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12th Annual Symposium on Democracy, April 28-29

Posted Apr. 11, 2011

Kent State University presents the 12th Annual Symposium on Democracy. Held in commemoration of the events of May 4, 1970, the symposium takes place April 28-29 in Oscar Ritchie Hall and is sponsored by the university’s Department of History, Department of Pan-African Studies and Women’s Studies Program, with funding from the Office of the President and the College of Arts and Sciences. The Symposium on Democracy is free and open to the public.

This year’s Symposium on Democracy is titled “Democracy and Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” The conference brings national and international experts to Kent State to examine the critical issues of war-related sexual violence, the representation of women, extractive industries and existing and potential democratic grassroots efforts in the conflict zones. 

“This conference provides individuals with the opportunity to learn about the most lethal conflict since World War II and also understand the ways in which our own demands for high-tech gadgets have helped to prolong the conflict,” said Timothy Scarnecchia, a Kent State history professor and one of the organizers of the symposium.

“We will also discuss sexual violence and the ways in which women are represented by scholars and the media in order to reframe the discussion of rape, moving it away from women as only victims to women as active survivors,” said Monika Flaschka, an instructor in the history department and a symposium organizer.

The symposium features conference panels, workshops and speakers. The keynote speaker is René Lemarchand, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Florida. Lemarchand is an expert on the genocides and ethnic conflicts in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has authored numerous books and articles. His most recent book is “The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). Lemarchand’s keynote address is April 28 at 5 p.m. in Oscar Ritchie Hall, room 214.

In addition to the symposium, two related events are:

  • Photo exhibit by Aubrey Graham – April 1-29 – “Beyond the ‘Victim:’ Images of the Daily Lives of Women ‘Victims’ of Sexual Violence in the Eastern DRC” can be viewed in the Oscar Ritchie Hall Gallery. Graham is a photojournalist and Ph.D. student in anthropology at Emory University. She researches the politics of interactions between humanitarians, journalists and the local conflict-affected population in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her photo exhibition challenges the passive stereotype of women who have experience sexual violence.
  • “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” film screening – April 25 at 7 p.m. – Oscar Ritchie Hall, room 214 – The film will be followed by discussion with Dr. Suzanne Holt, director of the Women’s Studies Program at Kent State.

For more information on the 2011 Symposium on Democracy including a schedule of events, visit www.kent.edu/cas/history/may4th. Parking is available in the Student Center Visitor Lot and the R-2 parking lot by the Business Administration Building on Terrace Drive.

About the Symposium on Democracy
The tragic events of May 4, 1970, at Kent State University had a profound impact on the university, the nation and the world. The Symposium on Democracy is part of Kent State’s commemoration of the May 4, 1970, events. The purpose of the Symposium on Democracy is to honor the memories of the four students who lost their lives on that day—Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder—with an enduring dedication to scholarship that seeks to prevent violence and to promote democratic values and civil discourse.

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Media Contacts:
Monika Flaschka, mflaschk@kent.edu, 330-672-2882
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595