Presentation Title

My Account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019 and Facilitated Dialogue About Its Value As Autoethnography That Buffers Polarization

Start Date

10-2-2021 5:45 PM

End Date

10-2-2021 6:15 PM

Proposal Type

Presentation

Proposal Description

What is autoethnography and does it add value to peace and conflict resolution scholar- practitionership, potentially buffering what appears to be a spiraling global march toward extreme polarization? I read my first-hand account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019. My account weaves my experience on the ground with Pruitt, Rubin and Kim (2003)’s theory of social conflict escalation and de-escalation within the context of a narrative about my experience of a near attack on my family’s apartment in Cochabamba, Bolivia by supporters of former President, Evo Morales in November of 2019. I articulate the elements of evocative and analytical autoethnography per Silverman (2017) and Hughes and Pennington (2017), with a focus on the latter’s concepts of legitimization and synthesis. Whatever your epistemological and methodological viewpoints, I invite you to tell the audience and me how and why my account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019 is or is not autoethnographic and whether it is valuable for gleaning lessons for scholars or practitioners in the field of peace and conflict resolution studies that could help buffer polarization.

I submitted my account for publication to three journals. None accepted. Yet, the vast majority of the colleagues with whom I shared my draft responded quite positively. That got me wondering: should my personal knowledge and reflection upon that knowledge be deemed less suitable for publication than more traditional academic knowledge? Whom better to ask than the PCS audience? So I ask you, what are the definitions of and crucial dangers and opportunities for autoethnography in our field? Do the potential benefits outweigh the costs and risks? What do we gain by marginalizing autoethnography in our field? What would be gained if peace and conflict scholar-practitioners were to use Self as therapists and artists are empowered to? What methods are needed to promote autoethnographic validity and credibility?

Additional Comments

Biography

Adam Zemans

For PCSJ Conference, February 2021

Third-year Nova Southeastern Conflict Resolutions Studies PhD student, Adam Zemans is a dual U.S.-Bolivian citizen who resides in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a Maryland-licensed attorney and trained as an MSW social worker. From 2005 through 2011, Zemans founded and directed Environment Las Americas/Bolivia, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. He played a leading role in developing and inserting environmental provisions into the Bolivian Constitution of 2008 and co-founding the Bolivian climate change movement in 2006 through 2010. From 2014 through 2017, at The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) in Arlington Virginia, Zemans held leadership positions, including as Executive Director. He conceived and founded the John W. McDonald Peacebuilding Clinic, which empowered graduate students to provide pro bono consulting to NGOs in Latin America and Africa. In 2020, eight years after family medical evacuation from Bolivia, Zemans relaunched Environment Las Americas/Bolivia with a focus on COVID-19 mitigation and adaptation. Zemans holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center; a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University; a Masters in Social Work from University of Southern California; a Masters in Sociology from York University, Toronto, Canada; and an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, where he graduated as a Harry S. Truman Scholar (N.Y.) and member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society.

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Feb 10th, 5:45 PM Feb 10th, 6:15 PM

My Account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019 and Facilitated Dialogue About Its Value As Autoethnography That Buffers Polarization

What is autoethnography and does it add value to peace and conflict resolution scholar- practitionership, potentially buffering what appears to be a spiraling global march toward extreme polarization? I read my first-hand account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019. My account weaves my experience on the ground with Pruitt, Rubin and Kim (2003)’s theory of social conflict escalation and de-escalation within the context of a narrative about my experience of a near attack on my family’s apartment in Cochabamba, Bolivia by supporters of former President, Evo Morales in November of 2019. I articulate the elements of evocative and analytical autoethnography per Silverman (2017) and Hughes and Pennington (2017), with a focus on the latter’s concepts of legitimization and synthesis. Whatever your epistemological and methodological viewpoints, I invite you to tell the audience and me how and why my account of the Bolivian Revolution of 2019 is or is not autoethnographic and whether it is valuable for gleaning lessons for scholars or practitioners in the field of peace and conflict resolution studies that could help buffer polarization.

I submitted my account for publication to three journals. None accepted. Yet, the vast majority of the colleagues with whom I shared my draft responded quite positively. That got me wondering: should my personal knowledge and reflection upon that knowledge be deemed less suitable for publication than more traditional academic knowledge? Whom better to ask than the PCS audience? So I ask you, what are the definitions of and crucial dangers and opportunities for autoethnography in our field? Do the potential benefits outweigh the costs and risks? What do we gain by marginalizing autoethnography in our field? What would be gained if peace and conflict scholar-practitioners were to use Self as therapists and artists are empowered to? What methods are needed to promote autoethnographic validity and credibility?