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The Gardner Fellows Virtual Policy Conference 2020:

War, Development and Sustainable Peace

How do countries and individuals recover from war and its attendant traumas? Does the terminology we use to describe and define these experiences adequately reflect practices? The presentations in this section address the aftermath of gender-based and sexual violence during war (Bido), the persistence of corruption and lack of investment in Kosovo in the wake of its declaration of independence (Magjuni), and whether the words we use to describe concepts and relationships of extreme important to human security can change their meaning over time (Lipps).

The Perils of a Narrow Scope in the Fight Against Gender-Based & Sexual Violence

Veronica Bido
Major: Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies
Faculty Advisor: Professor Summer Lindsay

This paper explores the effectiveness of the sexual violence (SV) and gender-based violence (GBV) frameworks utilized by the international community and civil domestic actors, using comparative qualitative analysis. I find that the focus on sexual violence and gender-based violence solely in conflict settings does not fully address the matter of sexual violence. The issue of sexual violence cannot only be addressed through the isolation of conflict settings but must also be perceived in the society and culture of local communities. Sexual violence and gender-based violence are not issues that only happen in conflict settings, they happen in everyday life, and in different societies and cultures. If we cannot tackle this truth, then we can never fully address this form of violence in conflict settings. This issue extends beyond conflict settings, but this paper focuses solely on conflict settings and aims to determine the policy implications necessary to help better address and resolve sexual violence in conflict settings.

The Origins and Effects of Kosovo’s Patronage System

Valmir Magjuni
Major: Philosophy
Minor: Economics
Faculty Advisor: Professor Jan Kubik

Twelve years after Kosovo declared independence, it continues to struggle with high unemployment, low amounts of foreign direct investment, inefficient democratic processes, and high levels of corruption. This paper investigates the origins of corruption in Kosovo and proposes solutions to ameliorate the corruption problem. Drawing on the a wide range of academic literature, I find that the root cause of corruption in Kosovo is a patronage system that was established in the early 1990s and which grew out of the informal institutions created by the Albanians during Serbia’s occupation of Kosovo. Once the leaders of these informal institutions were selected, they gained control of the new institutions that were created following the expulsion of Serbia in 1999. Once elected to official positions in Kosovo’s new government and economic systems, they grew the patronage system by rewarding their supporters monetarily and with government positions. The key reforms I suggest are: increase accountability for public officials by shielding judges from political pressures; eliminate government jobs designed to support the patronage system; and weaken the ties between local governments and the community by making certain functions like tax collecting a federal matter.

What Do We Want From a Theory of Conceptual Engineering?

Jürgen Lipps
Major: Philosophy and Comparative Literature
Minor: German
Faculty Advisor: Professor Ernie Lepore

How can we improve our (linguistic) representational devices? Can words change their meanings? These are some of the questions at the heart of the current philosophical literature surrounding the topic of conceptual engineering. Conceptual engineering is a metaphilosophical topic, and it is directly relevant to issues in philosophy of law, language, mind, and feminist philosophy. Consider, for example, the case of the word “marriage.” This word has supposedly changed its meaning over time from “a civil partnership between a man and a woman” to “a civil partnership between people of any gender.” What are the underlying metaphysical facts of this case? If a new word that shared sound and spelling conventions with the word “marriage” was created, and queer people are married only in the sense that the newly created word refers to their relationship (but not the old word “marriage,” which shares an articulation with the new one), then we must say that queer people cannot be married in the sense that straight people are married. This is a deeply unsatisfying solution! A complete theory of conceptual engineering should be able to avoid such politically undesirable outcomes, and I offer one such account. My account emphasizes the role of epistemic amelioration–improving one’s grasp of a word’s meaning–in conceptual engineering.