Apr 17, 2013

solidarity qualms

I have been getting lots of photos like these in my facebook feed.  The boys here are in occupied Palestinian territory and I assume that the photo was set up by the Michigan Peace Team, an international accompaniment organization.  It seems likely some English speaking internationals also set up the photo from Kabul. 

These photos make me uncomfortable.  It seems so unfair that the bombing in Boston gets this much attention and solidarity from the places that are, at least figuratively, getting bombed BY Boston.  Of course I'm sure that's part of the point the folks in, and setting up, these photos are trying to make.  That all lives count, including theirs. 

It's also true that when I was El Salvador during the war I went on a trip through an area full of huge craters from bombs paid for by US military aid, and the Salvadorans with me went to great lengths to reassure me that they understood that the US people were not the same thing as the US government and that they did not blame me, but rather appreciated my work to try and change my government's policies.  I have gotten that message again from people in war zones in Colombia. 

So perhaps these photos could be read as a way of saying, even as your government engages in, or funds, a war against us - we distinguish you from your government.  We see you as human, and we connect with you, with love and grief.  We know this pain.  See us too.  Mourn with us too. 

I dream of a world with a flicker feed of people from Boston with signs saying thank you, we too mourn with Kabul, and Rammalah. 

Apr 8, 2013

great geography discussions

I was just at the International Studies conference, and now I'm looking forward to 'playing geographer' at the AAG geography conference next week, and am proud to be part of a group of folks that organized four sessions on geographies of peace.   Last year I was deeply involved in organizing for the Caravan for Peace and Justice with Dignity, which crossed the US for a month with 160 people, 50 of them family members of the dead and disappeared from the drug war in Mexico.   There have been various caravans across the US on different issues, but as I track it this was the first with international activists.

I've organized a session where several 'caravanistas' will share their reflections about how it went, including a survivor who will talk about what it was like for her to share her testimony along the way, and a caravanista from LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition .  We have two great geographers who have done work on different forms of peace activism who will comment afterwards, Josh Inwood and Byron Miller, who edited the forthcoming book Spaces of Contention: Spatialities and Social Movements.

4657 Geographies of Peace IV: Reflections on the Caravan for Peace and Peace Activisms
Friday, 4/12/2013, from 4:40 PM - 6:20 PM in Hollywood, The LA Hotel, Level 2

I will be presenting my own research on international protective accompaniment (this year I'm talking about where and when it's been done around the world and what that says about how it works) at:
4457 Geographies of Peace II
Friday, 4/12/2013, from 12:40 PM - 2:20 PM in Hollywood, The LA Hotel, Level 2

I'm also looking forward to the 'warscapes' sessions on Wednesday - and to comparing the papers and the crowds to the peace sessions on Friday!