All posts by Lee Smithey

Dancing with History: George Lakey TriCo Memoir Launch

We are thrilled to welcome our former colleague and Lang Professor, George Lakey, back to campus to help launch his latest book, a memoir, Dancing With History: A Life for Peace and Justice. Join us for this public TriCollege book talk sponsored by departments at Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr Colleges. A reception and book signing will follow.

Date: January 31, 2023

Author-Student Meet-and-Greet Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Lib Lab in McCabe Library at Swarthmore College

Public Lecture Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Science Center, Cunniff Hall (Room 199) at Swarthmore College (Parking in Whittier Lot in Google Maps) (Walking directions to Cunniff Hall)

Lakey Dealing with History book cover
George Lakey’s new memoir, “Dancing with History: A Life for Peace and Justice.”

Download an event announcement flyer and share!

George Lakey is a scholar, writer, activist, trainer, and formerly a Lang Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College, where he founded the Global Nonviolent Action Database. He has taught or trained at all three Trico colleges (Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore). Since the age of 19, he has been a tireless leader in peace, justice, and civil rights movements, studying and engaging in nonviolent campaigns for social change. A prominent Quaker, Lakey founded Training for Change here in Philadelphia, and his work can be traced across the anti-Vietnam War movement, gay liberation, Movement for a New Society, Men Against Patriarchy, Jobs with Peace (a labor coalition), climate justice movements, and more.

A prolific author throughout his career, his book include Toward a Living Revolution; How We Win; and Viking Economics. Copies of Dancing with History are available in the Campus Bookstore and can be purchased at the event.

Whet your appetite for this event by watching a trailer from a film about George’s life that is in development as well as the endorsements below.


George Lakey is a national treasure, whom I met when I was 22.  Dancing with George was a blast. His unstoppable, thoughtful, contagious approach to democratic action has inspired my life’s work.

Frances Moore Lappé, Director, Small Planet Institute.

In his memoir, George Lakey recollects his past and current experiences, layer by layer, narrating a life of building peace and justice through one’s actions.


George Lakey’s memoir is an important book, for Friends and for the wide radius of activist groups his life of witness has influenced. It is a testament to the adage that the personal is political, and the political is personal. One can hear eighty years of American culture pulsating through his body and spirit – not simply as unreflected zeitgeist, but as spiritually discerned and focused by a resilient concern for actionable analysis and strategy for a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Doug Gwyn, author of A Sustainable Life: Quaker Faith & Practice in the Renewal of Creation.

Prof. George Lakey supporting students during a month-long sit-in for fossil fuel divestment at Swarthmore College in 2015.

Co-sponsors: Peace & Conflict Studies (Swarthmore); The Peace Collection and Friends Historical Library (Swarthmore); Swarthmore Friends Meeting; Peace, Justice, & Human Rights (Haverford); Peace, Conflict, & Social Justice Studies (Bryn Mawr); Sociology and Anthropology Department (Swarthmore); The Lang Center; Gender & Sexuality Studies

Dr. Sa’ed Atshan to return to Swarthmore College and the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

Prof. Sa'ed Atshan
Professor Sa’ed Atshan

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that we share that Dr. Sa’ed Atshan will return to the faculty of Swarthmore College and that he will serve as Chair of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies in the fall semester. We are so excited that future generations of students will benefit from his exceptional teaching and mentoring.

Dr. Atshan (Swarthmore ’06), a renowned anthropologist and peace and conflict studies scholar, has extensive teaching experience at institutions including Birzeit, Brown, Emory, MIT, Swarthmore, Tufts, and UC Berkeley.

He joined our program in 2015 and contributed mightily to its development as a department. His popular classes included the introductory course; Crisis Resolution in the Middle East; Gender, Sexuality, and Social Change; Humanitarianism; and more. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict course included five consecutive and transformational embedded study trips to Israel/Palestine, not to mention a related and well-attended annual film series. He also co-organized a large conference on resisting anti-Semitism with Rabbi Michael Ramberg, Swarthmore’s Jewish Advisor. 

