Interview with Maria J. Stephan

By Cassie Chesley Henrriquez


Maria J. Stephan is a senior policy fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. She previously served as lead foreign affairs officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stablization Operations, where she worked with the Syrian opposition in Turkey and on local governance in Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Stephan served as director of policy and research of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. She recently visited The Fletcher School to receive the inaugural Henry J. Leir Human Security Award. PRAXIS member Cassie Chesley-Henrriquez had the opportunity to interview her on this occasion.


As an alumna of the Fletcher School, how does it feel to be back here receiving the Henry J. Leir Human Security Award? How did your experience at Fletcher Influence your career?

It is great to be back! Fletcher’s cross-disciplinary focus helped me to be able to connect the dots in both a scholarly and professional sense. Eliminating disciplinary silos to better address global problems is where Fletcher excels. My lenses were international security, international negotiation and conflict resolution, and human rights. Those came together nicely as I worked on nonviolent resistance movements. As I like to joke, all roads lead to The Fletcher School and civil resistance.

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Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference

Fletcher School students are organizing the first Religion, Law & Diplomacy Conference on Saturday, October 31st, 2015. This first-time conference will bring together academics, practitioners, and religious leaders to demonstrate the role that religion plays across myriad issues spanning security, conflict resolution, human rights to civic engagement.

The three conference panels—Security & Conflict, Rights & the State, and Politics & Identity—will provide a forum to discuss how religion affects these spheres and how an understanding of religious influences improves policy-making.

Registration and speaker details can be found on the conference website.

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On the Other Side of the Border: Migrants ‘Return Home,’ by Daniella Burgi-Palomino

The Center for Returned Migrants
The Center for Returned Migrants

“They tell me that I have fire in my feet because I never stop moving,” Sister Valdete says with a twinkle in her eye. She continues talking, almost out of breath, her hands moving to match the urgency in her voice. On a hot spring day in 2012, I found myself in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with my colleagues visiting the Centro de Atención al Migrante Retornado (the Center for Returned Migrants or CAMR). Initiated in 2000 by the Scalabrini Sisters (Sister Valdete’s order), the Center aims to receive deported Honduran migrants from the U.S. and support their immediate needs upon their return. There are currently two such centers in the country, one in Tegucigalpa and one in San Pedro Sula, both located immediately next to the international airports in each city. Sister Valdete, the lively, unassuming, and barely five-foot-tall director of CAMR, has been running the Tegucigalpa center almost since its inception and has not stopped moving since in order to ensure that migrants get the best possible treatment upon their return.

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Philip Martin presents: Human Trafficking in New England

For those of you who weren’t able to attend in person, the video of our Human Trafficking in New England event, presented by WGBH reporter and Fletcher alumnus Philip Martin, can be found below. Mr. Martin continues to report on human trafficking in the New England area for WGBH. His latest stories on the subject can be found here.

Much thanks to our fellow event sponsor, the Fletcher School’s chapter of the Ralph Bunche Society.

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Staff Links: James Palmer’s “Kept Women”

From Aeon Magazine’s James Palmer: an article on the phenomenon of the ernai, or “second woman”, in China, where rural and urban women alike become the mistresses of politically powerful Chinese men.  Seeing this fast-moving socioeconomic scene through the eyes of its female participants, Palmer paints a richly layered picture of Chinese women struggling to achieve the possibility of a secure future in a complex and competitive world.

For more on:
Sex, power, and security in China:
Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China, by Tiantian Zheng (2009).

Women and the rural-urban migration in China:
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang (2009).

The internal dynamics of the Chinese Communist Party:
The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers, by Richard McGregor (2012).

Migration, sex, and labor in the context of globalization: 
– Cosmopolitan Sex Workers: Women and Migration in a Global City, by Christine B.N. Chin (2013).

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