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The Clowes Center for Conflict and Dialogue Studies is the continuation of a project started in 2000 by Jim Clowes of the Comparative History of Ideas Program and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Jim had put together a series of international study programs for undergraduates, in sites with longstanding divisions or conflicts among residents: Belfast, Cape Town, Chiapas and Cyprus were some of the initial sites. Through these programs, Jim developed a philosophy of dialogue informed by the belief that humans need to respectfully hear each others stories in order to learn, to transform conflicts and to create new possibilities. This philosophy infused his academic efforts, which brought students, community members, and scholars together to work on projects.
Jim’s efforts forged connections among dozens of students and community members in Seattle and abroad, and inspired many to continue his work in peacemaking and social justice. Sadly, these fruits were just beginning to blossom when, in 2003, Jim was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Jim continued to share his wisdom and care with his community until his passing in March of 2004.
Soon afterward, a group of Jim’s students and colleagues in the Comparative History of Ideas Program formed the Clowes Center, dedicated to continue bringing students and other community members together and encourage the study of conflict and dialogue. The initial efforts took the form of small reading groups, and quickly expanded to the yearly “Veterans of Intercommunal Violence” lecture series, inaugurated in 2006 with a talk by South African activist/poet, Yazir Henri. Since then, the Clowes Center has continued the “Veterans of Intercommunal Violence” series and periodically offers small classes on topics related to conflict and dialogue. The Clowes Center also sponsored a joint presentation by South African playwright Sindiwe Magona and Italian photographer Silvia Amodio, and the international States of Violence conference on Representations of Conflict in Film, Fiction, and Media of South Asia. In 2009, the Clowes Center inaugurated a quarterly film screening series as well as new efforts to strengthen our engagement with local community organizations.
The memory Jim Clowes continues to inspire many in our community, and the Clowes Center of the Study of Conflict and Dialogue is proud to continue the important work that he started.
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