Privilege and Nonviolent Intervention in the Context of Empire for PJSA

A paper based on parts of my thesis, to be co-authored with Prof. Lee Smithey of Swarthmore College, has been accepted for presentation at the Peace and Justice Studies Association National Peace & Justice Conference, Oct. 6–9 at Goshen College in Goshen, Ind. The abstract of the paper is as follows:

Privilege and Nonviolent Intervention in the Context of Empire

When third-party nonviolent intervention is undertaken by people with relative privilege, it runs the risk of failing to empower the indigenous movements it aims to assist. Interventionists may indeed to some extent disempower those they seek to support by injecting racist or classist dynamics, however subtly, into the struggle itself. By relying on status attached to the economic, cultural, and military dominance of the Global North, nonviolent intervention organizations can facilitate a relationship of dependency that may have short-term strategic advantages but that is less likely to promote the nonviolent empowerment of local movements. Sensitivity training within intervention organizations may help activists strategize in ways that avoid some of the pitfalls of operating from a position of privilege.

Update, Oct. 9: The draft text of the paper has been posted.