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  • Louis Venters

UPCOMING: Association for Baha'i Studies in Southern California

I'm happy to be heading next week to the 39th annual conference of the Association for Baha'i Studies in Orange County, California. The conference theme is "Advancing the Life of the Mind" and there are a number of really great presentations in a variety of disciplines lined up. This year's Hasan M. Balyuzi Lecture will be delivered by Dr. Nazila Ghanea, Associate Professor of International Human Rights law at the University of Oxford. Her topic is “Striving for Human Rights in an Age of Religious Extremism.” I'm also particularly looking forward to a plenary lecture by Dr. Nader Saiedi, Taslimi Foundation Professor of Bahá’í Studies in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, a panel on the role of religion in society, and breakout sessions on sustainable design and the lives of two Tuskegee Airmen who became Baha'is. The full program is here.

I'm also looking forward to participating in a plenary panel entitled "Oppression to Empowerment." My co-panelists will be Nanabah Bulman, a coordinator of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program on the Navajo Reservation; Marilyn Calderon, a family physician in San Deigo; and Eric Dozier, a cultural activist in Nashville. The moderator will be Payam Akhavan, professor of international law at McGill University in Montreal and former staffer of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at The Hague. The round-table style panel will focus on experiences of applying the community-building efforts that Baha'i communities worldwide are engaged in to the problems of racial oppression in the United States. I'll be sharing stories and insights from my forthcoming book, No Jim Crow Church: The Origins of South Carolina's Baha'i Community, and reflections on recent events in South Carolina and around the country.

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