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Is a group like Black Lives Matter hurt when a “lone wolf” shoots and kills police officers in New York? Are peaceful advocates of Pro Life laws hurt when a “lone wolf” kills people at an abortion clinic in Colorado? Or does the emergence of political actors willing to use violence to advance a cause make the peaceful advocates of political change appear more moderate? Researchers from the Four Corners states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah) recently gathered in Tempe to discuss this and other issues.
The event was the inaugural conference for the recently created Four Corners Conflict Network , an interdisciplinary group of faculty and doctoral students at universities in the four corners states who study political conflict. ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies (SPGS) hosted about 40 researchers.
During the morning the group debated ways to improve our understanding of the impact that the rise of a violent faction has upon the fortunes of activists who are using non-violent tactics to pursue political change. While no breakthroughs emerged from the discussion, it served as a stimulating kickoff for a full day of critique and commentary on ongoing research projects that explored issues ranging from government's efforts to monitor and repress online activity to ISIS's network structure and how it impacts violence committed by the group.
The group enjoyed a robust series of both formal and informal discussions. Many of the visitors stayed through Saturday and enjoyed a morning hike in the valley's South Mountains. These sorts of gatherings not only improve ongoing research projects, but frequently spur ideas for new efforts.
SPGS was delighted to be able to host the inaugural conference and highlight our growing expertise in the study of political conflict, human rights, and related areas.
Written by Will H. Moore