Scholar to Address Peace and Conflict Studies Student Conference

February 16, 2018

Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10, 2018

​A keynote address by a peace studies scholar, an invited alumni address, and presentations of student papers and faculty-led discussions will highlight Grinnell College's fifth biennial Peace and Conflict Studies Student Conference on March 9-10, 2018.

All events, which are free and open to the public, will take place in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. 

Conference Speakers

Jason Springs

Jason Springs will present the keynote talk to open the conference on Friday, March 9 at 5 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Springs is an associate professor of religion, ethics, and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame (doctorate from Harvard University). His research and teaching integrate religious ethics with moral philosophy (political and social theories) with specific attention to modern European and North American contexts.

Springs is particularly interested in ethical, philosophical and theological dimensions of restorative justice, attending specifically to its potential to intervene in racialized and class dimensions of the U.S. prison-industrial complex. He works on questions of structural and cultural violence; conceptions of religious toleration and the challenges posed by religious pluralism for transforming conflict; Islamophobia in Europe and North America; democratic theories and practices as frameworks for peacebuilding. Springs’ current book project studies the effectiveness of restorative justice initiatives in responding to structural forms of racism and injustice (e.g. the new Jim Crow).

Springs' latest book, Healthy Conflict in Contemporary American Society: From Enemy to Adversary (Cambridge University Press, 2018), develops conceptions of healthy conflict and strenuous pluralism that are realistic about the challenges and limitations of religious tolerance in a society that is both deeply religiously plural and politically volatile. The book examines seemingly intractable episodes of religious intolerance and moral conflict across contemporary U.S. and European public life — from abortion law battles, religious freedom, to moral and religious defiance of racism and economic marginalization in the Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street movements. It takes up the emergence and persistence of religious intolerance toward Muslims (e.g. Islamophobia) in the U.S. since 9/11 and in France more broadly. The book develops a model of religious interaction that strives to engage the constructive potentialities of conflict (conflict transformation).

Springs is also the author of Toward a Generous Orthodoxy: Prospects for Hans Frei's Postliberal Theology (Oxford University Press, 2010), and co-author (with Atalia Omer) of Religious Nationalism: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2013).

Springs’ articles appear in the Journal of Religion, Journal of Religious Ethics, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Modern Theology, Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Contemporary Pragmatism.

Joe Hiller ’12

Hiller will present his invited alumni address on Saturday, March 10, from noon-1:30 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Hiller holds a bachelor's in gender, women’s and sexuality studies with honors from Grinnell College and is currently a graduate student at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University (New Orleans), where he also serves as current president of the university's Latin Americanist Graduate Organization (LAGO).

While at Grinnell, he held internships with the School of the Americas Watch Partnership América Latina and also worked with the Youth Coordinator for Gender Equity (Coordinadora Juvenil por la Equidad de Género) in Quito, Ecuador. Before beginning his graduate studies, Hiller worked in Seattle, Wash., on campaigns for prison abolition and migrant justice.

Hiller was a participant in the 2012 Grinnell College Peace and Conflict Studies Student Conference, as well as being Grinnell's 2009 Davis Projects for Peace Grantee. He has presented papers at several conferences, including the New School Annual Anthropology Conference and the UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference, among others.

Hiller’s short documentary film, Camp of the Innocents, was recently screened at the New Orleans Film Festival and documents the way in which the U.S. worked with Latin American governments during WWII to detain more than 6,000 people of German, Italian and Japanese descent.

Hiller’s research interests include queer and feminist theory, incarceration, activist/engaged scholarship, Colombia, and the Caribbean.

Student Presentation of Papers

This year, 11 students from Grinnell College and one student from Bethel College will present their papers which address a range of topics about peace and conflict from the social sciences, humanities, and sciences, reflecting the vibrant interdisciplinary variety of the field.

Papers are organized into themed panels, each moderated by a faculty member who has reviewed the panel papers. After the 15-minute student presentations, faculty moderators will respond and facilitate a discussion session.

The following panels will occur during the two-day conference, which is sponsored by Grinnell College's Peace and Conflict Studies Program:

Saturday, March 10

8:30–10 a.m. Panel 1
Religion, Social Identity, and Inequality

Rosenfield Center, Room 209

Grinnell College faculty respondent: Tim Dobe, associate professor of religious studies

  • Emily Jordan ’19, Grinnell College: The Barriers Of African Catholic Pilgrimage To Europe
  • Natalie Elaine Cook ’20, Grinnell College: Faith in the Revolution: Emphasizing Religious Practice as Motivation for the Philippine Militant Nuns
  • Annabel Grace Higgin-Houser ’20, Grinnell College: Transnational Conceptions of Race and Mormonism
  • Joshua James Cussen ’19, Grinnell College: Reimaging Sin and Grace in the Context of Universal Hybridity

10:15–11:45 a.m. Panel 2
Otherness, Warfare, and State Violence

Rosenfield Center, Room 209

University of Notre Dame faculty respondent and conference keynote speaker: Jason Springs, associate professor of religion, ethics, and peace studies

  • Misha Laurence ’18, Grinnell College: The Jewish Disease: Blood-Borne and Sexual Contagion in Nazi Anti-Semitism
  • Ilana Luther ’20, Grinnell College: Legitimizing State Violence During the Yugoslav Wars
  • Emily Grace Kondziola, Bethel College: Understanding U.S. Intervention in Syria as Structural and Cultural Violence
  • Vincent Benlloch ’18, Grinnell College: Coercion’s Two Faces: Disaggregating Tunisia’s Coercive Apparatus in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprising

Noon-1:30 p.m.
Lunch and Invited Alumni Address

Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Joe Hiller ’12: Dreams of peace in times of crisis: some reflections on prison abolition, migrant justice, and academia in the Americas

1:45-3:15 p.m. Panel 3
Suffering, Empathy, and Subjectivity among Vulnerable Populations

Rosenfield Center, Room 209

Grinnell College faculty respondent: Elizabeth Prevost, associate professor of history

  • Aminata Buganzi Kinana ’18, Grinnell College: The Narratives of Rape Survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo."
  • Farah M. Omer ’19, Grinnell College: Mourning the Normal: Mothering in Post-conflict Somaliland
  • Angela Adom Frimpong ’20, Grinnell College: Comparing Challenging Heights' Monitoring Policies to Globally accepted Best Practices."
  • John Shipman Osler ’20, Grinnell College: Communal Suffering and Hybrid Spirituality in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine


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