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Articles Tagged with war

Interrogating Social Ethics

An interview with Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies

What a society counts as moral or immoral is subject to the particular zeitgeist—the spirit of the times. “At the time of the slave trade, for example, most people who were slave owners thought it was moral. Even a few blacks, once they were freed, had slaves,” explains Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies. As a social ethicist, Welch researches not just the way individuals make moral choices, but how a whole society begins to decide “what counts as moral.” To that effect, all of her projects coalesce around such issues of social morality.

Audio and Video Tagged with war

Responding to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994

From an interview with Béa Gallimore, Associate Professor of French

In 1994, work on Gallimore’s second book came to a screeching halt because of the Rwandan genocide, in which roughly one million people were massacred. Included in the numbers of the murdered were Gallimore’s mother, three brothers, and a sister, as well as her extended family. Among the genocide survivors are an estimated 250,000 women and children who were raped. Gallimore eventually returned to working on her book about Beyala’s work, “but it was very hard because I was working on a book about fictional characters who were victims of rape. On the other side, in Rwanda, there were real women who were victims of rape. I have really had to juggle my feelings, and my writing, because it didn’t really make much sense then to write about fiction when reality was so cruel.” Hence, it is no surprise that even as she was finishing her second book, “there was a book about Rwanda right in front of me.” That book, co-edited with fellow Rwandan Chantel Kalisa (University of Nebraska), was called Dix ans après (2005) and features both academic articles and creative pieces on the Rwanda genocide.

Francophone author Calixthe Beyala

From an interview with Béa Gallimore, Associate Professor of French

Rangira Béa Gallimore’s second book, L’oeuvre romanesque de Calixthe Beyala: Le renouveau de l’écriture féminine en Afrique francophone sub-saharienne (1997), focuses on contemporary Francophone writer Calixthe Beyala. Whereas her first book subverts “the master’s language” by using the French of the slums (les bidonvilles) instead of classic French, her second book attempts to subvert patriarchy itself. Providing counterpart to male writers “who idealized the African woman as this beautiful symbol of the earth,” Beyala offers main characters who are forced into prostitution because of sexual abuse or poverty. “It’s very clear in her writing that she’s using the female body discourse. The body in writing is exposed, it is displayed,” explains Gallimore, and indeed Beyala’s tendency to address taboo subjects has created controversy. “It was very shocking for an African woman to write such things,” yet women’s bodies in Beyala’s novels stand as a “symbol of the violated earth, of the bad and the evil” that they have had to endure through their bodies. “You cannot deny the reality of Africa,” responds Beyala to her detractors.

What happens after empire?

From an interview with Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies

Regarding her book After Empire (2004), Welch says: “One of the things I’ve always been very interested in is the ethics of peace and war and the kind of debate that is going on now about whether the United States should take on proudly and without hesitation the mantle of empire.” Examining both sides of the issue Welch notes that “every empire becomes one of domination and coercion. And a basic lesson of history is that people don’t like to be dominated, and they’re going to resist. There’s a cost to empire. There’s a cost not just to the people who are controlled, but there’s a cost to us who are the empire.” Hence, it is crucial at this uncertain historical juncture that “rather than use our power to be an empire, we use our power to put in place a kind of world order that we would like to see when we’re no longer the dominant political power, bringing the rule of law to the international sphere” between nations.

After Empire (continued)

From an interview with Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies

In After Empire Welch offers practical suggestions for moving toward an international rule of law: “A lot of people are opposed to war, but really don’t know what the alternatives are. They don’t know that there are millions of people all over the world trying to put in place those alternatives.” She speaks especially about one group of which she is a part, Global Action to Prevent War, an international consortium of NGOs and peace studies programs in over thirty countries. Having worked with the coalition that established the International Criminal Court, they are now working on the formation of a United Nations emergency peace service. Although Welch describes many “little successes,” they are not given much attention in the crisis-driven media. “We don’t really have a cultural script for the little successes,” she observes. “It’s not as glamorous to prevent a war. And how do you know you’ve prevented it? Maybe it wouldn’t have happened anyway.” Moreover, while war may be averted, racial and economic problems still remain: “With war, there’s a least the illusion of a definite end—one side surrenders,” whereas, with peaceful solutions “there’s no defined end; the struggles are ongoing.”

Activism and Pedagogy

From an interview with Michael Ugarte, Professor, Romance Languages Department

How does activism fit in with pedagogy on campus? What is a just war?