Hardt-Nickachos Lectures in Peace Studies

The Hardt-Nickachos Lectures in Peace Studies features leading scholars and practitioners whose work highlights humanity’s imagination of peace and efforts to construct peace in diverse locations, historical periods, and in the contemporary moment.

September 2023

Islam and Contemporary Dance: Unexpected Convergences

Timothy Winter

Some of the United States’ best-known pioneers of 20th-century dance, including Ruth St. Denis, were inspired by Eastern – and specifically Muslim – cultural forms. In this talk, Professor Timothy Winter explores that connection by examining the theology of some modern Muslim dancers and how those dancers challenged Western perceptions of Islam’s relationship to the human body, to eros and to the sacred. By directly challenging some widespread stereotypes this lecture will highlight fundamental values shared by Western and classical Islamic cultures.

Timothy Winter is a highly-respected theologian, Islamic scholar and educator, and one of the world’s most influential Muslims. In addition to his academic endeavors, Winter spearheaded the community-centric Cambridge Mosque Project and founded Cambridge Muslim College which offers a variety of student programs including a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies. Winter (a.k.a. Abdal Hakim Murad) has authored numerous books and articles, including his most recent volume “Travelling Home: Essays on Islam in Europe.”

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November 2022

Real Horror: Race, Gender, and Dehumanization

David Livingstone Smith

What exactly is dehumanization? Many people assume that when people are dehumanized, they are seen as less-than-human animals. But this is an incomplete and misleading picture. In reality, members of dehumanized groups are not imagined merely as animals such rats or lice, but are portrayed as monstrous or demonic creatures. Using historical examples, I will explain how and why this happens, focusing on the strong association between dehumanization, race, and gender, and go on to consider what we can do, and help others to do, to resist and combat the dehumanizing mentality.

Described as a "philosopher seeking not just to interpret the world, but to change it" by the Times Literary Supplement, University of New England professor David Livingstone Smith will deliver this year's Hardt-Nickachos Lecture in Peace Studies. The study of humanity in response to inhumanity has been the focus of Livingstone Smith's life work. He has written and edited 10 books on the subject.

His book, "On Inhumanity," is praised by Cornel West as “a philosophically sophisticated and prophetically courageous treatment of dehumanization, especially in regard to race,” and by Yale University historian Timothy Snyder as “firm but gentle, wise but accessible.” University of Pennsylvania law professor Dorothy Roberts says that, “'On Inhumanity' brilliantly provides a chilling warning of repeating the past and a hopeful call to create a more humane future," and science journalist Angela Saini calls it, "a chilling, comprehensive and passionate account of dehumanization,” and adds that “Smith offers a devastating reminder of the capacity of every human to treat other humans as lesser."

Livingstone Smith is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose publications are cited not only by other philosophers, but also by historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists. He has been featured in prime-time television documentaries, is often interviewed and cited in the national and international media, and has been a guest at the G20 economic summit.

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October 2021

The White Savior and the Waif: Listening to Humanitarianism’s Unheard

Keith David Watenpaugh

Humanitarianism has and always has had a listening problem.

In this talk Watenpaugh draws from historical episodes and contemporary experiences to asks how the tools of the humanities — history, storytelling and memoir — in particular can surface these voices. And he argues that that systematically recovering the voices of refugees, rape victims, and genocide survivors in the study of humanitarianism must be a fundamental feature of efforts to create a more humane, human rights supporting, and effective humanitarianism in the now.  

Keith David Watenpaugh, Professor of History and the Founding Director of the Human Rights Studies program at the University of California-Davis.

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September 2020

Telling the Story of the Other

A Conversation with Alice Albinia and Anand Gopal

How can telling the stories of human and non-human others change the way we know and see ourselves? How can we imagine ways to live peacefully with some form of trust and harmony that doesn’t undermine state borders, but does help us overcome state enabled hatred and the accompanying violence? From the effects of climate change on rivers and their communities, to the destructive impacts of ethnic and religious nationalisms, there is an urgent need to think about how communities react to and receive both human and non-human others.

Join us for a discussion of these and other questions with author Alice Albinia and journalist and research professor Anand Gopal.

