September 2013 Archives

"Racist Killings and Mourning Songs"
Reading and Discussion with German-Jewish Writer Esther Dischereit
Tuesday, October 8
11:30 a.m.
125 Nolte Centre

Recently, the discovery of 10 years of racist killings by the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), a neo-Nazi underground guerrilla organization, has shocked the German public. Dischereit has since become the most important independent voice for the public, extensively covering the legal and political investigations of this unprecedented crime in post-war Germany involving police, secret service, politicians and state officials. Unlike standard media coverage Dischereit wants to let the voices of the victims and their families be heard. The Mourning Songs tell each story of a murder from the families' unique and painful perspective and memory, and challenge racism and xenophobia wherever it is to be found; out on the streets or inside official state institutions. Dischereit, who conducted countless interviews with the victims' families, voices her perspective of telling and mourning for the victims of various ethnic backgrounds. The Mourning Songs is one part of Dischereits' unique libretto project "Mourning Songs - Flowers for Otello: On the Crime of Jena" which has just been produced for the German radio by Deutschlandradio Kultur.

Esther Dischereit is one of the most exciting writers and thought-provoking public intellectuals in Germany today. Her poems, novels, essays, films, plays, and radio plays, and her opera libretti and sound installations offer unique insights into Jewish life in contemporary Europe. Dischereit, who was born into a survivor's family, is an artist of the Second Generation, who analyzes power relationships surrounding the body, femininity, expressions of minorities, and the different functions and forms of remembrance, ritual, and memory. Dischereit often initiates cross art projects for which she collaborates with composers, musicians, dancers and graphic art designers.

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Sky Tinged Red is Isaia Eiger's chronicle of two-and-a-half years as a prisoner in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during World War II. Bringing it to publication after Eiger's death in 1960 took the skills and passion of family members spanning four generations, including Eiger's daughter, Dora Eiger Zaidenweber, who spent hundreds of hours translating the story from its original Yiddish. This reading brings together his daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to read from and discuss this moving memoir, which is a tribute to the power of survivor testimony and the transmission of memory through successive generations.

"Poetry, Damaged Life, and One Poem by Agha Shahid Ali"
Courtney Gildersleeve
Holocaust Genocide & Mass Violence Studies Workshop (HGMV)
Thursday, October 3
Room 710 Social Sciences

Courtney Gildersleeve is a PhD Student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Working broadly in the field of Post-Colonial Studies, and with a commitment to the tradition of historical materialism, she examines the ways that literature and especially poetry has played a role in anti-colonial struggle and continually seeks to reckon with the long history of colonialism and violence that has shaped the modern world. Although her work is decidedly comparative, her dissertation research foregrounds the history, literature, and anti-colonial thought of the Caribbean.

While focusing primarily on writers from Cuba, Martinique, and Haiti, she studies texts that emerged from or in response to the Transatlantic slave trade, those that address the labor of African peoples in the Americas, and those that grapple with the continuing cost of 'intervention' by many other nations in the Caribbean. In addition to the presentation she will give at the HGMV workshop, which parts ways with this historical context, this semester she is also working on a project that offers a critical perspective on recent efforts--particularly in the former slave-trading city of Bordeaux--to memorialize the leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint Louverture, and the struggles of that revolution.

Sandra Gómez Santamaría will present at the first meeting of the 2013 Holocaust Genocide & Mass Violence Studies Workshop, taking place on Thursday, September 19, in Room 710 Social Sciences.

Sandra Gómez Santamaría is a Human Rights professor involved in the University of Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights partnership. She has a Master of Arts degree in Sociology of Law from the Oñati International Institute from the Sociology of Law (IISL, Basque Country-Spain) and she received a Law degree from University of Antioquia (Medellín-Colombia). She also has experience working as researcher on human rights in the Colombian Commission of Jurist, a human rights NGO in Colombia. Her áreas of interest includes Human Rights, Sociolegal studies, critical legal theories, Anthropology of the State and Cultural Studies.

The workshop was founded in 2012 by CHGS, the Human Rights Program and the Department of Sociology to foster interdisciplinary conversations on the subject areas of Holocaust studies, genocide and memory, peace and conflict studies, human rights, nationalism and ethnic violence, representations of violence and trauma, conflict resolution, transitional justice, historical consciousness and collective memory.

For more information about particpation in the workshop please email Wahutau Siguru at

A lecture by Pedro Martínez García
September 20, 2013
Room 1210 Heller Hall
12:15 p.m.

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The arrival of the Castilian caravels in 1492 on the coast and islands which at first sight were identified as the Orient and the resulting encounters with the first natives oddly coincides with the end of the so called "coexistence of the three cultures" in the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. Contemporary Christian Castilians set aside their Jewish and their Morisco others to engage with "new others" in unchartered territories, where concepts like conversion, conquista and cohabitation evolved and were adapted to new contexts. This moment is often considered a symbolic turning point between the Middle Ages and Modernity.

In his talk, Dr. Martinez will focus on the traditions of othering in the early modern Iberian Atlantic World, paying special attention to the European perceptions of the natives of the "New World" through chronicles and travel narratives.

