This issue includes the latest news from AC4 and the Columbia conflict community, including news on the upcoming Sustaining Peace event and new AC4  interviews!
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) - Earth Institute, Columbia University
We are very excited for this year's Sustaining Peace event and to focus on the crucial role women have in peacebuilding and security with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Leymah Gbowee. We have updates about the panelists! What else is happening around campus? Take a look at a recent film and ongoing work of a Visiting Research Scholar at Columbia's Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality. Check out cosmologist Dr. Janna Levin discuss the issue of nuclear energy and how it relates to peace and conflict. Also, don't forget about application deadline for summer fieldwork courses in Uganda or in Jordan and Israel, on areas of peacebuilding and enviornmental security, and other upcoming events!

Sustaining Peace 2016- register now!

See you Thursday, March 24th at the Kellogg Center in SIPA! 

Opening AC4 Research Gallery with AC4 Fellows 
Keynote Remarks from Leymah Gbowee
Panel Discussion on Women Peacebuilding, 
including Dr. Natasha Anushri Anandaraja and 
Sarah Knuckey

Hosted by AC4

Please note: Sustaining Peace is a free event but space is limited so please register! Doors open at 5:30pm.

For more information and detailed schedule.

Cosmologist Janna Levin on Nuclear Energy

This month we are excited to share a discussion with Dr. Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Columbia, on the topic of nuclear energy and containment, and its connections to peace and conflict. Dr. Levin specializes in black holes and chaos theory, including the cosmology of extra dimensions and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is the author of How the Universe Got its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space and a recent novel about the famous mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, titled A Madman Dream of Turing Machines, which one the PEN/Bingham Prize. Dr. Levin has been called one of the most direct and unorthodox voices in contemporary science. 

Give a listen to hear her 2-minute explanation of Einstein's theory of relativity and to consider the complexity and ethical concerns involved in such groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

Interview with Layla Zami, Artist and Scholar at Columbia's IRWGS

Layla Zami is an artist and scholar, currently a Visiting Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality (IRWGS), sponsored by the Talents Program of the German Jewish ELES Foundation. She is a PhD candidate at Humboldt-University Berlin in gender studies and performing arts, and has studied International Relations at Science Po in Paris. Recently she co-realized an artistic documentary film titled “Dancing Through Gardens” (Durch Gärten Tanzen) with dancer Oxana Chi. The film explores dance and memory and involves 3 generations of women and takes place in 3 different countries.

How did this documentary Dancing Through Gardens start?
For me, it started in 2010 when I met Oxana Chi. In fact, it was originally an idea from Oxana. [Oxana is a seasoned artist whom Layla Zami accompanies in the movie and who performs the unique dance solo "Through Gardens" as is featured in the movie.] She has been working on the theme of the memory of Tatjana Barbakoff [an artist of the 1920s] since 2007 or 2008. I met Oxana when I saw her performance, "Through Gardens", in Berlin, and I was mesmerized by it.

When she was invited to perform in Indonesia later that year, she asked me if I would like to come and document that. I didn’t know she had bigger plans for a film when I went along with her, or that it would take place for several years, as it did. It was a long process. It all started in 2010 when we met, but I wasn’t aware that it would become the film it now is, taking several years to complete. We finished the editing in 2014.

Photo of the DVD Cover, released 2015

Image: photo of the DVD cover released in Berlin; 2014

Gender is something you’re focused on in your studies as your based at IRWGS and it comes up throughout the film. I am interested in how you see it in relation to identity and memory.
The film has been very inspirational for me in this regard. I see these elements not necessarily as separate but as different layers that interplay. If I hadn’t been so closely involved with the performance and the filmmaking process, I wouldn’t be able to write the thesis I am writing now. I am not interested in writing traditional, academic thesis. A film and probably additional visual materials will accompany it.

Tatjana's work has sometimes been read through a heteronormative lense.  Oxana and I wanted to open more space for telling a different story. We want to present different facts that have been overlooked. Identity is a complex matter; for example, Tatjana was of Chinese and Jewish decent yet some historians have negated certain aspects of that background, saying she was Jewish and not Chinese. Though someone may identify as one ethnicity, others might say they are not. Women may have different views on their own identity as well than men do, and what is told in history books is not always the whole story. So, we wanted to explore this as a question about who holds the truth.

Photo of Tatjana Barbakoff by Robertson; Berlin, 1929.

From research on Tatjana and through the film you can see how Tatjana got into her memories – it was through her costumes. They are in a museum now. We saw and also experience the struggle to find or create space to share this memory that had not been told. This comes out through many scenes in the film; in this way, the opening scene with the unpacking of the suitcase can be a metaphor for unraveling the ties of history.

