in 2006. He has published two collections of poetry and five novels. His most recent wok is The Book of Collateral Damage. Sinan returned to his native Baghdad in 2003 to co-produce and co-direct a documentary film about Iraq under occupation entitled About Baghdad. His essays have appeared in the New York TimesGuardianal-Jazeera and various Arabic-language outlets. His scholarly works include a book on the pre-modern poet, Ibn al-Hajjaj, and articles on Sa`di Youssef, Sargon Boulus, and Mahmoud Darwish. He is an Associate Professor at New York University and co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya.

Iraq Afterwar(d)s: Epistemic Violence and Collateral Damage Flyer

Sponsored by: the Arabic Section of MLL, the Islamic Studies Program, the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, the Department of Peace & Conflict Studies, and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.

The Living Dead or the Sonic Story of Male Bodies Behind Bars in Egypt

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department is pleased to be a co-sponsor of this talk, featuring Dr. Maria Frederika Malmström, taking place at Swarthmore College.


Title: The Living Dead or the Sonic Story of Male Bodies Behind Bars in Egypt
Speaker: Dr. Maria Frederika Malmström, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Research Fellow; The Aga Khan University, London
Date & Time : April 19th, Wednesday, 4:30 pm
Location: Kohlberg Hall 228

This talk tells a story of the aftermath of the ‘failed revolution’ in Egypt through the prism of sound and gendered political prisoner bodies. It created embodied reactions among Cairene men—years after their lived prison experiences—in which depression, sorrow, stress, paranoia, rage, or painful body memories are prevalent. Affect theory shows how sonic vibrations—important stimuli within everyday experience, with a unique power to induce strong affective states—mediate consciousness, including heightened states of attention and anxiety. Sound, or the lack thereof, stimulates, disorients, transforms, and controls. The sound of life is transformed into the sound of death; the desire to disappear in order not to disappear again produces ‘ghost bodies’ alienated from the ‘new Egypt’, but from the family and the self too.

The Living Dead or the Sonic Story of Male Bodies Behind Bars in Egypt Flyer

Sponsored by: Sociology & Anthropology, Arabic section of MLL, Islamic Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies

Prof. Atshan to Speak at Bryn Mawr on Palestinian Christians: Past, Present, Future

Here in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore we are excited to welcome Prof. Sa’ed Atshan back this summer, and students at Bryn Mawr are helping us get warmed up by hosting him on their campus!


Title: Palestinian Christians: Past, Present, Future
Speaker: Dr. Sa’ed Atshan
Date & Time: Monday April 10th at 7:00pm
Location: Bryn Mawr College Carpenter Library Room B-21

Please join Bi-Co Students for Justice in Palestine for a presentation by Dr. Sa’ed Atshan on “Palestinian Christians: Past, Present, Future.” Everyone is welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!

Dr. Atshan is a well-respected professor and public academic. He is a Swarthmore Alum (BA 2006), he earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard-Kennedy School in 2008, his Masters in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 2010, and his PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 2013. Dr. Atshan served as an associate professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College (2015-2022) before being recruited to Emory University where he serves as an associate professor of Anthropology and Director of Undergraduate Studies. In the Fall of 2023, Dr. Atshan will return to Swarthmore as the Chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department.

Dr. Atshan has also written or co-authored three books: “Reel Gender: Palestinian and Israeli Cinema,” “Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique,” and “The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, and Palestinians.” His research focuses on contemporary Palestinian society, global LGBTQ+ movements, and Christian minorities in the Middle East.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Atshan’s research and work, consider visiting his website: https://atshan.net/.

Thank you for joining us in giving Dr. Atshan a very warm welcome to Bryn Mawr College!

Peace and Conflict Studies Student Nora Sweeney ’24 shares study abroad experience in Northern Ireland

Nora Sweeney ’24 is a Peace and Conflict Honors Major student at Swarthmore College, who studied abroad in Northern Ireland during the fall semester of 2022. The Peace and Conflict Studies department has invited Nora to an interview to share her experience studying abroad and provide suggestions to future study abroad students.

Nora Sweeney ’24

Question: Before we get into all the details, can you briefly share your overall experience studying abroad?

Sure! My name is Nora, and I am a junior at Swarthmore College. I am an Honors Major in Peace and Conflict Studies and an Honors Minor in Sociology and Anthropology. I spent last fall in Northern Ireland, a country with historical legacies of conflict.

I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point. It was high on my radar when I got to college because when else will you get to spend three months somewhere without logistical stress? After two years at Swarthmore (one during the height of the pandemic), it felt like a good time to take a break and have a couple of months to figure out the world.

The idea to go abroad last fall came from a couple of factors. The spring before my study abroad program, I took a class with Professor Smithey called Transforming Intractable Conflict, which focused on intense ethnopolitical conflicts that are long-standing and hard to resolve. As a major in the Peace and Conflict Studies program, this was the first time I’d learned about applied conflict resolution initiatives and attempts. The case study focused on the North of Ireland, which is where Professor Smithey’s research is and also where my mom grew up. It felt serendipitous that these could align, so I started to seek programs in Northern Ireland.

