Middlebury

Student-organized symposium to explore "Gems for Guns: Resources in Africa" April 15-19

April 2, 2007

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - From Sunday, April 15, through Thursday, April 19, a Middlebury College symposium, "Gems for Guns: Resources in Africa," will explore issues around Africa's natural resources. The week-long event is designed to provide an understanding of how the exploitation of resources drives the continuous conflict and underdevelopment that plagues the continent. The symposium will also explore China's developing interest in African energy resources.

Organized by two Middlebury College student groups - Dialogues for Peace and the International Students' Organization - the symposium will feature a series of lectures, panel discussion and film screenings. All events are free and open to the public.

The symposium will begin on Sunday, April 15, with a screening of the film "Lord of War" at 7:30 pm. in the Warner Hemicycle, located on College Street (Route 125). The 2005 film, written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Nicolas Cage, chronicles the rise and fall of Yuri Orlov (Cage), a global arms dealer who traffics in death. His exploits, including the sale of obsolete weaponry to dictators and warlords across Africa, offer a glimpse into the effects of such profit-seeking activities from the perspective of the perpetrator.

On Monday, April 16, a panel will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125). The topic of discussion will be "Fueling a Burgeoning Economy: Sino-African Relations," and the panelists include Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Political Science Nadia Horning, Professor of Political Science David Rosenberg and Associate Professor of History Jacob Tropp. The interdisciplinary faculty panel will discuss the past and current mismanagement of natural resources in Africa and the future economic prospects in developing relations with China.

Michael Klare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, will deliver the symposium's keynote address on Tuesday, April 17, at 8 p.m. in the conference room of the Robert A. Jones '59 House. His talk, titled "The Impact of Resource Wars in Africa," will draw on his insight as a leading voice on the impact of oil on international relations and the exploitation of resources in Africa. Klare has written extensively on arms trade and world security and is the author of "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum" (2004) and "Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict" (2001). He serves on the board of the Arms Control Association and the advisory board of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch.

On Wednesday, April 18, at 12:15 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House, Emira Woods will deliver the closing address, "Raking Resources: A Legacy of Exploitation." Woods, the co-director of foreign policy studies at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., is an expert in U.S.-Africa relations. She will offer her perspectives on the external exploitation and local mismanagement of natural resources in Africa, with a particular focus on the conflict fueled by rubber in Liberia. She has worked at Washington-based InterAction, a coalition of humanitarian organizations working on disaster relief, refugee-assistance and sustainable development programs worldwide, and has also served as a program officer of Oxfam America's Africa program, which involved outreach to the heads of major international institutions and grassroots groups in remote communities. 

On Thursday evening, at 7:30 p.m., the final event of the symposium will take place with a screening of the film "White King, Black Rubber, Red Death" in Room 201 of the Middlebury College Library, located on Storrs Avenue off South Street (Route 30). The documentary film recounts the Belgian conquest and exploitation of the Congo at the turn of the 20th century. Run as a labor camp, the colony was built on a foundation of terror. Families were held as hostages, often starving to death. The Belgian government has denounced the documentary film as a "diatribe" for its likening of King Leopold II to Adolf Hitler.

For more information, contact student organizers Colette van der Ven at cvander@middlebury.edu or 802-443-6967. To follow is a schedule of events:

Middlebury College Symposium
"Gems for Guns: Resources in Africa"
April 15-19

Sunday, April 15
7:30 p.m.
Screening of "Lord of War"


The 2005 film starring Nicolas Cage chronicles the rise and fall of Yuri Orlov, a global arms dealer who traffics in death. His exploits offer a glimpse into the disastrous effects of such activities from the perspective of the perpetrator. 
Warner Hemicycle, located on College Street (Route 125)

Monday, April 16
4:30 p.m.
Faculty Panel and Discussion: "Fueling a Burgeoning Economy: Sino-African Relations"



Panelists: Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Political Science Nadia Horning, Professor of Political Science David Rosenberg and Associate Professor of History Jacob Tropp

An interdisciplinary faculty panel that will build an understanding of the past and present mismanagement of natural resources in Africa and look toward future economic prospects in a discussion of the region's developing relations with China.
Robert A. Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Tuesday, April 17
8 p.m.
Keynote Address: "The Impact of Resource Wars in Africa"
Michael Klare, Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College


Klare, who has written extensively on arms trade and world security and is the author of "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum" (2004) and "Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict" (2001), will draw on his insight as a leading voice on the impact of oil on international relations and the exploitation of resources in Africa.
Robert A. Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, April 18
12:15 p.m.
Closing Address: "Raking Resources: A Legacy of Exploitation"
Emira Woods, Co-Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.
An expert in U.S.-Africa relations, Woods will offer her perspectives on the external exploitation and local mismanagement of natural resources in Africa, with a particular focus on the conflict fueled by rubber in Liberia.
Robert A. Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Thursday, April 19
7:30 p.m.
Screening of "White King, Black Rubber, Red Death"


This documentary film recounts the Belgian conquest and exploitation of the Congo at the turn of the 20th century. Run as a labor camp, the colony was built on a foundation of terror. Families were held as hostages, often starving to death. The Belgian government has denounced the documentary film as a "diatribe" for its likening of King Leopold II to Adolf Hitler.
Room 201, Middlebury College Library, located on Storrs Avenue off South Street (Route 30)

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact student co-organizer Colette van der Ven at cvander@middlebury.edu or 802-443-6967.