Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session C5 1: The Role of Mass Media
Friday, 23/July/2021:
5:00pm - 6:30pm

Session Chair: Kerri Malloy, San José State University, United States of America
Location: Room 1


The Role of Radio RTLM in the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

Hollie Nyseth Brehm

The Ohio State University, United States of America

Researchers have long debated how media impacts genocide. Nowhere has this debate borne out more clearly than the case of the Rwandan genocide, during which Radio RTLM broadcast discriminatory messages encouraging the slaughter of Tutsi. In 2003, a UN Tribunal convicted the founder of Radio RTLM, suggesting that the station was responsible for the violence. After conducting interviews with people who committed genocide, however, Straus (2007) prominently argued that the station had not impacted the magnitude of violence. Yet, a subsequent analysis capitalized on community-level data on radio broadcasts and genocide convictions to suggest that 51,000 perpetrators can be attributed to Radio RTLM (Yanigazawa-Drott 2014). Our study employs new data to test these divergent claims. We draw upon a novel dataset of all post-genocide trials that, unlike the data used by Yanigazawa-Drott, matches the people who had multiple trials. Using this more accurate dataset, as well as previously unreleased community-level census data, our paper tests two hypotheses: 1) Higher broadcast coverage in communities is associated with earlier onset of violence, and 2) Higher broadcast coverage is associated with higher rates of genocide participation. Preliminary results indicate that Radio RTLM is associated with earlier genocidal onset yet not with participation rates.

Social Media and Far Right Rhetoric: A Case Study of the Insurrection at the US Capitol

Christina Teresa McCormick, William Glymph Jennette

George Mason University, United States of America

On January 6th, 2021, the world watched as the United States Capitol building was breached by an armed insurrection for the first time since 1814. The United States is a divided nation and it is clear that social media has been used to exacerbate these divisions. Previous studies have demonstrated how Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have been used as tools by the far right movement in the United States as a tool to spread disinformation, organize violent events such as those in DC or Charlottesville, and to spread othering, genocidal rhetoric, and to legitimize mass violence. A sufficient understanding on the impact social media has in the promulgation of genocidal and far right ideologies will equip modern-day peacebuilders to identify and enact workable solutions to combat the explosive permeation rate of this phenomenon. This research intends to use discourse analysis to evaluate the discourse used by key actors and agitators prior to the violence on January 6, 2021, and how social media was used to frame the “other” and call for action against them. As this situation unfolds in the coming weeks and month will be pivotal in understanding the ways in which social media companies will work to ensure something like this does not happen again and will influence the methods peacebuilders can use to disrupt online radicalization.

Genocide and the media: A comparative study of the experiences in Bangladesh and Myanmar

Irene Victoria Massimino

Universidad Nacional de José C. Paz, Argentine Republic

Genocide and the media:
A comparative study of the experiences in
Bangladesh and Myanmar

By Prof. Irene Victoria Massimino and Prof. Umme Wara


Mass media play a fundamental role in society as a tool for the construction of some type of social truth and people’s perception of events. Although they have been transformed with technological evolution, it is possible to note that the abovementioned affirmation remains intact. Yet the scope and, consequently, the impact of information has strongly broadened in the XXI century. Thus, analysing the role and impact of the media, is an important part in understanding the history, nature, and particularities of an atrocity.

Under this premise, our work aims to analyse the impact of the media on the genocides that occurred in 1971 in Bangladesh and in 2017 -at least- in Myanmar. The specific purpose of the study is to comprehend the role played by the media before, during and after these two genocides, which occurred approximately half a century apart.

Through a comparative study, we will analyse how the Bengali genocide was reflected in international media and the impact that this had both for the knowledge of the facts and for the recognition of the crime as genocide. In the same way, we will examine the role of traditional media and new forms of information through “social media,” and how these have influenced in the construction of hate speech against the Rohingya population in Myanmar in order to contribute to perpetrating the genocide, amongst other relevant aspects.

In conclusion, the present work will aim at demonstrating the different ways in which mass media have impacted and continue to impact, both negatively and positively, in international crimes.