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[casi] NASPIR



Dear all

The working group I proposed is rapidly gained members and
has evolved as follows. Please forward to anyone you think
may be interested.

Thanks

Eric


NETWORK OF ACTIVIST SCHOLARS
OF POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

British politics and international relations academia has
been almost completely silent about Britain's arming of
murderous repression around the world by states such as
Indonesia and Turkey. There has never been a single article
on these British-sponsored wars of terror in a mainstream
British politics or international relations journal. Some
have even lauded Britain for a 'humanitarian intervention'
in East Timor. How can Britain reduce the amount of
terrorism in the world? By ceasing to sponsor it - a view
that is rarely expressed in British academia. The silence
is almost total about the shattering of Iraqi society under
the weight of twelve years of economic sanctions which have
been the main factor in killing around 500,000 Iraqi
children under five. Britain is on the brink of going to
war against Iraq again, with Tony Blair declaring that he
will not allow Parliament to vote on this momentous choice
and also adopting the illegal position that he is prepared
to go to war without a UN Security Council Resolution
explicitly authorising it. In this dangerous time, only a
handful of British politics and international relations
academics are speaking out or working with those organising
anti-war activities. Domestic developments are just as
important and are intertwined with international ones. The
British state is committed to subsidising and extending
corporate power. It treats real democracy - meaning popular
control exercised on the basis of accurate information -
within Britain with a mixture of fear and contempt. It
propagandises constantly and attacks civil liberties in the
name of the defence of freedom.

In contrast to academia, in a wide range of spheres groups
have sprung up to combat oppression in Britain and by
Britain. They are struggling for civil liberties,
accountability, and decent pay and working conditions. The
anti-war movement in Britain is doing something unique -
trying, through the whole range of non-violent means
available to it, to prevent an illegal war on Iraq before
it starts, rejecting it on principle rather than because it
does not serve some mythical 'national interest'.

The purpose of the Network is to promote scholarship which
supports non-violent action to end the involvement of
Britain and its allies in oppression. The allies are mainly
corporations and states, principally the United States. The
oppression can be domestic or international, and it can
take many forms, including physical violence or denial of
economic, social, cultural or political rights. The Network
also promotes the development of mutually supportive links
with activist scholars in other disciplines. Its bedrock is
the universal application of moral principle.

If you would like to join the Network, please send an email
to:
naspir-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You will then become a
member of the group email list. Please note that this is a
public forum with public membership. Message the entire
list using naspir@yahoogroups.com.  To unsubscribe, email
naspir-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com. To contact the list
owner naspir-owner@yahoogroups.com. The current website is
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naspir/. This will soon
change to http://www.naspir.org.  These are early days for
the Network: the idea was first circulated on 7 December
2002. The Network's members already include Dibyesh Anand,
Ruth Blakeley, Jeff Bowers, Mark Curtis, Simon Chouffot,
Lara Coleman, John Cowley, Clorinda Goodman, Eric Herring,
Vernon Hewitt, Katie McDowell, Milan Rai, Geoff Norburn,
Emma Sangster, Jeff Schmidt, John Sloboda, Doug Stokes,
Jutta Weldes and Richard Wyn Jones. Its shape is very much
a matter for discussion, and all input is welcome. If you
wish to get involved in setting up and running an aspect of
the Network's activities, please let us know.

The activities of the Network are likely to include the
following:

       Mapping out of relevant research agendas. Students
could be encouraged to write undergraduate, Masters and PhD
dissertations on these. Or they could become individual or
collaborative research projects. The collaboration could be
amongst academics or could include non-academic activists.
       Developing specialist groups within politics and
international relations or across disciplinary boundaries.
        Securing funding for research projects or for the
network's other activities. This could involve mutual
support in working out how to retain a normatively
worthwhile research agenda while still securing funding
from bodies such as the Economic and Social Research
Council.
       Developing resources for monitoring news media
coverage of current issues on which Network members have
expertise.
       Exchanging information about how to develop
contacts with and provide support for sympathetic
journalists, NGOs, officials and MPs.
       Putting together special issues and special
sections of academic journals. It will be important to
create political space in leading mainstream journals. This
will probably be more valuable than setting up a separate
Network journal.
       Organising sets of panels for the main academic
conferences.
       Developing ongoing working relationships between
Network groups who specialise in particular issues and the
relevant activist organisations.
       Establishing a Network website hosting draft
papers, information on relevant events, commentaries on
current events, calls for project collaborators and many
other things. ZNet is a wonderfully successful example of
what can be done. See http://www.zmag,org/.
       Maintaining a list of volunteers willing to offer
research assistance. These volunteers may be students or
they may be non-student activists.
       Maintaining a list of speakers with speaking tours
of institutions. The speakers may be academics and
non-academic activists.
       Developing a library of syllabi and bibliographies.
       Providing a forum to discuss how to ensure that
scholarship will be enhanced by its engagement with
activism and its abandonment of the myth that academia can
be objective.
       Developing our own 'indicators of esteem' as they
were called in the Research Assessment Exercise, such as
annual prizes for best thesis, article, book and scholarly
contribution to activism.
       Coordinatiing rebuttal in the media or in academic
journals to misrepresentations of the roles of Britain and
its allies in world politics.
       Running launch events for noteworthy books,
articles, reports or other actions which promote the
purpose of the Network.
       Writing a textbook.
       Linking up to groups such as the American Political
Science Association's Caucus for a New Political Science.
Its website
http://www.apsanet.org/about/sections/section27.cfm says
'The purpose of this section is to help make the study of
politics relevant to the struggle for a better world.'
       Developing online study resources and promoting
them outside formal education
       Working towards an understanding of what makes some
academics keep quiet and others speak out, and the actions
which suggest themselves to encourage more to speak out.
This needs to include an exploration of the extent to which
professional training generally represents a process of
ideological disciplining.




----------------------
Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133
eric.herring@bristol.ac.uk
http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Politics/
http://www.ericherring.com/



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