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April 30, 2009

Political analysts Christine Fair and Walter Russell Mead to speak at Luce Symposium

Global religion and human security are the topics of a three-day Comparative Religion symposium May 6-8, and political scientist Christine Fair will bring ideas not only about those topics but also about food.

Fair is author of a 2008 book, Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations.

She will talk about the book and her work on South Asia at the symposium, and during a lecture at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, in 220 Kane, she will speak on Pakistani attitudes toward militancy.

At another symposium-related lecture the following evening, foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead will speak on prospects for American power in foreign relations.

The 2009 Luce Symposium is titled Religion and Human Security and its topic is “Negotiating the Power of Religious Non-State Actors.” Participants will explore how religious groups now compete with governments in affecting human welfare. Sometimes these groups provide services governments can’t or won’t provide. In other instances, religious groups hinder government performance.

Symposium participants will meet in the Peterson Room in the Allen Library on Wednesday and Thursday, then move to 225 Kane for the Friday session.

The UW Comparative Religion Program funds both the lectures and the symposium with a $300,000 grant from the Henry Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs Comparative Religion Program.

Fair is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. She’s eaten with soldiers in the Khyber Pass and prostitutes in Delhi. She’s checked out fish in Sri Lanka and Taliban tea in Peshawar. At the RAND Corporation, Fair analyzes South Asian political and military affairs, particularly those in Pakistan. She holds a master’s degree in public policy and a doctorate in South Asian languages and civilizations, both from the University of Chicago.

The cookbook offers conversationally written analyses of countries such as Cuba, North Korea and Myanmar, followed by recipes and easy-to-follow instructions. In the chapter on Myanmar (also known as Burma), for example, Fair explains why Buddhist monks flooded the streets in 2007 and how Burmese cuisine fits the country’s history, then goes on to chicken-coconut soup and pork curry with tamarind.

Mead is the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; he is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow in grant strategy at Yale University. Thursday evening, Mead will discuss how religion colors America’s engagement with the world and the role religion plays in American foreign policy.

For more information about the Luce symposium and lectures, visit http://jsis.washington.edu/humsec/.