All posts by Steven

Asian Institute Graduate Fellow, University of Toronto. Managing Editor, Sino-NK.com.

“Minority Rights and Religious Freedom” — A Keynote by Saba Mahmood

The Centre for Ethics Graduate Association and Comparative Politics Student Group Present:

A Joint Keynote Address
“Minority Rights and Religious Freedom: Itineraries of Conversion?”
Delivered by Saba Mahmood (UC Berkeley)

Saturday, 7 March 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center
569 Spadina Ave.

The rise of religious conflict in the Middle East is often met with calls for instituting the right to religious freedom and providing special protections for religious minorities. Conventional wisdom has it that these are neutral legal instruments that allow non-Muslims to practice their faith freely without state intervention and social coercion. Professor Saba Mahmood’s talk challenges this account by tracking the complex career of both these concepts in the Middle East. Taking the Coptic Orthodox Christian community of Egypt as a paradigmatic case, she shows that religious liberty and minority rights have historically reentrenched inter-religious hierarchies rather ameliorating them. In such a context, how might we rethink the promise of secular neutrality in order to imagine a future free of religious strife?

Speaker Bio:

Saba Mahmood teaches in the department of anthropology at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on questions of secularism, religious politics, and gender in the Middle East. Her forthcoming book, The Minority Condition: Religious Difference in the Secular Age, focuses on the plight of religious minorities in Egypt and the broader Middle East. She is the author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (2005), and a co-author of Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (2009).

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CPSG

Conference Announcement:
Call for Papers and Workshop Participants
 
The Comparative Politics Student Group presents: “Social Movements and Contentious Politics: Theories and Methods of Local Protest and Global Activism
 
7-8 March 2015, Multifaith Centre, University of Toronto
 
Since the turn of the 21st century, the rise of violent and non-violent protests, increases in popular mobilization, and the proliferation of social movements has led to an increasing understanding of the shared strategies and symbols of dissent. As calls for social justice, human rights, and democracy proliferate traditional and social media, shared strategies and symbols of dissent signify ever-greater connections between local protest and global activism. The increasing awareness of local protest and global activist movements calls for a (re)evaluation of new and existing theories and methods that academics employ to examine contemporary social movements and contentious politics. The Comparative Politics Student Group (CPSG) of the University of Toronto is organizing a morning of workshops, and an afternoon of panel presentations, that address social movement and contentious politics from multi-disciplinary perspectives. We invite participants and presenters to attend the workshops and deliver papers on the following themes:
 
  • Protest movements and the interconnections between different local, regional, and international symbols and strategies of resistance;
  • The moral and legal implications of political action and dissent in democratic and authoritarian contexts;
  • Social movement theories and methodologies, as well as lessons “from the field;”
  • Comparisons between varieties of contentious episodes.

Other topics that address the broad theme of social movements and contentious politics are most welcome. 

Saba Mahmood (UC Berkeley, Anthropology) will deliver the keynote address on Saturday March 7, 2015. Workshops and paper presentations will take place the following day on Sunday March 8, 2015.
 
Call for papers: Papers submissions are due at 4:30pm on January 31st, 2015. Submissions should be sent to cpsgconference2015@gmail.com and should be approximately 500 words in length and include a CV and 200-word biography. Notifications will be sent out on February 15th, 2015.
 
Call for workshop participants: Please register at the link provided. Space is limited. 
8 March 2015, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Since 2010, numerous political, social, and economic transformations have upset scholarly understandings of societal politics in the region. This workshop, led by Associate Professors Paul Kingston, Janine Clark, Francesco Cavatorta, and Marion Boulby, is a multi-disciplinary effort to expand and strengthen our knowledge of how research is conducted in the rapidly changing fieldwork environment of the Middle East and North Africa as well as the challenges and changes to it. Three panelists, all of whom are experts at conducting fieldwork many countries in the Middle East, will discuss their own personal challenges of conducting fieldwork in the Middle East. Most importantly, they will comment on the various changes to the fieldwork environment after the events of the last several years. Each of these scholars comes from a unique perspective in studying societal politics, from a country as well as theoretical perspective, providing a wide breadth of understanding about the challenges to studying social forces in the region.

