3. Remembering without Revenge

In this episode, Dr. Carl Stauffer, professor of Restorative and Transitional Justice here at CJP, and an engaging storyteller, reflects on his childhood in Vietnam and the way that war shaped his outlook on life; his early adulthood with a young family in South Africa during a time when the nation was experiencing rapid transition away from decades of apartheid rule. He talks passionately about how central his Anabaptist faith has been pivotal in his work and how it continues to shape the way he shows up and teaches in the classroom.

Stauffer’s parents were doing church and development work in Vietnam when the war broke out. They decided to stay, and Stauffer was born there in 1964.

“That has affected my life and work significantly,” Stauffer said. He remembers one night that the fighting came within a half mile of their home in Saigon, “climbing under the bed with my mother and singing and praying, and the house shaking.”

Following in his parents’ footsteps, he and his wife, Carolyn Stauffer, joined the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in South Africa in the “historic” moment of 1994 – only months before Nelson Mandela was elected. It was from South Africa that Stauffer completed his master’s degree at CJP, known then as the Conflict Transformation Program. After 16 years in South Africa, Carl joined the CJP faculty (Carolyn is also a faculty member at EMU and has worked with CJP programs).

In recounting his experiences through the episode, Stauffer weaves a story of the development of transitional justice, which he defines as an umbrella term that came about in the 1990s that describes structures and processes that are built to contain violence while a country moves from war to peace. In 2007, Stauffer’s commitment to transitional justice blossomed in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone, where he supported a “justice movement from the grassroots” that implemented indigenous ways of addressing conflict on a macro level.

Today, Stauffer says, we have a “steep learning curve” to apply these concepts and practices to our own society in the U.S. “Issues of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation remain really divisive concepts right now in the polarization of our current political setting,” Stauffer said. But throughout all of the difficult work he’s done, and the violence he’s seen in the world, Stauffer retains hope. “My interpretation, which is Anabaptist, is that Christ’s teaching and Christ’s way of living was not something just for us to imagine, but for us to do,” he explained.


Guest

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Carl Stauffer

Dr. Carl Stauffer teaches Restorative and Transitional Justice here at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding; he is also Co-Director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, a program of CJP. Stauffer has functioned as founder, director, academic coordinator and instructor for peace and justice institutes in four continents. As a seasoned conflict transformation and peacebuilding practitioner, he has done consulting and training with organizations such as UNDP, USAID, World Vision, ICRC, Asia Foundation, CRS, Tear Fund, SIDA, Oxfam, the Ministry of Safety & Security in South Africa, and many others. He earned his PhD in Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.


Transcript

Carl Stauffer:
So in a formal, in a formal sense, transitional justice, known out in the sort of global political economy, is an umbrella term that came about in the early 1990s to describe a whole series of structures, activities, organization, organizational, maybe institutions, that are built in order to contain the violence as a country moves from war to peace or from violence of some kind. A country or community move from violence to, to trying to um, live in peace.

[Theme music begins, fades into background]

patience kamau:
Hey, Hey. Hey. Happy Wednesday to you! Welcome back to peacebuilder, a conflict transformation podcast by the Center for Justice and peacebuilding. I’m your host patience kamau and our guest today:

Carl Stauffer:
Carl Stauffer, associate professor of justice and peacebuilding at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding here at Eastern Mennonite university (EMU).

patience kamau:
Dr. Carl Stauffer teaches restorative and transitional justice here at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. He is also co-director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, a program of CJP. Stauffer has functioned as founder, director, academic coordinator and instructor for peace and justice institutes in four continents. As a seasoned conflict transformation and peacebuilding practitioner, he has done consulting and training with organizations such as UNDP, USAID, World Vision, ICRC, Asia Foundation, CRS, Tear Fund, SIDA, Oxfam, the ministry of safety and security in South Africa and many others.

However, before we start, I’d like to let all of you CJP alumni, friends and peacebuilders in general, know that our registration for our ultimate celebration weekend is now open. Join us on June 5, 6 and 7. I’m telling you, you will not want to miss this extraordinary gathering! For details about events and activities. Checkout emu.edu/cjp/anniversary.

[Theme music playing in background swells and ends…]

patience kamau:
Hi Carl.

Carl Stauffer:
Hi.

patience kamau:
How are you?

Carl Stauffer:
Just fine.

patience kamau:
All right, thank you for doing this! Your journey here –how did you end up here at CJP?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, I, I guess you’d have to say I started at my undergraduate cause I did my undergraduate degree here in social work and theology, biblical studies, and so I knew about EMU. This is my father’s home, Harrisonburg, my grandfather’s home. So it’s a place we would always come to visit whenever we were coming from overseas as a family. So I always knew about Eastern Mennonite university. My connection to CTP at the time was I had gotten interested in mediation after my social work degree and went ahead and was trained by the Virginia Community Mediation Center. Barry Hart, Dr. Barry Hart and Dr. Larry Hoover, um, few others were my first trainers in mediation and it was through the mediation link that I started to hear more news around sort of the conflict resolution or conflict transformation field at that point. I think we were calling it the peace, peace field, but the sort of beginnings of John Paul Lederach’s work and the conceptions and vision for this here, uh, for this graduate program here at Eastern Mennonite University. So after the mediation training, I was following sort of Ron Kraybill, Dr. Ron Kraybill and doctor…maybe he wasn’t doctor at that point, but John Paul Lederach’s work, ended up doing a short training with them the year after I got trained in mediation. I think this was around 1989. Um, and from there I went into the field in ’91. I was pastoring at the time and was looking for a part time job in Richmond, Virginia. And a new NGO –nonprofit– was starting in Richmond called the Capitol Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program. They were looking for a director, a part time director, so it was a perfect fit. And I entered the field at that point, essentially doing “victim-offender conferencing” as we call it now, back then they called it “victim offender reconciliation program,” bringing the offender and the victim from the criminal justice system together, um, to meet and try to reconcile or come up with an agreement about how to compensate for whatever harm had been done.

So that was my entry into the field. So I always knew about CTP. Then at that point, and Howard Zehr’s book, I had started to read restorative justice because of this particular job in 1991, and I was in that job for three years before my wife and I took the position with MCC, (Mennonite Central Committee) to head to South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa. So went off to South Africa and of course became very consumed in the work there. And spent the first, um, the first 3-year term, you know, very much involved with the peacebuilding work, conflict resolution work, training, uh, in, in South Africa and had the opportunity at that point to work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was far beyond any expectation I had had or dreamed. And it became clear that in working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I was working at a macro level issue that had similarities to the restorative justice field.

And once I had that experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was very formative, I realized I needed to do some reflection on what I was doing on the ground, what it meant and, and, and why I was doing it and how I could do it better. So it was then when I started to investigate a master’s degree. So I was on the field working, had already been on the field working since ’85 and came here in the summer of 1998 — Conflict Transformation Program at that point. But at that juncture in my life, I was quite sure this is what I wanted to study and continued to make my professional career. So I took all of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute courses and there was five sessions at that time. I took all of them for credit. That was 15 credit hours of seat-time!

patience kamau:
Wow, busy summer!

