When: Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 @12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Andrea Wilson, Chuy Renteria, Eyad Said, Antonia Rivera
Reading, for people around the world, has been one of the primary ways to better understand the vast, complex, and uneven global landscape of immigration. Yet, immigration is not simply an abstract subject of study, not simply headlines flashing on our smartphone screens about distant events, not simply a topic for (often heated) policy debates. When it is, empathy and our ability to understand and appreciate the ways in which we are all interconnected are lost or diminished. Immigration, we cannot forget, is peoples’ lives. And the experiences of refugees, immigrants, asylees—their journeys, fears, and hopes—are as varied and complicated as the individuals living them. Books like The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen and We the Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa, Vols. I, II, and III, edited by Andrea Wilson, are important and necessary counterweights. In them, refugee and immigrant writers bind us together through the power of storytelling and the sharing of personal experiences. They imbue personality, nuance, and contradiction—humanity—to that vast, complex, and uneven subject. Through their words, we see each other with our many similarities and differences, anew. Empathy deepens and understanding grows. Perhaps, too, a call to action—for us, the impetus to welcome and support new neighbors to Iowa. In this session, the panel will discuss what it has been like for them to write and share their migration stories, why they chose to do so, and maybe offer some insights about the craft of writing personal narratives. They will reveal what it has been like to receive readers’ feedback. And they will share their views on what the publication of refugee and immigrant firsthand accounts, theirs and others, offer readers and society and why such voices are so very important today.
Jesus “Chuy” Renteria is an artist, writer, dancer, and teacher, but above all, he is a storyteller. Born in Iowa City and raised in West Liberty IA, both sides of his family are from border towns in Mexico that transplanted to meatpacking towns in the Midwest. Growing up in West Liberty, he oscillated between the Mexican, Laotian, and small-town cultures that made up Iowa’s first majority-Hispanic town. Chuy tells stories celebrating the spaces between cultures, of mangled Spanglish and generational clashes, of the messiness of people finding themselves. In addition to his writing, Chuy is an Assistant Director for the University of Iowa’s Inclusive Education and Strategic Initiatives Unit. He is the host of The Englert’s Writers of Color Reading Series podcast. His first full length publication, a memoir titled “We Heard it When We Were Young,” released in November 2021 with The University of Iowa Press. He spends his free time with his wife Darcy and their first born Marisol Alana.
Andrea Wilson is the founder and Executive Director of the Iowa Writers' House, a nonprofit supporting the creation and publication of literature in Iowa. She is the founder of the Bicultural Iowa Writers' Fellowship, and the editor and publisher of We the Interwoven, the first series of essays by immigrants, first- and second- generation Americans in Iowa. As a trained narrative therapy practitioner, she develops programs and workshops which use story as a method to support mental health, psychological healing and empowerment. Her most recent workshop, Reframing the Past & Writing the Next Chapter, was taught in Panama. Andrea has a BFA from Iowa State University and a Master’s in Narrative Therapy from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Antonia Rivera was born in Distrito Federal, Mexico. At age six, she crossed the border and spent her youth in California. Eventually, she received temporary protection and a work permit through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She writes about migration and what it means to be part of the 1.5 generation. She now lives in Des Moines, Iowa and works at Grassroots Law Project.
Eyad Said was born in Damascus, Syria. He lives with his family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He earned a master’s degree in banking and finance from the University of Damascus, Syria, before getting a PhD in mathematics from Louisiana State University. A husband and father of two, he is an assistant professor of mathematics at Mount Mercy University.
When: Wednesday, April 20, 2022 @ 12pm-1:00pm
Where: In-Person: MidWestOne Bank 102 S. Clinton St., Iowa City, IA
Speaker: Stratis Giannakouros
This talk will discuss the challenges to a zero carbon transition posed by the simultaneous crises of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As the world emerges from the pandemic, disruptions in global supply chains and pent up demand have caused inflation not seen since the oil crisis of the late 70s. This in turn has lead to increased commodity prices from oil to food staples, as well as scarcity in the materials necessary for renewable technology deployment (chip shortages and rare earths). The ongoing Russian Invasion of Ukraine has further destabilized energy markets, supply chains and raw materials procurement. The geopolitical energy landscape has at once been transformed, with Europe redoubling efforts to wean itself from Russian energy through accelerated clean hydrogen R&D, as well as other clean energy targets. At the same time, the US has doubled down on shale oil production and LNG export, while it remains to be seen how we will respond through accelerated renewables R&D. What do all these changes portend for our efforts to address climate change? How does this affect the commitments made at COP(26) in Glasgow? How will this catalyze our energy transition? How will it undo progress?
