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Are We Family?

Are We Family? I recently read AJ Jacobs’ It’s All Relative and reviewed it on my web site. It made me think a lot (as well as laugh a lot), so I thought I would spend this week’s blog post reflecting on what I take to be his implications for the work I do as a peacebuilder and a student of comparative politics. The book traces the way Jacobs used his global family reunion and its meme, “I am a cousin,” to help people see that we are all connected and, indeed, (distantly) related. Jacobs is a writer, not an activist. So, it is hardly surprising that he didn’t take some of the implications of “we are [...]

Are We Family? 2018-01-07T21:33:57+00:00

Systems, Peacebuilding, and Comparative Politics

This week, the first students will begin using the tenth edition of Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges while I put the finishing touches on my web site and begin writing a comparable text for my other field which is tentatively titled, From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding. Not surprisingly, I have been thinking a lot about how the two fields overlap, but mostly about the ways in which they have little in common. Until recently, I’ve worried more about the gaps in what my colleagues in peace studies know about current trends in political science. Here, however, I want to focus on the implications of the one thing we peacebuilders focus on that comparativists often ignore—the role of [...]

Systems, Peacebuilding, and Comparative Politics 2018-01-02T21:08:34+00:00

On Dealing With Our Divisions

At the unusual set of holiday parties I normally attend, this year’s discussions have all been about how to best deal with the threats to democracy and security that the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the new right in Europe have led to. I kept hearing two tough questions which I have been thinking and worrying about for decades. How, on the one hand, do we effectively say “no” to the policy mistakes and injustices we see happening all around us? How, on the other hand, do we do so in a way that allows us to work together with at least some of the people we disagree with so we can find constructive solutions to [...]

On Dealing With Our Divisions 2017-12-18T17:10:05+00:00

Build Peace 2017

Last week, I joined over 400 people in Bogota for the 2017 Build Peace conference. It was the fourth "edition" of this annual event which has gotten bigger and better each time.  Originally created to explore the intersection between peace and technology, the conference has moved beyond that to include the arts and broader questions of social change. This year, we focused on "making paper count" which is an obvious issue in countries like Colombia where an agreement has been reached but there is plenty to do before peace truly takes hold.   All too often, agreements don't last. Indeed, by some counts, half of all agreements fall apart and the parties are back on the battlefield within five years [...]

Build Peace 2017 2017-12-10T16:49:47+00:00