Carl Stauffer:
It was, and I shouldn’t broadcast this, probably shouldn’t even be on this recording because we don’t like any students to think this is a good idea. But at that time they were flexible enough, the program was small enough and flexible enough that they allowed me to do this. And then, um, I took two years off cause I was working, and so I finished my, my coursework for three of the courses and then ask for extensions for the other two, finished those. And so I finished 15 credit hours in about two years, came back again in 2000, did another 15 credit hours and it took two more years to finish those. And then I took a few other, I did my practicum in the, in South Africa and took a research methods class in South Africa, and did one independent study with Howard Zehr and that closed up my, my degree. So I was able to do it from a distance, which was really, really important. I was looking for a place to reflect while I was practicing and CJP/CTP at that time gave me exactly that. It was, it was perfect in the sense that it was international, especially the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, so I was hearing from practitioners all over the world. The faculty were practitioners who had, had been practicing in the field and they allowed me this flexibility to do it from a distance. So most of what I wrote and, and thought about and read about was connected to the work I was actually doing in South Africa. Many of the assignments, which we still do to this day related directly to my hands on practical work in South Africa. So it was a, it was a perfect learning culture for me.

patience kamau:
Yeah. So two questions to go back a little bit. You said, um, you grew up, no, no, no –you would visit here, from where you…from traveling internationally…

Carl Stauffer:
Sure…

patience kamau:
Where were you traveling from?

Carl Stauffer:
So my parents went overseas with the Mennonite church to Vietnam in 1957 and they left from here, um, and they were working in church work, but also development work, and ended up being in a war zone as we all full well know. In 1957 there was not, um, the war at that point but by 1959, the U.S. began to send in their initial military advisers, and before my parents knew it, they were in a war zone. So, they decided to stay, and that of course changed their work drastically. They were working much more with refugees and development work, but in, in various forms of English learning classes and, and, and working with the people through the church. So all three of us kids –I have two siblings– were born, uh, in Vietnam during the war. I was born in 1964. We would come back every four years to visit family and so on. They sort of call “home leave,” and so because of this being my father’s home, paternal home and then my mother from the, from Pennsylvania, we would travel between those two places each time we would come home. So we were back at home here in Harrisonburg in 1970, 1976, and then I was back here for my last two years of high school and college.

patience kamau:
How do you think that shaped you?

Carl Stauffer:
Well not only did it shape me in incredible ways as far as growing up in another culture, “third culture kids” is what they call us, I don’t know if that just confuses us with another label, but um, essentially how I describe “third culture kids” is, you have a culture you’re born into, you have your parents’ culture, and then you make up your own culture. In essence, and that’s the third culture cause it’s a mix of both of those. You’re not completely at home in either of those, those places. So that, that’s one part aside and that has affected my life and work significantly, including going overseas with my wife in 1994 and staying for 16 years in South Africa. But I think the other way it directly impacted the work I’m doing is I was raised in the war and while we were in Saigon, which is now Hồ Chí Minh City, we were not directly affected by the war except for in 1968 –I would have been four or five years old– the, the North Vietnamese actually, um, penetrated the city, came into the city during the “Tet offensive.” I mean the Tet, which is a celebration of the new year, which is a huge celebration in the, in the Vietnamese culture and there’s all night, you know, celebrations of food and lanterns and fireworks and you know, the lunar new year. It’s just a very big festive time. So that was a very strategic move on the part of the North Vietnamese to invaded at that point. My parents for various reasons, did not evacuate, which was a choice they made on principle. And the fighting came within about a half mile of our home. So I have memory as a child of climbing under the bed with my mother and praying and singing and the house shaking and hearing the mortar shelling, and the bullets…

patience kamau:
Oh my God!

Carl Stauffer:
We had um, what we found out later is the North Vietnamese were actually just… had, soldiers had taken over a petrol station about half a mile from us, and there was a, and that’s what caused a U.S. helicopter above us with machine gun fire run by the South Vietnamese just firing down. There was gunfire between that petrol station and this, and this helicopter above us. So I remember, you know, you have these, these bits and pieces of memory from trauma of war and empty bullet shells falling on, on the tin roof of our house cause we had that aluminum, you know, corrugated aluminum roof…

patience kamau:
…yeah, you could hear them clinking…

Carl Stauffer:
And just hearing that clinking and uh, I can remember my father sitting at the radio, you know, we have…trying to figure out, cause there was curfew across the city. Where was the fighting? How close was it? We had no idea how close it was at that point. A neighbor girl, 13 year old girl broke curfew and risked many things to come over and tell us how close the fighting was, and…

patience kamau:
Vietnamese girl?

Carl Stauffer:
Yes. Yeah, um, and then told us of a way to get out from behind our house through an alleyway that was basically an informal settlement, which we knew about but never used because we came in through the, the main, the main road. And so we all piled on a scooter, Lambretta, five of us and made our way out to another part of the city where the fighting was less intense.

patience kamau:
For the night or for…a while?

Carl Stauffer:
No, it was about three weeks until they, until the North Vietnamese were completely driven back and we were able to go back to that same house then. So my parents never, never showed us like, fear or terror even though I imagine –I try to get it from them now– “What were they thinking?”

patience kamau:
What do they say?

Carl Stauffer:
It’s very interesting. Well, my mother’s passed on, so I haven’t talked to her since for a long time about this, but my father is very, is a very practical sort of fellow and just very even-keel, and so he’s not a very dramatic person to begin with, so he tells it in a very matter-of-fact way. It was…maybe it had to do with that generation of overseas workers –this was for life! You know, this was a career. This is, you know, that’s partly why they chose not to evacuate. They had been there for 10 years. “Why would you evacuate?” Use that privilege when you’re working with the people on the ground and they don’t have the chance…

patience kamau:
…to escape…

Carl Stauffer:
…to escape. So you do that in solidarity, it was almost like, that was just understood.

patience kamau:
How did this come back for you in your time in South Africa?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, …

patience kamau:
…you said you went there in ’94?

Carl Stauffer:
1994.

patience kamau:
So that was five years after Mandela had been released?

Carl Stauffer:
Yes. Four years after he’d been released. He was released in 1990 actually March of 1990…uh, I think…

patience kamau:
…around that time…

Carl Stauffer:
…some things are getting blurry now, but it was, we came in January of 1994 so it was four months before the all inclusive democratic elections where Mandela was elected as president. So it was a very tense, historic moment to arrive on the shores of South Africa. And especially with the work I was doing in peacebuilding on this sort of political violence edges of, of the struggle for power really, that was, uh, that was that transitional period of a struggle for power. And, um, yeah, it came back to me in forms of trauma, which we study here, and again trauma was so instrumental in my original masters program. I remember it becoming very real when, when I was, when I first arrived and my colleagues, took me out into a township where there had been direct violence. In fact, there still was tensions and there was a “no go zone,” which was a road in between these two communities that were fighting in a very simplistic form. One side represented the ANC, and they had their own armed youth wing, …

patience kamau:
The African National Congress?

Carl Stauffer:
The African national Congress. So, you had the African National Congress have their, their armed wing and you had the largest African opposition party to the ANC at that point, which was a more cultural party, a little bit more traditional, it was called the Inkatha Freedom Party, uh, headed by chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. So these two, and they had their armed youth wing and these two groups were fighting and it was, it was a wrestle, it was a, it was a scramble for power knowing that there were these elections coming up. So my point is, I was touring a “no go zone” area with my colleagues and they had one of these young men taking us through burnt out buildings, buildings full of bullet holes and telling us what was going on. And there was still an armored personnel carrier moving up and down the main road. Khumalo, you know, just go back up and down as sort of a, a way to keep the peace. And I remember looking down at one point and seeing like three empty bullet shells, um, bullet casings, and I’d not seen bullet casings since Vietnam, and so this was, I was 29 years old. I had left Vietnam when I was 10, reached down to pick those up thinking “this’ll be a great memento,” and just by picking them up, I had a trauma response in my body. It was like my, I suddenly started to feel like I was in the war, I was back in war and my gut was, “I’ve got to get out of here, I’ve got to run. This is not safe. This is a, this is a dangerous place to be.” And you know, I’m imagining all of the processes that I described before of the 1968 Tet offensive where we were in the…hearing, the bullet shells on the roof and all of that was there in its own subconscious way, and, um, I knew enough about trauma at that point to just talk myself through it and explain to my colleagues what I was going through, and, and they obviously were versed enough to just, uh, talk me through it. So there wasn’t any need to panic and I certainly didn’t have, um, serious trauma response, but I suddenly realized what this means to have a vicarious trauma revisit you, a secondary trauma come back to you…

patience kamau:
…come back to you! Mm, wow!

patience kamau:
Your grandfather, you mentioned him –he was one of the former presidents of EMU?