Stratis Giannakouros is the Director of the UI Office of Sustainability. He comes to the UI from Arizona State University, where he served as project manager and program manager for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Prior to that, he was the assistant director at the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College and sustainability outreach coordinator at Colorado State University. Mr. Giannakouros has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Loras College and a master’s degree in Environmental Politics and Policy from Colorado State University.
When: Tuesday, April 26th @ 12pm-1:00pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Speakers: Heather Brandon-Smith
Following the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), permitting the president to use force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and those who harbored them. Since then, four presidents have utilized this AUMF to justify using force against an array of groups – many of whom did not exist on 9/11 – in over half a dozen countries around the world. These post-9/11 wars have resulted in over 929,000 people killed, including over 387,000 civilians, and have cost over $8.9 trillion. While President Biden declared to the United Nations in September 2021 that “the United States is not at war,” the Biden administration continues to rely on the outdated 2001 AUMF to conduct lethal strikes and other operations that continue our forever wars. This presentation will discuss the 2001 AUMF, its origins, and how it has been stretched by successive administrations, as well as efforts being made to repeal it and bring an end to U.S. forever wars.
Heather Brandon-Smith is Legislative Director for Militarism and Human Rights at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, DC. She leads FCNL’s work to repeal outdated war authorization, promote respect for human rights and international law, and reduce U.S. armed interventions around the world. Prior to joining FCNL, she served as the Advocacy Counsel for National Security at Human Rights First, where she worked to advance U.S. national security policies that are consistent with human rights and the rule of law. Ms. Brandon-Smith is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Her writing has appeared in The Hill, Lawfare, Just Security, and Intercross (the blog of the International Committee of the Red Cross). She holds an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Politics and International Relations, an LL.B., and an LL.M. from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
When: Wednesday, Feb 2, 2022 @12pm-1pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Speakers: Dr. William Reisinger, Dr. Sara Mitchell, Dr. Paul van Hooft
For months, Russia has been amassing troops and weaponry along its border with Ukraine and, more recently, in Belarus to Ukraine’s north. It has accompanied the force build-up with maximalist demands for concessions that Western states cannot and would not agree to. Neither diplomacy nor preparations for expanded sanctions have led to a resolution. A Russian military incursion of some sort seems increasingly close at hand. Three specialists on international conflict and Russian foreign policy will address pressing questions about the situation, including what international and domestic factors could be motivating Russian actions, what tools might still be available to deter a Russian attack, and how a new conflict in Ukraine would alter the security situation in Europe and beyond
William M. Reisinger is Professor of Political Science at The University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1985. His research concerns politics in the former communist states, especially Russia. His publications include Energy and the Soviet Bloc (Cornell University Press, 1992), Can Democracy Take Root in Post-Soviet Russia? (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), Constitutional Dialogues in Comparative Perspective (Macmillan, 1999), The 1999-2000 Elections in Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Russia’s Regions and Comparative Subnational Politics (Routledge 2012), as well as over 50 articles or book chapters. He travels frequently to Russia and has conducted research as well in China, Georgia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. He teaches courses on democratization, authoritarian politics and the politics of the post-communist countries. He is a former chair of the Political Science Department and, from 2003-2008, served as The University of Iowa’s Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs.
Sara McLaughlin Mitchell is the F. Wendell Miller Professor in the University of Iowa Department of Political Science She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University in 1997. She is Co-Director of the Issue Correlates of War Project (http://www.paulhensel.org/icow.html) and an Associate Editor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Research & Politics. She is coauthor of Domestic Law Goes Global: Legal Traditions and International Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Guide to the Scientific Study of International Processes (Wiley-Blackwell 2012), The Triumph of Democracy and the Eclipse of the West (Palgrave Macmillan 2013), and Conflict, War, and Peace: An Introduction to Scientific Research (CQ Press/Sage 2013), she has edited several special journal issues, and she has published more than thirty journal articles and book chapters. She is the recipient of several major research awards from the National Science Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, as well as numerous research grants from the University of Iowa and Florida State University. Her areas of expertise include international conflict, democratic peace, international organizations, diversionary theory, international courts, conflict management, territorial, maritime, and river issues, and time series analysis.
Professor Mitchell is co-founder of the Journeys in World Politics workshop, a mentoring workshop for junior women studying international relations (http://www.saramitchell.org/journeys.html). Mitchell serves on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals including American Political Science Review, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, International Interactions, and Political Analysis. She received the Faculty Scholar Award (2007-2010) and the Collegiate Scholar Award (2011) from the University of Iowa.