Photo by Layla Zami of dancer Oxana Chi and her performance Through Gardens; Berlin, 2010

In your work and with each of the women in the film there are these individuals working to make sense of things in the midst of so much trauma and war, and who are confronting these violent moments that they are living through, whether in present day or in memory. Can you comment about the connection to conflict resolution in your work?
I think present conflicts are partly determined by conflicts from the past. We need to understand and know better about those conflicts from the past in order to manage present day conflicts, especially those that are fueled by racism.

I really see connections with conflict resolution because I think that if people watch this movie, attend Oxana Chi's performances, or get familiar with work I am doing in the frame of my PhD thesis, maybe they will be encouraged to research history and engage with history in a different way, seeing it as more complex than it is usually narrated. Many voices are often marginalized – of women and persons of color – and these voices need to be heard in order to have more dialogue in the society today and to achieve peace.

That is why we switch in the movie, thematizing Islamophobia as well as fascism and various cases of extreme violence that have gone unaddressed now and throughout during the history of the 1920s and 30s. I am very interested in how this film can engage with and be integrated into conflict resolution programs.

Full interview will be released soon. Till then, learn more about Layla Zami:; and more info on Oxana Chi.
To host a screening or buy a DVD, contact:

Stay Connected!

Missed one of the AC4 monthly newsletters? You can find previous ones here! Want to check out more AC4 interviews? Check out the archive of Conversations From the Leading Edge

The AC4 Monthly Newsletter and interviews are organized by Research Coordinator, Meredith Smith. Please direct any comments, inquiries, and/or suggestions to:

AC4's Executive Director Dr. Peter Coleman will speak at Union Theological Seminary on
March 15th

March 15th, 6:00 – 7:30pm
Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway

More information and registration


Friday, Apr 8 to Sunday, Apr 10
- Clark University -
Worcester, MA

Want to present your CMM project?
Submit proposals by March 21

Interested in participating? 
Register by April 1

Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) Institute invites you to join for another exciting CMM Spring Workshop, geared toward graduate students, recent graduates, and any scholar or practitioner that wants to learn more about CMM. The theme of this year’s exchange is CMM as a Practical Theory: Research Methods and Analysis.

Program highlights include:
• CMM Scholars Panel discussing views of CMM as a practical theory, circular questioning, logical forces, and using CMM heuristics in research
• Live CMM Interview
• “Reflection Zones” for processing and sharing information
• Scholar to Scholar Discussions
• CMM Institute updates and ways to get involved

For more info: click here.
Summer Fieldwork with M.S. Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR)

Still time to submit your application!

Online Application
**Deadline: March 9 by 11:59pm**
The M.S. Program in Negotiation & Conflict Resolution is pleased to offer fieldwork courses in the areas of peacebuilding and environmental sustainability this summer.

May 24 – June 6, 2016

NECR K4260. Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East with Dr. Josh Fisher. 3 pts.

For more on last year’s program in Israel/Jordan, watch this video:

July 4 – July 15, 2016

NECR K4240. Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding with Dr. Jose Pascal da Rocha. 3 pts.
For photos and more on our peacebuilding course in Kampala, Uganda:

For more info:
AC4 Update:
Director Joshua Fisher at Princeton University
Last week, on February 26th, Professor Sarah Knuckey (Columbia Law School) and Dr. Fisher gave a talk at Princeton University on their interdisciplinary study of the environmental and human rights impacts of industrial mining in Papua New Guinea. Knuckey and Fisher, speaking to an audience that included experts from anthropology, neuroscience, and chemistry, described their efforts to advance respect for human rights through mixed methods research. Indigenous communities in Porgera, Papua New Guinea are concerned that a large gold mine near their villages is causing harm to their environment and health, and asked the Columbia University team to investigate and report back on the safety of water in the area. Knuckey and Fisher designed a human rights-based environmental study, and, with Columbia University students, recently reported the results back to communities. During the Princeton talk, the Columbia team shared tactics for effective interdisciplinary work and the benefits of f human rights based interdisciplinary approaches. Read more about this work.

The talk was sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Institute, and part of a series on ‘Environmental Humanities Dialogues’ organized by anthropology Professor Eben Kirksey.   

AC4-Link is a web-based information hub that highlights all people, centers, and programs conducting research, practice, and teaching activities related to conflict resolution, peace, violence prevention, and sustainable development at Columbia University. If you are looking for a person, program, or center conducting specific work under these areas, this is a great place to start. If you are already active under one of these areas, check out your profile and learn about others across Columbia University that share your interests.
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
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