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Webinar on the Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements

On November 15, 2018, Prof. Lee Smithey joined his co-editor and colleague, Prof. Lester Kurtz (George Mason University) to talk about their new edited book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press). The webinar was recorded, and you are welcome to view it here. The Communications Office, also published a piece on the College’s website that you may also read below. You can learn more about the book at http://paradox.swarthmore.edu


Professor Lee Smithey
Associate Professor Lee Smithey

Lee Smithey, associate professor of peace & conflict studies and sociology, is a co-editor and contributor to a new book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press, 2018), that offers an in-depth exploration of the use of repression in political arenas and its unintended effect of sometimes fanning the flames of nonviolent resistance.

“The concept of backfire, or the paradox of repression, is widely understood to be fundamental to strategic nonviolent action, but it has not been fully investigated. It was work that needed to be done,” says Smithey, who in addition to writing and teaching about nonviolent resistance has also participated in peaceful protests. “Power is not only about repression but also about building public support.”

The book, edited by Smithey and Lester Kurtz, a George Mason University sociology professor, is meant as a tool for scholars and activists to understand how repression works, as well as to study significant incidents when nonviolent activists took measures to help make repression a defining moment. For example: “When authorities are seen as attacking or disrespecting widely shared symbols, they may mobilize people in defense of shared collective identities,” write Smithey and Kurtz.

The editors first wrote about the topic in 1999, but organizing for the new book began in 2009—bringing together diverse, global contributors to study how repression can energize nonviolent movements and how nonviolent activists have worked to manage repression in their favor. It includes the grassroots efforts of nonviolent resistance such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who bravely joined forces as “mothers of the nation” to stand against dictator Robert Mugabe.

As they planned the book, Smithey and Kurtz organized a two-day writing retreat for the contributors to help build an integrated approach to the project. “It was intellectually exciting,” Smithey says. “We were committed early on to making this book a collaboration between academics and practitioners.”

One practice the book’s authors explore is called repression management—enacted by withstanding or avoiding repression or by creating scenarios in which repression against nonviolent activists would more likely elicit a sense of public outrage (and ultimately support).

One example, Smithey says, is the now-iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, who stood stoically in a flowing dress and faced a line of law enforcement officers in riot gear as she protested the shooting death of Alton Sterling. The photo, taken in downtown Baton Rouge, La., on July 9, 2016, quickly became a cultural touchstone.

The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements also examines the psychological costs for agents of repression, elites’ attempts to avoid triggering the paradox of repression, repression of online activism, and the work of overcoming fear.

“Repression is an attempt to demobilize nonviolent movements by sowing fear,” Smithey says, “but activists can work together to overcome fear and continue to mobilize.”

The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict will host a webinar by Smithey and Kurtz Nov. 15 from noon to 1 PM. Smithey will also offer an Alumni Council webinar on the book on Nov. 28. 

Introducing the 2018–2019 Lang Social Impact Fellows

Congratulations to our alum Fatima Boozarhomehri ’17 as well as A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16!


From Swarthmore News and Events

Fatima Boozarhomehri '17
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16 (left) and Fatima Boozarjomehri ’17 will build upon their Lang Opportunity Scholarship projects and mentor current Lang Scholars and other Swarthmore student innovators.

As this year’s pair of Lang Social Impact FellowsA’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16 and Fatima Boozarjomehri ’17 will “scale up” their efforts for social change with support from the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.

Murray-Thomas and Boozarjomehri will build upon their Lang Opportunity Scholarship projects this year and mentor current Lang Scholars and other Swarthmore student innovators.

“It is through the vision and generosity of Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 that communities facing significant challenges have come to know Swarthmore College students and alumni like A’Dorian and Fatima as social change-makers,” says Jennifer Magee, senior associate director of the Lang Center, who designed the Lang Social Impact Fellows program with input from Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center, and Salem Shuchman ’84, former Lang Scholar and current Board of Managers chair.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to innovate and build upon the success of the Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program with this pilot program in its second year,” Magee adds. “And we are motivated and inspired to work with A’Dorian and Fatima as they sustain and scale their initiatives.”

The fellowship will allow Murray-Thomas to scale up her SHE Wins project, which started as a Lang Scholar project working with 12–15-year-old girls in Newark, N.J., who had lost a parent or sibling to homicide. Since then, SHE Wins has expanded to an Engaged Scholarship project that works at “the intersection of educational studies, restorative justice, and adolescent psychology” to “empower the next generation of young women leaders.”

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to collaborate with various parts of the greater Swarthmore College community to further enhance the SHE Wins model, and to use my experience to give back to current Lang Scholars, like so many other Lang alumni have given to me,” says Thomas-Murray, who graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in political science and educational studies and, in 2016, was named College Woman of the Year by Glamour and a White House Champion of Change.

