December 2013 Archives

Monday/Wednesday 1:00-2:15pm
Spring Semester

Prof. Alejandro Baer (Sociology) and Prof. Catherine Guisan (Political Science)

What is political reconciliation? Are we witnessing efforts to bring final resolution to long-standing conflicts? Should we accept that reconciliation is at best a fragile, temporary equilibrium between opposite political forces that must be reenacted with each passing generation? Is reconciliation an action that rests on religious faith, or does religion threaten reconciliation? Is there a dark side to reconciliation that undermines justice and economic fairness?

For more information on this course go to One Stop.

By Wahutu Siguru


Something insidious, but sadly not unexpected, is happening in the Central African Republic (CAR)-over the past twelve months mass killings have been taking place in the CAR, a former French colony in a very rough neighborhood (it borders the Sudan's to the East, Chad to the North, and DRC to the South). Things came to a head in March when the former president Francois Bozizé was deposed by a group of Muslim militants (Séléka) whom instigated sectarian killings and human rights abuses against the largely Christian populace. This has resulted in the formation of self-defense groups (Anti-balaka meaning 'sword/machete' in the Sango language) formed to protect the victims. This conflict is complicated by the fact that there are claims of the Séléka getting support from mercenaries in Sudan and Chad.

On the 5th of December, the UN voted to allow the French to send 400 troops into the CAR who would augment the already present AU battalion of 3600. The French intend on increasing this number to 1200 troops in the coming days following a sudden outbreak of killings within the last fortnight of women and children by Séléka forces (meaning 'union' in the Sango language) that has resulted in 500 deaths and 189,000 fleeing their homes in Bangui. Fears of retaliatory attacks have become more pronounced leading both Burundi and Rwanda to pledge to send troops to the country. While the number of deaths might seem deceptively low for a nation of about 4.6 million, it only accounts for Bangui since correspondents have not been able to venture outside that area.

By Jodi Elowitz


Who was Benjamin Murmelstein? Why would Claude Lanzmann dedicate over 3 hours to him in his latest film The Last of the Unjust? Murmelstein was a rabbi and teacher from Vienna, third Jewish elder of the Thereseinstadt ghetto, and the only surviving Jewish elder of any of the Jewish Councils set up by the Nazis. Condemned by many in the Jewish Community as a traitor and a Nazi collaborator he was tried and acquitted by the Czech authorities after the war settling in exile in Rome where he lived until his death in 1989.

He testified at the trial of Thereseinstadt Commandant Karl Rahm and wrote and published a book of his experiences in Terezin: Il ghetto-modello di Eichmann (Theresienstadt: Eichmann's Model Ghetto), in 1961. He submitted the book to Israeli prosecutors to use at the Eichmann trial (Adolf Eichmann, SS officer in charge of the deportation of the Jews of Europe) a submission that went unused.

Murmelstein had much valuable information to offer, especially on Eichmann So much so that if Murmelstein's testimony had been used it would have dispelled any notion of the dispassionate Nazi bureaucrat who only followed orders as defined by Hannah Arendt's term the "banality of evil." Instead we would have seen Eichmann as a man who loved his job and pursued it with zeal and passion above and beyond what was required by his superiors. We would also have seen a corrupt man who lined his own pockets with Jewish funds for both personal and professional gain, as the extra money afforded him the financial independence to run his department apart of the bureaucratic machine and away from the eyes of his superiors.

So why is Murmelstein's story coming to light now and why did Lanzmann wait nearly 40 years to make this film? Possibly the world was not ready for such a controversial and ambivalent figure. In 1975 Lanzmann interviewed Murmelstein for a project he was working on which later became the critically acclaimed 9-hour documentary Shoah. The interviews show that Murmelstein lived in the center of what Primo Levi referred to as the "grey zone" in his book The Drowned and the Saved. Levi's theory is that those of us who did not experience the lager (camps) and ghettos cannot place ourselves in a position to judge those that were there, nor can we view the Holocaust as something that is black or white, good or evil. We simply cannot know what we would do to survive under the circumstances.

1 Credit Topics Course Spring 2014
ALL sessions and guest-speaker presentations are public
Nolte 235
Thursdays 3:00p.m. to 4:30p.m.