I found a program about democracy and social change in the North, which felt perfect. I had this big plan to participate in this great program and have concentrated education about peace in a country grappling with the legacies of conflict. I was quite sad to find out that the organization that runs the program folded after COVID financial concerns, but by then, I was set on getting to Northern Ireland. I ended up doing a direct enrollment program at Queen’s University Belfast, which was a phenomenal experience despite not being a focused program on conflict. 

Question: What did you do on the first-day post-arrival? What were some of the most exciting experiences during your journey in Northern Ireland?

I left the United States on September 10th and got to Belfast on the 11th. It was crazy timing because the Queen had died on September 8th. So I got there on September 11th, slept, and tried to adjust to the time difference. The next day I had my program orientation, where they condensed everything we needed to know about studying abroad into a couple hours. It was supposed to be a multi-day event, but they canceled everything else because the country was meant to be in mourning because of the Queen. 

The next day, Tuesday, September 13th, was the new King’s coronation tour. My “big introduction” to Belfast was also the empire’s “big introduction” to a new monarch! I lived with Americans also studying abroad, so we walked from our accommodation to the city center, which was beautiful (and my first actual glimpse of the center of Belfast). Then we wandered, parked ourselves on the curb by a barricade, and watched King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla come down waving in their car. It was a bizarre (but very cool) way to get introduced to the country.

Queen Consort Camilla’s Hand

Something that struck me was how I had learned so much about Belfast in my previous studies, but I still went into it not knowing how it would feel. I have learned most about conflict and how the city is still segregated between Protestants and Catholics, like how there are solid walls between communities. I knew that rationally, but I didn’t know how I would feel actually being there. When I talk to people, they say Belfast has changed a lot in the last 20 years. And it’s just people doing their regular routines— I hadn’t expected to not really feel conflict as in my daily life. I felt much safer in Belfast than walking down the street in the United States, and I think that has to do a lot in part with gun regulation policies.

It might be a bit cliché, but learning and feeling a city was the most exciting part. Belfast is a pretty small city. It’s the capital of Northern Ireland, but it’s still relatively small in size and population. During my time there, I didn’t have a cohort. I was mainly just doing my own thing! I was one of 24,000 students at the University, and no one knew me unless I went up and introduced myself to them. There were some interesting cultural differences— for example, participation isn’t required, nor is attendance in most classes. Sometimes I was the only one in class, which was very different from what I’m used to at Swarthmore. 

It was nice just to be able to figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be in a place where no one knew me nor would remember me once I left. It was very different from how I’ve experienced Swarthmore, where you know everyone or recognize most people on campus. Having the study abroad experience made me appreciate the Swarthmore community even more.

Throwing a Swarthmore disc at the Botanic Gardens

Question: What does peace mean to you, and how has that study abroad experience reinforced or changed that perception?

I went into Northern Ireland knowing they have this legacy of conflict that they are still grappling with in tangible and much more subversive ways.

Essentially, in Northern Ireland right now, there are two central communities, Catholics and Protestants. Where the Catholics tend to identify with the Irish Republic, the Protestant identity is more associated with the British State. And so one of the major things I was learning was that it is much more nuanced; your religion will no longer necessarily predict your political ideology. It was genuinely fascinating to go into that place and experience those nuances with a new understanding of what efforts are being made about conflict because so much has been attempted in the last two decades.

Program Academic Setting

The biggest lesson I learned is that it is not terribly different from the United States. Northern Ireland is much more homogeneous and racially similar, and it’s got two prominent religions, but they’re both Christian religions. When you untangle it, some threads will still be the same. I think there are some important lessons to be learned from how we apply [ourselves] to conflict and conflict resolution that I did not realize could even be used in a U.S. context, but as it turns out, some aspects of conflict resolution can appear even across oceans. The concept of “peace” is intentionally vague because it is inherently not one-size-fits-all, but there can be schemas for how we approach resolutions. I think what I’m getting at is that in the United States, we tend to think of major conflicts happening “over there,” even though this country still experiences immense conflict. Communities are not always as different as they may seem on the surface, and I think we could learn some things from the commitment to finding a resolution that so many actors in the North of Ireland share. 

Question: Any advice for future Swatties that are planning to study abroad?

Field Trip

I really recommend going abroad. Apart from the immense fun, I needed to go somewhere because, rationally, we know that the world is bigger than Swarthmore. When I got to the University, people asked where I went to school, and I would reply, “Swarthmore.” They would usually respond they had never heard of it. It was nice to be reminded in a physical, tangible way that there is more out there than just Swarthmore. My most extensive advice is to go and try these new experiences before the four years fly past.

FAll 2023 Peace and Conflict Studies Courses

Registration for the fall semester 2023 is coming up soon, so check out these exciting courses by our outstanding faculty! Flyers with course descriptions for PEAC courses are provided below. Check them out!