Cross-posted from the MobileActive website. MobileActive is the leading network and resource on the use of mobile technology for social impact, providing field consulting, conducting research, connecting people online and through participatory events, and advancing the use of mobiles for NGOs and civil society organizations.
Editor's Note: This post is written by Ibrahim Mothana who is an Atlas Fellow with MobileActive.org in 2011/2012. He is a Yemeni citizen from Sanaa.
In Yemen it’s difficult to know just how many wars are raging in the country at any one time. For centuries the country has been plagued by revenge killings and tribal conflict and the result is hundreds of deaths each year with many more injured. These localized wars can last for decades and are one of the most serious issues facing the country today.
In rural regions of Yemen, formal legal systems and a legal infrastructure do not exist, and tribal law has significant legitimacy as the only effective and efficient means of conflict resolution. Tribal laws are based on consensus, and conflicts are resolved through complex mediation processes and appeals procedures presided over by tribal elders and leaders (sheikhs). Due to the lack of many formal legal channels and the corruption in the legal infrastructure that exists, tribal law is faster, more efficient, and enjoys greater legitimacy.
Yet one of the biggest obstacles in using tribal law as a tool for conflict resolution is the lack of communication -- which is, in fact, often the root cause of many of the disputes between tribes. Creating dialogue between communities becomes an extraordinary challenge in a country with 24 million people dispersed over 150,000 human settlements.
Most of the tribal conflicts are dealt with customary tribal laws before becoming violent but if an armed conflict starts between tribes, then all channels of communication stop and the members of one tribe are not allowed to enter the territory of the other tribe. Only a third party can bring representatives from both sides to negotiate in a neutral environment, and convince the two or more tribal parties to negotiate or choose an arbitrator to settle the dispute. The increasing penetration of mobiles in the past years have eased this mediation process and virtual meetings have helped overcome the dilemma of finding a neutral meeting territory.
Saybrook Professor George Kent - who teaches STR 6585 "The Human Right to Adequate Food" - has published Ending Hunger Worldwide, a book that challenges the naïve notion that everyone wants hunger to end. Rather, hunger ensures that some people will work for very low pay, so employers make good profits and consumers enjoy cheap goods. Hunger analysts typically focus on agriculture yields and interventions with capsules and supplements. They rarely acknowledge that hunger is a deeply social issue that is shaped by the ways in which people treat each other. The central concept that drives the book is that in strong communities, people don’t go hungry. Strong communities have high levels of concern about one another’s well-being. People may provide food to one another when that is necessary, but more fundamentally, they ensure that all have decent opportunities to provide for themselves.There is no shortage of food in the world; there is a shortage of opportunities.
Kent's other recent publication, Regulating Infant Formula, assesses the widespread assumption that the government or some international agency is monitoring the quality of infant formula. Government agencies sometimes raise alarms when a batch of formula is seriously contaminated, but they are not monitoring the product to ensure the health of children. More than half the infant formula used in the U.S. is provided by the government, at no cost to the families. The government monitors the economic impact on the manufacturers, but not the impact on the health of children. It has been estimated that more than 900 children in the U.S. die each year because they have been fed with infant formula.
Professor Kent was invited last year by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to speak on Ending on Hunger Worldwide for its Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition. The report from this event is available as a pdf for download.
The Directory of Open Access Journals increases the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact. This is a valuable resource for the Saybrook community, in addition to our own Library's extensive resources.
The Directory aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content. In short a one stop shop for users to Open Access Journals.
The proliferation of freely accessible online journals, the development of subject specific pre- and e-print archives and collections of learning objects provides a very valuable supplement of scientific knowledge to the existing types of published scientific information (books, journals, databases etc.). However these valuable collections are difficult to overview and integrate in the library and information services provided by libraries for their user constituency.
Inaugurated September, 2011, at Swarthmore College, under the direction of scholar and professor George Lakey, the Global Nonviolent Action Database is a valuable resource providing free access to information about hundreds of cases of nonviolent action for learning and citizen action.
Each campaign is shown in two ways: a searchable database using fields and coded assessments of degree of success, and a 2-4 page narrative detailing the play-by-play interaction of the campaign with its opponents. The database supports searches by country, by issue, by action method used, and even by year. The topics of the campaigns are grouped in six clusters: human rights; democracy; economic justice; environment; peace; and national/ethnic identity.
