GW event: From incitement to violence to conflict mitigation

When: Monday, December 16, 2013
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Where: Lindner Family Commons, Room 602
1957 E Street NW

This panel discussion will cover topics including:
How do we know when atrocities are imminent for a country facing conflict?
Does media have the potential to provide early warning of mass violence?
Are there media interventions that can work to prevent violence?


Alison Campbell, Internews Humanitarian Communications Partnership Manager and former Country Director for Burma
Ida Jooste, Internews Country Director for Kenya
Will Ferroggiaro, Internews Project Director – Conflict and Media
Mark Walsh, Internews Country Director for Kyrgyzstan

Matthew Levinger, Visiting Professor of International Affairs, GW


Sponsored by the International Development Studies Program and Internews


Washington, DC event: Briefing on Explosions of Violence in Latin America — Landmines & the Context of Conflict in Latin America

When: Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10 AM

Where: Congressional Meeting Room South, Capitol Visitors Center

This briefing is part of the monthly briefing series hosted by Sam Farr, Member of Congress, called Latin America on the Rise, which brings in speakers to address issues in the Western Hemisphere.

Latin America struggles with chronic violence and insecurity. In 2012, 1 in 3 citizens reported being impacted by violent crime and 50% perceived a deterioration in security. While insecurity has many manifestations, the presence of landmines in one third of Latin American countries contributes to the face of violence in many parts of the Western Hemisphere.

Colombia alone has the second highest number of landmine victims in the world, surpassed only by Afghanistan. Since 1990, over 10,000 citizens, including nearly 1,000 children, have been wounded or killed by landmines and estimates suggest clearing all the active mines in Colombia could take over a decade.

Colombia is not the only Latin American country affected by landmines. For the seven mine-affected states in the Americas, the context of this violence is a complicated picture of civilian, military, economic, and development factors. Addressing this larger context of violence is essential to resolving the conflicts and insecurity that can result in the use of landmines.

Elizabeth MacNairn, Executive Director, Handicap International

Dr. Suzanne Fiederlein, Associate Director, Center for International Stabilization & Recovery, James Madison University

Beth Cole, Director, Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation, United States Agency for International Development

June Beittel, Analyst in Latin American Affairs, Congressional Research Service

If you have any questions, please contact Caitie Whelan (

International conference in Oslo

This Africa Center for Information & Development conference, “Africa’s triple threat — The rise of transnational and jihadist movements on the continent,” will cover Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and Sahel. Speakers include:

Norad logo Twitter
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation Twitter page

  • Dr. Emmanuel  Franklune Ogbunwezeh, Head, Africa department of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt
  • Stig Jarle Hansen, Associate Professor, Department of International Environment 6 Development Studies, Noragric. UMB
  • Morten Bøås, Senior Researcher at Fafo’s Institute for Applied International Studies in Oslo
  • Imam Ibrahim Saidy, Imam at Darus Salam Islamic Center Masjid Attawwabin, Oslo
  • Ms. Samia Nkrumah, Ghanaian politician and Chairwoman of the Convention People’s Party
  • Mr. Mohamed Husein Gaas, PhD Fellow at Norwegian University of Life Sciences and a Research fellow a Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies

When: October 17, 2013, 10am – 5pm
Where: P- Hotels, Oslo, Norway
Conference funded by Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

DC conference: Student proposals sought on diversity in conflict/divided societies

The Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program is calling for student papers, art, and videography for their conference, “Managing Diversity in Divided Societies.” Submissions should address the following questions:

What tools and mechanisms best promote diversity? How is diversity best approached in conflict societies? How can the arts be used to engage diversity and enhance societal well being?

Cash prizes will be awared to the top three finalists in the categories of diversity, conflict, and peace-building. Submissions are open to third and fourth year undergraduate students and graduate students.

Abstracts will be accepted until October 15th. Submissions are due on December 1st. The conference will be held on January 30-31st.

Send questions and submissions to:

Washington, D.C. event: Crisis in the Central African Republic

You are invited to a Great Lakes Policy Forum on the crisis in the Central African Republic, co-sponsored with the National Endowment for Democracy.

On March 24, 2013, the Seleka rebels seized control of the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Bangui, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee. Current President Michel Djotodia faces the difficult task of restoring order and organizing elections once the 18-month transition period expires. Please join us for a discussion with Central African legislature and civil society members on the latest crisis situation in the Central African Republic, affecting the Great Lakes region as a whole.

When: Friday September 27, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where: Main Conference Room, National Endowment for Democracy, 1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004


Emilie Beatrice Epaye, Member of the National Transitional Council

Nicolas Guerekoyama Gbangou, Member of the National Transitional Council

The Right Reverend Nestor Nongo Aziagbia, Bishop of Bossangoa

Mathias Morouba, Attorney and head of Observatoire Centrafricain des Droits de l’Homme Dave Peterson, Senior Director, Africa, National Endowment for Democracy


Ambassador Laurence D. Wohlers

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic



Word choices, word choices

I rarely blog about my personal peeves. I try to keep it all professional. So excuse me if I rant a little bit here. It’s about words that annoy me. I am sure you have your favorites, too.

