Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Full Circle: Back to the Individual

From the beginning of the course to now, I believe we've come full circle.

What I mean by this is that we started by defining religion, religious concepts, how the individual internalizes religion from society and more. We then turned to community, identity, demonization and how religion works with societal conditions to produce violence.

Now, for peacemaking, we're back to emphasis on the individual in respects to the peacemaker and the person(s) who have changed. As shown through the video on the duo in Nigeria and the reading by Smock; individuals are a powerful potential. I wrote a blog post on the nature of the individual for my class last year, and I stand by everything I said.

However some concepts in that post don't overtly apply to religious peacemaking. As evident, the pastor and the imam have developed techniques which spurred the creation of new peaace accords in ravaged rreligious communities. Though we have looked at numerous groups that do peacemaking, individuals are at the heart of this. The case study of Guatemala in the USIP reading seemed to focus heavily on the actions of a few people which led to the formation of the peace treaty. In the Smock reading, personal tradegy, or experiences lead individuals to challenge their own beliefs and help spread peace instead of people part of the violence.

In essence, it is about taking the indiviudal out of a community, making them question their long-held assumptions, then putting them back in the community to focus on unobtrusive mobilization (from my social movements class). Unobtrustive mobilization is the concept that people work within the system of insitution in order to change the system itself. Though not a social movement, I feel this term has some revelvance when describing how changed individuals work within their religious communities to bring about peace.

After all, change has to come from within before it could spread throughout.


  1. I'm very intrigued by the idea of unobtrusive mobilization. Is there a complementary term idea to describe how individuals can change an institution from the outside? I think it would fit better with something like the situation in Liberia that we saw in the video "Pray the Devil Back to Hell;" the role of that charismatic leader is somewhat tricky because what she did was bring about a social movement through her role as a part of a religious community. She did, however, use that movement to change the government from a totally unaffiliated position.

  2. yes, its called a social movement! There is probably an exact term to what you're talking about, but I can't think of it.

    I really liked the Liberia case, I never thought social movements and peace making could come together like that. It gave me a totally different perspective that the ways of the Pastor and the Imam.