The goal of the Database is to make available comparative information that will support researchers and writers to develop strategic knowledge and theory. Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Journalists and bloggers will find easy access for contextualizing stories of contemporary protests they are reporting. Up until now many observers write about breaking news with a tone of surprise; coverage of the Egyptian events of early 2011 included wonderment and an assumption of protester spontaneity that showed ignorance of the developing craft of nonviolent struggle. Even a short time with the database reveals a multiplicity of connections among cases, through a shared “wave,” shared methods, shared influences, and shared time periods. Activist organizers and strategists can use the database to expand the repertoire of options for nonviolent campaigns. By exploring the use of 198+ methods of action, campaigners may become more creative and proactive than they otherwise might be. They may also calculate more carefully in relation to resources and goals, and craft a more winnable campaign than they otherwise would do.
March 30, 2012
Justice is a pressing concern in the world today, and discussion about it must be, beyond theory, practical and multi-disciplinary. While justice is a fundamental virtue and goal advocated by world religions, the task of creating a just world cannot be solely a religious one. All disciplines can and must contribute to the conversation about what justice is and how it can be achieved. Conference organizers invite scholars representing different disciplines to speak about various aspects of social justice from their perspectives—such as, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, the business world, and education.
- January 15, 2012 - Abstract submission deadline
- January 30, 2012 - Decision to accept/reject abstracts
- March16, 2012 - Paper submission deadline
- March 30, 2012 – Conference date
For more information, visit the Conference Website.
The Society for Phenomenology and Media (SPM) is hosting their annual conference (February 16-19, 2012) at National University in San Diego California. Proposal and three-person panel submissions are welcome, deadline is December 1, 2011.
SPM is especially interested in attracting divergent views from feminist, new historicist, analytic, linguistic, Marxist, semiological, structuralist and post-structuralist, post-colonial, and other perspectives. The Society also seeks research in topics of interest in popular culture, cultural studies, and gender studies as they are connected to media.
Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) - Building Bridges, Networks and Expertise Across Sectors11/21/2011
Created by Dr. Craig Zelizer in 2006, PCDN provides a valuable resource for Saybrook students and faculty interested in issues of international development, conflict resolution, gender mainstreaming, human rights, social entrepreneurship and related areas.
The Guide to Research include:
- Guide to Conducting and Disseminating Research
- Guide to Key Publishers in Peace and Conflict Studies
- Guide to Key Media Sites for News About Conflict and Peace
- Guide to Key Policy Institutions and Think Tanks in Peacebuilding
PCDN seeks to create horizontal networking and information sharing for individuals and groups around the world. Members can chat with each other, create blogs, add to discussion topics, and share current research, experiences and challenges from the field.
The Network currently has over 22,000 members and is receiving 300,000+ hits a month. Membership is free, and emails are sent out with links to articles, recent blog posts, events, and more. (Note - members are able to control their email settings to request a daily digest rather than notification of all site actions.)
Frantz Fanon, Iconic psychiatrist and author of books such as “Wretched of the Earth”, wrote that “literature increasingly involves itself in its only real task, which is to get society to reflect and mediate”.
In addition, Freire’s “Pedagogy” is also the archetypal case in point of a book, which is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.
Freire was a Brazilian educator, who grew up during the poverty of the Great Depression in the 1930s and published one of his seminal works “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, in English in 1970. Freire’s book, rooted in his experience of liberation in Brazil is equally apt in the context of the Arab Spring, and particularly after the death of Gaddafi last week.
One of Freire’s central tenets was that “education is freedom” that leads toward true liberation and that the “banking” concept of education- where students are empty vessels to be filled, acts as an instrument of oppression. He called on the cultivation of a critical consciousness (conscientizacao), enabling those to reflect upon their own reality and thereby transform it.
“How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation” Freire asks?
It is this concept of the oppressed initiating and participating in their own liberation, as was the case in the Arab Spring, which was central to Freire’s writing.
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My latest book, The Everything Guide To Self-Esteem, with CD, was just released in November 2011 by Adams Media. Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD (2006) Available at Amazon.com