Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

PJSA meetings in Memphis, October 21-23, 2011

Every fall, the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) holds its annual meeting.  This year, we will be meeting in Memphis, TN at Christian Brothers University. The Peace and Conflict Studies program does not have its own travel funds for students, but students are welcome to attend if they procure funds from other college or external sources. Professor Smithey will be attending.

See the keynote speakers list toward the bottom of this post, which was lifted from the PJSA conference web pages. Visit the PJSA site for more information about the conference including travel, housing, etc.


“A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice”

Hosted by the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN

October 21-23, 2011

The Peace & Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Gandhi-King Conference (GKC) are pleased to announce our first-ever jointly sponsored annual conference. The PJSA and the GKC are partnering this year to promote dynamic exchange among individuals and organizations working for a more just and peaceful world. This partnership promises a unique conference experience that combines the best of scholarly and grassroots perspectives on the pressing justice issues in our communities and around the globe.

This year’s conference will be held on the campus of Christian Brothers University, in Memphis, Tennessee, from Friday October 21 through Sunday October 23, 2011. Panels, workshops, and speakers from a wide range of disciplines, professions, and perspectives will address issues related to the broad themes of solidarity, community, advocacy, education, and activism as they are brought to bear in the pursuit of peace and justice. We are pleased to announce that our keynote speakers this year will include Dolores Huerta, David Bacon, Clayborne Carson, and Pancho Ramos-Stierle and Nipun Mehta of Charity Focus, plus musical guest David Rovics (see below for speaker bios). We are also excited to announce that there will be a Youth Conference this year as well (details also below).

Our goal is to create a stimulating environment where scholars, activists, educators, practitioners, artists, and students can build community and explore interconnections. We invite participants to engage in various modes of exploration, including papers and presentations, hands-on practitioner workshops, and a youth summit. We aim to foster an experience in which attendees will have multiple opportunities to meet and dialogue in both formal and informal settings, against the unique historical backdrop of Memphis, TN.

For more information, contact: info@peacejusticestudies.org


Dolores HuertaDolores Huerta is the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW), and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She first worked with Cesar Chavez as a community organizer in Mexican-American areas of southern California in the mid-1950s. In 1965 Huerta directed the UFW’s national grape boycott, taking the plight of the farm workers to the consumers; the boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers. On June 5, 1968, Huerta stood beside Robert F. Kennedy on a speaker’s platform at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as he delivered a victory statement to his political supporters shortly after winning the California Democratic presidential primary; moments after his speech, Kennedy was fatally wounded by an assassin’s bullet in the hotel’s kitchen pantry. In September 1988, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful and lawful protest of the policies/platform of then-candidate for president George H.W. Bush. The baton-beating caused significant internal injuries to her torso, resulting in several broken ribs and necessitating the removal of her spleen in emergency surgery. The beating was caught on videotape and broadcast widely on local television news, and Huerta won a large judgment against the SFPD and the City of San Francisco, the proceeds of which were used in benefit of farm workers. In recognition of her achievements, she received an honorary degree from Princeton University in May 2006. She was lauded in the ceremony: “Through her insatiable hunger of justice — La Causa — and her tireless advocacy, she has devoted her life to creative, compassionate, and committed citizenship.”

David BaconDavid Bacon is an award-winning writer and photojournalist based in Oakland and Berkeley, California. He is an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and writes for TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. He has been a reporter and documentary photographer for 18 years, shooting for many national publications, and has exhibited his work nationally, and in Mexico, the UK and Germany, covering issues of labor, immigration, war and peace, and international politics. For two decades, Bacon was a labor organizer for unions in which immigrant workers made up a large percentage of the membership, including the United Farm Workers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers, the Molders Union and others. Those experiences gave him a unique insight into changing conditions in the workforce, the impact of the global economy and migration, and how these factors influence the struggle for workers rights. Bacon was chair of the board of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and helped organize the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network and the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health. He served on the board of the Media Alliance and belongs to the Northern California Media Workers Guild. His books include Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2009); The Children of NAFTA (University of California Press, 2004); and a photodocumentary project sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, titled Communities Without Borders (ILR/Cornell University Press, 2006). In his latest project, Living Under the Trees, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and California Rural Legal Assistance, Bacon photographs and interviews indigenous Mexican migrants working in California’s fields. He is currently also documenting popular resistance to war and attacks on immigrant labor and civil rights.

