Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Date: Monday, 19/July/2021
11:30am - 12:00pmReception
Location: lounge
12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A1 1: Right Wing Extremism and Hate Speech in Social Media
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Rosa Ana Alija, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 1 

The Nordic Resistance Movement in the Digital Age

Julia Hermine Charlotte Sahlstrom

Stockholm University, Sweden

The Nordic resistance movement (NMR) is a pan-Nordic neo-National Socialist organization. It was first founded under the name the Swedish resistance movement (SMR) in Sweden in 1997. Today the movement is established in Sweden, Norway, Findland and it has members in Iceland. However, Finland banned the movement in 2019. In Sweden NMR is also a political party. The main goal of NMR is to replace the Nordic democracies through a revolution and replace these with a totalitarian state that is permeated by NMR:s national socialist ideology.

In the presentation I want to hold at your conference I would focus on describing the Swedish section of NMR and, more specifically, their main official webpages: and Motståndsrö In other words, I will explain how NMR uses these webpages to forward their ideology, to unite the movement and to attract new members. I will also focus on the role of antisemitism in the movement and how antisemitic propaganda permeates the content that is featured on the websites. Additionally, I will give examples of how this propaganda has resulted in attacks directed towards NMR's alleged enemies. Finally, I will discuss NMR's use of digital technology, such as these webpages, from a broader societal perspective and in relation to other white power movements use of digital technology.

Hate Speech in Myanmar: State Media and the Rohingya Genocide

Ronan Lee

Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

Myanmar’s Rohingya minority are victims of an ongoing genocide. In 2017, Myanmar’s Rohingya were victims of a forced migration of a scale not seen regionally since the Second World War. In the space of a few weeks more than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar seeking refuge in Bangladesh. Despite a centuries-long heritage in Myanmar, the Rohingya’s collective rights have been denied by Myanmar’s authorities who have subjected this Muslim minority to decades of repression. This paper considers the role of the state authorities in perpetrating extreme and hate speech and the processes by which state power was used to normalize hateful expressions against the Rohingya community which enabled the 2017 forced migration. Drawing attention to Myanmar’s 2017 Rohingya crisis, a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe, the paper examines how Myanmar’s state media publication, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, actively produced anti-Rohingya speech in its editions and influenced violent narratives about the Rohingya Muslims circulating on social media. It shows how official media contributed to a political environment where anti-Rohingya speech was made acceptable and where rights abuses against the group were excused. While regulators often consider the role of social media platforms like Facebook as conduits for the spread of extreme speech, this case study shows that extreme speech by state actors using state media ought to be similarly considered a major concern for scholarship and policy.

"We will eliminate you": The rise of hate speech against Hazaras on social media

Zabi Mazoori, Dallas Mazoori

Independent researcher

The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan over the past few years has given rise to an alarming increase in attacks upon the country’s persecuted Hazara minority. The scale and intensity of these attacks have evoked memories of Taliban massacres of the late 1990s and early 2000s and have already been labelled genocide by the Hazara community. Since September 2020, the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban have been engaged in purported peace talks in Doha, Qatar, talks which many Hazaras fear will result in a power-sharing deal with those responsible for genocidal violence against Hazaras. With no precondition of a ceasefire, this intra-Afghan dialogue has done nothing to stem the violence, nor the impunity enjoyed by those responsible. The deteriorating security situation and increase in attacks upon Hazaras have been accompanied by a rise in hate speech directed against Hazaras on social media platforms. Such hate speech is frequently directed toward denying that Hazaras are from Afghanistan or entitled to an identity within Afghanistan, and often explicitly calls for the elimination of Hazaras from the country. To date, efforts by Hazaras to have hateful content removed from social media platforms have been largely ignored, due in large part to a lack of linguistic and contextual knowledge on the part of social media companies. This paper will analyse patterns of hate speech against Hazaras online. It will argue that hate speech against Hazaras is widespread, sanctioned by authorities, and has the real capacity to incite genocidal violence. It will call for a genocide prevention lens for considering hate speech online.

Remove Kebab: Bosnian Genocide Triumphalism and the Global Far-Right

Hikmet Karcic

Institute for Islamic Tradition of Bosniaks, Bosnia and Herzegovina

In 2019, when the video of the New Zeland terrorist appeared in the news, a number of Bosniaks immeditaly recognized the music in the background. As the gunman drove to the Al-Nur mosque he was playing the Serb-nationalist, war-time song entitled “Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs”. A song used to boast moral for Serb soldiers. Now used to boast moral for a far-right mass murderer. This song became a sort of anthem for the global far-right. The shooters manifest sparked similarities with a earlier far-right terrorist - Anders Breivik, who killed 77 civilians in Norway in 2011. Both cited Serb war criminals and nationalists. Bosnia was considered a battle for Europe, to save it from the invading Islam. And these events clearly show that the genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina can serve as an inspiration to far-right extremists throughout the world.Over the years, the Bosnian genocide slowly became an inspiration for the far-right. Genocidaires became heros. A meme was even formed called Remove Kebab. Kebab being Muslims. This meme and "Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs” better known online as "Serbia Strong", quickly spread througout the internet. The aim of this paper is to present how this triumphalism of atrocities committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s serves as an inspiration for the global far-right via analysis of its presence on social media.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A1 2: African Genocides
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Christopher P Davey, Brigham Young University, United States of America
Room 2 

