Monday, September 24, 2012

Two KP Titles Release Next Week!

Kumarian Press is excited to welcome two titles into the family this October entitled Context-Sensitive Development and Foreign Aid Competition in Northeast Asia.

Context-Sensitive Development, By Anthony Ware, examines how to effect successful development interventions in Myanmar. Anthony Ware points out that while practitioners have questioned universal economic prescriptions for development, they have not been as consistent in questioning the normative foundations behind their work. Ware does not argue for a facile moral relativism; he sees Myanmar as an egregious violator of human rights, but he does call for “context sensitivity” to help organizations adapt their values to better meet the needs of client populations.

The book retails for $27.50 and is available for purchase, review and exam inspection.

High levels of economic growth have transformed the countries of Northeast Asia from aid recipients to aid donors. Foreign Aid Competition in Northeast Asia explores this transformation and its implications for economic development paradigms, policies, and practices. By being the first authors to look holistically at the countries in this region, Kim, Potter, and contributors address the dynamics, potential, and tensions of the aid programs of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The book retails for $27.50, as well, and is available for purchase, review and exam inspection.

Topurchase and/or request these copies, please contact Marketing Associate Jennifer Kern:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guest Authors Blog Post for New Peace Studies/NGO Title

By Max Stephenson and Laura Zanotti:

Our field research for Peacebuilding through Community-based NGOs: Paradoxes and Possibilities took us to three sites of long-lived conflict: Northern Ireland, Serbia and Haiti. Each left lasting impressions on us in different ways.

In Belfast, we undertook a series of interviews with representatives of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland as well as delegates of Foundations for Peace, a global network of philanthropies actively engaged in peacebuilding work in multiple nations. We learned much during our visit and interestingly, one central lesson of our interviews was strongly underpinned by our forays around the city. Our visit coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Accord that formally ended the decades of the “Troubles” whose violence had literally torn the province apart. We imagined that the city would evidence some healing due to persistent peacebuilding efforts at all scales in the decade that had elapsed since a formal peace had been negotiated. And this was so in some ways, but to our surprise, no one among our interviewees believed the city’s population was yet ready to see the so-called “peace walls” separating neighborhoods and parts of the city and originally aimed at controlling violence and protecting innocents, removed. And now nearly 15 years after the Accord, the city is more segregated than ever and its many walls remain a continuing and ubiquitous hulking presence whose borders and boundaries define the warp and woof of resident’s daily life and activities. If we needed an object lesson in how long it may take societies once rent asunder to begin to build trust across their previous divisions, despite the good efforts of many, we witnessed it first-hand in Belfast. Peacebuilding requires steadfastness, a vision that must be ready to encompass decades and courage to have any hope of success. We explored the work of an NGO in the province that has demonstrated the pluck to continue questioning discourses of conflict deeply ingrained in Northern Ireland society, while challenging standardized and “short cut” approaches to peacebuilding by fostering ongoing intra-communal engagement opportunities concerning peace and its distributive effects.

            Our fieldwork in Serbia took us not only to Belgrade, but also to Srebrenica. We visited the latter site on the day of commemoration of the tragic genocide that made that isolated beautiful valley with its now abandoned and dilapidated United Nations compound and row upon row of neatly tended gravesites, infamous. As we write, the international community continues to fund forensic efforts to identify the victims of the massacre near the site. One central feature on the commemoration day of our visit was the honoring and interment of the remains of several hundred newly identified individuals. It was at once an unforgettable and deeply moving spectacle underpinned by the knowledge that all sides in that conflict continue to construct warring narratives that implicate the “other” in genocidal actions. This tit-for-tat mentality and its accompanying partisan social constructions of the past conflict have marred efforts to secure progress to address still fresh enmities. We also could not fail to note that one avowed aim of this mass killing was to “ethnically cleanse” what was for decades a mixed religious and ethnic community. Srebrenica is today a single ethnic enclave.  This situation teaches that violent human fear and hatred of “the other” are likely to have enduring and deeply lamentable consequences, and those may not be safely predicted in advance. Most international organizations and NGOs, by focusing on the memorialization of war victims, end up reinforcing political dynamics rooted into war identities, rather than opening the way for new possibilities for intra-communal relations.     