Boozarjomehri will expand her efforts with the Afghan refugee population of southern Tehran, designing projects to improve education access and quality for Afghan youth and diversifying economic opportunities for Afghan women. This year, she will broaden the scope of The Fanoos Project, a vocational training program for single mothers.

“I am most looking forward to continue building strong partnerships with local [nongovernmental organizations] and expanding the reach of the program to more mothers in new locations and with better facilities,” says Boozarjohmehri, who majored in Islamic studies and peace & conflict studies at Swarthmore, with support from the Project Pericles Fund. “I’m also really excited about developing a sustainable business model to ensure the continuation of the program for many years.”

Layla Hazaineh ’20 Wins Next Generation Peacemaker Award

Congratulations to Layla Hazaineh ’20 from all of us in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program!!


From Swarthmore News and Events

Layla Hazaineh '20 receives PJSA Next Generation Peacemaker Award
Hazaineh was recognized for her video blog on female empowerment at the Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference, attended by 10 Swarthmore students and faculty.

Layla Hazaineh ’20 recently received international recognition for her efforts on behalf of women who have been harassed and treated unfairly.

The peace & conflict studies major received the Next Generation Peacemaker Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) for providing empowerment to women and encouraging them to exercise freedom as an act of rebellion to these injustices.

Hazaineh, who was raised in a Palestinian refugee family in Amman, Jordan, was granted the award for the video blog (vlog) she started last year. The vlog features a series of videos challenging the unfair treatment of women in Arab societies, connecting with and encouraging women to express themselves. In the videos, Hazaineh shares her own struggles, such as the courage it took for her to remove her headscarf.

For Hazaineh, the Peacemaker award was motivation to keep reaching toward a peaceful and equitable society.

“Winning the award reminded me that despite the hardships and burdens of activism, there will always be communities in which we feel supported and empowered,” she says. “The support and appreciation I felt gave me hope and increased my determination to keep going.”

Associate Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies and Sociology Lee Smithey had the honor of presenting Hazaineh with the award. Smithey shared his excitement and pride in her accomplishment.

“In the midst of the debate over the [Brett] Kavanaugh hearing … issues of patriarchy and misogyny were on everybody’s mind,” says Smithey, “and so Layla receiving the award for the work that she’s done to challenge toxic masculinity seems timely.”

Hazaineh received the award at the PJSA Conference at Arcadia University last month. PJSA, affiliated with the International Peace Research Association, is a professional association that brings together activists, scholars, K–12 teachers, and professors throughout the United States and Canada to discuss peace-building and social change. The theme for this year’s conference, attended by 10 Swarthmore students and faculty, was “Revolutionary Nonviolence in Violent Times.”

Swarthmore was also well-represented at the conference by alumni and former professors, including former Lang Professor George Lakey, who spoke about revolutionary nonviolence, and Jim MacMillan, former journalist-in-residence for War News Radio who spoke about gun violence policy and reform.

For students, the conference was an opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives about social justice and learn directly from researchers and activists in the field. Killian McGinnis ’19, a peace & conflict studies and gender studies special major from Baltimore, Md., described how a workshop she attended granted her new insights for her senior thesis that would be hard to obtain in a classroom setting.

“The research of Ph.D. candidate Carol Daniel Kasbari on everyday acts of resistance in Palestine presented me with a grounded view of activism,” McGinnis says, “and an approach to theory using culturally informed understandings of people’s circumstance to define it rather than imposing external conceptualizations.”

Following the conference, Hazaineh felt most empowered by connecting with a community of change-makers, people who are also rebuilding peace within modern society.

“The people in the conference created a beautiful space where I felt solidarity and connection, despite not knowing everyone there,” she says. “I am greatly grateful for that recognition and experience.”

Q&A with Lang Opportunity Scholar Ferial Berjawi ’19

Congratulations to Peace and Conflict Studies special major, Ferial Berjawi ’19!

From News and Events, October 17th, 2018
By Arthur Davis ’19

Ferial Berjawi '19
“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says Berjawi. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

For her Lang Opportunity Scholarship project over the summer, Ferial Berjawi ’19 designed and ran the BetterFly Camp, a six-week program that brought 30 young refugee girls in Lebanon together to discuss body image, legal rights, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.

The program, which Berjawi discussed with the Arabic news source FutureTV and on Journal Post, targeted Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls in Lebanon between ages 10 and 15. It emerged from Berjawi’s personal experiences and motives.

“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says the economics and peace & conflict studies special major from Beirut. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

Berjawi took a research-based approach to the program and used an array of innovative methods piloted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like the Danish Refugee Council and the Women’s Refugee Commission. The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, which awarded Berjawi the scholarship, lauded her project as a great example of the impact that students can have around the world through engaged scholarship.

