Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session A2 1: Denialism in the Digital Age
Tuesday, 20/July/2021:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Location: Room 1


Exploring new approaches to the study of genocide denialism: Towards a criminological network analysis of genocide denial

Roland Moerland

Maastricht University, Faculty of Law, Netherlands, The

Scholars such as Charny, Hovannisian, Vidal-Naquet, Lipstadt and Nichanian have engaged in pioneering research on the topic of genocide denial and their work has contributed greatly to our understanding of the phenomenon. These scholars have discerned various strategies, templates and forms of genocide denial in their studies. Many others have furthered the field by applying and expanding on these insights. They have done so mainly from sociological, psychological and historiographical perspectives. In his presentation Moerland explores the ways in which other perspectives can contribute to this field of research. In his research Moerland draws on the fields of criminology, political claims analysis, and he furthermore uses computer based technologies that enable network analyses to disentangle and visualize complex webs of denial. That last aspect is especially interesting, because scholars of genocide denial have not yet capitalized on the possibilities that data science has to offer. Moerland discusses the added value of these approaches for the study of genocide denial and he will reflect on how these approaches can be used to develop actions that allow us to more strategically act against the problem of genocide denial.

Denying Genocides on Social Media; Considerations on avenues, impiedments, justifications, and politics. A case study of genocide denial against the genocide of the Tutsis of Rwanda on social media.

Freda, Kabami Kabatsi

Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya

In October of 2020, Facebook announced it would ban content that denied the existence of the Holocaust, but limited this move to only the Holocaust and not other Genocides, like the one against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Whilst Facebook is a private entity, its reach, influence and power globally cannot be underestimated.

The genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda remains one of the greatest tragedies of our recent history. Nonetheless, the aftermath has seen denials, minimization and downplaying of this genocide.

The purpose of the paper is to investigate, how much of this denial is being done through social media, the reactions/actions thereof , the response by the media houses/owners – and also considerations of free speech and expression.

Genocides often raise prolific political considerations; why for instance would Facebook, or any other social mediums react differently towards different content/genocides. What is the repacurssion of such action? Is there a duty for social media platforms to bar content deemed to be denialist in nature? Where does free speech fall into this eaquation?

All the above questions would be answered through analytical consideration of scientific data available. This author considers denial of genocide unhelpful towards reconciliation, further infliction of pain to the victims; but above all a real risk towards discouraging genocide prevention.

The discussions, must however be presented keeping in mind the inherent right of free speech and expression which are necessary in any democratic society. Nonetheless, mindful of the utmost importance of free speech; it must be remembered that this right is not absolute.

Language and the Denial of Macedonian Ethnic Identity

Victor Bivell

Pollitecon Publications, Australia

There is a long history of the Greek Government using language to deny the ethnic identity of Macedonians and to attempt to change the identity of Macedonians to something less Macedonian or non-Macedonian. A wide range of these linguistically-based political and social techniques were discussed in the Human Right Watch Report titled Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece. Since that Report, the most high profile example of this policy has been Greece’s insistence that the Republic of Macedonia change its name, and the implications of this for Macedonian identity. Less well-known at an international level are the Greek Government’s unsuccessful attempts to change the identity of the Macedonians in Australia and to change the name of the Macedonian language in the Australian state of Victoria. This presentation will explore the extensive alternative vocabulary that Greece has developed to describe ethnic Macedonians and their culture. Along with the Macedonian homeland, this vocabulary covers Macedonian identity, the Macedonian language, and both modern and ancient Macedonian history. The presentation discusses: how this policy stems from the genocide committed by Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in Ottoman Macedonia in 1912-13; how the political and social oppression of that time has developed into a long, slow phase of cultural genocide; how the alternative language to describe Macedonians is a key part of this cultural genocide; and why this alternative vocabulary is hate speech. The presentation will explore the normalization of this hate speech in sections of academia and the media and in some political discourse; how the normalization of this hate speech is based on double standards that are not applied to Greeks and other peoples; and how awareness of this vocabulary and these double standards are an important step in ending its useage and treating Macedonians with respect.