It has been a busy and exciting summer so far for our staff at the World Peace Foundation, but we are making time for some leisurely reading beyond our assigned reading lists or classroom favorites. Read on below for what has piqued our interests and share your own reading favorites in the comments or on social media!
Photo credit: Roxanne Krystalli
Our Executive Director Alex de Waal has recently convened a seminar on “The Political Marketplace: Analyzing Political Entrepreneurs and Political Bargaining with a Business Lens,” some reflections from which will be shared in a blog series later this summer. He is currently reading Andrew Pettegree’s The Invention of News: How the world came to know about itself, recently released by Yale University Press. He describes it as the story of how European rulers and merchants in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries began to set up a system of news, beginning as an entirely elite exercise but gradually leading to the point at which the first newspapers were a commercial proposition.
Bridget-Conley Zilkic, our Research Director, is working on an-depth study of how mass atrocities ended in Bosnia, as well as working with Fletcher graduate student Ross Weistroffer on the survey of atrocity endings post-1945. Also—this is a sneak preview –WPF is developing a new program on the global arms business and corruption. Over the summer, Bridget is working with another Fletcher student, Sarah Detzner, to get this project established. She also has two pieces on atrocities prevention in process, a book chapter and a journal essay. Regarding her reading, Bridget says: “I am reading No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald and The Brazen Plagiarist by Kiki Dimoula (trans. By Cecile Inglessis Margellos and Rika Lesser). A big thank you for Roxanne for introducing me to Dimoula’s writing.”
Lisa Avery’s reading is split this summer between leisure and coursework for her MS in Non-Profit Management. As part of a class for the latter, titled ‘Developing Your Leadership Capacity’, she is reading Introduction to Leadership by Peter Northouse and Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (and assorted other leadership articles as required). She says she is looking forward to reading Tina Fey’s Bossypantsin her spare time!
Two of our research assistants, Lauren Kitz and Roxanne Krystalli, have been with us for a year, and are about to bid us farewell as they have recently graduated from The Fletcher School and are about to embark on new adventures. [WPF: We will miss both of them very much and wish them the best of luck with all their future endeavors]. Before they go, though, they are sharing with us their summer projects and reading.
Lauren says: “With Bridget and Roxanne, I’m researching patterns of gender based violence during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War with a focus on comparing how these patterns track with the conflict’s broader timeline and trends. As part of our How Mass Atrocities End project, I’m also writing about patterns of violence in El Salvador’s civil war and Bulgaria and Romania’s communist regimes. In terms of reading, I’ve just started and already love Mortals by Norman Rush, whose first novel, Mating is one of my all-time favorites. Each book is inspired by Rush’s experience living in Botswana in the late 70s and early 80s while working for the Peace Corps. I’ve also been longingly/hungrily making my way through Yotam Ottolengi’s Plenty (I suppose here is where I admit that I read cookbooks for fun).
Roxanne is working with Lauren and Bridget to research, as Lauren described earlier, how, if at all, patterns of gender-based violence in conflict track with fatalities and other forms of conflict-related harms. After a winter of reading almost exclusively about atrocities and their victims, her summer reading consists almost entirely of essays. She just finished Leslie Jamison’s highly-acclaimed collection titled The Empathy Exams, in which Jamison reflects on grief, loss, compassion and what she terms the “personal and cultural agency to feel.” She was also thrilled to discover that one of her favorite feminist scholars, Cynthia Enloe, just released an updated and fully revised edition of her seminal text Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics, in which she beautifully narrates the politics behind seemingly personal domains, from ideals of beauty to marriage. One of her favorite lines from the book is on page 1: “It probably feels like a stretch to imagine yourself working in a disco outside a foreign military base.”
While Lauren and Roxanne are leaving us, Ross Weistroffer has just joined us for summer research. He is working on our How Mass Atrocities End project, which collects information on how genocides and mass atrocities’ dynamics change in a way that ends mass killing, better informing our conceptions of how mass atrocities can end or be ended with a minimum loss of life. Ross says: “I recently finished Afterparty, by Daryl Gregory, a pharmapunk mystery that examines the social, ethical, and philosophical implications of the mass industrialization of neuropsychology. I’ve got a long list of reading in store for this summer, but I’m most looking forward to reading Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication, edited by Douglas A. Vakoch, and The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, by James Gleick.”
Sarah Detzner is a Fletcher PhD student who also joined us recently. She is working on a project aimed at getting people around the world to ask the right questions about how and what governments spend on defense, and to raise awareness of corruption in the global arms business. She says that the real answer to what she is reading is “everything in the world for my comprehensive exams.” When she is not consumed in that, she is enjoying Stephen J. Gould’s The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox -Stephen J. Gould and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.