Saturday, September 13, 2008

Live from PJSA - Day 2

The morning began with an incredible plenary session on "colorizing and localizing" the peace movement. The two speakers made a point of stressing an issue I've grappled with for some time, namely the peace movement's complete failure to deal with issues of race. The [predominately white] movement even refuses to admit to its own racism. Of course, this makes building a truly broad and inclusive peace movement impossible. One of the two also pointed out that the peace movement needs a strategy for moving forward. He noted that while the vast majority of the American public is now opposed to the continuation of the Iraq war, the movement has offered no viable way to end it, other than saying "end it." If so many agree on that, why can't the peace (and perhaps separately, the conflict resolution) community offer some suggestions for next steps?

After that fun, there was a fascinating session on using English as a second language classes as a means to teach peace studies, which fits in very neatly with the day job (and is why I'm here). Another plenary followed, which was rather run of the mill until the inimitable Betty Reardon started going over her latest theorizing around issues of patriarchy and the war system. One of many money quotes: "I saw a magazine cover last week that said 'Sarah Palin: the new face of feminism.' If that's the case, I'm post-feminist." This was followed up with a smaller breakout with Reardon and a colleague of hers on patriarchy and peace pedagogy, which was great, but sadly didn't have enough time. A final afternoon session proved... well....

On the whole, I've made some good contacts and have been able to talk to a few people about my work project. The event is pretty small -- maybe 300 or so participants -- but there are some good connections to be made. I even ran into the director of the peace and conflict studies program at my alma mater, where I was too indecisive to major in peace and conflict studies.

Finally, a few critiques:
  • The program needs to list session abstracts.
  • The 50-minute sessions are too short.
  • They're trying to cram a bit too much into a day.
  • They need some dedicated networking space, and perhaps some meet and mingle events.
Tomorrow is another full day, with a few meetings to have, and a few more sidebar conversations to seek out.


Prince Gomolvilas said...

They need some team-building field trips!--everybody should go, what the hell is there to do in Portland?!