W@TC: We the Young Fighters: How Tupac, Rambo, and Bob Marley wove their way into the conflict fabric of Sierra Leone
Summary: Marc Sommers will talk about his new book "We the Young Fighters", which probes terror-based warfare and how Tupac, Rambo, and especially Bob Marley, wove their way into the fabric of alienation, resistance, and hope in Sierra Leone. The tale of pop culture heroes radicalizing warfare and shaping peacetime underscores the need to engage with alienated youth and reform predatory governments. Speaker Biography: Marc applies an agile skillset and deep experience in unpredictable environments to addressing vital challenges. Drawing on field experience in 22 war-affected countries, he has developed a knack for connecting with key actors and uncovering game changing issues. He questions the status quo in his search for breakthroughs and uses trust-based techniques to appreciate opposing perspectives, cultivate inclusion and address discord. Marc's career has blended peacebuilding and diplomacy with field research and training. He has a reputation for innovative field research and evaluation methods, and has provided strategic assessments and advice, contributed to sensitive talks (including as a back-channel negotiator) and facilitated confidential exchanges. His subject expertise includes youth, conflict, violent extremism, gender, governance and systemic exclusion. Marc's geographic expertise ranges from Kosovo, Yemen and Timor-Leste to West, Central, East and the Horn of Africa. Marc has served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Defense. He also was Senior Research Advisor for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD, in Djibouti; on a State Dept. secondment), working on violent extremism issues. He is a former Associate Research Professor of Humanitarian Studies at The Fletcher School (Tufts University) and was a Fellow at The Wilson Center, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Bellagio Center. He has consulted for 6 policy institutes, OSCE, the World Bank, 5 UN agencies and 20+ NGOs. Marc is a member of the Ukraine Youth Expert Group. He was a member of the Africa Working Group for the Biden-Harris campaign and the UN Advisory Group of Experts for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. He is affiliated with the African Studies Center at Boston University and The Bridgeway Group. Marc received his PhD in Anthropology from Boston University. He speaks English, Swahili, French, Spanish and Kirundi/Kinyarwanda. He currently works as a consultant in the Washington, DC area.
Africa focus, Human Rights, Civic Engagement/Social Action, Social Sciences, Lecture/Talk