A widely sought public intellectual with a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies, MA in Social Anthropology, and Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, Dr. Atshan’s areas of focus include peace and conflict, anthropology, Palestine/Israel, and gender and sexuality. He is author, co-author, or editor of award-winning books, Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020 Stanford University Press), The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020 Duke University Press; with Katharina Galor), and Reel Gender: Palestinian and Israeli Cinema (2022 Bloomsbury; with Katharina Galor). 

Dr. Atshan is the recipient of a wide range of awards including the Arab America Foundation’s ’40 Under 40’ Award, the Young Global Leader Award from the Council for the United States and Italy, and a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace. Just this semester, Dr. Atshan became the first Palestinian inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater in Atlanta.

Dr. Atshan inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College
In October, Dr. Atshan was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College.

Dr. Atshan returns to us from the Anthropology Department at Emory University, where he is a tenured professor and the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. His reputation as a beloved mentor precedes him. While at Swarthmore, he not only supported prospective students, current students, and alums in their academic and vocational pursuits, he also served as the Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program. He himself, as an undergraduate at Swarthmore, was both a Lang Scholar and the first Arab-American in the nation to receive a MMUF scholarship.

Dr. Atshan brings deep roots in Quaker life, having been educated at Ramallah Friends School (RFS), and with service now as an advisor to RFS, on the Corporation of Haverford College, and on the Board of the American Friends Service Committee. He has also served on the Board of Pendle Hill, the Multicultural Board of Westtown School, and as a spiritual nurturer for the Quaker Voluntary Service. Moreover, as he returns to the College, Dr. Atshan will lean into a new research project on African-American and Palestinian Quakers that will involve Swarthmore’s Peace Collection and Friends Historical Library

We hope you can tell why we are excited about Dr. Atshan’s rejoining our department. He brings outstanding experience in so many respects that fit seamlessly with Swarthmore’s and our department’s missions. 

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Sa’ed Atshan!

4 Little Girls: A Film by Spike Lee

Fifty-eight years ago, a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, was destroyed by white supremacists in an act of terrrorism on a Sunday morning in September.

Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
Sproul/Intercultural Center Dome Room
Swarthmore College (map)

Join us for a screening and community-wide discussion of the academy-award nominated documentary by Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls, this Saturday.

The film commemorates the church bombing that claimed the lives of four African American girls during a profound period of upheaval in the struggle for social justice. The documentary revisits the moment that catalyzed civil rights in the US and traces the lives of those who would become some of the youngest martyrs in the emerging global peace movement for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual equality: Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson.

Come watch the film and stay for discussion. #SayTheirNames

Applying Lessons from the Life of Bayard Rustin to Quaker Work at the UN

Our friends nearby at the Pendle Hill Quaker center are announcing their annual Stephen G. Cary Memorial lecture, and this year’s speaker is Sarah Clarke, Director of the Quaker UN Office in New York. She will talk about “Applying Lessons from the Life of Bayard Rustin to Quaker Work at the UN.” A number of Swarthmore students and alums have served as interns at the Quaker UN Office, so this could be a unique opportunity for you to learn more about the organization and experience the beautiful Pendle Hill campus!


“As we approach the 75th anniversary of Quaker work at the UN, we have an opportunity to reflect on those in our community who have taught us valuable lessons about the Quaker traditions of non-violence and direct engagement with those who hold power. The wisdom and life of Quaker civil rights activist Bayard Rustin offers insights and lessons that continue to guide us today and as we look into the future.”


Prof. Smithey plans to provide transportation to the lecture, which will take place on Monday, September 12 at 7:30pm-9:00pm Eastern Time.

In-person spaces are limited. If you would like to travel the short one mile to Pendle Hill in a college van, please RSVP using this form by 11:59 pm on Wednesday, September 7. If seats are still available then, we will request them.

