Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session C3 2: Repetition of Hatred and Violence
Wednesday, 21/July/2021:
5:30pm - 7:00pm

Session Chair: Khushboo Chauhan, O.P. Jindal Global University, India
Location: Room 2


The Failure to Repair and Repetition of Violence

Henry Theriault

Worcester State University, USA

The concept “cycles of violence” is prevalent in discussions of the genesis of genocides as well as post-genocide victim-perpetrator relations. Despite contravening evidence, it is often taken as given that victim groups have an increased tendency to become violence perpetrators, while genocides, even when recognized as such, are often misconstrued as mutual escalations between conflicting groups.

At the same time, the very real tendency of perpetrator groups to retain genocidal ideologies and continue practices of mass violence and oppression is deemphasized. There are multiple reasons. The violence of genocide is so extreme that a society’s relative dormancy is misunderstood as decreased genocidality. Perpetrators’ genocidal attitudes and practices become so normalized that they no longer stand out as exceptional. External powers condemning a genocide while it occurs are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to force a deep rehabilitation of the perpetrator group and society. And so on.

The failure to recognize and address the embedding of genocidality of dormant perpetrator groups has devastating consequences, as in case after case such perpetrators engage in new genocides and related mass violence and oppression. Through a set of “serial perpetrator” case studies, this paper demonstrates these impacts in order to argue for a new emphasis on this problem and new political and legal mechanisms to address it. Examples include the United States’ series of genocides against indigenous peoples and genocidal acts against survivor populations even decades and a centuries after the initial violence as well as its role in other genocides and mass violence, such as in Vietnam, Indonesia, East Timor, and Guatemala; Turkey’s 1915 genocide against Armenians and renewed 2020 eliminationist anti-Armenian violence; Indonesia’s 1965-66 and East Timor Genocides; Argentina’s genocides against indigenous peoples and later genocidal “Dirty War”; and Germany’s genocide against the Herero and Nama and later Holocaust.

Health & Social Consequences for Victims of Genocidal Rape

Karan Varshney1,2, Prerana Ghosh1

1Deakin University, School of Medicine; 2Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health

In recent years, the global community has become increasingly aware of the use of rape as a weapon of genocide. However, to date, the unique forms of trauma experienced by victims of genocidal rape are not well-known. Hence, we systematically reviewed the literature on the consequences for victims of rape during genocide. A total of 38 articles were identified and analyzed. The articles focus on victims from seven different genocides, with the majority being on either the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, or the Yazidis in Iraq. It was consistently found that victims deal with stigmatization, as well as a lack of social support both financially and psychologically. This lack of support is partly due to social ostracization and shame, but is also attributed to the fact that many victims’ families and social supports were murdered during the violence. Many victims, particularly young girls, deal with intense forms of trauma that is a direct result of victimization of sexual violence, but also a result of witnessing the death of their community members during the period of genocide. A proportion of victims were also reported to have had become pregnant from genocidal rape. Furthermore, contraction of sexually transmitted infections, particularly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was described in a number of studies. These findings have important implications, and can be used to inform recovery process efforts. Psychosocial supports, including counselling groups, need to be dedicated to victims. Stigma reduction campaigns will be highly valuable, especially for women facing the double burden of stigma due to both rape victimization, and HIV infection. As well, there is a clear need for efforts to be made to re-establish communities in post-genocidal settings. Lastly, the provision of financial support and employment opportunities for victims of genocidal rape will be vital in the process of rebuilding.

Reassessing Genocide Education in Light of the International Rise of Hate Today

Sara Kristine Cohan

The Genocide Education Project, United States of America

Internationally there is a spike in the rise of fascism and hate movements. The trend reflects similar circumstances of past historical episodes—particularly the rise of hate before World War I and World War II. There is a key difference in the spread of hate-based philosophies that distinguishes today’s crisis from its 20thCentury predecessors. The use of the internet has empowered hate groups to spread their ideologies at an alarming rate and provided them with efficient ways to groom new members for their movements including youth.

The danger zones of the Digital Age are abundant. They include unmonitored social media sites that give ample opportunities for spreading disinformation and creating spaces for recruitment. Search algorithms run without ethical constraints and yield results based on what is published and read most often and not what reflects anti-hate values and rhetoric. Open source documentation sites create a digital environment that puts truth on trial. Sites promoting academic research are filled with papers written by right wing operatives. Web developers take money from hate groups in return for providing them with online platforms and ecommerce tools.

Despite these factors, secondary-level educational organizations could develop more effective tools for navigating online research for youth. Youth run the risk of not just being exposed to hate rhetoric but being radicalized by it. Genocide education groups could also revise the pedagogical principles we have relied on in the past. With a determination to focus on historic case studies as the answer to counteracting hate, taking deeper dives into digital literacy and creating more expansive programs that delve into understanding the roots of disinformation and hate are not present. Overhauling how we’ve traditionally viewed genocide education is overdue and is essential if we are to stunt continued growth of hate-based and fascist groups.

Visualizing Perpetrators in the 21st Century

Sabah Carrim1, Lukas Meissel2

1Texas State University, United States of America; 2University of Haifa/Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies

This paper seeks to analyze the manner in which perpetrators are imagined in visual media in a digital 21stcentury, and how popular images of perpetration evolved over time. It also delves into how these (often inaccurate or partial) representations, as well as the blind spots of visualization tell us about our interpretation of perpetrators’ actions, and their portraits in general.

As a first step, the paper will introduce self-images of a perpetrator that shaped public notions of génocidaires, with a focus on Adolf Eichmann's narrative of his deeds at the Jerusalem trial in 1961. This analysis will be juxtaposed with the 2009 trial of Duch (aka Kaing Guek Eav), as both accused parties presented themselves as mid-level perpetrators and strongly denied being guilty of the crimes of mass atrocity they were charged with.

The basis of this paper will therefore concentrate on the construction of the self-image of mid-level perpetrators as well as explore the stereotypes of them based on varying interpretations, commenting on whether it’s fair to aver a real versus stereotypical interpretation of different characters/archetypes.

As a next step, the paper will focus on the transformation of Eichmann’s self-image and interpretations of this narrative into/via popular visual media that heavily shape common explanations of perpetrators. Other than the major works on Eichmann, the paper will investigate the evolution of visual depictions of Eichmann, beginning with pictures of his trial in Jerusalem and Sivan's film "Un spécialiste, portrait d'un criminel moderne" (1999), to fictionalized depictions of perpetrators partly based on Eichmann in Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" (2009) and the digital video game franchise "Wolfenstein" (1981-2019).

This approach aims to highlight the development of perpetrator images to digital imaginations, touching upon general questions concerning the consequences of various interpretations and explanations of genocide perpetrators.