Carl Stauffer:
He was John L Stauffer. Um, he was the third president, I believe. Um, he came here in 1922, became president in 1935 and was president until 1948 I believe. And um, I never knew him, he died from heart attack or stroke symptoms um, suddenly at age 69, almost 70, and that would’ve been in 1960, four years before I was born.

patience kamau:
Barely missed him…

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah. Yeah. Well or 1959, ’60, in those two years.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
In your opinion, what is something unique to celebrate about CJP at this milestone, 25 years?

Carl Stauffer:
I think we have to celebrate the fact that we’re here and we’ve adapted so well to many changing circumstances. The field has changed considerably. The student demography that we’re working with, the curriculum, how we prepare students, how I was prepared versus how we’re preparing students now. There’s been many changes and I think we have not always been at our best, but we have certainly been adaptive and I think CJP needs to celebrate that “adaptivity.” And I, and I think it’s an, I mean there’s other peacebuilding graduate programs that are still around that are older than, than CJP, I’m fully aware of that, so, so what makes this unique? I think why that adaptability has been so important for CJP is we’re small, you know, we’re here at this small institution, so financially we’ve not been, you know, we’ve never been set. We don’t sit on a big endowment like some of these others who would be in large state universities or have large endowments and so they’re set, they could survive for a long period of time just financially. We never had that assurance. We survive on the quality of what we’re offering to students who by word of mouth continue to send more students to us. Now, I’m not saying we don’t do the PR and marketing, but really it’s, it’s about the quality of the alumni that we have all over the, all over the world in these 25 years doing incredible work that allows us to stay alive, I think, and have adapted as well as we have.

patience kamau:
So as you reflect on your experience here within CJP, and you can, as a former student, you can answer it both as a former student, as an alum, and also as a current professor here. Um, what are the, some of the specific positive outcomes of CJ…of your time at CJP?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, I would say, first of all, what I already mentioned, I was really looking for that kind of master’s program that allowed me to reflect on my practice and put into practice what I was learning immediately. And CJP allowed that flexibility and not every program does, you know um, to do it from the field, to do it from a distance and to really just work all that together in an integrated way, very important for me, um, as a practitioner in the field. So that was, that was absolutely critical for me at that time in my formation. And, and what that did then was allow me to, I think it skilled me, tooled me in a way that gave me enough confidence to stay as long as I did in the field, um, in South Africa, when I talk about “the field” in South Africa, but I ended up then traveling… worked the first six years, um, secundent to an NGO in South Africa that was working primarily with the transitional processes in South Africa. And that was rich, very rich. And very layered on its own, the access to the new government and the new ministries of the government and, and the, the incredible innovation that South Africa continues to produce in the in the areas of community development, peace and entrepreneurship and just a very resilient, amazing, colorful people. And, and, and I was, I was equipped enough to be able to stay and build a root, build, a root, our roots as a family and we found very close support and community and friends, churches, which is why we chose to stay and raise our kids. They did all 12, K -12 in South Africa. To get our doctorates, both Carolyn and I got our doctorates in South Africa and it was South Africa that was the base that I moved out from for the last 10 years of our time there and traveled into about 20 different African countries, eight of those being the, the Southern African region where I was a regional adviser for the Mennonite Central committee. And so yeah, I don’t think I would’ve had the courage or the tools or the, the, the confidence to continue in this work to go towards the conflicts, go towards the war zones, go into the conflict contexts with a confidence, not so much that I could do anything to change matters, but that I had some skills and some processes and some networks and local allies that through MCC, that could potentially make a difference.

patience kamau:
Was part of the tools –you’ve mentioned a couple of tools that you had and, going toward situations that most people would retreat from –was that part of resiliency that, is that a tool that you would say you developed through your studies or how do you think of resiliency?

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah, I would say, I mean we need to, I need to answer that in a number of ways that I need to look at myself in context. Naturally, I’m not a conflict…I’m naturally a “conflict avoider.” As a, as a child, I would have been the “social harmonizer.” Um, conflict always made me uncomfortable I was trying to always mediate the family, I wanted everyone to be happy, you know? So that wasn’t my natural tendency. So I had to build that skill set to be confident, to, to really feel like this is, this is something I can do. It’s a purpose I have; now of course, growing up in conflict zones and, and prepared me for that too, prepared me with a sense of urgency about the matter, but also a sense of paradox and the tension, you know, that that war and conflict and violence brings. And so I think building a know-how: the analysis, the ,you know, the theory if you will, but it was always practical theory — theorizing the analysis of conflict and learning how to do that deeply. The um, and then the practice and gaining so much from the practice of others and the, and their stories that they told in the case studies that we wrestled with. That, um, I think resilience is a good word –it was a feeling that I’m confident in the process. I’m confident in the process, not necessarily always in myself, but confident in the process and confident in the local community and the actors and folks who are already there working for peace, and I saw that everywhere I went. My job then was to find those folks, align myself with, you know, my job was to, I prayed every time I went in to these zones and said, you know, “Lord, where is the Holy Spirit in this?” And “help me see the Holy Spirit,” “help me find the Holy Spirit’s work or activity and align myself to it.” And there was always, there was always hopeful, energetic, incredible peacebuilders at the local level doing amazing work, that allowed me to feel like this is something worthwhile. I’m not wasting my time.

patience kamau:
Yeah. Yeah. Do you keep in touch? With some of these people?

Carl Stauffer:
I absolutely do. Yeah, I do. Lots of South African connections but also in other parts of the continent. Good friend, good friends in Sierra Leone, I have opportunities to work with on multiple occasions. Tanzania, Ethiopia, um, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi…

patience kamau:
It sounds like you were finding the “critical yeast” that John Paul Lederach talks about?

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And the, and the, the peace, the “peace constituencies,” the ones who, or in other regions we talk about “the ones who could see the conflict with two eyes” and able to hold that, that process.

[Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
You mentioned transition quite a bit and I know that you teach “transitional justice.” Can you say a bit more about “transitional justice,” what it is and what you teach about it?