Pedro Martínez García is a lecturer in the Chair of Early modern History, University of Bayreuth, Germany.

Since 2008, he has been writing his dissertation entitled "Face to Face with the Other: Travel Narratives and Alterity from the Late Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period"
at the University of Valladolid (Spain) and the University of Bayreuth (Germany).

Sponsored by: Center for Holocaust and Genocides Studies, Center for Early Modern History, Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Countering Mass Atrocities in Syria: Between Human Rights Ideals and Geo-Political Concerns will be broadcast today, Thursday, September 12 at noon.

To listen to the program please click here.

The program, sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Human Rights Program was in the form of a panel discussion featuring: Sarah Parkinson, Assistant Professor. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ragui Assaad, Professor, Planning and Public Affairs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ron Krebs, Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Dr. Wael Khouli and Mazen Halibi, members of the Syrian community.

The discussion was moderated by Barbara Frey, Director Human Rights Program and introduced by Alejandro Baer, Director Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Human Rights Program and Institute for Global Studies and the Institute for Advanced Studies.

By Alejandro Baer

"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" Said Rabbi Hillel, one of the most influential sages and scholars in Jewish history.

It is unlikely that Barak Obama had this phrase of the Talmud in mind last week during the Moscow's G20 summit. However, he seems to have performed a political interpretation of this often quoted Jewish aphorism when he tried to convince his fellow world leaders of the necessity of joint military action against the criminal Assad regime in Syria.

The figures of the Syrian tragedy are well known. 100,000 people killed in two years, two million refugees living in bordering countries, four million displaced within the country and, only a few weeks ago, a lethal chemical weapons attack against the civilian population, in a clear violation of international law. No other government has dared to cross the line of chemical weapons use since the 1980s. The situation has reached a tipping point and it requires a meaningful response by the international community. But what sort of action should be taken?

It seems we are always fighting the previous genocide. Violence unfolding before our eyes usually lacks the unambiguous quality of retrospective moral outrage, naming and condemnation. It is entangled in a complex constellation of forces and unpredictable developments that lead to the fact that the realpolitik, immediate interests and geopolitical concerns are weighted against human rights ideals.

What will be the consequences of military action in Syria? Have all other measures and means of pressure been exhausted? Will the envisioned bombing raids serve to protect civilians?

On September 11 the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Human Rights Program will host a panel discussion in which Syrian community members, experts and scholars will discuss ways to take action without vast and devastating consequences.

A lecture by Jeffrey Prager
Saturday, October 5
9:00 a.m.
20 Mondale Hall

In this presentation, UCLA Sociology Professor Jeffrey Prager explores the difficulties in overcoming a traumatic past: how psychic trauma restricts individuals from fully engaging their post-traumatic world and how, unless treated, the trauma gets passed on to the next generation, emotionally and often unconsciously. Transmission of trauma is possible over many generations and interferes with a healthy engagement in the present-day world.

Prager considers specifically the South African case, especially their establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the end of apartheid, to describe the necessity of the public world recognizing the sufferer and collectively acknowledging various forms of private pain and suffering. Finally, he describes trauma as the severing of an implicit, taken-for-granted social contract, which, if it is to be repaired, requires the restoration of interpersonal trust and belief in a social world protective of the individual from psychological and physical harm.

Institute for Advanced Studies Thursday Speaker's Series
Thursday, September 12, 2013
4:00 pm
125 Nolte Center

Panel Discussion Featuring:
Rebecca Krinke, Professor of Landscape Architecture, UMN, has an art practice and research agenda focused on trauma and responses to trauma. Krinke has invited five distinguished scholars to help her explore this issue through short individual presentations and reflective discussion.

David Beard, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, UMD, speaking on the 1920 lynchings in Duluth and their ongoing impact.
Jeanne Kilde, Religious Studies, UMN, speaking on issues related to the Muslim Community Center proposed near ground zero, NYC.
Kevin Murphy, Associate Professor of History and a UMN leader of the multi-institutional "Guantanamo Public Memory Project."

Naomi Scheman, Professor of Philosophy, UMN.
José Medina, Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University.

Fro more information visit the IAS website.

Countering Mass Atrocities in Syria: Between Human Rights Ideals and Geo-Political Concerns
Wednesday, September 11
4:00 p.m.
Note: Room Change:
125 Willey Hall

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As the situation in Syria grows evermore difficult, maintaining its position in center stage as the world watches mass atrocities unfold, tensions over what action to take (or not to take) continue to escalate. Russia stands firm in its decision to block a UN backed intervention, and the United States looks to take matters into its own hands with military action. In the anticipation of a potential confrontation, experts and scholars hope to find a way to take action without vast and devastating consequences.

Sarah Parkinson, Assistant Professor. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ragui Assaad, Professor, Planning and Public Affairs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ron Krebs, Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Dr. Wael Khouli and Mazen Halibi, members of the Syrian community.

Moderated by Barbara Frey, Director Human Rights Program and Alejandro Baer, Director Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Human Rights Program and Institute for Global Studies.

For more information contact: 612-624-9007

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