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Colloquium On Violence & Religion



COV&R-Bulletin No. 11 (Oct. 1996)

Advisory Board Self-Review

Preceding the 1996 COV&R annual meeting the Advisory Board met and its agenda included the following self-review process. This review was precipitated by a number of concerns that have been voiced to board members regarding, for example, the status of women in COV&R, Jewish-Christian dialogue, and the protocol for inclusion or exclusion of articles in our journal, Contagion.
Responding proactively to such concerns, our Executive Secretary, Jim Williams, asked Board member Thee Smith to design and facilitate an effective process for the Board to address the concerns--first internally. (Efforts to include other concerned COV&R members in this first-time process were unsuccessful due to regrettable and inadvertent communication difficulties. Cf. item II.A.1 below.)
The review proceeded as follows. Four questions were displayed and then grouped into two sets, with each person taking turns answering the first set of questions until all members was heard from. Then the second set of questions were addressed in the same manner. Of course queries, clarifications, and minor digressions occurred throughout, but with good grace the members managed to complete the process in an equitable and collectively satisfying manner.

I. The Questions

A 1) What has been good or useful in your experience of COV&R?

2) What has been difficult or challenging?

B 3) What more do you want others to understand about your experience?

4) What commitments to COV&R

(a) are you ready to make, or

(b) would you like to hear from others?

II. The Responses

A. Comments

1) Let's make this review process (or something like it) an ongoing or periodic feature of the annual Board meeting, and where indicated include as participants other concerned COV&R members.

2) A process like this may enable COV&R as an organization to integrate theory and practice in the way we "do business"; that is, enable us to conduct our internal affairs in ways that are consistent with the inclusive or non-exclusionary import of the mimetic theory that is the focus of our work--thus "realizing" or "putting into practice" the theory.

3) More generally we need concrete ways to insure the future of "Girardianism."

4) In all our activities we should insist on a commitment to the [mimetic] model, and resist the importation of theories of exclusion that use Girardian theory as a pretext for their own sacrificial agendas.

5) Yet we also need to avoid "scapegoating the scapegoaters" (i.e. avoid a "cheap" application of the theory).

6) We should also be careful to avoid a certain "language imperialism" or organizational exclusion with respect to the American over-against the European appropriation and dissemination of Girardian theory.

B. Recommendations & Commitments

7) A concrete step to support the inclusion of women's voices in our conference sessions is routinely to remind each moderator to call on women who indicate their readiness to speak, but whose voices are often drowned or crowded out by more sonorous male voices.

8) A concrete step to address the protocol for the inclusion or exclusion of papers in journal issues is to extend and formalize the processing of papers among a wider range of designated readers. We will take this up between the president (Cesareo Bandera) and the new journal editor (Andrew McKenna).

9) In order to maintain balance among, and even extend the variety of, our approaches to mimetic theory, let's acknowledge the following subgroups and allow for perhaps three parallel groups to frame the themes of our annual meeting in four year cycles, for example: biblical literary psychoanalytical practical / transformational political / economic Jewish-Christian dialogue theological

10) In general, let's figure out ways to institutionalize the "turbulence" and "disorder" that attends the organizational growth and intellectual vitality of COV&R, so that it works for the institution and not against it.

11) Let's also commit to develop a COV&R protocol for negotiating the turbulence of competing agendas in the organization, in a way that is consistent with our non-exclusionary theory but that also secures and advances the legacy of the mimetic theory and Girardian thought.

Thee Smith