Carl Stauffer:
So in a formal, in a formal sense, “transitional justice,” known out in the sort of global political economy is an umbrella term that came about in the early 1990s to describe a whole series of structures, activities, organization, organizational, maybe institutions that are built in order to contain the violence as a country moves from war to peace or from violence of some kind –a country or community– moves from violence to, to trying to um, live in peace and stop the killing or the bloodshed. So that’s everything from “trials” and “special tribunals” to “truth and reconciliation commissions” to “DDR,” which is the “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration” processes of former child soldiers or, or soldiers in general, ex-combatants, as well as –we now include in that– abductees, which could be women who are also combatants as well as sometimes I’m ducted for hard work and as sex slaves essentially, for armed groups or just kidnapped for ransom, and that sort of thing. Um, and then there’s the community and how do you think about reintegration back into the community? How do we prepare communities who’ve been traumatized, to transition out of that, especially if they’re being asked to, to welcome back into their midst, the very persons who’ve caused them tremendous harm and trauma, which often happens. So we’re looking at reparations at that point, the repair, what are the recommendations for, you could also use the word “restitution,” but “reparations” is a broader term referring to both financial reparations, but also in every, in every sphere, status and position and power, and so reparations around “social reparations” with “symbolic reparations,” are really important. “Memorialization” –it’s another field that’s growing rapidly and that is “how do you help whole communities, whole collectives remember the violence without returning to it, what I call ‘remembering without revenge.'” So these are all aspects of transitional justice. Now, I approach transitional justice from my experience with the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa and then later on in Sierra Leone and other places where there was transitional justice in the countries that I named. I take a critical view from a restorative lens to look at that transitional justice, which claims both retributive and restorative justice in its mechanisms, and I would say we need to ask harder questions. We need to, first of all, we need to aliven the debate and deepen the critique of the current transitional field, transitional justice field from a restorative justice lens that says really what the transitional justice field is built on, is the same Western criminal justice system principles and concepts that we have in most of the West, which is punitive, it’s punishment based. It’s, it’s about “if we punish people harshly, they won’t do it again. It’ll give justice to the victims, it’ll deter other people from doing it.” It’s all of those basic principles that we’ve all been, um, immersed in from childhood if we’ve grown up in a Western, um, culture. And science, research, all data indicates –there’s reams and reams of research that indicate– that those pillars of deterrence and punishment and incapacitation are not necessarily effective. I mean, otherwise we wouldn’t have the problems we have of growing incarcerate…Incarceral rates, et cetera. And so we need to critique whether that’s really how justice is developed. But because the system, our Western criminal justice system is as strong as it is, is as profitable as it is, it has spread globally. It’s a colonizing force at that point, globally! And therefore the assumption was, that was also the best way to deliver justice in postwar situations, and so starting with the Nuremberg trials after world war two, that was the idea. And we have to ask a lot of questions about that because what we know is 70% of all the casualties in a war are civilians: un-armed, uniformed, women and children and men, civilians– and they are saying to us, “these things don’t mean anything. Uh, trying, you know, a small handful of perpetrators at the top of the, of the pyramid doesn’t help us.”

patience kamau:
Mm, they have no practical impact.

Carl Stauffer:
Right. And not only that, most of these Wars are deeply layered and complex; and you have neighbors who had, who were forced to kill neighbors, clans killing clans, villages attacking villages, and it’s like, how do we bring this work of healing and justice down into the community, embedded in the community and have the grassroots folks, the ones who are most effected, feel the impact. And so we’re asking a lot of questions around that um, and, and looking at alternative models and saying, “what about indigenous processes? Can we scale up indigenous processes that are culturally immersed in a worldview that makes sense to the people who are coming out of war?” And that could provide them an avenue that’s understandable in their cosmology as to what justice means and how it’s related to their life and the way they see the world, and we need to be able to call that justice. And what we’re discovering is that, that is being effectively done in many parts and it’s much less expensive and we believe much more sustainable in the long run. And it’s much more empowering in the sense that it’s, it’s, it’s “held,” the ownership of it is held by the people in context, locally.

patience kamau:
They are invested in keeping it going…

Carl Stauffer:
Exactly! Whereas most of our transitional justice in the formal sense are blueprints coming from outside — the Hague or you know, the UN or whatever, and um, we need to query that and we need to ask “what does justice really mean?”

patience kamau:
How well are we doing in querying that?

Carl Stauffer:
On one side you would say not so well because the international criminal court and the whole process of “trial and punishment” is still very prominent. On the other hand, if you look at the arc of things from sort of world war II when we would say “peacebuilding” and the whole sensitivities around, you know, “how we handle history” and “how do we remember” and “how we heal,” started, those questions started to be asked — something like truth and reconciliation commissions — and there’s been 50 plus now across the globe, have a much more restorative element to them. And so just the fact that truth commissions have become very important, very popular, very… “popular” is not the right word, but very instrumental in what people imagine as a useful way to even begin to think about transitioning from war to peace, is a big step forward, if you look at history before that.

patience kamau:
Yeah, so with a longer lens, we are doing better, but with…

Carl Stauffer:
…I think so… [quizzical laughter]

patience kamau:
[quizzical laughter continues]…with far more…to go…

Carl Stauffer:
Even the fact that we, that we think now it’s really important for countries to tell the truth, to have truth telling processes and we think it’s really important for them to figure out, how to remember, I mean up world war II, conflicts between nations and internally in nations were handled by force, by military and and by politics. And the political economy said, “we just change the political party, or we change the political regime and we start over with a new slate and they build their own program”…

patience kamau:
…but the underlying structures remain…

Carl Stauffer:
Exactly! Not only the underlying structures, but the underlying collective trauma and transmission of trauma over generations. So we’re for the first time, in the last 50 years or more, starting to realize that we have to figure out what to do with that memory or it’ll come back and bite us.

patience kamau:
How do you think the United States is –what are the prospects of the United States?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, I think what’s happening here is very, um, paradoxical currently because in many ways our current government has taken us backwards in so many ways. Um, in regards to racism and capitalism and big business and, and strong armed politics and strong man politics, big man politics and in so many ways, um, on immigration, on incarceration, so many different ways, I don’t need to name all those. At the same time, what that has done, I think is it has awakened United States, the citizens of the United States to say, “hey, we really want to hold on to this democracy, what parts of it we still have, and we’re willing to mobilize and fight for that.” And so there’s a new mobilization, a new organization, organizing that’s happening, which I think is, is useful. And so what you have is, it’s polarizing right now because you have the current government that that’s pumping a patriotic history to us, the old patriotic history that’s white dominated and colonial and we’ve all known, at the same time we have a whole activist communities and and organizing communities across the country rising up and, and asking the hard questions. So all of a sudden, truth telling is becoming important. Dealing with our history, as they’re called “our original wounds” of the genocide of the native American people and the enslavement of African peoples. We’re having more vibrant conversation about those things, than we were when I arrived in 2010.

patience kamau:
Do you think we’re having more of those conversations than any other time in history or is this an ebb and flow?

Carl Stauffer:
No, I think it’s an ebb and flow. I mean I’m, I’m a little too young to talk like I know what was, what was happening in the 60s other than that’s when I was born and so obviously I’ve read back in and tried to understand that, but I think there are, there would be those who are older than me who would say this has, this has come and gone with certain precipitating factors at every, at every point. And I don’t want to say “come and gone” in a way that means it’s just, it’s just cyclical, and in a, in a, it’s in, um, …

patience kamau:
It’s not in a minimizing sense.

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah. Not in a minimizing sense. I’m saying it’s, it has happened in, in, we can’t say: “this is the only time that this conversation has been happening” and there’s been a call for it, but what I’m seeing is a new call, a new level of the call for the country, each of the, the movements that have pushed, for instance, the civil rights movement, where now the conversation has moved beyond civil rights and has begun to say, we, we, we have another conversation to have. It’s not just, it’s about memorialization. It’s about the systems, the legacies, and the aftermaths of, of the enslavement…

patience kamau:
…and reparations have become quite a part of the conversation.

Carl Stauffer:
Reparations! Which when I arrived in 2010, people would laugh at, people used to say, “oh, well we need a truth commission here,” and most of us, most people would say, “well, that’ll never happen,” you know, when I arrived from South Africa in 2010. So I’m in that way, there’s this interesting vibrancy coming out of, you could maybe say the desperation or extreme frustration of the violence of the current regime.

[Somber Transition music plays]

patience kamau:
Earlier, way earlier, when we began, you mentioned the good and the positives that CJP is doing. What do you think we could be doing better?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, we’re just on a very steep learning curve right now in relation to what I just spoke about and that is turning our attention to the United States. I think we’ve always had students who were deeply committed to peacebuilding and justice issues in the United States, but we also rode on large percentage of our students coming from overseas and over international global work and, um, first of all, that’s an artificial boundary even there: “domestic and international” or “domestic and global” or whatever you wanna call it. I guess probably the best way to talk about it is “North American and global.” And so I think that’s a better terminology, but my point is we’re bringing all of that into the classroom in a, in a way that I think is more integrated well, or we need to, and we’re not, we’re not there by any means, um, in a more integrated way. But are…

patience kamau:
But you feel we’re doing that? We are trying to do that?