People who choose not to travel to Pendle Hill can register to watch the event via Zoom.


Also see this recent piece in Waging Nonviolence by our own Prof. George Lakey.

Prof. Margaret MacMillan to offer Cooper Series Lecture: “Friend or foe? War and Society” – September 7, 2022

We are excited to be a co-sponsor of this Cooper Series event featuring Professor Margaret MacMillan, emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Read more about the event below, and we hope to see you there.

“Friend or Foe? War and Society”
Wednesday 7th September 2022
7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Science Center’s Chang Hou Auditorium 101
Swarthmore College (map)
Reception to follow

Download a flyer

War is one of the most fundamental driving forces of human civilization. Today, prominent voices claim that we live in the most peaceful era in human history, but contemporary technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyberwar pose potentially existential threats. We should not turn away from the subject of war, however abhorrent we may find it. Rather, we must understand war to mitigate its effects, but also, vitally, because it is integral to understanding who we are.

Professor Margaret MacMillan is one of the world’s preeminent scholars of international relations. A best-selling author and frequent commentator in the media, she is known for her unparalleled grasp of her subject – war and peace – as well as her gift for vivid and powerful storytelling.  Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (2001) is widely regarded as a masterpiece and was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize, Hessell-Tiltman Prize, and Samuel Johnson Prize. Other works include: Women of the Raj (1988); Nixon in China: Six Days that Changed the World (2006); The Uses and Abuses of History (2008); The War that Ended Peace (2014); History’s People (2015) and War: How Conflict Shaped Us (2020).   She is emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Oxford, former Warden of St Antony’s College (University of Oxford) and visiting distinguished historian at the Council on Foreign Relations (2020-21).  In 2021, MacMillan won the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. 

This event is co-sponsored by the departments of History, Political Science, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

We Are Hiring!: Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies (Open Rank)

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time tenure track faculty position, beginning Fall 2023. Rank is open.

Please share widely. Thank you.


Swarthmore College: Peace & Conflict Studies Department

Location

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Open Date

Aug 15, 2022

Description

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time tenure track faculty position, beginning Fall 2023. Rank is open. Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information on Faculty Diversity and Excellence at Swarthmore, see https://www.swarthmore.edu/faculty-diversity-excellence.

Founded in 1864 by abolitionist Quakers, Swarthmore College seeks to provide learners of diverse backgrounds a transformative liberal arts education grounded in rigorous intellectual inquiry and to empower all who share in our community to flourish and contribute to a better world. A focus on the study and pursuit of peace and justice dates from the founding of the College, and the Peace and Conflict Studies Department began as a formal interdisciplinary program in 1991. We study violence, oppression, and powerful nonviolent ways to secure more just and peaceful futures, within an interdisciplinary learning community committed to equity and inclusion. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection, the Friends Historical Library, and the Global Nonviolent Action Database are also housed at the College. For more information about the department, please visit our website at https://www.swarthmore.edu/peace-conflict-studies

Qualifications

Candidates should demonstrate expertise in peace and conflict studies. We welcome applications from candidates in the humanities and social sciences with 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. We seek a candidate with a serious commitment to scholarship and a strong research agenda, robust teaching skills, and a passion for peace studies that will support student advising and contribute to the development of a dynamic department. Candidates with leadership skills and administrative experience are highly desirable. The strongest candidates will demonstrate a commitment to an active research program and creative teaching that speaks to and motivates undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. A terminal degree (PhD/MFA/DFA) in peace and conflict studies or in another discipline should be in hand by September 2023, accompanied by intellectual and professional engagement in the field of peace and conflict studies.

Effective July 21, 2021, Swarthmore is requiring all new employees to show proof of being fully vaccinated by their start date, unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. For more information about Swarthmore’s vaccine requirements, please visit the Swarthmore COVID-19 Response website.

