By: Lindsey Doyle
At Ambassador Rick Barton’s book launch at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) for Peace Works, he was asked how to make the American public care about peacebuilding. Barton replied, saying:
Regardless of the rising death tolls to over 500,000 lives lost, the American public’s attention toward Syria has remained relatively low throughout the conflict. However, attention spiked at two key moments: when President Obama “drew a line in the sand” demanding during Congressional recess that representatives return to DC and work on this issue, and again when the photo of Alan Kurdi, Syrian child awash on the shore of Turkey went viral.
These sentiments were echoed at the 2018 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One civil society leader said, “We incorrectly assumed that if people have knowledge, they will care and act. This is no longer true. Words such as ‘genocide’ and ‘terror’ are now just throw-away terms.”
This effect is widespread.
By: Martin De Leon
Cross-posted from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service blog article from May 5, 2016.
As a second semester CULP senior with the freedom to take as many electives as I would like, my course load was solely picked on how “cool” the class titles sounded. One of those classes was Media, Arts, and Culture: Fueling War or Creating Peace? As it turns out, not only was the class incredibly cool, but also, I can definitely say that it has been the best class I have taken at Georgetown.
Media, Arts, and Culture was created and taught by adjunct professor Honey Al-Sayed, a bilingual communications professional (Arabic and English), award-winning journalist, and co-founder of SouriaLi, an independent online radio network. One of Al-Sayed’s most notable accomplishments is her radio show, “Good Morning, Syria,” which garnered 7 million daily listeners when it was on-air between 2005-2011. Through “Good Morning, Syria,” Al-Sayed pushed for positive cultural and social reform by engaging Syrians from all religious, political, and ideological backgrounds in conversations that were typically taboo in an effort to foster peace through dialogue.
By: Lindsey Doyle
Cross-posted from the Peace and Collaborative Development Network article from September 13, 2017.
The Los Angeles Times recently featured a story about a Syrian theater troupe, Saraqeb Youth Group, that performs pop-up comedy shows for audiences of hundreds of Syrians. Founded in 2006, the Saraqeb Youth Group produces political satire plays reminiscent of the doll protests in Barnaul against Russian police in 2012. The group established makeshift schools when armed violence shut down places of learning and its members have no intention of leaving Syria despite on-going fighting.
While mainstream media may highlight these examples because of their novelty, there is growing awareness within the conflict management field that these types of activities are actually quite common in insecure environments, and play a key – yet unconventional – role in building peace.