SOAS University of London

SOAS students launch new blog exploring peace and justice

19 February 2019

SOAS University of London MSc Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice students have launched a new blog exploring peace and justice.

The blog, (Re)imagining Peace + Justice, examines issues around conflict, transitional justice, and human rights. It is published by the Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice (CCRJ) and managed by a team of graduate student editors.

Dr Phil Clark, Co-Director of the CCRJ said: "This blog shows SOAS students' desire to be generators rather than consumers of knowledge. They're sharp-minded and want to be leading global debates around mass violence and its aftermath. The Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice is delighted to give our students the platform to express themselves and to generate international discussions around these pressing issues."

The first set of pieces on the blog explore Northern Ireland and Brexit, Auschwitz and the politics of memory, issues of political transition in Uganda and the plight of Mexican migrants.

SOAS students and creators of the blog, Devin Windelspecht (Editor in Chief) and Megan Manion (Managing Editor) told us about why they set up the blog, key issues they’ll be covering and challenges facing the world today:

What was the impetus for setting up the blog?

Devin Windelspecht (Editor in Chief): (Re)imagining Peace + Justice came out of a desire of several CRJ students to create a place for debate on the topics student were tackling in class and seeing played out in the media and politics. SOAS students are a diverse body with unique backgrounds and points of view that sometimes compliment, and even more often challenge, established assumptions about the world. More than anything, we wanted to create a space where those ideas could thrive.

What are the key topics and issues you'll be covering in the blog?

Megan Manion (Managing Editor): As a collaborative student project of the Centre for Conflict, Rights, and Justice, the site brings together interdisciplinary, decolonial, and intersectional research and material approaches to international humanitarianism and human rights, social and transitional justice, ongoing conflict, peace keeping and peace building, as well as the local, national and international politics of nation-building.

You're both students of the MSc Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS. How have you found the course so far?

Devin: I found the Msc Politics of Conflict, Rights, and Justice degree while working in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland, and saw it as a perfect opportunity to delve further into a field I was passionate about. The past year hasn’t disappointed: while incredibly challenging, courses like Dr Clark’s Violence, Justice, and the Politics of Memory or Dr Sabaratnam’s Conflict, Rights, and Justice core module haven’t only addressed the main debates in the discipline, but have delved deeper into case studies that highlight the real-world impacts of CRJ issues. Those two courses in particular have served as a huge inspiration for the direction we ended up taking the blog.

Megan: The MSc of CRJ is a unique program: it asks exceptionally difficult questions about the nature of justice and violence, which challenge how its students understand the world and see their place in it. It has been a pivotal academic opportunity and exposed me to a brilliant community. Dr. Sabaratnam’s titular module has been particularly illuminating, introducing an essential decolonial approach to post-conflict transition. Dr Clark’s module, Violence, Justice, and the Politics of Memory, one of the key reasons I chose to this course, was singularly instructive in the particular politics of transitional justice.

What do you think are the main challenges to peace and justice in the world today?

Megan: This question is a massive one — the global community faces myriad challenges to peace and justice: a widening gap between the rich and poor, worsening environmental and human health crises, radicalizing disenfranchisement and violence against people of colour, women, LGBTQIA+, and many other vulnerable people around the globe, diminishing legitimacy and credibility of transitional justice methodologies and institutions, to name a just a few. But this list is by no means exhaustive; these challenges are deeply rooted in the relational politics of power.

Devin: As Megan points out, selecting only a few challenges in the world is nearly impossible given the sheer scale of the issue. Global economic inequality, North-South power dynamics, violence and discrimination against vulnerable and minority populations, and Climate Change are some of the most pressing problems, but an even larger issue is the inability for many of today’s policy makers to recognize that the current way of running the world is no longer sustainable, and requires new and sometimes radical solutions.

Above all, I hope that (Re)imagining Peace + Justice can serve as a place for students to develop these new solutions we need for the future, as they go on to become policy makers, activists, and global leaders in the years to come.