Application Instructions

Full consideration will be given to all complete applications received by 11:59 pm October 21, 2022. Applications will be accepted thereafter until the position is filled but cannot be guaranteed consideration. Candidates should send the following:

  • a cover letter of 2-3 pages, including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, and research agenda. We invite applicants to discuss if and how they have addressed (or plan to address) issues of inequality, diversity, and inclusivity through their teaching, scholarship, or service activities.
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a writing sample of not more than 40 pages
  • three letters of recommendation.

Finalists may be asked to submit evidence of teaching effectiveness, along with course syllabi. 

Please apply at apply.interfolio.com/111487   Direct inquiries to the Department Chair, Lee Smithey, at lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu

Peace and Conflict Studies logo

Prof. Wilson Becerril Brings New Courses in Fall 2022

In a recent blog post, we announced the arrival of Prof. Mike Wilson Becerril, who will offer TWO NEW COURSES in Peace and Conflict Studies for the fall semester 2022. We hope you will check them out and share with your friends:

  • PEAC 030: War in Lived Experience
  • PEAC 045: Peace and Conflict in Latin America

Find course descriptions below. These courses can be ADDED NOW through MySwarthmore.


PEAC 030: War in Lived Experience
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:30 am – 11:20 am

Protestors
      in front of riot police

What is violence, and how do we learn to think of it? What is war and why is it started? How can it be avoided? How do we know when we are safe, or what insecurity is? How does media treat war and different forms of violence? How does war end? What are the links between war and everyday life? This course centers on these open questions to develop a framework to make sense of, and critically engage with, issues of conflict, violence, war, and peace. In history books, the news, and our language, violence and war seem to be pervasive. To understand and confront them, we must explore in-depth how they are experienced, interpreted, remembered, institutionalized, normalized, and challenged by everyday people. Exploring diverse approaches to war and peace “from below” and across different contexts, we will build tools to recognize and transform different forms of violence.

PEAC 045: Peace and Conflict in Latin America
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 11:30 am – 12:20 pm

Most people in Latin America live under various forms of “violent peace.” Although most states are not at war formally, the means of violence have not receded despite several “waves of democratization,” and in fact, these have become normalized or concealed in everyday relations. Latin America today is reported to have the highest rate of homicides, worst levels of economic inequality, deadliest settings for environmental defenders, highest levels of police-committed killings, and highest levels of gender-based violence in the world. Likewise, it showcases a wide range of political plurality and representation, cultural and biological diversity, and rich historical trajectories often marked by successful struggles for alternative worlds, social justice, and international peace. This interdisciplinary course centers on a comparative, thematic, and chronological study of Latin America to understand the layered meanings and forms of violence, different methods and challenges of promoting justice, and lessons from attempts to build durable peace.


We are excited about these new courses and the opportunity to expand our department’s offerings. Thank you Prof. Wilson Becerril!

Prof. Michael Wilson Becerril
Professor Michael Wilson Becerril

Prof. Michael Wilson Becerril Joins Peace and Conflict Studies Faculty

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Dr. Michael Wilson Becerril as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Peace and Conflict Studies Department!

Prof. Wilson Becerril will bring new courses into our curriculum, and this fall semester 2022, he will offer PEAC 030: War in Lived Experience and PEAC 045: Peace and Conflict in Latin America. Check out the course descriptions and take advantage of the add period.

Dr. Wilson Becerril joins us from the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and before that the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, where he completed majors in Political Science and International Studies, with minors in Peace Studies, Anthropology, and History. 

Of ten fellowships he has held, two include the Jennings Randolph Peace Scholarship at the United States Institute of Peace and a Ph.D. Fellowship with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Prof. Wilson Becerill’s first book, Resisting Extractivism: Peruvian Gold, Everyday Violence, and the Politics of Attention is published with Vanderbilt University Press. He is the author of peer-reviewed articles in journals that include Journal of Resistance Studies, Terrorism and Political Violence, Peace Review, and Feminist Review. Michael is also a public intellectual, publishing regularly in popular journalistic and online outlets.

