Sara thinks about how we can build stronger and more solidarious connections across distance and difference so that we can better work together for peace and justice. It is all too easy to fall into colonial patterns when doing solidarity work, especially when we work across divides of North and South, race, class, gender, and other interlocking systems of power. As a geographer she looks at the socio-spatial dynamics of peace and peacebuilding and argues that this sort of analysis is useful for catching colonial patterns and doing more effective organizing for peace. She has helped to establish, and is a leader in, the subfield of geographies of peace. She has long-standing ties with social movements in the US, Canada, and Colombia and works to think with them about the change they make. One way she does this is through a dialogic digital archive of blogs by international accompaniers in Colombia. Her engaged research has also included facilitating exchanges between Colombian women and Syrian women, and Colombian women and Burundian women.
Locally her work uses spatial tools for peacebuilding and to build connections across difference through engaged research with the Mapping May 4th project, a digital dialogue and memorial which spatializes place-based extracts from the oral history archive in the May 4 Collection at Kent State to make them more relatable, and easier to hear. By tying short stories to a particular site, the hope is that listeners will listen to stories they normally might not (from a guardsman, say, or a student who broke a window) and feel a sense of connection to the teller by having a connection to that particular site, either as a place that they know well or simply as a place that they are standing at that moment. How do we reconnect with each other when people have very different experiences and understandings of a serious harm done? It is her hope that being able to hear the stories of people with very different experiences, and better understand what shaped people’s fear, panic, anger, and outrage, will soften long-standing resentments and pain and open space for new connections and community building. We are again today living in a highly polarized society - perhaps one even more polarized than in 1970. In this context, building reconciliation and new ways to hear each other across our differences is more urgent than ever.
Prior to KSU, Dr Koopman worked as a researcher at the University of Tampere in Finland, and before that as an Assistant Professor in Geography at York University in Canada. Her Ph.D. is from the University of British Columbia in Canada. She is also a professional Spanish interpreter and translator with a focus on social change terminology, blogging term translations at spanishforsocialchange.com.
Introduction to Conflict Management
Nonviolence in Theory and Practice
Reconciliation vs. Revenge: introduction to transitional justice
Peacebuilding in Colombia (study abroad course)
Power, conflict, and the politics of gender (graduate seminar)
Social movements and nonviolent conflict (graduate seminar)
2023. Enseñando la paz usando la comunicación noviolenta para conversaciones dificiles en el aula Universitario (Teaching peace by using nonviolent communication for difficult conversations in the college classroom). (sole translator, lead author, with Laine Seliga). Ciudad Paz-ando 16, no. 1: 143-160. link
2023. Imaginarios de blanquitud, imaginarios de paz: tropicalidad en Colombia. (Imaginaries of whiteness, imaginaries of peace: tropicality in Colombia). Cuadernos de Geografía: Revista Colombiana de Geografía 32 (2): 457-474. link
2021. Mona, mona, mona! Tropicality and the imaginative geographies of whiteness in Colombia. Journal of Latin American Geography 20, no. 1 (2021): 49–78. link
2021. Teaching peace by using nonviolent communication for difficult conversations in the college classroom. (lead author, with Laine Seliga). Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies. 27: 3. link
2021. Critical Geopolitics/Critical Geopolitics 25 Years On. (lead author with Simon Dalby, Nick Megoran, Jo Sharp, Gerry Kearns, Rachael Squire, Alex Jeffrey, Vicki Squire, and Gerard Toal). Political Geography, 90 (3) May 2021. link| pdf
2020. Building an inclusive peace is an uneven socio-spatial process: Colombia’s differential approach. Political Geography. 96. link | pdf
2020. Feminist geopolitics. In The Encyclopedia of New Geopolitics, Editorial Board of The Encyclopedia of New Geopolitics (eds.), Maruzen Publishing. [In Japanese] 予定「フェミニスト地政学」（『現代地政学事典』編集委員会編，『現代地政学事典』所，丸善出版 pdf (Japanese) (English version)
2019. "Peace." Keywords in Radical Geography: Antipode at 50, 2019, 207-211. link | pdf
2018. Territorial Peace: The Emergence of a Concept in Colombia’s Peace Negotiations. (co-author with Heriberto Cairo, Ulrich Oslender, Carlo Emilio Piazzini Suárez, Jerónimo Ríos, Vladimir Montoya Arango, Flavio Bladimir Rodríguez Muñoz, and Liliana Zambrano Quintero). Geopolitics 23, no. 2 (April 3): 464–88. link | pdf
2017. "Peace" in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology, edited by Douglas Richardson. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. link | pdf
2016. Geographies of Peace. In Oxford Bibliographies at Oxfordbibliographies.com link | pdf
2016. Beware: Your Research May Be Weaponized. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106 (3): 530-35. Special issue on militarism and geography. link | pdf
2015. Social Movements. In Wiley Blackwell Companion to Political Geography, second edition. ed. John Agnew, Virginie Mamadouh, Anna Secor, and Joanne Sharp. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. 339-351. link | pdf
2014. Making Space for Peace: International Proactive Accompaniment.In Geographies of Peace, ed. Fiona McConnell, Nick Megoran, and Philippa Williams. London: I. B. Tauris. 109-130. link | pdf
2011. Alter-geopolitics: Other securities are happening. Geoforum 42:3 (June), 274-284. link | pdf
2011. Let’s take peace to pieces. Political Geography 30:4 (May), 193-194. link | pdf
2008. Imperialism Within: Can the Master’s Tools Bring Down Empire? / Imperialismo Adentro: ¿Pueden las Herramientas del Amo Derribar el Imperio? Acme: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. 7:2, 1-27. link | pdf| Spanish pdf
Full publication list available on google scholar.
Publications also available on both academia and research gate.
- Alternative Securities
- International accompaniment
- Gender and Security/Peacebuilding
- Social Movements/solidarity
- Peacebuilding in Colombia
- PhD in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia, 2012
- MA in Women’s Studies and Gender Relations from the University of British Columbia, 2005
- BA in Anthropology/Sociology from Swarthmore College, 1993