More than a decade ago, the word “issue” moved from teen talk (“You got an issue with that?”) to my academic world. I first noticed it when called to serve on an ad hoc committee about an “issue” between a department chair and a faculty member. They had a problem, a big problem. But we all referred to it as an “issue.”

I have seen issue take over, since then. We, at least in my academic world, rarely talk about problems. Only issues. A student has an issue with her grade. A student has a health issue. In our curriculum, we teach about issues. Interpreting the meaning, and impact if any, of this circumlocution is outside my area of expertise. I have noted its existence for many years and, may I say, its robustness.

Ballistic Missile Lockheed Martin
Trident II D5 Fleet ballistic missile (FBM). Source: Lockheed Martin

So let’s talk about the word “robust.” This word seems to have had a surge a few years ago, in my experience at least, as related to annual reporting on such matters as my blog readership and twitter following: robust. Robust is still with us; it conveys muscularity, strength, and growth, everything capitalism loves.

Well, I want my social media impact to continue to grow in numbers and quality, don’t I? So, I want my social media numbers to be robust. Indeed, I want my textbook sales to be more robust. But “robust” has a limited use, for me. … I want my teaching to be engaging, not robust … and in terms of my own body weight, something less robust would be welcome (but that’s another issue).

And now, we have “boost,” as in “boost phase” which comes from rocketry and refers to a particular stage of a ballistic missile, a missile that carries a warhead. I am no rocket scientist so I could be wrong on this — I just checked Wikipedia on “boost phase.” Boost phase may also apply to non-weapon bearing rockets. And, more benignly, having been around little kids, I do know about “booster chairs” which allow small children to enjoy adult company at the dining table.

Nor am I a linguist, but note the similarity between robust and boost … consonant “b” followed by a vowel or vowels, then ending with “st.” Perhaps that combination in English conveys a sense of positive force, strength, growth, and optimism — all dearly held values of capitalist culture (and maybe that’s why “sustainability” has proved to be so robust in the language of green approaches to our future).

Wires at the Hotel
Wires, including Internet, at a Beirut hotel. Flickr/Markus Hündgen

This essay is prompted by my seeing, this morning, the use of “boost” in a World Bank statement about a new project in Lebanon. The report begins with this description: “A new World Bank Group project will boost Lebanon’s mobile Internet systems and create quality jobs for a high-skilled labor force to help reverse the spiraling trend of unemployment especially among youth and women.”

On a positive note, I end this commentary by arguing that the phrase “to boost” is preferable, in spite of its likely origins in the world of war, to the extremely awkward phrase “to grow” — prevalent during the Clinton era when “to grow the economy” was a sacred mantra. If “to grow” replaced “to boost” in the World Bank statement, it would read:

“A new World Bank Group project will grow Lebanon’s mobile Internet systems and create quality jobs for a high-skilled labor force to help reverse the spiraling trend of unemployment especially among youth and women.”

Things could always be worse.

Anthro in the news 7/22/13

• The trail of undocumented migrants to the U.S.

“Since 2009, anthropologist Jason De León has led groups of students from across the U.S. and Canada through the Sonoran Desert to study unauthorized migration using archaeological and anthropological methods. The project has collected and cataloged more than 10,000 artifacts left along the way by those trekking the desert,” reports the Arizona Daily Star‘s Perla Trevizo. “He can usually tell how old the site is or how far the migrants walked by the objects found. For instance, black shoe polish tells him it’s an older site from a time when migrants painted their water bottles to attract less attention. Now, they buy them already black.”

Jason De León
Jason De León examines a bottle of pond water left behind by migrants after a Border Patrol apprehension. Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star

De León, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, started the Undocumented Migration Project to record history and get a fuller picture of what’s happening: “Undocumented migration is a complex phenomenon…I want to provide reliable information to help the public see behind the curtain.”

Half of the research is done by walking the same trails migrants use. The other half is spent talking to border crossers staying in the migrant shelters in Nogales, Sonora, or getting ready for their journey in the town of Altar, Sonora.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine included a spread with photographs taken by De León’s colleague, Richard Barnes. De León’s research was covered recently by NPR.

• Racism and pesticides harming U.S. farmworkers

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies
Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies/UC Press

Indian Country published a review of a new book that shows how racist discrimination against indigenous Mexican farmworkers in the United States is literally making them sick.

Medical anthropologist and UC Berkeley assistant professor of health and social behavior, Seth Holmes, has just published Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. The book chronicles Homes’ in-depth study of the lives of indigenous Triqui farmworkers who travel from Oaxaca, Mexico to the western states of the United States and back, and how these farmworkers experience unfair treatment, inadequate healthcare and horrible living conditions.

Holmes lived and worked with a group of Triqui farmworkers for over one and a half years, traveling with them during an illegal cross of the Arizona-Mexico border, then on to picking berries in Washington state, pruning vineyards in California (along with a week of homelessness living in cars), and harvesting corn in Oaxaca, Mexico, the home state of the Triquis.

Discrimination against Triqui farmworkers, Holmes said, can be seen starting with the jobs they are given on farms: “The Triquis were given the hardest jobs, picking strawberries in Washington state for instance … This work involved putting their bodies into repetitive positions, crouched and picking, under stress and all weather, seven days a week, exposed to pesticides and insects that made them get sick more often.”
Continue reading “Anthro in the news 7/22/13”