Social Media and Prosecution of Mass Atrocities: The Nigerian #EndSARS and #LekkiMassacre in Perspective

Harrison Adewale Idowu

Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria

In what had begun as a peaceful protest against Police brutality in Nigeria, as the #EndSARS movement, the atmosphere took a drastic turn when, on 20 October 2020, men of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters at one of the biggest sites for the protest in Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. While many were feared dead and many more injured during the event, there had been unrelenting attempts by the powers that be, either to deny that the event ever took place, or to cover up the magnanimity of the atrocity melted on harmless protesters on the fateful day. Nevertheless, the social media rose to the occasion and influenced by not only exposing that indeed the atrocity took place, but also fuelling the crisis through the spread of fake news related to the incident. Owing to glaring posts and outcry especially on a popular social media handle, Twitter, the government had back tracked and set up a panel of inquiry to unravel those behind the #LekkiMassacre and prosecute anyone found culpable. What role did the social media play in exposing the atrocities of a special anti-robbery Police unit of the Nigeria Police (SARS), and the atrocity committed through #LekkiMassacre? How has it played this role to propel the ongoing prosecution process? This is the thrust of this paper. The paper adopts the exploratory research design and the qualitative method. Data will be sourced from Twitter where atrocities of Police brutality and the #LekkiMassacre trended the most. Tweets on #EndSARS and #LekkiMassacre which exposed atrocities of Police brutality and #LekkiMassacre and made room for the ongoing prosecution process, will be extracted from Twitter using Python. This is to enable a robust analysis of how social media influenced these issues. Data extracted will be analysed using discourse analysis.

Under the Shadow of Violence: Slow Genocide of the Banyamulenge in Eastern DRC

Delphin Rukumbuzi Ntanyoma

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

The Eastern DRC has, for decades, been experiencing recurring violence originating from several motives and causes. However, colonialism and racial categorization coupled with the reified post-colonial autochthony has left the Banyamulenge identified as “immigrants” and locally stateless as their local chiefdoms were abolished by colonial administrators. Regardless of evidence that the Banyamulenge have settled in what became the Democratic Republic of Congo for centuries, they have been contested and massacred as “non-native”, facing a slow genocide frozen within the complexity of violence in Eastern DRC that followed the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Since the 1960s post-independence violence in DRC, the Banyamulenge have been specifically targeted by Congolese state and non-state actors such as MaiMai and other militias across the Congolese territory and abroad. Banyamulenge’s killings have been preceded by public officials' calls dehumanizing the entire community. For a half-century, men, young boys, and unarmed military soldiers have constituted the primary target of the perpetrators. The intent to annihilate the Banyamulenge has also resolved to use indirect methods such as besiegement, impoverishment, inhuman treatment while erasing or hiding evidence. The slow annihilation using similar modus operandi for roughly five decades is ideologically linked to the 1960s Simba rebellion. Considered by the Mai-Mai and local militias as ‘invaders’, the Banyamulenge have been forced to flee their homeland en masse that largely narrows accessible territories. The remaining Banyamulenge in South Kivu are currently besieged, starved; their villages destroyed; their economy and source of livelihood annihilated. Against this backdrop of the Banyamulenge’s situation, the Eastern DRC complexity of violence and constructed denial arguments overshadow this plight widely reported as tit-for-tat violence opposing armed groups affiliated to ethnic communities or simply as inter-community clashes.

Is Your Silence an Acquiescence? Genocide Is Underway and more Widespread Atrocities just around the Corner in DRC

Naupess Kibiswa

African Center for Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights (ACPD), Universites Catholiques du Congo (UCC) et de Bukavu (UCB) and ISTM-KIN; Congo, Democratic Republic of the

The violent conflict in DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) is the longest humanitarian crisis in Africa and the world most forgotten one by decision-makers, scholars, and the medias. Yet, it has made more casualties than any other and may even wipe away the whole DRC. This paper aims at alerting again the world’s largest community of genocide scholars about the ongoing genocide and mass atrocities (GMA) in the DRC after the unnoticed call made at the 2019 Phnom Penh conference. Its goal is to lead this community to openly act to help stop that scourge. It presents a quick GMA risk assessment showing that almost all categories of GMA risk factors and warning signs as defined by credible institutions in the field are present in the DRC. Among the multiple signs are the monthly average of about 100 deaths and the establishment of imported populations on DRC areas left by the savagely massacred or displaced indigenous populations, the most active killers being foreign armed groups from Uganda and Rwanda. The paper also summarizes ongoing events that seem to be accelerating factors towards the one that would trigger widespread atrocities nationwide, including more genocides and counter-genocides. It finally highlights some striking coincidences between the current situations in the African Great Lakes Region and that that led to the Holocaust in Europe. Due to the weaknesses of the DRC state since its occupation by armies from Rwanda and Uganda since 1996, external and strong midstream prevention initiatives and actions are needed from the UN and the world’s major powers to reverse the fate planned for the DRC populations and state.