This course will explore the particular developments and transnational entanglements of social memories in societies revisiting their legacies of dictatorship, state terror, and grave human rights violations in Latin America and Southern Europe.

It will be organized in a series of lectures in which distinguished experts from the countries of study will discuss their work and engage in dialogue with local scholars and students on the contemporary processes of re-interpretation and re-framing of the atrocities as well as the transitional justice models adopted in their aftermaths.

• Barbara Frey (Human Rights Program)
• Alejandro Baer (Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Dept. of Sociology)
• Ana Forcinito (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese)

The Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University will host the Third International Graduate Students' Conference on Genocide Studies: The State of Research 100 Years after the Armenian Genocide on 9 -11 April 2015, in cooperation with the Danish Institute for International Studies, Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Copenhagen. The conference will provide a forum for doctoral students to present their research projects to peers and established scholars. The keynote speaker will be Professor Eric Weitz, Dean of Humanities and Arts and Professor of History at the City College of New York.

This interdisciplinary conference will reflect the full range of issues, concepts, and methods in current Genocide Studies research. The keynote address and a focus on papers that explore the Armenian Genocide are planned in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the events of 1915. Papers that put the Armenian Genocide in a broader perspective and examine the concept of Ottoman Genocide carried out against minority ethnic-religious groups, including Assyrians and Greeks, are especially encouraged. Topics may include forceful mass-deportations, expulsions, and massacres during the late Ottoman period. We also invite pertinent applications from students working on the Holocaust as well as those who focus on genocides in Africa, Asia, Australia, and America as well as on the aftermath and collective memorialization of genocides.

Sociology 8190: Topics in Law, Crime, and Deviance: Gender, Mass Violence &
Crime in International Law

Spring 2014

This course examines crime and criminal justice as gendered phenomena with a
specific emphasis on gender-based violence during conflict. It explores how notions of different types of masculinity and femininity are embedded in and influence criminal behaviors, the operation of the criminal justice system, and the evolution of international criminal law. Course readings draw on historical and contemporary research and various theoretical perspectives, some of which present very different ways to think about how crime and criminal justice are shaped by gender and sex.

Trials and Genocides
Holocaust Genocide & Mass Violence Studies Workshop (HGMV)
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Room 710 Social Sciences Building

Thumbnail image for paula.jpg

With the internationalization of human rights in the aftermath of the World War II, a new paradigm emerged within the international community. The Westphalian concept of sovereignty was abandoned and was replaced by the idea that human rights were a matter of global concern. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was among the first international treaties enacted under that new world order. That treaty states that the persons charged with genocide "shall be tried."However, in times of transition to democracy, a question arises: are trials a viable option to prosecute genocidaires?

Paula Sofía Cuellar Cuellar's academic education includes a LL.B. Degree from the Central American University "José Simeón Cañas" and includes a Master´s Degree in Human Rights and Education for Peace from the University of El Salvador and a LL.M. Degree in International Human Rights Law from Notre Dame. She also, has a Postgraduate Diploma on Human Rights and Democratization´s Processes from the University of Chile and several diplomas on constitutional law and transitional justice courses. She is currently working towards a minor in Human Rights and an advanced degree in History at the University of Minnesota.

A Lecture by Phillip Spencer
Friday, December 6, 2013
12:00 p.m.
Room 710 Social Science Building


After the Holocaust, the Genocide Convention was aimed explicitly of ridding mankind of this 'odious scourge.' The Convention was, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the founding documents of the post-Holocaust era; but genocide recurs, and with alarming frequency, across almost every continent. Little has been done to prevent or halt the recurrence of this 'crime of crimes' and very few perpetrators have been brought to justice.

In this lecture, Professor Spencer explores some of the reasons that have been put forward to account for these troubling failures, and reflects on what light our current understandings of the Holocaust can throw on the acute problem of genocide today.

Professor Philip Spencer is Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence, at Kingston University. The Centre, which he founded in 2004, provides a focus for research and teaching in these areas. It is named in honor of the veteran rights campaigner Helen Bamber, who has devoted her life to the victims of conflicts across the world.

Professor Spencer's own research interests include the Holocaust; comparative genocide; nationalism; and anti-Semitism. He is also director of the university's European Research Department, where the central focus is on European political and cultural identity, with an overall concern for the changing forms, boundaries and future of Europe in the modern world.


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