I started Stories of Conflict and Love when I was working as a humanitarian practitioner in conflict and post-conflict areas.
The ‘conflict’ part of the title is, therefore, obvious; perhaps, the love is less so. Over years of work in conflict-affected areas, first as a humanitarian practitioner and later as a researcher, I have attempted to resist the pessimism — often cynicism — that can arise when one exposes herself to atrocities, inequality, or injustice every day.
And yet, as someone who believes in the power and texture of storytelling, calling this space “Stories of Conflict” felt incomplete because that would have missed the positive narratives I have also observed in conflict zones — and it would have also missed just how pervasive a theme love is, in conflict areas and beyond. Love is personal, in ways that our metrics about violence, development, or social change may not quite capture — in ways that may make us uncomfortable. This site is a personal space, too, and an attempt be honest about my own location within this work, and the reflections that this position can prompt.
For that reason, a strong narrative “I” permeates most of the stories. While I do not write directly about research participants or humanitarian work because I neither have their consent to do this nor can I protect their privacy, confidentiality, and safety, I do write about the moments-in-between and the personal dimensions of this line of work. Stories of Conflict and Love does not fit squarely within the categories of an aid blog, a travel blog, or a journal. Ultimately, I write about what moves me in the world — and this ranges from photography and musings on narrative and memory to reflections on mass violence, field work notes, and thoughts on feminism.
While I am still part of the humanitarian sector and continue to research issues of violence and power inequality, I do not currently spend the majority of my time in conflict or post-conflict areas. However, I chose to keep the name of Stories of Conflict and Love for two reasons: While the large-scale physical violence that underpinned my work in conflict-affected areas may not be present in Boston, many of the sources of inequality and structural violence — and the related reflections on militarism, feminism, compassion, and social change — are still relevant here, often in ways we hesitate to acknowledge when we draw firm, artificial lines between “here” and “elsewhere.”
Relatedly, I have kept the name of the site to remind me, and hopefully the readers, of how textured the narratives that emerge from these spaces can be, and to reflect the fluctuations in the moments that deplete or replenish our faith in humanity.