Carl Stauffer:
I think we are. I think we are. Uhm, it’s, it’s a bit, it’s a bit bumpy. It’s a bit jagged. Um, but we’re, I think we’re at the point in the last few years where our students, we have more students from the North American context than we do from, from overseas, and, and that’s a shift from when I was here as a student.

patience kamau:
What do you think is driving that shift beyond the, the artificial construct that you said, that is made very real by immigration policies, all that sort of stuff, but do you think there’s another driving factor to that shift?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, I think it is the political climate of this country too. I think there is a rising interest in justice and just peace, peace and justice brought together and there’s an artificial separation that’s been there between the peacebuilding professional field and the “justice studies” or “justice field” and it’s time to have that conversation in a more significant holistic and integrated way. It does raise hard questions that we need to ask between activist communities and those who would not claim to be activist communities but who are working at other issues. Um, we need to see that we’re all in the same boat if you will. We’re moving towards the same direction of trying to accomplish justice and peace in no particular order, because I’m tired of that…”which one comes first?” I think they come together, they have to, we’re wrestling with them all the time, you know, in the class talking about “what does it mean to live with difference” cause we know we desperately need to live with difference. But we’re also talking about what does it mean to, to call out injustice and then to heal, what does that look like? And when we say “heal,” who are we picturing as healing –is it just one side of the, of the conflict or another side or all sides? Are they healing separately or the healing together? Some people aren’t even ready to talk about the healing and you know, and so issues of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation remain really, really, um, divisive concepts right now in the polarization of our current political setting. And yet that’s exactly where I believe, we as CJP need to wade into that and to, to defy the polarization around those issues and begin to deepen those issues and look at them from a critical lens, from a critical theory lens, from a decolonization lens, from an anti-oppression lens.

patience kamau:
As we wade into that, I’m always fascinated by…so we often use the phrase “calling out things.” How about, what can we “call up” in people in us, in communities so that we can wade into these spaces? What do you think? The values we can “call up.”

Carl Stauffer:
That’s a, that’s a lovely way of thinking. I think there’s “calling in” too, if you want to take that metaphor further cause we talk about, I mean, of course one of the basis which has always been with CJP and I think is still there, is our form, our commitment to formation, “the peacebuilder’s formation,” meaning we don’t let our graduate students come out of here without reflecting on their own self and their place in context. There’s nothing probably, well, okay, I’m a little, oh, that might be a little extreme to say…”there’s nothing more dangerous than a peacebuilder who doesn’t know who they are, and what they’re about and how…why they’re taking action,” that can be extremely dangerous and extremely damaging. And so there’s the “calling in,” what do you call in for yourself as far as when you need to…and then “calling up,” how do we “call up” the best selves in this process? Very, very difficult in this polarization and that’s where there are many different avenues of conversation, dialogue, debate, and wrestling around “what does it mean for us to share the same spaces with very differing views of the world, of reality?” What’s, what’s bringing us to that place where we can figure out how to live together, without killing each other.

patience kamau:
May we we find out soon [nervous chuckle], but it’s a process, we keep trying.

Carl Stauffer:
That’s right. I think we have worked and we have much to do…we are working. This is aspirational. We are working and I think it’s been intentional in a number of ways, but there’s much place to go with trying to allow our cohorts that come in, the opportunity to experience some of that in their community here, and I think the feedback we’re getting from –not all students, but some students– is that that is happening here. It’s for many, especially those who are coming from direct violence and overt war zones, there’s a, there’s a sense that they’ve never experienced living together across differences with a healthy, …

patience kamau:
Mm, in a healthy manner…

Carl Stauffer:
…a vibrant relationship and friendship and conversation and dialogue. I think it’s a little harder to feel that when we have to, when we’re in the, in the midst –and we are– of naming our own oppression as a, as an institution, EMU/CJP, our own oppression, our own power abuse, our own, you know, harm, and, and our inability to at times fully embrace inclusion. And so those are the tensions that are going to be there in the classroom and outside.

patience kamau:
Yeah.
So to build on a word you just used that something that’s aspirational, um, what do you hope for CJP in the next 25 years? Um, how do you see, what would you like CJP to be at 50? What’s your dream for it?

Carl Stauffer:
Wow. Well I hope we’re alive. [both laugh]. That’s the first thing. 25 years is a, is a big span with the kinds of changes, the rapid changes we’re seeing, you know, but I think I would like to believe that conflict is not going anywhere. As long as we human beings are on this planet, there will be place for people to come, set time aside to study, breathe, eat, drink and act…figure out what it means to try to help people deal with their conflicts in a constructive way. And so I’d like to believe that we will be here in 25 years. I, it’s hard for me to imagine what will be the issues that we’ll be dealing with at that point and who are, who will the students be and what will higher education look like in 25 years? But at the base, is this thing that we as humans are relational where we’re hearing from neuroscience that we’re wired for community, we’re wired to connect with other human beings. That this idea that we can live in, in total isolation as an individual is, is a, is a a construct too, it’s a social, political, economic construct. I think one of the worst parts of sort of taking, um, the individualistic, free market, capitalist, sort of ideologies to their final, their final place leaves…that’s where we have people living in a country like ours who are completely alone or feel completely alone. This is tragic! And so I think, you know, we know from neuroscience, we know from many other things in what we’ll learn, you know, between now and in 25 years will be incredible. I’m imagining that we’ll learn, I’m hoping that in 25 years we’ll be a place where we’re training people to really know and do organization and mobilization of masses of people to make social change. I believe, um, we will be teaching and training folks what it means to build “collaboratories” and cooperate, together across institutions and across networks and across individuals. I think we’ll be building, um, a place that will, understand global conflicts, and have an integrated view of global conflicts and; we’ll continue to raise or send out or graduate students with a deep reflection of deep ability to analyze and diagnose and a deep ability to ask the really hard but pertinent questions for society at that time. I think that’s our mandate, ultimately. On top of that, we’re training, I think, I hope we’re holding to the resilience, the trauma and the resilience and the, and the human resilience and the human factor of how well we as humans can learn to live together and heal together and become resilient together. And I think we, we have to infuse that hope, and so I would hope that we also do not lose our determination to have this conversation about peacebuilding and justice within a spiritual conversation, a spiritual framework, a faith based, if you will, whatever that looks like.

patience kamau:
How does it look like for you?

Carl Stauffer:
For me, it’s very personal. I believe in a God that’s relational, therefore the universe is relational to me. I believe in a God that’s moral and I’m using that word in an, you know, “moral, ethical, right, righteous, justice,” and therefore I believe the universe…if we believe God as a creator, then the universe is also moral and right, if you will. Martin Luther King: “the arc of the universe…bends towards justice.” I also believe that, um, in a God that’s creative and, and therefore we are in the image of that God who’s personal, who’s intimate, who’s relational, who’s a creative God, and therefore those are deeply important, um, animators for the work that I do. And I believe in a God that seeks us out and wants reconciliation and justice from the scriptures as I read them. Those are, those are threads that are prominent. And I know there’s many discussions theologically about what that, what that means and what are the portrayals of “the God of violence,” the way your God in the Old Testament, and I don’t think we’re going to have that discussion here. My point is this, redemption is central. I believe God is a God of redemption. And therefore if that central, then justice, healing, peace, reconciliation, truth, mercy, all of these things can, they’re not only aspirational, but we can feel them. We can experience them here on earth, how they’re interpreted and how they’re ultimately going to show themselves for certain communities will look different. So yeah, I mean I think I’m ultimately thinking that…so for me there, it’s hard to separate my faith. The work that I’m doing in the classroom is my faith in action, I hope and believe. Um, I take the life and teaching of the historical Jesus, as well as the savior Jesus, the spiritual Lord Jesus very seriously from, from as I understand my faith and my scripture, and so, and my interpretation –which is Anabaptist– on that is that Christ’s teaching and Christ’s way of living was not something just for us to imagine but for us to do, and that’s radical.

patience kamau:
A lived faith!