Paul van Hooft is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS and the Co-Chair of The Initiative on the Future of Transatlantic Relations. He was a postdoctoral fellow from 2018 to 2020 at the Security Studies Program (SSP) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including as a 2018-2019 Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow. His work focuses on: the origins and logic of American grand strategy; European grand strategy and security; nuclear strategy; Indo-Pacific security, transatlantic relations; alliances; and extended deterrence. Paul attained his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) from 2016 to 2018. Paul received the 2016 prize from the Dutch and Flemish political science associations for his dissertation on the impact of experiences with war on postwar grand strategy.
When: Wednesday, November 3rd @ 12pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Speaker: Margarita M. Balmaceda
For the last three years, the energy world has been fixated on the fits and starts of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, as changes in EU regulations and regulatory competencies, as well as pressure from key stakeholders, have kept the project under a big question mark. A July 2021 agreement between the US and Germany seemed to give a green light to the project. In my presentation, I will discuss the following issues:
Margarita M. Balmaceda is a political scientist working at the intersection of international relations, the political economy of authoritarianism and democracy, and technology, with a special expertise in energy politics (oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, renewables), and commodities -- especially steel and the metallurgical sector-- in Ukraine, the former USSR, and the EU. She has a PhD in Politics from Princeton University and is Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. Concurrently, she heads the Study Group on “Energy materiality: Infrastructure, Spatiality and Power” at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (Germany) and is an Associate at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard. Capitalizing on her Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian and German skills, in addition to her native Spanish, she has conducted extensive field research in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Hungary, Germany and Finland. Her new book, Russian Energy Chains: the Remaking of Technopolitics from Siberia to Ukraine to the European Union (Columbia University Press, 2021) analyzes how differences in the material characteristics of different types of energy can affect how different types of energy may be “used” as sources of foreign and domestic power. She is currently developing a project on metallurgy, conflict and political development and struggling through courses at the World Steel Association’s Steel University.
When: Wednesday, September 22nd @ 12pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Speaker: Dr. Maxime Boutry
The double crisis, political and sanitary, that Myanmar is currently undergoing, sheds new light on the political and social transformations that have affected the country over the last ten years. Whilst the February 1st military coup literally kidnapped the hopes of a whole generation of citizens thirsting for democracy, it also revealed a failed transition, where the ghosts of decolonization continue to haunt any effort at nation building. Based on fieldwork among “ordinary citizens” in Myanmar as well as discourses in social and news media, Dr. Boutry will discuss diverse notions such as "legitimacy", “clientelism” or "federalism", and how their different understandings may reveal the underlying causes of the current crisis. Finally, although the current period is definitely a dark episode, he will explore some possible positive outcomes.
Dr. Maxime Boutry obtained a PhD in Social Anthropology and Ethnology in 2007 and has been living in Myanmar since then. His scholarly interests revolve around forms of continuity in the sociocultural changes affecting Burmese society through the study of “frontiers” (borderlands, transition spaces, interstices). Maxime is an associate researcher at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CASE - CNRS) and the laboratory on “Local heritage, environment and globalization” (PALOC – IRD/MNHN). He also works for several NGOs particularly in the field of land tenure security. His publications include “The backdoors of resistance. Identities in the Malay Peninsula’s maritime borderlands”, in A. Horstmann, M. Saxer and A. Rippa (eds), Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands (2018), and “How far from national identity? Dealing with the concealed diversity of Myanmar”, in Robinne, F. and Egreteau, R. (Eds.), Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar (2015).
When: Wednesday, December 9th @ 12:15pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Thomas Countryman is the chair of the Arms Control Association board of directors, a position he has held since October 2017.
Mr. Countryman was the acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He served for 35 years as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service until January 2017, achieving the rank of minister-counselor, and was appointed in October 2016 to the position of acting undersecretary of state. He simultaneously served as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, a position he had held since September 2011.
For nearly 75 years, the United States has championed a world order based on multilateral cooperation and the rule of law. While U.S. policies have never matched U.S. rhetoric over that time period, it would be fair to say that the United States has been a leader in promoting and supporting a rule-based international order. Professor Carlson will examine the Trump Administration’s actions and rhetoric with respect to the international rule of law and consider whether the Trump administration’s behavior reflects a sharp change from the past or merely a more honest and straightforward presentation of a longstanding “American First” approach.
Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award–winning author of several works of history, memoir, journalism, and theater, including The United States of Appalachia, praised by the Citizen Times as a “masterpiece of popular history”; State Out of the Union, selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top Ten Social Science book in 2012; and Reckoning at Eagle Creek, winner of the Delta Prize for Literature and David Brower Award for Environmental Reporting.