Can the World Cope?
Merriam Symposium at Penn Examines the
Origins of Ethnic Conflict
The world we live in is cursed with a never ending cycle of identity
wars spurred by identity politics. Bosnia, the Middle East, Kosovo, East
Timor, Rwanda, Kashmir, Northern Ireland. Just as conflict subsides in
one part of the globe, it erupts in another. Can the World Cope? The
Challenge of Ethnopolitical Conflict, an international symposium presented
by SAS, will investigate recent conflicts from anthropological, historical,
political and psychological points of view. On November 29, reporters who
witnessed these events and scholars who study them will discuss the critical
issues that arise before, during and after ethnopolitical conflict and attempt
to answer these questions: Why does this happen? Why is this happening
now? Is reconciliation possible?
These conflicts present many challenges. The challenge for the community
of nations is that these violent conflicts are occurring within states but
often demand an international response. The challenge for psychologists
and anthropologists is to understand how ethnicity becomes such a crucial
part of people's identities. The challenge for journalists and historians
is to separate the truth from the myths of the past. The challenge for
politicians and political scientists is to create civil institutions that
promote justice and democracy. At this day-long symposium, panelists will
take an in-depth look at four "crucibles of conflict"-Kosovo,
where a fragile peace depends on the presence of U.S. and NATO troops; Jerusalem,
where a new intifada pits Palestinan young people against Israeli
soldiers; Rwanda and Africa's Great Lake Region, where a genocide took place
while the world watched and Kashmir, where nuclear powers India and Pakistan
confront one another. Experts on conflict resolution will conclude the day
with a discussion of "peace building."
The Merriam Symposium will be held November 29, from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The full schedule is below. All events are free and open to the public.
All panels and programs will take place in Houston Hall. For more information
The Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Penn
has taken the lead in creating a multi-disciplinary approach to training
and research in the area of ethnic group conflict. The Asch Center was established
in 1997, when Martin E. P. Seligman, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology
at Penn, was president of the American Psychological Association and Peter
Suedfeld was president of the Canadian Psychological Association. They jointly
called for new initiatives to understand and ameliorate the devastating
conflicts caused by ethnopolitical violence. The Asch Center has established
collaborative arrangements with a network of international sites that currently
include organizations in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, South Africa
and Sri Lanka.
The Merriam Symposium is one of many programs and activities of SAS made
possible by a generous bequest from John Merriam, one of the Delaware Valley's
leading real estate developers. Mr. Merriam graduated from Penn in 1931.
9 - 10:30 a.m. Ethnicity and Conflicts: Perspectives
Chair: Walter Licht is associate dean and professor of history
Melvin Konner is Samuel Chandler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology
and associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Emory University.
His book, The Nature of Our Nature: Instinct and Passion on the Human
Spirit, has just been published.
Brendan O'Leary is a professor of political science at the London
School of Economics and an expert on nationalism and ethnic conflict.
In 1996 he published The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern
Ireland (with John McGarry).
Clark McCauley is co-director of the Solomon Asch Center; professor
of psychology, Bryn Mawr College and adjunct professor of psychology, University
of Pennsylvania. He recently co-edited Stereotype Accuracy: Toward
an Appreciation of Group Differences.
CRUCIBLES OF CONFLICT
10:40 - noon Kosovo
Chair: Ben Nathans holds the M. Mark & Esther K. Watkins
Assistant Professorship in the Humanities and teaches history at Penn.
Christopher Hedges, is a reporter for the New York Times.
He spent 15 years abroad, three as Balkans Bureau Chief from 1995 98,
four as the Middle East bureau chief and has reported from many of the
world's conflict zones.
Ivo Banac, Bradford Durfee Professor of History at Yale University,
is the co-author (with Sabrina Petra Ramet) of Balkan Babel: The Disintegration
of Yugoslavia from the Death of Tito to Ethnic War (1999).
10:40 - noon Jerusalem
Chair: Robert Vitalis is a professor of political science and
director of the Middle East Center at Penn
Ian Lustick is a professor of political science at the University
of Pennsylvania. His present research focuses on the future of Jerusalem
and great power rivalry in the Middle East.
Muhammad Hallaj is former director of the Center for Policy
Analysis on Palestine.
2-3:30 p.m. Rwanda and Africa's Great Lake Region
Chair: Thomas Callaghy is co-director of the Joseph H. Lauder
Institute of Management and International Studies, the Wharton School,
and professor of political science at Penn.
Gerard Prunier is a journalist and Africa scholar with the Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. In his book The Rwanda
Crisis: History of a Genocide (1995), he shows how events in Rwanda
were part of a plan that served political and economic interests not
the result of ancient tribal hatreds.
Mahmood Mandani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Anthropology at
Columbia University, is the author of Citizen and Subject: Contemporary
Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996). His research concerns
the reform and reproduction of political identities in South Africa, Rwanda,
Uganda and Nigeria.
2-3:30 p.m. Kashmir
Chair: David Ludden is a professor of history at Penn who specializes
in South Asian studies.
Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal are professors of history
at Tufts University and the co-authors of Modern South Asia: History,
Culture and Political Economy (1997).
4-6 p.m. Peace Building: Structures of Peace/
Processes and Reconciliation
Chair: Samuel H. Preston is dean of the School of Arts &
Sciences at Penn and the Frederick J. Warren Professor of Demography.
Donald Horowitz is a member of the faculty of the Duke University
School of Law. Since the publication of his book, Ethnic Groups in
Conflict (1985), he has been consulted on the problems of divided societies
and on policies to reduce ethnic conflicts in Russia, Romania, Nigeria,
Tatarstan and Northern Ireland.
Pamela Felicity Reynolds was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and received
her Ph.D. at the University of Capetown in South Africa, were she has been
a member of the anthropology faculty for many years. This year she is
a visiting professor in the department of anthropology at the University
of California at Berkeley. Her research focuses on childhood in South
Joseph V. Montville is director of the Preventive Diplomacy
Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington,
D.C. An expert in conflict resolution, he spent 23 years as a U.S. diplomat
in the Middle East and North Africa.