Back at Swarthmore this fall, Berjawi discussed her experiences with and vision for the BetterFly Camp.

How would you describe the work you did this summer with the BetterFly Camp?

Basically, it was a series of psychosocial support sessions that had to do with early marriage, gender-based violence, positive body image–also legal rights, discrimination, power, and positionality. It was just basically addressing the different layers of these girls’ identities and helping them start thinking about who they are and who they want to be in the future. All of them have witnessed [gender-based violence]. All of them have seen it, or might have experienced it. That’s not their fault. They’re not to blame. They’re only the victims, even though they are victims with a lot of agency. So we made sure we were not taking that agency away from them. They should be allowed to find their own agency, look within themselves, and find their own power to rise above social constraint and determine their own paths for the future. So it was more inspiration and empowerment than it was about knowledge.

How did the idea for the project originate?

I grew up with everything that is going on. Just growing up and seeing it, living under the patriarchy, I experienced the sexism, the misogyny, the objectification, the dehumanization of women all the time. So that was part of it. But I never really knew how bad it was until I did an internship with the Danish Refugee Council the summer after my sophomore year. There, I worked closely with the gender-based violence program coordinator [on a large-scale empowerment/education program]. So I thought, “How about I do a similar initiative, but with a different approach?” I thought it would be more effective so the girls could open us up to even more, since it was a smaller group.

What was the Lang Center’s role in the project?

I got the Lang Opportunity Scholarship in December of my sophomore year, and they basically funded my internship that summer with the Danish Refugee Council. I don’t think I would have been able to do it otherwise. They’ve been there, backing me up, all the way. My context is very particular to Lebanon, and even though it may not be their area of expertise, bridging our knowledge together, we were able to make it work.

Is there anything that news excerpts or blurbs tend to miss when describing the big picture of your project? Moments or details that get left out?

There are little victory moments when you’re like, “Yes! This is working!” The final celebration is one example of that. We had our sessions and at the end, I was like, “You know what, girls? Let’s have a final celebration where you present something.” I thought it’d just be an hour. They’d come, they’d get their certificates, and that’d be it. But they wanted to perform. So in a matter of three weeks, we were able to choreograph a dance—two dances, actually—and a play. The parents loved it. After the celebration, they came up to me thanking me for the project. And the girls—five of them were crying their eyes out, so I just started crying, too. It’s one of those moments that are very genuine and very real. I learned more from them than they learned from me, I think.

What are your future plans—for the project or yourself?

Someone actually reached out to me from an American NGO. The director learned about my work from social media, and they want to do another project cycle over winter break. They’re completely funding a new cycle, and I’m going to partner with them on it. And for the future, I’m looking into social impact consulting and nonprofit work. Last summer was super rewarding, but you can do all these interventions and do all this nonprofit work, but their lives will ultimately be shaped by the socioeconomic and political circumstances that they live in. So I want to be working on a more policy level to change the framework itself.

Welcoming Molly Lawrence

The Peace and Conflict Studies program is delighted to welcome Molly Lawrence to our team!

Molly Lawrence
Molly Lawrence

Molly has just begun her new position at Swarthmore as Administrative Assistant for Interdisciplinary programs. Molly comes to us from the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program as their Think Tank Coordinator. She previously served as Administrative Assistant for the Karrie Gavin Group at Elfant Wissahickon Realtors. Molly has also worked extensively with the Leaders Corps of the University Community Collaborative and she served as an intern at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. before that.

Molly graduated from Temple University’s Honors College, with a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa distinctions, and a major in Political Science and minor in Geography and Urban Studies. She was also on Temple’s Dean’s List and has received recognition including the Diamond Award for University and Community Excellence, the Political Science Award for Excellence, and the William Seyler Award. Molly has a wide range of scholarly research contributions as well as community advocacy and leadership experience.

Molly writes, “As a life-long learner with a wide variety of academic interests related to identity, community, and history, I feel very at home in the Interdisciplinary Programs office, helping to connect all these individually important and deeply connected programs of study to ensure that they run smoothly.”

We are honored to have this talented, conscientious, warm, and accomplished addition to Swarthmore’s staff and broader community. Welcome Molly!

 

Faculty Votes Unanimously to Approve Regular Major in Peace and Conflict Studies

Following the unanimous vote of the faculty, the College has now formally approved a Regular Major in Peace and Conflict Studies here at Swarthmore. Toward the end of the 19th century (1888 to be exact), the first course in peace studies anywhere in the world was taught here at Swarthmore, and our program was established in 1991. The Peace Collection and Friends Historical Library have been supporting peace research since 1930 and 1871 respectively. Now, the study of peace and conflict has been formally incorporated into the College’s curriculum!

Congratulations!