Dialogue: Violence

UMass will host an extraordinary event in early April: Landscapes of Violence. I approach it with two trajectories, one from the Dialogue under Occupation conferences (DUO 1 in Chicago, 2006; DUO 2 in the West Bank, 2007). The “dialogue” of the DUO conferences is still
“young” (as in, “new” for us in conversation with each other), but I remain hopeful that we academics and activists will be the ones to learn to talk soldiers and politicians toward other tactics. If not us, who?
I am not sure if this event in December, “States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management: The Case of Israel/Palestine,” is directly related to – or an outgrowth of – the work of DUO II participants, but the content certainly overlaps. Perhaps there is a dialogic trajectory we can build?
In considering the upcoming UMass conference, am also considering the students in the Group Dynamics course I’m teaching. Several of them mentioned concerns with a recent string of threats on campus (three messages, found in three different locations on different days, with similar content). Of course many in the campus community were affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech … this instances are not comparable to the systemic and horrible repetitions of violence being played out among Palestinians and Israelis (or, arguably, among Colombians – with/against FARC and/or the paramilitaries and between Colombia and Venezuela) – but these are the touchpoints of violence in the lives of young U.S. Americans with which we must work.
Writing and Violence, April 20, 2007
We are Virginia Tech, April 21, 2007
a matter of language“, April 26, 2007
The first-year students’ College Writing CourseWiki has a record of student reactions to a bomb scare last fall. These were captured serendipitously as a coincidence of the day’s assignment with the threat of violence.
At least one student in this semester’s Group Dynamics course is vocal about hating politics (i.e., “I hate politics”), and seems intent (evidence of argumentative rhetoric?) to make sure (evidence of nonverbal behaviors?) that the product designed by this semester’s course doesn’t “go” in that direction…I am sure he is not the only one who feels this, even if he is the most forthcoming about it. What a tension to resolve, isn’t it? The world we live in is brutal, even if – here at mostly-cushy UMass – we are protected and insulated from having the day-to-day violence in our faces . . .

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