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About the speakers:
  • Alice Albinia is an award-winning author of conjoined works of fiction and nonfiction. Her first book, Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River, describes a riverine journey through time and place: from Karachi on the shores of the Arabian Sea, north through Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, to the slopes of Mount Kailash in Tibet. The book won six awards, including a Somerset Maugham award and a Dolman prize. Her first novel, Leela’s Book, is a retelling, set in modern Delhi, of how the Mahabharata, India’s ancient Sanskrit epic, came to be written down on that same Tibetan mountain. It was shortlisted for the Authors’ Club best first novel award and long-listed for the DSC prize for South Asian Literature.|

    Albinia is now writing about Britain through the prism of its islands. The Britannias, which begins in Orkney and ends in Westminster, was given a K. Blundell Trust award from the Society of Authors and will be published by Penguin. Alice has been teaching writing since 2012, when she became writer in residence at three London secondary schools with the charity First Story. Thereafter she taught creative writing to adults in Orkney, where she lived for a year on the island of Hoy, whilst also working as a firefighter and school cook. Before her first books were published, she spent two years as an editor and journalist in Delhi, where she was completely re-educated in the process by Indian politics, literature and culture. She has lectured widely at universities across the world, and contributed articles and reviews to, among others, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New Statesman.
  • Anand Gopal is an award-winning journalist and assistant research professor with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University, and specializes in ethnographically based data journalism. Gopal has reported extensively on Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, writing for Harpers, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science monitor, and other publications, while also producing scholarship based on his fieldwork and complex network analysis. Gopal’s book, No Good Men Among the Living, won the Ridenhour Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His recent, pathbreaking piece, “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom,” introduces the world to Syria’s revolutionary councils operating outside of regime-held territories. Gopal deftly uncovers the voices of everyday Syrians pursuing of democratic self-rule, offering insight that, until now, had been overlooked beneath the rubble of civil war. Gopal’s piece for the New York Times Magazine, “The Uncounted” (co-written with Azmat Khan), won the National Magazine Award, Ed Cunningham Award for Best Magazine Reporting, and the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. His article for The Atlantic, “The Hell After ISIS,” was recognized with a George Polk award.

Complete Archive

Date Title Speaker Links
SEPT 2020 Telling the Story of the Other Alice Albinia
Anand Gopal
NOV 2019 Islam, the West, and the Quest for Understanding Anouar Majid
FEB 2019 Surviving Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak Selma Leydesdorff Video
FEB 2018 Global Citizenship in an Age of Anger Pankaj Mishra
NOV 2017 The Warfare State and Alternative Activities Joseph W. Elder
APR 2017 Peace Studies Film Series: "Salam Neighbor" David Androff
Yasmin Saikia
Aysar Al Khafaji
SEPT 2015 Peace Studies Film Series: "Flying Paper" Devorah Manekin Trailer
SEPT 2015 Peace Studies Film Series: "Social Business: A New Path for Capitalism" Chad Haines Trailer
SEPT 2015 Peace Studies Film Series: "Bidder 70" Sonja Klinsky Trailer
SEPT 2015 Peace Studies Film Series: "The Imam and the Pastor" ASU Council of Religious Advisors (CORA) Trailer
SEPT 2014 Peace Studies Film Series: "The Square" Chad Haines Trailer
SEPT 2014 Peace Studies Film Series: "No" Daniel Rothenberg Trailer
SEPT 2014 Peace Studies Film Series: "Parzania" Yasmin Saikia Trailer
SEPT 2014 Peace Studies Film Series: "Heart of Jenin" Amit Ron Trailer
SEPT 2013 Actual Peacemaking Najeeba Syeed-Miller
MAR 2013 Politics, Value, and Alienation Akeel Bilgrami
NOV 2012 Cosmopolitanism: Dialogue and the Search for Cosmos Fred Dallmayr
APR 2012 Religion, Values and the Search for Peace Sari Nusseibeh
APR 2012 Peace in Postnormal Times Ziauddin Sardar
NOV 2011 Nonviolent Change and Reform Today: Lessons from Gandhi Dennis Dalton
FEB 2011 Playing for Peace: A Panel Discussion on Music and Peace Apple Hill Musicians
SEP 2010 "How Do We Teach Peace?" Yasmin Saikia
OCT 2009 Peaceful Revolutions: Religion, Nonviolence, and Citizen Uprisings in the Late 20th Century Sharon Erickson Nepstad
APR 2008 What Do We Mean When We Say We Want Peace? Ira Chernus
NOV 2006 When Religion Brings Peace, Not War David R. Smock
SEP 2005 Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War Stanley Hauerwas


November 2019

Islam, the West, and the Quest for Understanding

It is often assumed, by both sides of the divide, that the West and Islam rest on radically different cultural foundations and that the two are destined to be at odds forever. But what happens if we are willing to accept that our rock-solid identities and beliefs are not acts of nature, but the residual artifacts of poorly understood events over time? 

Anouar Majid (University of New England) explores this question by looking at early relations between Islam and Christian Europe, encouraging a rigorous rethinking of Muslim and Western identities and a critical approach to our own cultural assumptions.

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Anouar Majid is professor of English at the University of New England. He is also the Vice President for Global Affairs, the founding director of the Center for Global Humanities (Maine, USA) and the Tangier Global Forum (Morocco), and the founding chair of the Department of English, which he headed from 2000 to 2009.