Carl Stauffer:
It’s a lived faith! It’s um, practicing truth. It’s practicing all these words, these grand words we’re talking about and um, that’s where it gets messy. There’s nothing, there’s nothing neat about that. I tell folks, I tell my students, I don’t think I would have stayed in this career if you, if you want to look at it just as a career/professional –certainly doesn’t make me money [laughs], certain doesn’t give me big recognition. So I could’ve done something else, I can imagine lots of other things I could’ve done if I had other goals, but this, my faith in Christ and my faith in a God that, as I said, is relational, intelligible, good, gives me purpose. And for me, I need some purpose. This, this work, we see enough, if you will, quote, unquote “evil.” I don’t use that word regularly, but we see enough evil. There’s enough stuff that we see humans doing to other humans that I don’t know how else to define it. So I have to find other ways in which I get refueled and where my hope comes from, where my hope springs from, and for me that’s…it’s really important for me to believe there’s more than what I see. There’s more happening here. There’s a story behind the story. There’s, there’s –things are not what they just seem, cause if I could only rely on what I see, “the seen,” and I didn’t believe in the unseen, I’d be pretty depressed.

patience kamau:
Yeah, it’d be a small world.

Carl Stauffer:
I’d be pretty discouraged.

patience kamau:
Yeah. Yeah.

[Reflective transition music plays]

patience kamau:
How have you experienced, how would you say you’ve experienced community here at CJP?

Carl Stauffer:
So as a student, I was here in those two Summer Peacebuilding Institutes, very intensive, you know, you’re in class all day, full time for six weeks. Um, but I was, I was thrilled with the international, the global network that was here at that time, and, and I made connections in that global network that I carried with me for –and still do– you know, for years, I have people I’m still in touch with and have crossed paths with from way back then in my international network as well as when I started working in Africa. The connections there with alumni, other alumni were, were really important. So I think that was the main, I really experienced a sense of global community those summers, those summers were, were transformative in that regard for me. And then as a, it’s different, as an instructor, as a professor here obviously, but I appreciate the, the efforts at which we make to build community. I value the fact that we have an open door policy and we give, we try to give of our time, not just in the classroom but outside of the classroom, and not in 20 minute segments, um, for a few hours a week, and that’s the only interaction we have with our students. So I find the ability to, to interact with our students in their life process over these window of two years, when they are with us, or a year and a half, to practice alongside of them, to be in and learning together is, is also very, very meaningful. Part of…it’s a kind of building of community in a workplace, which feels to me, different than than many places I hear described to me in the academia particularly.

patience kamau:
Certainly your profession has gone in very many different directions. What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever faced professionally and in your reflections, how could you have done it better or differently?

Carl Stauffer:
Hmm, wow, well not because there isn’t one. I’m trying to figure out… [laughter] which part to talk about. That’s another thing I love to talk about to the students cause I’m like, there’s lots of failures and we learn from our failures and I use that word lightly. There’s lots of things that, you know, this just doesn’t work. There are challenges. Some of our ideas don’t work. Some of our attempts to bring…when you’re working with people, number one, and then when you’re working with people in conflict, the predictability is…continues to go down with each of those layers. And so we can’t, um, approach this with some sort of way of thinking. We can have some empirical evidence of what outcome — hat we’ll apply something and this will be the outcome, and obviously we all know that, but I think that’s another thing I really appreciate about where CJP is now and that is the introduction of seeing, um, conflict and peacebuilding as an “emergent adaptive system” an “adaptive emergent system,” whichever way you want to talk about it, that we’re borrowing from the natural sciences now and not the mechanical sciences and we’re seeing that this is probably much more in nature that will teach us, from the ecosystems and the bio-regional systems and the water, you know, whatever the, the estuaries and the forest, the, the, the deep forests and so on. Nature has so much more to teach us about…

patience kamau:
Because of the interdependence of everything.

Carl Stauffer:
Absolutely. And also showing us how life and cycles work, and, and it’s not an…even natural science isn’t all…it’s messy too, I mean, there’s predators and there’s prey and there’s decay, there’s death, in life. And so we have to wrestle with all of those things too, but I think we have much more affinity to the natural world, obviously, because we’re interdependent, as you said, and therefore we need to learn.

patience kamau:
Do I, am I hearing you rephrasing…re-framing, failure as something more complex?

Carl Stauffer:
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s more complex. It’s challenge is evolving, it’s “evolving challenges,” it’s “evolving barriers,” it’s “evolving, um, misplaced analysis.” It’s, many things it could be, you know, in, in, in, in, in our work, I’m not insinuating that we don’t need to measure, trying to measure and understand, monitor and evaluate what we’re doing, that’s a whole part of our field. So back to my biggest challenges, I think, you know, I often tell the story of, um back to transitional justice. I tell this story of being in the refugee camp in Forecariah which is was the town just across the border from Sierra Leone in Guinea-Conakry, West Africa. It’s a large Sierra Leonean refugee camp there, and this was 2001 after the civil war, the ceasefire was in place and I spent two weeks in the refugee camp there. We were working on a literacy program, but the content of the literacy was conflict, it was a very fascinating program. It’s was a fun program, so literacy experts, but using the content of conflict and so I was bringing the content work in and they were bringing the literacy stuff and we were working together in the process of that two weeks. I can’t remember how far in the international community, and I always put that in quotes if people could see me now doing that, it’s quotes cause I don’t know who that is, but whoever that is, um granted blanket amnesty to all the militia and rebel movements in the war in Sierra Leone for the sake of peace. But watching the refugees respond to that blanket amnesty was extremely emotional, but also very telling, and that was this major fissure and division, and I saw the two communities –one was deeply emotional and vengeful saying it’s impossible “we can’t just live with these people, we can’t live as if nothing happened. I’ll never forget what they’ve done to my family and my community.” It was…all war is traumatizing, this war was deeply traumatizing. It was a 12 year war and there was a lot of what we would now term, and again, I use this very loosely, um, seemingly “arbitrary violence.” There’s no arbitrary violence,I think there’s always motivation, we just don’t know what it looks like because it’s too terrifying at times. So, you know, amputation of arms and legs, blinding of people, the, the, um, the rape and the pillaging of villages. So I was hearing a lot of trauma stories, so that was already sitting there, and then this blanket amnesty came and it seemed like justice had been completely aborted. And I think blanket amnesty for the most part is an abortion of reconciliation, an abortion of justice because it doesn’t allow for truth telling to happen. It doesn’t even require that or remorse or any sort of human interaction happen in order to heal. And so rightly, I saw them divide into, I’ll kill them if they come in, if they step foot in my village, if I see the persons who’ve done this, I’ll kill them…to, which was revenge, to an apathy –when there was sort of a closing down and this was the majority of the refugees of course, who said we couldn’t, we had no choice. This was the only way we could have peace. We had to agree to this. We don’t like it, but we have to figure out how to live with it. You know they’re going to come back into our villages and we’ll, I don’t know, we’ll figure out, but it was literally crossing arms, shaking heads, shrugging shoulders, apathy, and you can’t rebuild after war and a terrifying war like this, on either revenge cause that’ll keep the cycle of violence going, I think that’s obvious for all of us, but even apathy, history has told us within a decade or two, the children or the grandchildren will pick up arms and say, our parents and our grandparents didn’t do enough. We’re going to have to fight to, to heal or to get justice at that point, theydon’t use the word, the language of healing. So at that point, watching that parting and feeling all the pain and anguish and angst around this, was one of those moments where I was like, “why am I doing this work?” I really was ready to throw in the towel, as we say, whatever that means. I was ready to just finish, you know, leave this work altogether. I was like, not only did I want to leave the work, but I was like, “what am I doing here, and why am I here?” And I had studied restorative justice, but I had not imagined restorative justice as a framework for a macro level transitional justice process like what was going on, what was needed in Sierra Leone. And so I went back to my accommodation that night, angry, frustrated and calling out to God and just bitter, really bitter saying, “why am I doing this? There is no justice here. What is justice in this situation?” And there’s that point where there was a, there was a breakthrough and I don’t remember exactly when it happened and how it happened, probably in some state of half sleep or not, that I suddenly had this sense of there’s nothing to lose. Let’s look at what could restorative justice look like? Is it, could it look…, I didn’t have any answers. Could it look like…could it present something that would ignite some imagination around a possible third way? And so I went back to the leadership and we talked about it and then we went back to the facilitators that we were training in the refugee camp and began to talk about this. The long and short of it is out of an elicitive process and working through, um, they themselves began to say, “hey, we have some power that we didn’t think about. We had been spending a lot of time thinking we don’t have the political power or the legal power, you know, this trend, this, this blanket amnesty was forced upon us.”

