A Message from the Fred J. Hansen Peace Chair

BartelPeace is the fruit of justice 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a global moment of racial reckoning, and within the clutches of an environmental crisis, work for peace and justice is as urgent and challenging as ever. The Fred J. Hansen Peace Chair is one of SDSU’s platforms to engage with, and contribute to, the work for justice and peace that is happening in our local San Diego and Tijuana communities, as well as in the wider world. As we move into an unknown time of the on-going effects of the pandemic we are also faced with deepening political polarization, the dangers of racial supremacy and gender discrimination, and extreme economic injustices that threaten the well-being of millions and maintain systems of structural and political violence around the world.

Peace Studies

Peace studies is both a transdisciplinary area of scholarly research and a praxis-based arena of “real life” engagement. Peace studies as a field of study draws from the many different disciplines, including social sciences, humanities, the arts, and creative STEM interventions to encounter and address the root causes of armed conflict, but also confronts the structural violence caused by racial, social, and economic inequality. In this sense, “peace” is understood as much more than simply the absence of war but encompasses the conditions necessary for a just and sustainable peace that leads to the guarantee of human rights and protection of all peoples, especially the vulnerable and marginalized. Without justice, there is no peace. Peace is the fruit of justice.

A new vision

As the new chair, I am honored and excited to bring my knowledge and experience to the work of the program. I have worked and studied in Colombia, South America for almost 2 decades. Much of that time I was involved with local peace and justice organizations which led to years of ethnographic fieldwork on political economies and belief systems that maintain, and respond to, systems of structural violence. I am also committed to peace and justice on the border, and I am excited to extend the purview of the Hansen Chair to encompass peace and justice work on issues of migration justice, violence and the militarization of the border, the criminalization of migration, abolishing the immigrant prison system, and re-imagining the border region as one of opportunity for learning and building a peaceable region, rather than division.

A word about our new icon

Since Greco-Roman times, the olive branch has been used as a symbol of peace. However, the olive branch is often associated with Pax Romana, or a kind of peace that relies on imperialism and military enforcement. The new icon for the Fred J. Hansen Peace Chair features a knotty olive tree, stretching its branches to the sky, sturdy and steady, roots deep, anchored in the soil.  More than simply an olive branch, as a gesture of peace or, problematically, surrender, the olive tree symbolizes the need for long-term, rooted work that builds on the work of those who have come before and engages endogenous knowledge systems. Work for peace is an endeavour that requires patience, nurturing the seeds of justice and equity, while withstanding the storms of economic crisis and political whims. Peace can never be the work of one person, it must always be planted in the fertile ground of collaboration and community. The tree, with its many branches, reminds us that the work for peace requires many strategies, avenues, and interventions. Only together can we work toward a better world.

Rebecca Bartel, Hansen Chair

Read the newstory on the CAL website.