Talks and forays into the security world

Probably like most blogs, or at least I’ll pretend this to be so in order to placate myself, this one isn’t updated regularly enough. I will endeavour to change this. Part of the reason that my endeavours are thwarted as of late, are some unexpected commitments.

This summer, I was commissioned by INTERPOL to complete a report on global harmonization of biometric standards. The whole experience was more weird than wonderful. The final edits are still underway. During the first week of September, I attended the EISA conference in Barcelona. Met up with many great colleagues, some of whom I’ve not seen in many years. Personally and professionally delightful. Next week, 25-29 September, I head to the World Customs Organization conference in Tunisia. Effectively delivering the report I did for INTERPOL, with some modifications. The jury is out in terms of how weird and wonderful this will be. The first week of October I have an alumni breakfast talk to give on Trump. Blagh. Some edits to two chapters in forthcoming edited collections, and submit my own edited book manuscript. Then, catch up time. All the while, teaching two courses, one in politics and one in sociology. Delightful. Hopefully more fun contributions to come.

Summer at UVic Centre for Global Studies

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My summer visiting research fellowship at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria has unfortunately come to an end. My arrival in early June simultaneously seems like only yesterday and like eons ago. My research talk on the collaborative book project, “Ferocious Architecture,” which I gave shortly after my arrival, and the outstanding feedback provided by the most engaged, diverse and intellectually generous audience has percolated with me over the past months. Spending the summer months in Victoria is no hardship, but having the privilege to share ideas among this interdisciplinary group of scholars, junior, senior and everything in between, proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Made possible by the “presence” of members of this community – and here presence is meant in the deepest sense of the word – my experience was intellectually invigorating, challenging, and rekindled the passion and intellectual curiosity one generally loses as the years pass from the halcyon days of graduate study. I thank all of those who made this possible, not least the CFGS Director, Oliver Schmidtke, the interim Director, Martin Bunton, Principal Investigator of the Borders in Globalization Project, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, the most skilled, wizard like administrators, Jodie Walsh and Nicole Bates-Eamer, and the many other fellows in the Centre who not only provided intellectual stimulation, but open arms welcome and kinship. It’s nice to see such intellectually generous, nurturing and stimulating environments can flourish. Until we meet again CFGS! IMG_0578

Samer Abboud’s Visit to King’s, March 11

Delighted that in one month from today my very close friend and colleague Dr. Samer Abboud will be coming to King’s to provide a public guest lecture based on his acclaimed new book Syria. Here’s some of the info and bio about the talk.

Drivers and Dynamics of the Syrian Conflict

March 11 at Noon, Kenny Theatre, King Centre, King’s University College, 266 Epworth Ave. London, ON

Since 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an increasingly violent conflict that has produced the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century. In less than five years, more than half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes, killed, or imprisoned, severely rupturing the social fabric of society. In this presentation, I provide an analysis of Syria’s descent into this catastrophe by highlighting, first, the background of the uprising and its early stages, and, second, the militarization of the uprising and the fragmentation of the country into competing areas controlled by various armed groups. In doing so, I will try and unravel the complex and multi-layered c

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auses of the conflict that have produced the current political and military stalemate, including why the political and militarized opposition remains fragmented, how competing centers of power have emerged throughout the country, what the role of international actors has been, and how the Syrian regime has managed to survive the conflict. The presentation concludes by looking to the future and asks how the conflict may be de-escalated and a political transition process adopted amidst the current stalemate.

 

Bio: Samer Abboud is Associate Professor of International Studies at Arcadia University and a Senior non-resident Fellow at the Center for Syrians Studies at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland. In 2013, Samer was a Fellow at the Institute of International and Security Affairs in Berlin and a Visiting Scholar at Carnegie’s Middle East Center in Beirut. Samer is the author of the recently published book on the Syrian conflict entitled Syria (Polity, 2015) and has published extensively in academic and popular venues on contemporary Syria and the conflict. He is also the co-author (with Benjamin J. Muller) of Rethinking Hizballah: Authority, Legitimacy, Violence.

iBorders: Drones & Designs

I’m delighted to be giving a version of the talk I gave for the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry at the University of Arizona as part of their “Show & Tell” series held at the Playground Bar in downtown Tucson at Huron University College in November. [Here’s a picture of me giving the Show & Tell talk in Tucson in the recent edition of the Desert Leaf magazine] While originally geared towards a diverse audience of both academics and the public, I may keep some of that tone for this public lecture, in hopes that I can speak to a wider audience about these issues. Muller Talk November 18 2015

Back to Normal and Anything But…

the-isolatorAfter the initial surge of returning home and to work after sabbatical leave, there’s finally time for some reflection. For the first time in the past couple of weeks, I managed to have time last Friday to complete a couple of writing projects. One project involves an amazing and diverse group of scholars whom I managed to coerce into collectively writing a piece with various insights into the constellation of architecture, technology and security. The collaborative article is slated to come out in International Political Sociology in 2016, and I’m delighted to expose the general readers of IPS to folks from diverse disciplines and perspectives.

The reason behind not having sufficient time to devote to overdue writing projects is unfortunately not the result of a burdensome teaching load, or having lost my “Isolator,” but the result of new administrative duties. In particular, the role of Faculty Association Chair has involved not only a relatively steep learning curve, but scheduling and organizational madness. The madness has subsided, by in large, and now the “new” business as usual for me is slowly emerging. Although there are many serious matters to attend to and a diverse range of issues of concern and responsibilities, I’m trying to keep my sense of humour and still pull out a Hawaiian shirt or a Popcycle original from Tucson for the odd meeting, just to keep things light and keep myself sane.

Bittersweet ending

Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

After traveling for nearly 12 months, the sabbatical adventure has come to an end. Most recently I have been spending time in Hungary, attentively watching the “wall” politics as the anti-immigrant fence between Hungary and Serbia begins construction. In May I also had an excellent visit at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, and took a brief but incredible trip through Bosnia and Croatia. The amazing time spent at the Confluencenter at the University of Arizona from September to April seems so long in the past now, that there is certainly cause for some debrief and reflection on what transpired both personally and professionally for the past year. We arrived in Vancouver yesterday after spending a last day in Budapest. Now some family time in BC including a wedding, and then head back across the country to London, Ontario by mid-August.

Magyarorszag!

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Arrived safe and sound in Veszprem, Hungary a couple of weeks ago, and settling in just fine. Kids began school, and I’ve settled into a comfortable writing schedule with only minor interruptions for walks in the countryside and trips to Lake Balaton and the vineyards. Such a different pace and feel here in Europe after spending 6 months at the University of Arizona at the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry. Again, I can’t say enough great things about Confluence, and look forward to future collaborations.

More blogs to come relating to some pending publications and a possible trip to Turkey next month. Szia!