Clayborne CarsonClayborne Carson is Professor of History at Stanford University and the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, which he founded in 2005. Carson earned his B.A. (1967), M.A. (1971), and Ph.D. (1975) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While studying at UCLA, he was involved in civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests. He speaks of that experience in his current writing, highlighting the importance of grassroots political activity within the African American freedom struggle. Carson has taught and lectured in Britain, France, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. He lectures about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, and other subjects related to the African-American struggle. He has been a frequent guest on Pacifica Radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California, and has also appeared on programs including NPR’s Fresh Air, the Tavis Smiley Show, the Charlie Rose Show, Good Morning America, and the CBS Evening News. Carson is a member of the global council of the California International Law Center at the University of California, Davis School of Law. Selected in 1985 by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband, Dr. Carson has devoted most his professional life to studying Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. Among Carson’s many publications are the books In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Harvard University Press, 1981); Malcolm X: The FBI File (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1991); and the co-edited volume The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (Penguin Books, 1991).

Pancho Ramos-StierlePancho Ramos-Stierle had a passion for Astrobiology that brought him to the University of California at Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Astrophysics. But when the U.S. government and the laboratories of the university announced that they were developing “safer nuclear weapons,” he decided to stop cooperating with the institution. Now as a responsible scientist, he says is doing his “PhDO in Citizenship of the World.” Pancho believes that “when the inner (r)evolution merges with the outer (r)evolution, the Total (R)evolution of the Human Spirit is imminent.” Furthermore, when science and art are balanced, the beauty of life blossoms at its best, in what he calls the “New Renaissance of Humanity.” In an interview with SF Refresh, he defines his mission statement in life as: “To live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity.” His activism and life’s work focus on issues of human rights, environmental sustainability, nonviolence, peacebuilding, immigration, urban agriculture, and the development of a vibrant “gift economy.” Ramos-Stierle has been an integral part of movements to democratize the University of California system, protect old growth trees, implement “free farms,” and move beyond youth violence, among other efforts. He blogs at Earthling Opinion and Charity Focus, and can be followed on Twitter @oneworldcitizen.

Nipun MehtaNipun Mehta is is the founder of CharityFocus.org, a fully volunteer-run organization that has delivered millions of dollars of web-related services to the nonprofit world for free. The recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and an honor from the world’s most famous clown, his work creatively leverages web technologies for collaborative and transformational giving, lending him insight into service, leadership, organizational design, and spirituality. He serves on the advisory boards of the Seva Foundation, Dalai Lama Foundation, and Airline Ambassadors. Nipun’s high-school goal was to either become a tennis-pro or a Himalayan Yogi. However, by the third year of his Computer Science and Philosophy degree at UC Berkeley, he started his software career at Sun Microsystems. Dissatisfied by the dot-com greed of the late 1990s, he went to a homeless shelter with three friends to “give with absolutely no agendas.” They ended up creating the organization Charity Focus, whose current 300 thousand members incubate compassionate action in a multitude of ways and whose inspiration portals get 100 million hits a year. In 2001, at the age of 25, Nipun quit his job to become a “full time volunteer.” In January 2005, Nipun and Guri, his wife of six months, dropped everything to embark on an open-ended, unscripted walking pilgrimage in India to “use our hands to do random acts of kindness, use our heads to profile inspiring people, and use our hearts to cultivate truth.” Living on dollar a day, eating wherever food was offered, and sleeping wherever a flat surface was found, the couple walked 1000 kilometers before ending up at a monastery where they meditated for three months. Today, both Nipun and Guri live in Berkeley, do small acts of service with great love, and run Charity Focus. Nipun’s mission statement in life reads: “Bring smiles in the world and stillness in my heart.”


David RovicsDavid Rovics is an indie singer/songwriter, who has been called “the peace poet and troubador for our times” (Cindy Sheehan) and “the musical version of Democracy Now!” (Amy Goodman). His music concerns topical subjects such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, anti-globalization, and social justice issues. Rovics is vocally critical of the United States government’s policies, asserting that the “U.S. government’s foreign policy represents U.S. corporate interests” and that “the U.S. government does not like democracy either at home or abroad.” Although most of Rovics’ work is commercially distributed, he has boldly made all of his recorded music freely available as downloadable mp3 files online, available on his website. He encourages the free distribution of his work by all non-profit means to promote his work and spread political messages, and speaks out against websites or programs like iTunes that charge money for downloading his songs. Rovics has also advocated the performing of his songs at protests and demonstrations and has made his sheet music and lyrics available for download. In 2003 Rovics signed up to Ever Reviled Records and produced a studio album, Return. Later that year, he released Behind The Barricades: The Best Of David Rovics in association with AK Press, including titles from his earlier self-releases. He has since released albums including Songs for Mahmud and Halliburton Boardroom Massacre. Rovics’ work has been acclaimed in sections of the press and continues to be popular with a widespread base of fans with political interests, as well as supporters of internet file sharing. Rovics tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls, and protest rallies. He has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazzeera, Acik Radyo, and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and Truthout, and the 200+ songs he makes available on the web have been downloaded more than a million times.