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Seminars Archive

Dr. David Mednicoff
David Mednicoff

Law and the Arab Uprising of 2011:

Theorizing legal issues and political change in non-Western contexts

December 6, 2012

Dr. David Mednicoff directs the Master's in Public Policy and Middle Eastern Studies programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His areas of expertise include Middle Eastern law and politics, international law, human rights, globalization studies and comparative public policy. He holds a J.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has written on Arab constitutional politics and Islam before and after the events of 2011, the legal regulation of migrant workers in the Arab Gulf, human rights in the Middle East and humanitarian intervention.

Law is frequently held out as useful in mitigating conflicts among individuals, and, in the global sphere, among countries. But how does it manage relations between individuals and the state? This question, which has been important to centuries of social theorists, is particularly relevant to the contemporary Arab world, where the recent wave of uprisings has included demands and reform efforts around better regime accountability to citizens. He will discuss several strands of his current research that consider links among law, religion and political accountability in five Arab states, with an emphasis on the interaction of Islamic and international legal ideas, and the roles that legal activists have played with respect to political change.

Dr. James Waller
James Waller

Benefits and Challenges Associated with Conducting Research in Field Settings

April 26, 2012

Dr. James Waller is the Cohen Endowed Chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College. His study of this phenomenon led him to write Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, now in its second edition with Oxford University Press, in which he synthesizes a wide range of studies to create an impressive theory of how average citizens can come to participate in acts of unspeakable atrocity. Dr. Waller also continues his work at the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, which brings government policy makers, military leaders, and NGO activists to Auschwitz in Poland so they can learn to recognize the signs of genocide and use their influence to stop it.

Dr. Cora Fernandez Anderson
Cora Fernandez Anderson

The Other Struggle:

Human Rights Movements and Demand for Truth and Justice in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay

February 23, 2012

Dr. Cora Fernandez Anderson (PhD Political Science, University of Notre Dame) is a Visiting Professor at the Gender and Politics Department at Mount Holyoke College. Her work focuses on women and human rights movements and their interaction with democratic governments in order to achieve their demands.

In particular, Cora has researched human rights movements demanding judicial accountability for the abuses committed under the military dictatorships in the Southern Cone. Despite these countries sharing many cultural, social and economic characteristics, the way they have addressed human rights abuses since the time of their respective democratic transitions have varied widely. An examination of the human rights movements' strength and their alliances with political actors in each of these cases begins to cast light into these different outcomes.

Dr.Rita Guerra
Rita Guerra

The Complexity of Little "We's":

What do they think about us and how do we feel about that?

December 1, 2011

Dr. Rita Guerra is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Psychological Research and Social Intervention Lisbon University Institute, Portugal. Dr. Guerra is interested in intergroup relations among racial majority and minority youth and contact-based interventions to reduce prejudice in childhood. In her research, she studies how children's minority/majority status influences their emotional responses to intergroup contact.

She will present findings from her study of White and Black Portuguese children showing how the salience of different group representations during contact (e.g., as "one group identity" or "dual identity") influences the appraisal systems children use to interpret intergroup encounters, which trigger positive and negative intergroup emotions, and in turn, positive and negative behaviors toward other groups.

Dr. Nina Siulc
Nina Siulc

Deportation, Violence and "Securocratic Wars" in the Americas

November 10, 2011

Dr. Nina Siulc is an anthropologist, Assistant Professor in the Legal Studies Program, Department of Political Science University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Siulc has conducted numerous research studies exploring the human impact of detention and deportation policies. She will discuss the violence surrounding new mass deportations of persons convicted of crimes in the United States and sent back to the Dominican Republic, where new penalized spaces and privatized governance projects have emerged in response to the fears engendered by purportedly dangerous deportees.

The violence accompanying the formal and informal policing of and "retraining" practices directed at criminalized deportees--by both police officers and non-state actors--can be seen as part of a larger set of what Feldman dubs "securocratic wars" that have emerged in response to new perceived security threats across the Americas, threats that both result from and intersect with new instabilities wrought by nascent forms of democratic governance in post-dictatorial nations like the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Jill Irvine
Jill Irvine

From Civil Society to Civil Servants:

Women, War, and Political Transformation in the Balkans

March 24, 2011

Dr. Jill Irvine is the Presidential Professor and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Cynthia Enloe and others have argued that while war has a devastating impact on women it can also open up space for a reconfiguration of gender relations. But, under what conditions can a more egalitarian postwar order be achieved?