Dissent 101: The Place of Activism on Campus
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Universities have been integral to organization, manifestation, and dissent in society.  From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr., from Montreal to Hong Kong to Egypt, powerful activist movements have been born on university campuses.  What role do professors and graduate students have in facilitating activism?  Is it coincidental that activism and dissent have a strong place on university campuses?  Is there a skill set, intellectually or practically, that gets moulded on campus?  Can educators incorporate activism into their research and teaching, or will this only “politicize” the classroom and detract from intellectual responsibilities?  Building on his own experience in teaching an experiential learning course on protest and dissent, Robert Huish discusses the importance of the university to progressive social activism, explores the ethical challenges that arise when lessons of the class go to the street, and advocates that academics should work to bring more experiences of activism into the heart of university education. 

Contentious Politics on the Korean Peninsula: A Workshop for Koreanists
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
This workshop consists of two groups and four panelists exploring contentious politics in both Koreas. Dr. Adam Cathcart (University of Leeds) and Christopher Green (Leiden University) will present work on contentious politics in North Korea during the Kim Jong-un era, focusing on the government’s use of information strategies, namely “re-defector” press conferences and the Moranbong Band. Professor Jennifer Chun and Judy Han (University of Toronto) will jointly present their latest collaborative work on cultures of protest in the South Korean labor movement.

Studying Social Movements: Data and Debates
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Professor Lesley Wood will lead a seminar on qualitative methods she has effectively used in her research on social movements. She will give guidance on how graduate students can incorporate techniques including ethnography, interviews, event catalogues, and comparative analysis into their work. She will also talk about the importance and challenges of remaining accountable to movements while doing research about them.

8 March 2015, 12:00PM – 1:30PM

Drawing upon her personal experience conducting field work for her dissertation concerning labor activism in contemporary China, Assistant Professor Diana Fu of the Political Science Department will give a brief presentation on the issues facing scholars conducting ethnographic research. A short excerpt from Professor Fu’s dissertation (which forms the basis of he up-coming book on small-scale labor activism in contemporary China) will be provided to attendees and will serve as a starting point for discussion. While methodological considerations will be addressed, Professor Fu’s remarks will focus largely on practical issues which the academic literature on ethnographic methods tends to overlook.

Studying Social Movements: Data and Debates, with Lesley Wood

Sunday, 8 March 2015 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center
569 Spadina Ave.

Event Organizer: Michael J Braun <michaeljbraun@gmail.com>

Register for the event at Eventbrite

Summary of Event:

Professor Lesley Wood from the Department of Sociology at York University will lead a seminar exploring some of the qualitative methods she has used in her extensive research on social movements. She will share her experiences integrating ethnography, interviews, event catalogues, and comparative analysis into her work, and lead a discussion on the challenges of remaining accountable to movements while doing research about them. Professor Wood is author of Crisis and Control: The Militarization of Protest Policing,Direct Action, Deliberation, and Diffusion: Collective Action after the WTO Protests in Seattle and co-author with Charles Tilly of Social Movements: 1768-2012. She is also one of the editors of Interface: a journal for and about social movements.

Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Methodological Challenges and Change

Sunday, 8 March 2015 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center 569 Spadina Ave.