            Our work in Haiti found us visiting not only that nation’s capital city, but also traveling to its mountainous and still relatively inaccessible plateau region. The long-lived conflict and associated regime changes that have beset the nation in recent decades, some born of native political conditions and movements and others imposed by the international community, have essentially eviscerated government capacity and left a population to fend largely for itself. This, it continues to do and with amazingly good grace and sheer determination, but the immiseration of the island’s people has left a nation in tatters and an international community, deeply complicit in that condition, seeking ways and means to address the population’s multivalent suffering. International strategies of peace building in Haiti have focused on “building institutions” while de facto diverting funds from that nation’s government to NGOs, thereby further eroding local economic capacity and social capital.  We were heartened therefore to study a nongovernmental organization that has taken as its aims not only the provision of necessary services, but also the development of accompanying government capacities in its areas of interest and a commitment to try to foster virtuous circles in the local economy.

            Taken together, our work for this book left us humbled by the complexities that social conflict occasions as well as by the need for sustained engagement among all relevant parties and for rethinking current international approaches to peacemaking, if an alternate social vision (or visions) that result in peaceable coexistence is to be constructed and broadly accepted in communities previously riven by conflict. Peace is not born of “an intervention,” but instead of the sustained efforts and commitment to learning of all involved (especially those in position to control resources and devise intervention strategies) to create fresh conditions for trust, economic sustainability and possibility amidst enduring fear and, often, acculturated hatred. These are not challenges either for the cocksure or the faint of heart. We came away with enormous respect for those engaged in peacebuilding efforts, even when we disagreed with their adopted strategies.

Peacebuilding Through Community-Based NGOs is available for purchase through Kumarian Press. To request review and/or exam copies, please contact Marketing Associate Jennifer Kern at:

Monday, September 10, 2012

New September Release: Peace Studies

Peacebuilding Through Community-Based NGOs explores the contested but increasingly relevant role nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play in processes aimed at bringing about international peace and security and in the invention of alternatives for resolving conflict.

Through case studies of Partners In Health (Haiti), Women in Black (Serbia), and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland highlight the range of ways these organizations are involved in post-conflict social reconstruction efforts and with whom and for what purposes they interact as they do so. The authors argue for analyses that take into account the rich mosaic that is the civil society sector rather than treating all of these entities with one broad brush. At once a celebration and a critique, this book provides guidance for those seeking to understand the complexities and potential of the civil society sector for facilitating social justice and transformation.

Table of Contents:
1) NGOs, International Governance, and the Neoliberal Peacebuilding Consensus
2) Providing Services and Building the State Amid a Cacophony of International Aid: Partners in Health, Haiti
3) Implementing the Liberal Peace, Hardening Conflict Identities: Women in Black, Serbia
4) Revealing Conflict Narratives in Pursuit of Peace: Exploring the Peacebuilding Efforts of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland
5) Conclusions

This brief handbook is essential reading for NGO professionals and human rights activists.

For more information on purchasing, visit the book's web page.

Contact Marketing Associate Jennifer Kern at to receive review and/or exam copies.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2013: The Year of Crisis, Panic

We have already witnessed the violent surge of next year's crisis from political instabilities in the Middle East to economic blunders throughout the world.

Syria is in turmoil and the violence continues in Afghanistan, as Bin Laden's death has proved to be both an unsettling victory and a defeat. New leaders are being chosen in Afghanistan as they look for a new Intelligence Leader, as well as in the States - the presidential election is just around the corner.

Politics will not only dictate how 2013 will go down in the history, but also environmental changes, social and economic.

For starters, the U.S, as well as Australia and Russia, have experience droughts that have affected the crops. These droughts are ruining crops essentials for economic sustainability. Corn, alone, is expected to drop to an all-time low since 1995, and will inevitably raise grain and other food prices.

For us in the developed world, these higher prices are a burden, but are manageable; for others, in Africa, for example, these prices determine life and death, as most poorer countries spend at least half of their income on food - or, shall we say bread - which tops the list of essentials.

If food prices rise, China is vulnerable to food cost inflation.

"In just one month, July 2011, the cost of living jumped 6.5%. Inflation happily subsided over the course of 2012. Springtime hopes for a bumper U.S. grain crop in 2012 enabled the Chinese central bank to ease credit in the earlier part of the summer. Now the Chinese authorities will face some tough choices over what to do next." (CNN: Why 2013 Will Be a Year of Crisis)

Social changes will affect China and the rest of the world if we continue to follow the path of destruction that 2012 is causing. As 2013 is fast approaching, we must ask ourselves, what can be done? Can the youth generation help change the future by acting in the present?