On May 24, 2015, thirty international women peace activists crossed from North Korea to South Korea, through the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The high-profile participants included American feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Nobel laureates Mairead Maguire from Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, was a historic and widely publicized call for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula. The event was intended to draw attention to the unending Korean War and the need for its peaceful resolution, and was also an explicitly feminist statement about the significant role that women can play in geopolitical conflicts and peacebuilding.  Panelists will discuss the significance of women, gender, or feminism in peacebuilding initiatives; how the Korean case is similar to or different from other conflicts; what the relationship is between domestic peace activists and international ones, and what role diasporic people can play in mediating politics across national borders.  

Moderator:  Eleana Kim, Associate Professor of Anthropology whose work includes transnationalism and the ecologies of the DMZ

Christine Ahn, founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ, is also the co-founder of the Korea Policy Institute, Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island, and National Campaign to End the Korean War. She is a columnist with Foreign Policy In Focus, and her writings have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service, Truthout and The Nation. She is also the editor of Shafted: Free Trade and America’s Working Poor, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Nonprofit Industrial Complex, and co-producer of Fashion Resistance to Militarism. She has appeared on Al Jazeera, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN, Democracy Now!, NBC Today Show, NPR and Voice of America. She was been awarded a Twink Frey Visiting Social Justice Activist by the University of Michigan, Center for the Education of Women, as a Rising Peacemaker by the Agape Foundation, as a social justice leader by the Wallace and Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and as a Progressive Women’s Voices Fellow by the Women’s Media Center. 

Crystal Baik, assistant professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside and a scholar of Korean transnational and postcolonial history, will offer perspectives of political engagement and peace activism among members of the Korean diaspora.

Nan Kim-Paik is an anthropologist and associate professor of History at UW-Milwaukee, and author of Memory, Reconciliation and Reunions of Separated Families in Contemporary South Korea: Crossing the Divide. She is currently researching and writing about peace activists in South Korea who have been protesting the construction of a massive naval base on the South Korean island of Jeju and will offer historical and social context to understand the Korean War and peace activism in South Korea.

Paula Garb, anthropologist and co-director of UCI's Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, will present lessons learned from helping to bring together U.S. and Soviet citizen diplomats during the end of the Cold War, and facilitating dialogues between various post Soviet communities divided by war in the early 1990s.

Ayala Emmett, professor emerita of anthropology from the University of Rochester, is the author of Our Sisters’ Promised Land: Women, Politics, and Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence and founder and editorial board member of the Jewish Pluralist, an online publication. She will speak about decades of women peace activists in Israel, Palestine and the U.S.

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