“Lessons from the Field:” Studying Contentious Politics in the Middle East Before and After the Arab Spring: Methodological Challenges and Change

Event Organizer: Geoff Martin <geoff.martin@mail.utoronto.ca>

Register for the event at Eventbrite

Summary of Event: Since 2010, numerous political, social, and economic transformations have upset scholarly understandings of societal politics in the region. This workshop is a multi-disciplinary effort to expand and strengthen our knowledge of how research is conducted in the rapidly changing fieldwork environment of the Middle East and North Africa as well as the challenges and changes to it. Four panelists, all of whom are experts at conducting fieldwork many countries in the Middle East, will discuss their own personal challenges of conducting fieldwork in the Middle East. Most importantly, they will comment on the various changes to the fieldwork environment after the events of the last several years. Each of these scholars comes from a unique perspective in studying societal politics, from a country as well as theoretical perspective, providing a wide breadth of understanding about the challenges to studying social forces in the region.  Panelists’ Bios: kingstonPaul Kingston is as Associate Professor of Political Science and International Development Studies and the Director of the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His research interests revolve around questions of the politics and power that underpin the dynamics of development and/or underdevelopment. he approaches this from the discipline of political science but with an historians eye to the longer term political, economic, and institutional, processes that influence development trajectories. His regional focus is the Middle East, an area often and regretfully neglected in the field of development studies. Kingston’s most recent research has also focused on the dynamics of weak and failing states. His emerging interests increasingly revolve around the challenges of social policy making in the Global South, my own field work focus being on the Middle East region. The broader theme is manifested by participation in a research network called Collaboration for Research on Democracy (CORD) – one of whose research directions focuses on the issue of marginalized populations and policy-making in the Global South. His research contribution to this broader research collaboration — still at an early stage — will focus on the rise of self-advocacy for people with disabilities in the Arab world and the ensuing politics and challenges of disability policy making in the region. ClarkAssociate Professor Janine Clark received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, her MA in Political Science from Carleton University and her Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Geography from the University of Waterloo. Professor Clark’s research interests focus on three broad areas. The first is religion and politics in the Middle East, looking specifically at religious parties and institutions in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen. The second is women and politics in the Middle East. My third and most current area of research examines political decentralization and its impact at the municipal level. I am presently conducting a comparative study of decentralization in Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. This research project is funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant. Her research interests include Middle East Politics, Research Methods, Comparative Politics, Women and Politics in the Global South.

francesco_nb_petite_thumbnailFrancesco Cavatorta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval, Quebec City (QC). He holds a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research focuses on dynamics of democratization and authoritarian renewal in the Middle East and North Africa, Islamist parties and movements, and civil society activism. He just completed an externally-funded project on the rise of Salafism after the Arab Spring and he is currently working on a project dealing with the policy preferences of political parties in the Maghreb. He has published his work in numerous peer-reviewed journals. For more information on Francesco’s publications see: https://www.pol.ulaval.ca/?pid=1555.

MarionMarion Boulby is an Associate Professor of history at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  Her expertise is on modern Arab , especially Palestinian history with some focus on Islamist movements. Her publications include The Muslim Brotherhood and the Kings of Jordan and articles on Islamists in Tunisia, Israel/Palestine and a forthcoming book on the Islamic Movement in Israel. Her most recent publication is a chapter entitled “Extra-Regional Interests, Authoritarian Elites and Dependent State Formation in the Arab World” in State Formation and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa edited by Kenneth Christie and Mohammad Masad. Her new research is devoted to the mandate history of the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.

Register for the event at Eventbrite

Ethnographic Work in Political Science, with Diana Fu

Sunday, 8 March 2015 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center
569 Spadina Ave.

Event Organizer: Emile Dirks <emiledirks@gmail.com>

Register for this event at Eventbrite

Summary of Event

Drawing upon her personal experience conducting field work for her dissertation concerning labor activism in contemporary China, Assistant Professor Diana Fu of the Political Science Department will give a brief presentation on the issues facing scholars conducting ethnographic research. A short excerpt from Professor Fu’s dissertation (which forms the basis of he up-coming book on small-scale labor activism in contemporary China) will be provided to attendees and will serve as a starting point for discussion. While methodological considerations will be addressed, Professor Fu’s remarks will focus largely on practical issues which the academic literature on ethnographic methods tends to overlook.

