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Rethinking Pacifism for Revolution, Security and Politics

Wednesday 22 - Friday 24 November, 2017, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

About the Conference
Keynote speakers
Programme
Registration

What can a new engagement with pacifism offer in the face of global challenges?

For the greater part of the past century, pacifism has occupied a marginal place in international relations scholarship, politics, activism, media, and the wider society. Pacifism is rarely used as the basis for normative theorising about the use of force, and is rarely drawn upon as an important source for thinking about resistance, revolution, security, counterterrorism, peacebuilding, national defence planning, humanitarian intervention, political institutions, and the like. In part, this is due to the persistence of a number of key misconceptions, including that pacifism represents a single homogenous position which rejects any and all forms of force and violence, that pacifism involves inaction in the face of injustice, that it is politically naïve about the reality of evil, and that it is dangerous because it invites aggression. Other important misconceptions revolve around the nature of violence and force, and its purported utility and necessity for engendering political change, civilian protection, and securing politics in the state. The marginal position of pacifism is a puzzling state of affairs, given the noted insights and advantages of pacifist theory in relation to dominant IR theories and popular beliefs, and to recent robust empirical findings documenting the success and positive effects of nonviolent movements compared to violent movements.

This conference will explore what a new engagement with pacifism can offer to theories of revolution, practices of resistance, security policy and civilian protection, counterterrorism policy, political philosophy and democratic theory, state-building, peacebuilding, social justice movements, and other aspects of politics. Specifically, it will ask the question: To what extent, and under what conditions and circumstances, can pacifism offer theoretical and practical guidance in helping us to face the global challenges of war and militarism, terrorism and insurgency, rising wealth inequality, dispossession and colonialism, social injustice and oppression, political institutional unresponsiveness, and looming environmental catastrophe, among others? An important theme of the conference will explore what indigenous pacifist traditions have to teach Western political philosophy and international relations theory.

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Keynote speakers

  • Professor Erica Chenoweth, University of Denver
    Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D., is Professor & Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her books include The Politics of Terror; Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict; Political Violence; and Rethinking Violence: States and Non-State Actors in Conflict. She co-hosts the blog Political Violence @ a Glance, hosts a blog called Rational Insurgent, and blogs monthly at The Monkey Cage. Along with Jeremy Pressman, Chenoweth co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium, a collaborative public interest project that collects data on the size of political crowds protesting within the United States.
  • Professor Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Dr. Stellan Vinthagen is Professor of Sociology, and the Inaugural Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he directs the Resistance Studies Initiative. He is Editor of the Journal of Resistance Studies, and Co-Leader of the Resistance Studies Group at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has since 1980 been an educator, organizer and activist, participating in numerous nonviolent civil disobedience actions, for which he has served a total of more than one year in prison. One of his books is A Theory of Nonviolent Action - How Civil Resistance Works (2015).
  • Professor Duane Cady, Hamline Univeristy, Minnesota
        Read the abstract for Duane's presentation here Eradicating Warism, our most dangerous disease
    Duane L. Cady is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He earned his A.M and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University. He is author of From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum (1989; 2nd ed. 2010) and Moral Vision: How Everyday Life Shapes Ethical Thinking (2005), co-author of Humanitarian Intervention: Just War vs. Pacifism (1996), and editor of three anthologies. He has published more than fifty articles on ethics, history of philosophy, and nonviolence. Professor Cady has been recognized locally and nationally for excellent teaching. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Westminster College, Oxford University, UK (1988), and Visiting Professor at Trier University in Germany (2004). He has given the Virginia Geiger Lecture in Ethics and Society (College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 1994), the Henkels Lecture in International Relations (University of Notre Dame, 1996), the Royal Alsworth Lecture in Humanities (University of Minnesota, 2011) and the Paul Robert and Jean Shuman Hanna Lectures in Philosophy (Hamline University, 2012). He is a past President of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and served six years on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the world’s oldest and largest pacifist organization. Dr. Cady is married, and has two grown children plus two growing grandchildren In addition to philosophy and pacifism he enjoys Dixieland jazz, nature, refugee resettlement, art, and travel.
  • Professor Brian Martin, University of Wollongong, New South Wales
         Read the abstract for Brian's presentation here Social defence: a revolutionary agenda
    Brian Martin is an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Wollongong. He is the author of 17 books and hundreds of articles on nonviolence, dissent, scientific controversies, democracy and other topics. He has a special interest in tactics against injustice. His most recent books are Nonviolence Unbound, Ruling Tactics and The Deceptive Activist.
  • Dr Molly Wallace Portland State University and the War Prevention Initiative
         Read the abstract for Molly's presentation here Wrestling with another human being: the merits of a messy, power-laden pacifism
    Molly Wallace is a visiting scholar in Portland State University’s Conflict Resolution Program and contributing editor of the Peace Science Digest at the War Prevention Initiative. Previously, she taught in the International Affairs and Political Science Programs at the University of New Hampshire and Brown University. Dr Wallace earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from Brown University and her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from Mount Holyoke College. Her recent book, Security without Weapons: Rethinking Violence, Nonviolent Action, and Civilian Protection, explores nonviolent alternatives for civilian protection in war zones—and particularly the unarmed civilian peacekeeping work of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Sri Lanka. Selected current research interests include military desertion/defection and the protective effects of unarmed versus armed resistance movements.
  • Moana Jackson, Director of Nga Kaiwhakamarama I Nga Ture

Programme

Submission of abstracts has now closed. The programme will be announced in early July.

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Registration

Register here for the conference. Early bird registrations are available until Saturday 30 September. You may register for the whole conference or take advantage of day registrations.