Mike says that his scholarship “generates practical and policy-relevant understandings of pressing issues, focusing on how the environment is entangled with various forms of conflict and violence as well as with diverse notions of justice, peace, and security—particularly in Latin America.”

Prof. Wilson Becerill is an experienced instructor of peace and conflict studies courses including:

  • Introduction to Peace and Conflict
  • Violence & Peace in Latin America
  • Environmental Justice in Latin America
  • Conflict Resolution
  • War in Lived Experience
  • International Human Rights and Advocacy

Mike says of his teaching: ”…my teaching is explicitly crafted to cultivate critical reflection, via discussion and writing, on structural and embodied forms of power—including race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, age, and more—investigating histories of oppression and resistance through the experiences and voices of marginalized groups.”

We look forward to Prof. Wilson Becerril’s arrival on campus. Drop by his office hours, and if you see him on a sidewalk, stop and welcome him!


LIVE panel with Ruth McDonough ’08, Sultana Khaya, and co. engaged in unarmed civilian protection and nonviolent struggle in Western Sahara

Ruth McDonough ’08 (Religion; Peace and Conflict Studies; Linguistics) is currently engaged in unarmed civilian protection in the home of the Khaya sisters, Saharawi nonviolent activists calling for an independent Western Sahara, who have been under de facto house arrest for more than 500 days.. Learn more.

On Wednesday April 20, we are hosting a hybrid in-person/online event to:

1.) learn more about Western Saraha
2.) join a LIVE panel from the Khaya sisters’ home.

Where: Join online (links below) or come to Kohlberg Hall Room 230

10:30 AM EDT – Primer on Western Sahara by Professor Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, Coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies, and co-author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/wsahara

11:00 AM EDT – Join the live online panel with Ruth McDonough ’08 and the rest of the team.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/3jIDzi4

Online participation by the public is welcomed.


Ruth McDonough

Ruth is a current member of the Unarmed Civilian Accompaniment based at the Khaya family home in Boujdour, Western Sahara. Ruth has been an Arabic teacher and strong proponent of cross-cultural understanding and peacebuilding and is the site Director of Middlebury College’s Jiran: Arabic Community Action Summer 2021 to present. Previously, she was head of the World Languages and Cultures Department at The American School in London–London, UK; Arabic Teacher at The American School in London, UK; Field Instructor at Where There Be Dragons, Amman, Jordan; Arabic Teacher at Arabic Summer Academy–Boston, MA, USA; Curriculum Consultant at One World Now, Seattle, Washington and Portland State University–Portland, OR, USA and Arabic Teacher at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. Ruth served as co-founder/facilitator of Anti-Racism Enquiry Group at The American School in London, co-chair of the Upper School Diversity Committee and co-advisor to SHADES at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. She is skilled at international and outdoor program management as Ecology Facilitator and Wilderness Trail Co-Leader at The American School in London, UK and an emergency wilderness responder. Ruth lived and traveled in many Arab countries and is proficient at several languages including English, Arabic, French and American Sign Language. She earned a BA in Religion at Swarthmore College with minors in Linguistics and Peace & Conflict Studies and a Certificate in Humanistic Integrative Counseling from CPPD Counseling School.

Sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College
Contact: Lee Smithey, lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu

Film Screening: Angels are Made of Light

Wednesday, March 3
4:15-6:30 p.m.
Science Center Room 199
Swarthmore College

Please join us for a screening of Angels are Made of Light, a documentary that traces the lives of young students and their teachers at a school in the old city of Kabul. The film interweaves the modern history of Afghanistan with present-day portraits, offering an intimate and nuanced view of Afghan society in Kabul. The screening will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Peace & Conflict Studies Professor Amy Kapit

Pizza will be served!

Sponsored by Peace & Conflict Studies, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Asian Studies