This study of women’s organizing during war and post war reconstruction in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo attempts to answer this question. To what extent, I ask, have women’s organizations achieved their goals of political transformation and gender equality? In what ways have they shaped the post war processes of refugee return, reconciliation and human security? In seeking to understand strategies and their impact, I focus on the interplay between structure and agency—examining the ways in which domestic and particularly international actors and forces shaped the strategic choices of women’s organizations and activists.

Dr. Orla Muldoon
Orla Muldoon

Social Identity, Political Violence and Psychological Distress:

Some lessons for peace and reconciliation from Northern Ireland

February 17, 2011

Dr. Orla Muldoon hails from the Department of Psychology, University of Limerick, Ireland. The talk will review theory and research from Northern Ireland and other regions affected by conflict to consider the relationship between mental health and political violence. Dr. Muldoon will argue that the orientation of theory and research aimed at understanding the onset of psychopathology in response to political violence has been particularly informed by Western individualistic constructions of social phenomena.

This approach calls for an extension of understanding of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress in response to political violence by considering how a group level analysis can inform incidence, diagnosis and expression of psychopathology. Drawing on a group level analysis, she will use the integrated social identity model of stress, to consider some of the paradoxical consequences of identity processes for mental health and social attitudes in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Daniel Bar-Tal
Daniel Bar-Tal

Socio-Psychological Barriers to Conflict Resolution

November 4, 2010

Dr. Daniel Bar-Tal is the Branco Weiss Professor of Research in Child Development and Education at the School of Education as well as the past director of the Walter Lebach Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence through Education at Tel Aviv University, Israel. His research interests lie in political and social psychology, studying the foundations of intractable conflicts and peace-making.

He has authored over two hundred papers in social and political psychological journals and books. In 1991 and again in 2009, he received the SPSSI Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Prize and in 2000-2001 he was awarded the Golestan Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Science. In 2006, he received the Alexander George Award from the International Society of Political Psychology for the best book in Political Psychology, as well as the Peace Scholar Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association for distinguished scholarship in the study of conflict and peace-making.

Tyler Boudreau
Tyler Boudreau

War in the Consciousness:

The Making and Unmaking of a Marine.

October 7, 2010

Tyler Boudreau is a 12-year veteran of the Marine Corps infantry and served in the Iraq War in 2004. He is author of the book Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine and his writing has appeared in many publications including the New York Times, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, and the Progressive.

In 2008, Boudreau traveled to Jordan to investigate and raise awareness about the on-going Iraq refugee crisis. In 2009, he bicycled across the country to talk with communities about war and post-traumatic stress. He now lives in Northampton and is a graduate student in the Communication Department here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Glendene Lemard
Glendene Lemard

Class, Culture and Violence in Jamaica:

What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

December 3, 2009

Dr. Glendene Lemard is Research Assistant Professor, Health Policy & Management, the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Managing Director for the Greater Springfield- University of Massachusetts Amherst Partnership. Jamaica is a small island developing state with one of the highest murder rates in the world. It is a democratic society with a stable system of government and many of the murders stem from interpersonal disputes such as acts of revenge, robberies and drug or gang-related activity. There is much discussion on the root causes of violence in the country but empirical analyses of the patterns in killing tend to reveal issues not readily seen or acknowledged by the society.

This presentation will examine the patterns of killings in Jamaica since independence in 1962 up to 2007 and will discuss the implications for health and development. The presentation will also examine the underlying factors that impact the growth in violence in the country which include the class structure, inequality and distinctions in access to opportunities. It will also examine social norms and mores that promote a culture of violence. Seemingly, "nonsensical killings" as in the case of some reprisals and many mob killings may in fact have patterns not readily apparent that suggest a rhyme and reason for such action. The information garnered can help to inform strategies to boost violence prevention efforts which will also be discussed.