patience kamau:
Mm, it felt like it had stripped them of their agency?

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah. And then they turned around and said, but we do have agency. We are the ones that move back and resettle in our villages. We are the ones that lead, traditionally –we lead in the spiritual and the social and in the sort of cultural realm, and no one’s gonna take that away from us. And so then they began to imagine what would it be like to see these perpetrators or those who had caused the harm coming back and them saying, wait, wait, wait, wait –“don’t pretend like nothing happened. You got legal and political amnesty, but you didn’t get cultural, social and spiritual amnesty, and we’re going to work this out.

patience kamau:
Look me in the eye!

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah. This…”what you did was inhumane, you might have some humanity and we want to call that forth, but what you did was inhumane.” And we need, we’ll need to work with you using all of our cultural, spiritual, and social resources, and they had many, to determine whether your you’ve changed and whether you can be welcomed back into this human community. Um, you have to show us your humanity again. And that was the beginning of a conversation, a long conversation –I don’t need to get into all of that, but by 2008, 2007, an indigenous process was …there was a consultation across the country for Fambul Tok, “family talk” an indigenous process and it was a strong, um, call for it to be utilized.

patience kamau:
Mm, just define what “Fambul Tok” is…

Carl Stauffer:
Fambul Tok is Creole for “family talk” and it was a traditional process of handling conflict at a village level and they have, um, scaled this up and they’ve been moving with this process, um, across the country as, a healing justice process. There’s a lot of controversy all around that –that’s where my research is, I’m convinced that this is, is, is a much more sustainable process. Sierra Leone already had a special court that cost $300 million and tried nine people. They already had a truth and reconciliation commission that was under-subsidized and wasn’t able to really establish the truth except for in a written form, which is not getting to the ground. So this indigenous process is really, in my opinion, an exceptionally important case study for us to understand, a justice movement from the grassroots, from the ground up saying, we’re not going to wait for any politicians or wait for any UN and we’re not going to wait for the ICC, we’re not waiting for anyone else’s money and we’re going to go forward with a justice healing process, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. 80 to 90,000 people, many more now, that was in 2013 had been touched by the process. Um, it’s cost about a million…in 2013 they had spent about a million dollars. So just the cost alone, the amount of people being impacted, there’s a tremendous opportunity to shift the conversation around global justice. When we look at this and say, what would it be like to think about these transitions using our local social, spiritual and cultural resources?

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, mm-hm, there’s a lot of wisdom already existing there.

Carl Stauffer:
Yeah.

[Hopeful transition music plays]

patience kamau:
We’re almost done. Um, what would you say are the most significant changes in the peacebuilding field? And maybe you’ve already touched on some of those, but what would you say they’ve been?

Carl Stauffer:
Well, I think, yeah, there’s been some major shifts, mindset shifts, worldview shifts in this field, which I think are positive. I’m not saying that all people who claim to be doing peacebuilding subscribe to these or believe in them, but this would be from my perspective, so this is perspectival; but when I first entered the peacebuilding field, it was very individualistic, it was technical, it was a skill set, it was a formula, it was, “if you use this particular set of five stages of mediation, you can apply it to most conflicts, you can solve your interpersonal conflicts and therefore there won’t be bigger conflicts. You’ll be preventing larger conflicts.” Of course, even as I described, that everyone can understand that, that has no analysis or understanding of structure or power or historical transmission of trauma, et cetera, et cetera. And so I think the big shift has been to broaden that, that sort of modernist positivist sort of individualistic technical conflict management system into a very amorphous process of realizing that too, we need that individual transformation to happen, but it never happens in isolation and it has to be in relationship and not only in relationship, it has to be in structural networks and, cultural…there’s always cultural dynamics. And so unless we start to understand our work from a systems perspective, which I’ve already talked about, I think we’ve, we’ve lost the, we’ve already lost the battle some at that point. If we can’t start seeing a systems and then that’s obviously changed the kind of practice we do. And so we’re graduating students now with, um, I think much more understanding around collective work and how to move groups and structures and organizations and collectives of people versus, um, singular, very maybe a good practice. I talk about it in restorative justice as the difference between a social service, which could be one of many options, like on a menu for a social worker to say, okay, in this case I’ll use this or this case, I’ll use that, to social movement –very different, can’t control a social movement. You can guide, and we’ve tried to do that in the restorative justice field, that’s one of the things I’m very proud of in CJP’s work and in particularly the Zehr Institute where we spent three years in a consultation and conferencing and now an anthology is coming out in January of 2020 that’s looking at restorative justice as a social movement. To apply social movement theory to the field is new and it, it causes some people a lot of angst and worry and threatening because they can’t, it’s not controllable, it’s, it’s not predictable and, and we have to let go of that. But I think that’s precisely the point. We have to let go of that, that’s a power issue. And when I say we, I mean everyone who claims to be a professional peacebuilder, you know, until it’s affecting how we set up our nonprofits and our NGOs and our structures and our community work. The other major shift is, is towards this “just-peace,” and I use that just, hyphenated, peace idea that that these are not separate endeavors. These are not separate parallel practice tracks. These are deeply intertwined and um, and we need to begin to see the integrated whole, yeah. So the justice, the, the inter-generational, the call for intergeneration bringing the youth as well as the, as the elders together and giving voice in that way. I think the idea of context and in establishing local, the locus of power being at the local…

patience kamau:
…local level…

Carl Stauffer:
…level ,is absolutely essential in, in some of the shifts that are happening in the peacebuilding field and um, whatever word we use, we can talk about the language, um, I think we still hang on to “conflict transformation” here because we believe that it is more of a transforming of a conflict. It’s a, it’s a redirecting of the conflict energy, not a stopping it, solving it, pushing it down…

patience kamau:
Oh, you are speaking about “transformation” versus…

Carl Stauffer:
…like “conflict resolution” or “management.” I mean we all need to manage it, but so I think there’s, there’s, there’s ethics and certain values that are attached to the language we use too, and CJP has carried its own language in some ways too. But um, yeah, overall I think this brings…we have been at a, at a bit of a ahead of the curve, a little bit ahead of the wave because, we have tried –not always well– to bring justice and peacebuilding together. I think we’re doing it better than we ever have now, compared to when I was a student, but we have a long ways to go.

patience kamau:
Mm-hm, We’ll have perfected it at 50. [tongue in cheek]

Carl Stauffer:
There you go!

patience kamau:
[Laughter]
So what are you working on right now? You just returned from sabbatical?

