The anatomy of conflict: a conversation

Feller Rutahichura, the Vice Governor of North Kivu state, speaks with community members in the village of Ittebero, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum will host a public conversation between photographer Pete Muller, this year’s Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor in International Relations,  and Dean of Faculty Jon Western at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Gamble Auditorium. A reception will follow the event.

The Art Museum has acquired three of Muller’s photographs and they will be on display.

Muller and Western will discuss conflict, war and the ever-shifting dynamics of power and violence in the world. They will explore the ethics of representation and the power of images to shape public opinion on conflicts at home and abroad.   

The open-ended conversation will draw on their respective experience and knowledge of the causes of violence and the mechanisms for addressing it.

Muller, an acclaimed photographer, brings a vital perspective to ongoing debates about the relationship of masculinity to violence. He will talk about what it means to work as a photographer in conflict zones, documenting the remarkable resilience of individuals and communities living in conditions of conflict and war.  

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Muller is a contributing photographer to National Geographic, Time magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times and others. Muller was named Photographer of the Year in  the 2017 Pictures of the Year International competition.

“We know that most of the perpetrators of violence are men but my work attempts to explore why that is,” said Muller. “I often wonder to what extent our societies create certain tendencies or exacerbate natural dynamics. I'm keenly interested in the social cultivation of masculine identities and how this shapes male behavior, including violence.”

 Muller’s photographs will be on display in the Art Museum from March 30 through April 23.

Western is also vice president of academic affairs and the Carol Hoffmann Collins ’63 Professor of International Relations. His teaching and research interests focus on U.S. foreign policy, international security, human rights, humanitarian affairs, post-hegemonic global governance and international responses to mass-atrocity violence.