Following the presentation, the floor will be opened up to an informal roundtable discussion between Professor Fu and workshop attendees on ethnographic fieldwork. Workshop attendees should consider this workshop as an opportunity to benefit from the field experience of both Professor Fu and other graduate students. To this end, attendees are encouraged to bring with them questions or concerns pertaining to their own research which they wish to table and discuss with both Professor Fu and their peers.

While scholars with diverse research foci are encouraged to attend, those planning to employ ethnographic methods in non-Western, developing world, and/or non-democratic settings as part of their graduate research should find Professor Fu’s remarks and the attendant discussion especially enlightening.

Panelist’s Bio

Diana Fu holds a D.Phil in Politics and a M.Phil. in Development Studies with distinction from Oxford University where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar (2006–2012). Her dissertation, “Flexible Repression: Engineering Control and Contention in Authoritarian China,” examines technologies of state control and civil society contention in contemporary China. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on the dissertation. Her research has been supported by the Rhodes Trust, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, and the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation.

From 2012-2013, she was a Walter H. Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University where she contributed to The Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law’s Governance Project. Prior to that, she was a pre-doctoral associate in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011-2012).

Her research interests include contentious politics, authoritarian politics, civil society, state-society relations in contemporary China, and ethnicity and gender. She teaches courses on contemporary Chinese politics, international development, and contentious politics at both the downtown and Scarborough campuses of the University of Toronto.

Register for this event at Eventbrite

Dissent 101: The Place of Activism on Campus, With Robert Huish

Sunday, 8 March , 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center
569 Spadina Ave.

Event Organizer: Matt Gordner <matt.gordner@mail.utoronto>

Register for the event at Eventbrite

Panel Summary:

Universities have been integral to organization, manifestation and dissent in society.  From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr., from Montreal to Hong Kong to Egypt, powerful activist movements have been born on university campuses.  What role do professors and graduate students have in facilitating activism?  Is it coincidental that activism and dissent have a strong place on university campuses?  Is there a skill set, intellectually or practically, that gets moulded on campus?  Can educators incorporate activism into their research and teaching, or will this only “politicize” the classroom and detract from intellectual responsibilities?  Building on his own experience in teaching an experiential learning course on protest and dissent, Robert Huish discusses the importance of the university to progressive social activism, explores the ethical challenges that arise when lessons of the class go to the street, and advocates that academics have should work to bring more experiences activism into the heart of university education.

Panelist’s Bio:

Dr. Robert Huish is Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University in International Development Studies.  His research encompasses approaches to comprehensive development strategies through social activism, notably in the areas of health care access and sport equity.  He is the author of “Where No Doctor has Gone Before: Cuba’s place in the global health landscape” (Wilfrid Laurier University Press), and editor of “Globetrotting or Global Citizenship: practice, potential and perils of experiential learning in higher education” (University of Toronto Press).

Dr. Huish teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Global Health, Experiential Learning, and Activism and Development.  He was named one of Canada’s most innovative educators in the Globe and Mail’s Our Time to Lead series.

Register for the event at Eventbrite

Contentious Politics on the Korean Peninsula: A Workshop for Koreanists

Sunday, 8 March 2015 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center 569 Spadina Ave. RELOCATED: Workers’ Action Center, 720 Spandina Avenue, Suite #223

Event Organizer: Steven Denney <stevencdenney@gmail.com>

Register for this event at Eventbrite

Event Summary:

The developmental trajectories of North and South Korea have shaped the contours of each country’s contentious political environment. This workshop, sponsored in part by the Centre for the Study of Korea (at the University of Toronto), consists of two groups and four panelists exploring contentious politics in both Koreas.

