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International Affairs

The Dynamics of Identity:
Characterizing Conflict 

in a Globalized World 

53rd Annual International Affairs Symposium
April 6-8, 2015

All sessions are free and open to the public. Sessions are held in Templeton Campus Center, Council Chamber. Details are subject to change. 


Monday, April 6

The Fractured Mosaic: Managing Ethnic Disputes

3:00 p.m.

Ethnic conflict tears at the fibers of a society and there is no singular prescription for conflict resolution. Is institutional redesign and the preservation of state borders essential in managing ethnically divided societies? Or is peace only achievable through partitioning these identities into separate states?

Learn more about speakers Peter Galbraith and Feisal al-Istrabadi ▸

I Pledge Allegiance: Navigating the Threat of Foreign Fighters

7:30 p.m.

With the rise of transnationalism, citizens are leaving their nations to fight for a cause that they believe is just (such as Americans and Europeans going to fight for ISIS). Should governments act to ameliorate the perceived threat by revoking the citizenship of these foreign fighters? Or is the depiction of them as traitors overblown?

Learn more about speakers Wesley Clark and Murtaza Hussain ▸

Wesley Clark is a retired four-star general who led NATO forces to victory in the Kosovo War as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. Clark was pivotal in ending the conflicts within the former Yugoslavia, saving millions from ethnic violence. An expert on geopolitics, military strategy, and security, Clark was a Democratic candidate for the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Clark is currently CEO and chairman of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic consulting firm located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Murtaza Hussain is a national security and civil liberties journalist at The Intercept, an independent online publication aimed at producing transparent and adversarial journalism. Hussain has interviewed incarcerated prospective and former volunteers for foreign conflicts in the post-9/11 era. Reporting on confidential documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Hussain is a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera and Globe and Mail. 

Tuesday, April 7

Battling the Hydra: Does Western Intervention Fuel Extremism?

3:30 p.m.

The proliferation of extremist groups and anti-western sentiments are reaching all corners of the globe. Are western states with interventionist identities fueling extremist blowback, thus creating the very conflicts they seek to destroy? Or does western intervention effectively quell the spread of these violent ideologies?

Learn more about speakers Reuel Marc Gerecht and Justin Logan ▸

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. A leading expert on counterterrorism, intelligence, and Islamic militancy, Gerecht formerly served as the Middle Eastern specialist at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. A fluent speaker of Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, and French, Gerecht also serves as the editor for The Weekly Standard and has been a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.

Justin Logan is the Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Logan has written a myriad of policy articles concerning the U.S commitment to intervention in regions with extremism, such as in the Middle East. Currently focusing on U.S grand strategy in a unipolar world and the shifting balance of power in Asia, Logan is an expert on international relations theory and American foreign policy.

Divisive Doctrine? The Promotion of International Religious Freedom

7:00 p.m.

Does the promotion of religious freedom stabilize regions with widespread religious persecution? Or do efforts to promote freedom exacerbate inter-religious divisions as religious groups become repressed and isolated due to secular ideals? What counts as religion, and who decides what religions should be protected?

Learn more about speakers Suzan Johnson Cook and Thomas DuBois ▸

Suzan Johnson Cook served as United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from 2011 to 2013. Alongside Hillary Clinton, Cook helped incorporate religious freedom into the United States foreign policy agenda. A pastor, academic and activist, Cook has served as a policy advisor to President Bill Clinton. Cook is currently President and CEO of Charisma Speakers, a communications, consulting and coaching firm located in Washington, D.C.

Thomas DuBois is a Senior Research Fellow in Chinese History at the Australian National University, College of Asia and the Pacific located in Canberra, Australia. DuBois is a scholar of Chinese and East Asian history and religions, international legal thought, imperialism, and religion and social change. A contributor to the Huffington Post, DuBois travels all over the continent of Asia and is published in various scholarly journals.

Wednesday, April 8

Age of Discord: Questioning the Roots of Conflict

3:30 p.m.

Is conflict in the 21st century caused by a “Clash of Civilizations”? Are perceived differences in ethnicity, religion and nationality to blame? Or do corrupt governments and socio-economic structures incite these disputes by violating social contracts and ignoring discontent?

Learn more about speakers Karina Korostelina and Neera Chandhoke ▸

Karina Korostelina is Associate Professor and Director of the Program on History, Memory, and Conflict at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. A social psychologist, her work is devoted to analyzing social identity, identity based conflicts, and conflict resolution. Korostelina is a prolific scholar and has received numerous grants and fellowships to research conflicts in Armenia, Georgia, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Neera Chandhoke is a National Fellow at the Indian Council of Social Science Research and Visiting Professorial Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Formerly a professor of political science at the University of Delhi, Chandhoke is known for her distinguished expertise and scholarship on contemporary Indian politics, ethnic violence in Kashmir, civil society, secularism, democracy, social and economic rights, poverty, and human rights.

The Digital Panopticon: Does Surveillance Protect Identity?

7:00 p.m.

What are the impacts of government surveillance programs on individuals in the post 9/11 era? Does large-scale state surveillance inhibit individual behavior by targeting specific identities? Or does it serve to protect these identities and freedom of expression by securing a state where civil liberties can thrive?

Learn more about speakers Stewart Baker and Thomas Drake ▸

Stewart Baker is a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Washington D.C. Under the Bush Administration, Baker was the First Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. Baker is an expert in telecommunications, electronic surveillance, and privacy law. Baker also served as General Counsel for the United States National Security Agency.

Thomas Drake worked in intelligence for the United States Air Force and Navy for nearly thirty years. Following his decorated career, Drake was a Senior Executive for the National Security Agency. After allegedly leaking classified information about NSA data collection programs, Drake was prosecuted by the U.S. Government under the Espionage Act. These charges were eventually dropped. Drake is currently a leading activist against government surveillance programs.