He conceived and established UNE's campus in Tangier and is the managing director of UNE's operations in Morocco. Majid has published widely on relations between Islam and the West. He is the author of Islam and America: Building a Future Without Prejudice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012; paperback edition, with new preface, 2015); We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslims and Other Minorities (University of Minnesota Press, 2009); A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent is Vital to Islam and America (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), Freedom and Orthodoxy: Islam and Difference in the Post-Andalusian Age (Stanford University Press, 2004), Unveiling Traditions: Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World (Duke University Press, 2000), and the novel Si Yussef (Quartet, 1992; Interlink, 2005). Majid published articles in Cultural CritiqueSignsChronicle of Higher EducationWashington Post, and other publications. His life and work were featured on Al Jazeera television and the Bill Moyers Journal. He was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the print magazine Tingis, a Moroccan-American magazine of ideas and culture, which he edits online at Tingismagazine.com.

February 2019

Surviving Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak

Caught in the violence of war in the mid 1990s, Bosnian Muslims became the victims of a brutal and bloodthirsty purge at the hands of Serbian forces. Murder, rape, plundering, and forced relocation on a massive scale ravaged the region, and the small town of Srebrenica became the site of the first genocide in Europe since World War II.

Years later, despite a signed peace agreement, the war continues in the minds of the survivors. The aftermath of the conflict shows us how “war” and “peace” are not mutually exclusive phenomena in history, but are intimately related. The Srebrenica women who remain are overwhelmed with grief, mourning more than the dead, as their connections to the wider world and their own communities have been severed.

In her talk, Selma Leydesdorff, professor of oral history and culture at the University of Amsterdam, will give voice to the women of Srebrenica. Why is it important that their stories are told, believed, and recognized? Trauma has broken social bonds and human connections, and shattered a sense of self, and the denial and distortion of the survivors’ voices is partly the result of their stories not being recognized. Leydesdorff will explore how using oral history to tell these stories does more than just trace the historical narrative of one individual or incident; it also shows us how we interpret past experiences and tells us about our expectations for our lives in the future.

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Selma Leydesdorff is professor of oral history and culture at the University of Amsterdam. Her research has contributed to the transformation of oral history from mostly a fact-finding method-adding to criticizing traditional historical narratives to research on the ways memory is framed and modified over time. Influenced by an interest in women's history, Leydesdorff moved from gender studies to her present position. She promoted oral history by extensive teaching and with the help of the National Research School of Cultural History she formalized the national network in oral history.

Leydesdorff is author of Surviving Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak and has worked as an editor since 2001, making her co-responsible for the publication of many volumes, and more are in preparation. Her research interests include themes totalitarianism, subjectivity, trauma, the transmission of stories.

February 2018

Global Citizenship in an Age of Anger

How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world—from American ‘shooters’ and ISIS to Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media?

Join us as Pankaj Mishra addresses public bewilderment by casting a gaze back to the eighteenth century before leading us to the present, speaking to the historical root of the world’s major nationalisms. In a time of heightened, hardened nationalisms, it becomes imparitive to retrieve some inclusive visions, emphasizing the common humanity that transcends local affiliations and identities. But is this recovery possible in the present global economic regime, one that benefits a transnational elite and provokes many of the left-behind into hardline nationalism? Mishra will explore some of the tensions that went into the making of Asian nationalisms, offering his perspective on how to rescue cosmopolitanism from the transnational.

Pankaj Mishra is a novelist, essayist, literary critic, lecturer, and reporter who travels the world writing on a wide range of topics, including globalization, the Dalai Lama, Bollywood, and the “Talibanization” of South Asia. He regularly contributes to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the Guardian, and the New Statesman, and has written for too many international magazines and newspapers to list. In his latest book, The Age of Anger: A History of the Present (2017), Mishra casts his gaze back to the eighteenth century before leading us to the present to explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world: from American shooters and ISIS to Donald Trump, to a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world, to racism and misogyny on social media. Mishra was born in North India and completed his MA in English Literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

His first book was Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India(1995), a travelogue which described the social and cultural changes in India in the new context of globalization. His novel The Romantics (2000) an ironic tale of people longing for fulfillment in cultures other than their own, won the Los Angles Times’ Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction. His book An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World (2004), mixes memoir, history, and philosophy while attempting to explore the Buddha’s relevance to contemporary times. Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, describes Mishra’s travels through Kashmir, Bollywood, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, and other parts of South and Central Asia. Like his previous books, it was featured in the New York Times‘ 100 Best Books of the Year. Published in 2012, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber prize in Canada, the Orwell Prize in the U.K, and the Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award in the United States. It won the Crossword Award for Best Nonfiction in 2013. In 2014, it became the first book by a non-Western writer to win Germany’s prestigious Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. In 2013, he published A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and its Neighbours. Mishra was a visiting professor at Wellesley College in 2001, 2004, and 2006. In 2004-2005 he received a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars, New York Public Library. For 2007-08, he was the Visiting Fellow at the Department of English, University College, London. In 2009, he was nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2014, he received Yale University’s Windham-Campbell Literature Prize.