Dr. Adam Cathcart (University of Leeds) and Christopher Green (Leiden University) will present work on contentious politics in North Korea during the Kim Jong-un era, focusing on the government’s use of information strategies, namely “re-defector” press conferences and the Moranbong Band, to maintain a “domain consensus” (i.e., its legitimacy). Data from structured interviews conducted with North Korean defectors will show the full loop: how information channel from the top-down is consumed and reproduced from the bottom-up.

Two professors from the University of Toronto, Drs. Jennifer Chun and Judy Han, will jointly present their latest collaborative work on cultures of protest in the South Korean labor movement. The presentation will examine a new pattern of popular contention in Korean workers’ already radical repertoire of collective action: the prolonged embodiment of emotional, physical, and financial hardship by precariously-employed workers. In particular, we analyze forms of protest with strong expressive elements: religious and spiritual rituals such as head shaving ceremonies, fasting, and the Buddhist atonement ritual samboilbae (translated as three steps and a bow) as well as long-term occupations of symbolic sites such as construction cranes, church bell towers and building rooftops. By examining how workers dramatize precarity, we seek to develop a more systematic analysis of the relationship between the cultural politics of injustice and the changing world of work and employment under neoliberal developmental regimes.

The panel will be moderated by Steven Denney.

Panelists’ Bios:

adam1Adam Cathcart (a.Cathcart@leeds.ac.uk) is a lecturer in modern Chinese history at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. His research and publication program falls into three broad categories: China-North Korea relations, Sino-Japanese relations, and East- West cultural relations. He has published in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Journal of Korean Studies, North Korean Review, and Review of Korean Studies. He is the editor-in-chief of the scholarly website SinoNK.com and the British Association of Korean Studies Papers.
chris1Christopher Green (c.k.green@umail.leidenuniv.nl) is a PhD candidate in Area Studies at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His primary research concerns the political economy and ideology of North Korea. His recent publications include “Now on My Way to Meet Who?” a co-authored article published by the Asia-Pacific Journal that also appears in a forthcoming edited volume on contemporary South Korean culture. He is the Manager of International Affairs for Daily NK.
Jennifer Chun
Professor Jennifer Chun (jchun@utsc.utoronto.ca) joined the faculty of the University of Toronto in 2012, after teaching at the University of British Columbia. Her areas of expertise include work and labour, race, class and gender, migration and transnationalism, political sociology, and social theory. Her research is internationally comparative and has focused primarily on the changing world of work, culture, politics in the global economy. Her book, Organizing at the Margins: The Symbolic Politics of Labor in South Korea and the United States (Cornell University Press, 2009) was selected as the ASA Race, Gender and Class Section’s 2012 Distinguished Book Award, receivedan Honorable Mention for the 2011 Best Book Award from the ASA Labor and Labor Movements Section, and was a finalist for the 2010 C. Wright Mills award. She is currently serving as the President of the Research Committee of Labour Movements (RC44) of the International Sociological Association.
Han-2014-profile-154x200
Professor Judy Han (judy.han@utoronto.ca) is a social/cultural geographer with interdisciplinary interests in religion, mobility, and difference. Her teaching and research interests lie at the nexus of political economy and cultural politics through the interdisciplinary frameworks of social/cultural geography, postcolonial cultural studies, and critical race, sexuality and gender studies. Reflecting on her training in feminist and interdisciplinary cultural studies with a commitment to social change, her work tends to gravitate towards cultural dynamics and political contestations in contemporary articulations of race, sexuality, gender, religion, and nation. Dr. Han work closely with colleagues in anthropology, Asian studies, religious studies, and gender and sexuality studies.
steve1
Steven Denney (stevencdenney@gmail.com) is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Toronto in Canada. He studies the political culture of South Korea and changes and variations in political values in post-industrial societies. His recent publications include “South Korea and a New Nationalism in an Era of Strength and Prosperity,” a co-authored article published by the Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs, and “North Korea’s Cultural Diplomacy in the Early Kim Jong-un Era,” another co-authored piece published in the North Korean Review. He is a columnist for The Diplomat.