Gordon Fellman, PhD
Professor of Sociology
Gordon Fellman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. At Brandeis, he chairs the undergraduate Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Prof. Fellman teaches War and Possibilities of Peace, Social Class and Social Change, Marx and Freud, Sociology of Empowerment, Psychoanalytic Sociology, and Sociology of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation. In his courses, his book and other writings, the central question he explores is: "What are the sources, in history and in the self's development and inner workings, of unnecessary human suffering? How can it be thoughtfully, carefully, mindfully reduced?"
In spring 1998, Prof. Fellman worked with the Brandeis student group, Students for a Free Tibet, planning and carrying out "Seven Weeks on Tibet," 16 programs that led up to a visit from the Dalai Lama that May.
In June 1998, he published the book Rambo and the Dalai Lama: The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival
(Albany: SUNY Press). The book builds from the proposition that until now most encounters have been organized so that the point of them is to overcome the other. This is true for the most part of relations between men and women, parents and children, whites and non-whites, leaders and publics, rich and poor, labor and management, athletic teams, business firms, advanced societies and developing societies, straight and gay, tall and short, well and ill, and so on. Prof. Fellman calls this adversary assumption, that one must strive to overcome or submit to being overcome, the basis of the adversary paradigm. The ultimate expression of the adversary tendency is murder, and that collectively is war.
Historically, alongside the adversary paradigm and in secondary relation to it, is the mutuality paradigm, based on the mutuality assumption, that the other can be a friend, a colleague, an ally. Prof. Fellman claims that a more fully mutualistic society is already at hand, but in minor form that is difficult to recognize until it is identified. His goal is to move beyond analysis, offering hope in the form of visions of mutuality, to actions to help bring it about.