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Starr Forum: Peace Meals (Book talk with journalist Anna Badkhen and Fotini Christia)

Peace Meals: A new book by war journalist Anna Badkhen
The book talk will be done conversation-style between Anna Badkhen and Fotini Christia
This event took place on, Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 4:30pm - 6:00pm MIT Building 66-110 ABOUT THE SPEAKERS: Anna Badkhen has covered wars in Afghanistan, Somalia, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Chechnya and Kashmir. She has reported extensively from Iraq since 2003. Her reporting has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The National, FRONTLINE/World, Truthdig, and Salon. Her book, "A War Reporter's Pantry," will be published in January 2011 by Free Press/Simon&Schuster. She lives in Massachusetts.
Fotini Christia joined the MIT faculty this fall as Assistant Professor in Political Science. She recently completed her PhD in Public Policy at Harvard University, where she was a recipient of research fellowships from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Her research interests deal with issues of ethnicity and civil wars and her dissertation addresses the question of civil war alliances.She has published work on the role of local elites in civil wars in Comparative Politics, and is presently working on two field projects of an experimental design, one in Afghanistan and one in Bosnia, that address the effects of institutions of cooperation in post-conflict, multi-ethnic societies. Fotini has also worked in the Middle East and Central Asia and has written opinion pieces on her experiences from Afghanistan, Iran, the West Bank and Gaza and Uzbekistan for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. She graduated magna cum laude with a joint BA in Economics-Operations Research from Columbia College and a Masters in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
Reviews for Peace Meals “Anna Badkhen writes about war with a beautiful sensuality, connecting us to those otherwise nameless, faceless fighters and indigenous peoples ensnared in its horrors and hardships. Peace Meals takes us into these people’s kitchens, and into their souls.” —Norman Ollestad, author of New York Times bestseller Crazy for the Storm “Anna Badkhen is a hero among women —war correspondent, wife, mother, diplomat, and, with the publication of this book, a sensitive and lyrical human-interest reporter from the outer reaches of the world. Peace Meals takes us not only into the hearts and homes of some of the least-understood (and most interesting) people in war zones, it fearlessly explores the wrenching moral conflicts every war journalist faces. This is a beautiful, vivid, gripping book —with some fabulous recipes.” —Amy Chua, author of World on Fire and Day of Empire “Peace Meals is an extraordinary mosaic built of keen observation and uncommon compassion. So much more than mere war reportage, Badkhen attunes her ear to fundamental questions that war time activities: what are the causes of hate and what are the measurable and immeasurable costs of war? What does it mean to resist, to persist, and when is it worth it? Badkhen maintains an unswerving gaze not only at the complex subject matters she investigates but also at her own role as a reporter. Always her conclusions resonant with authenticity and compassion as she renders accounts that neither judge nor praise; neither sensationalize nor diminish. People are more than their stories, Badkhen asserts line by line. Because of this Badkhen can find beauty in the brokenness. She describes a profound generosity evidenced with astonishing regularity. It comes in the most humble and necessary of human acts: eating.” —Gina Ochsner, author of The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight "The philosophical connection is interesting...absorbing observations...An intriguing premise." —Kirkus "Illuminates the strange, dark history of the past couple of decades—the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and drought-stricken East Africa. Most chapters chronicle her connections with particular individuals...each character providing insight into local customs and quirks, but more significantly, illustrates and humanizes regional complexities. Badkhen regularly encounters real danger, but meets it with compassion and graveyard humor...the resulting range of events both large and small is both honest and real." —Publishers Weekly "Promising...With careful observation, [Badkhen] sees beyond the heartbreaking stories of the families and soldiers, refugees and warlords, she meets. Her eloquent, honest words tell an in-depth history of recent war, and also make known courageous and resourceful people whose actions, or lack thereof, are forced by circumstance." —Christian Science Monitor "[A] gritty memoir of Afghanistan and Iraq that focuses not on frontline reportage but on behind-the-scenes kindnesses of local families, many of whom shared their hearths, and their bread, with the foreign journalist. In Peace Meals [Badkhen] uses those simple meals as a window, a graceful way to bear witness to the devastation she was covering. But don't think that her book is about food. It's about humanity." —Entertainment Weekly

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October 26, 2010 15:28
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