Carl Stauffer:
I did. I did…

patience kamau:
…not to tie it up, I mean, not guide your answer, but yeah…

Carl Stauffer:
No, that’s fine. Um, I’m still working on Fambul Tok research with a goal to hopefully contribute a very small piece to the sort of transitional justice conversation that says, “hey, wait, if we’re, if we all have the same goal for justice and that is to stop the harm or the crime or whatever you want to call it, the wrongdoing [chuckles] stop people from hurting each other, then we need to have a conversation about how that happens.” And, and even if Sierra Lenone never talks about justice, never uses the word justice or restorative justice doesn’t mean that they’re not…

patience kamau:
…practicing it…

Carl Stauffer:
…practicing a justice process and therefore let’s have a conversation about their values for justice and our values and where did they come together and how do we honor multiple processes of justice? Um, and the second thing I’m working on co-authoring is a little book, part of our little book series on transitional justice from the critique that I talked a bit about here already and trying to, um, but we want to, we want to bring that home too. We’re not going to just talk about transitional justice “over there,” so we’re going to look at historical harms here in this country. Um, my co-author, Dr. Thalia González has worked with the Maine Wabanaki TRC, which was a TRC for the residential schools with Native American communities, um, and the violation that, that, that occurred over hundreds of years.

patience kamau:
She did a webinar on that didn’t she?

Carl Stauffer:
That’s right. That’s right. And um, we’ll be co-teaching in SPI in 2020 also the restorative justice course.

patience kamau:
That’s excellent!

Carl Stauffer:
So, um, but we want to bring it home and talk about things like even mass incarceration. I haven’t mentioned that, here in this country where, most people know, we have the highest rate in all the world, and um, so reintegration of ex-fighters and reintegration of prisoners, there’s more in common there than we, than we talk about, cause both of them are coming out of violent systems, different violent systems, but they’re both coming out of violent systems. They’re both coming back into communities who are more or less traumatized or prepared for them to come back. Both of them suffer under legislated, uh, hindrances and barriers, and, and both of them suffer under the shame of the work that they have, the violence they’ve committed to different levels of consciousness about it. But so what could it, what would it mean to think about what we’re learning overseas when we talk about integrating ex-combatants and what we need to do for integration here in this country? That’s just an example.

patience kamau:
Yeah, yeah. Thank you.
Uh, the final question, what do you do outside of CJP/EMU that brings you life?

Carl Stauffer:
Oh wow! Church is a big center for me, my wife and our elders in the church, and so we do a lot of, um, teaching and just work in, in the church that is meaningful to us. I’m currently running a men’s recovery group right now…that’s extra energy and it sounds like maybe the same kind of work I’m doing here, but it’s a different kind of energy cause it’s another community. It’s a, it’s a community of many, many different people who are coming together without any sort of sense of, um, trying to get a degree or anything, but coming together from all walks of life to try to figure out how do we live in community differently, and that’s really important. I really love, um, riding my motorcycle. I love being by the beach. Um, my, as my wife and I get older, we seem to be drawn to the water. The ocean um, not to say we don’t like beauty of environment in many different settings –we love to hike and walk and exercise. Um, we have close-knit family that is very important to us. We spend a lot of time with them. We’re both taking care of elderly parents –that’s another phase in the season of life. It’s a beautiful phase. You have to remind yourself that, um, to make the most out of those moments together as each generation passes on. I love to sing. I love to dance. Um, need to sing, need to dance.

patience kamau:
Need to sing, need to dance!

Carl Stauffer:
[Laughs] Yeah, a good dose of that uh, along with some humor, um, is very critical. Uh, there’s nothing like, um, playing back some of old, old Trevor Noah, uh, comedy routines about South Africa…[hearty laughter].

patience kamau:
… of course, to bring back memories.

Carl Stauffer:
Um, so those are the things that give me life.

patience kamau:
They clearly do because you have this big smile on your face. I mean, you did before, but now…
Do you have anything else you’d like to add before we finish and, will you sing us out?

Carl Stauffer:
Oh wow. I wasn’t expecting that part of this. This is an interview. Um, well I guess I’d add to that list too, Carolyn. I continued to walk into, um, spiritual disciplines. I don’t know how to use another word, but our spiritual practices and those are very meaningful for us, whether it’s fasting, we’ve, we’ve learned to really appreciate fasting and prayer, m, in new ways. Uh, we started to enact some new, um, routines in, in our sabbatical, which we’re hoping to keep even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of being back in to our full time work.

patience kamau:
Yeah. Thank you.

Carl Stauffer:
Hmm…

patience kamau:
Do you have a song, go for it.

Carl Stauffer:
Wow. That’s, um, that’s putting me in another space. Sure. I have a number of songs. Um, the one that you’ve heard that I sing quite a bit because it was a prayer during the struggle in South Africa that I found very meaningful is Thula Sizwe and it’s, it’s uh, it’s a very active song. I’ll sing it slowly cause I’m not with a group. Um, I’m debating between that one and another lovely prayer, another language in Southern Africa (Sotho and Zulu). um, that says something to the effect of basically, “Jesus, you are Lord of the crowd, “which is an interesting concept. That’s the literal translation, and so it goes like this:

Uyahala uyahalalela, Jesu wa Makgotla
Uyahalalela. Uyahalalela, Jesu wa Makgotla

[Translation] “Light, he is light, Jesus, Lord of the crowds.”

patience kamau:
Mm, Amen!

Carl Stauffer:
Amen.

patience kamau:
Amen. Thank you so much Carl.

Carl Stauffer:
Thank you patience.

patience kamau:
Dr. Stauffer is the author of “Truth and Reconciliation Commissions: the case of South Africa,” you can find it in the encyclopedia of public administration. He is also co-author of “Listening to the Movement: Essays on New Growth and New Challenges in Restorative Justice.

[Outro music begins, and fades to background]

patience kamau:
All the music you hear on this podcast has been composed by: the one and only Luke Mullet. Our audio mixing engineer extraordinaire is: Stephen Angello. Audio editing support was generously provided by: Michaela Mast, and I am the podcast executive producer, audio recording engineer, editor and host: patience kamau. As you are able, please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that other peacebuilders may find it. We’ll be back with a new episode in two weeks! Thank you so much for listening and join us again next time!

[Outro music swells and ends]

5 comments on “3. Remembering without Revenge”

  1. Elena M Huegel says:

    Hello! Once again, thanks for this wonderful podcast which I listened to as I was working on a painting, taking care of myself, a pause to nourish myself. I especially appreciate learning more about transitional justice and comparing the stories to what I have learned and seen in Chiapas….and the lack of transitional justice… I love the mix of reflection, theory, and personal stories of practice. I look forward to the next podcast! It was also great to know Dr Stauffer is a Third Culture Kid and to hear his honest expression of faith as the foundation of his work and wherein lies his hope. ¡GRACIAS!

    1. patience says:

      you are welcome elena; thanks so much for listening! doing so while painting sounds very delightful! :)

      1. Carl Stauffer says:

        Dear Elena,

        Thank you for your encouraging words! May you find grace and courage in your justice work in Chiapas.

  2. Kris Vanspauwen says:

    It was so nice that I bumped into this podcast through the European Forum for Restorative Justice that has suggested your series… I was pleasantly surprised with the interview with Carl. Back in 2006, we organised a conference in Cape Town on the use of RJ in truth commissions and other TJ mechanisms. Carl was one of the speakers and I remember well the warm-hearted chat we had… He was about to finish his PhD when I was about to start. We never had contact again ever since so it is nice to read about his journey. One of my good friends from India, Ashok Gladstone, has been/is an associate lecturer with your institute, so it's a small world of good people. I wish you all the best and my best regards to Carl who will probably not remember me anymore!

    1. Carl Stauffer says:

      Dear Kris,

      Of course I remember you! Thank you for your kind words. I have been following your name and academic work since we met. Congratulations on your many important publications and contributions to restorative and transitional justice. I trust our paths will cross again!

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