The politics of commemorating genocide in the digital age: France and the 25th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda

Narelle Fletcher

University of Technology Sydney, Australia, Australia

April 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide targeting the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda. This milestone gave rise to major commemorative events in Rwanda and in a number of other locations throughout the world. In particular, the anniversary attracted significant attention in France, both from President Macron and the French media, which led to the genocide being a prominent subject in the French public sphere. This renewed interest in Rwanda is especially noteworthy given the complex relationship between the two countries in the wake of France’s involvement in the genocide under the presidency of François Mitterrand.

In the 21st century, the digital format offers its own unique advantages and constraints that reframe the act of commemoration, liberating it from the frequent traditional anchor of a physical place. A considerable corpus of audio, visual and textual documentation in digital format was assembled in France for the 25th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide by national media and by government-supported institutions such as the Shoah Memorial in Paris. This corpus constitutes an important legacy in its own right, providing both insight into the genocide and also into the politics of commemoration underpinning the selection and presentation of the material in question. This paper will elucidate the impact of the digital format on the process of commemoration of the Tutsi genocide targeting a specific audience outside of Rwanda, in France. It will also explore some of the broader considerations concerning the privileged interpersonal channels of communication created by the digital age, and how these formats can lend themselves not only to commemoration, but to the ever optimistic pursuit of genocide prevention.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A1 3: Imagining Genocide: Representations of Victimhood in Religion, Comics, Film
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Alana M. Vincent, University of Chester, United Kingdom
Room 3 

Imagining Genocide: Representations of Victimhood in Religion, Comics, Film

Chair(s): A. M. Vincent (University of Chester, United Kingdom)

Recognition is a key issue both in genocide prevention and in post-genocide reparative programmes. The struggle for recognition can severely limit the avenues of redress open to affected communities, as in the case of the Chinese Uyghurs, the Rohingya, or the 1951 “We Charge Genocide” petition. The papers in this panel examine an often overlooked precondition for recognition: popular imagination. Especially in the digital age, where popular narratives circulate widely and rapidly, shaping political discourse not only through ordinary dissemination but becoming directly implicated in political discourse as memes, attention to such popular representations forms a key aspect of genocide prevention. How do popular narratives of what is and isn’t genocide, who is and isn’t a victim, create conditions for the recognition or misrecognition of genocide? Drawing together narratives from the Bible, comic books, and film, this panel addresses questions such as: How does naming things as genocide or not naming them as genocide cultivate particular attitudes towards the victims? Do the genocide narratives in the Hebrew Bible shape ideas of holy war that include a justification of genocide? How then do we shift the frame of representation to account for the perspective of victims?


Presentations of the Symposium


Viewing Victimhood: Biblical Genocide in Cinema

Matt Page
Bible Films Blog

This paper examines the portrayal of victimhood through film adaptations of acts of genocide in the biblical text. By presenting particular stories in a fresh light, filmmakers have explored issues of genocide and victimhood in ancient and modern worlds using a variety of approaches. Films such as Amos Gitai’s Esther (1986), Cheick Oumar Sissoko’s La Genese (1998) and Boris Gerrets’s Lamentations of Judas (2020) direct audiences to explore familiar stories from the perspective of the victims of genocide, shifting popular perceptions about blame and victimhood.


Representations of Trauma: Depictions of Post-Genocidal Reconciliation

Tereza Valny
University of Edinburgh

This paper explores how reconciliation and the survivor perspective are reflected in films/television series which depict the aftermath of genocide, including Black Earth Rising (2018), Ida (2013), Ararat (2002), and Divided We Fall (2000). To what extent are these representations correcting silences, mediating memory, and dealing with the concept of intergenerational trauma transmission? Ultimately, this paper will discuss representations of post-genocidal reconciliation in these films in relation to how useful they are for generating an understanding of post-genocidal trauma in a global context.


Representations of Reparation: Post-Genocide Victim Responsibility in Comic Books

A. M. Vincent
University of Chester

This paper explores the way that the aftermath of mass killings are depicted in Marvel Comics’ X-Men series, with a particular focus on the comic books’ portrayals of victim responsibility. The X-Men series is particularly interesting for such a study as the eponymous mutant heroes are frequently depicted as the targets of genocide (although very often comic book mass killings are not explicitly labelled as such) but also as superheroes whose powers are capable of endangering humanity, thereby complicating common popular depictions of genocide victims as abject and powerless. Focussing particularly on two storylines--”Genosha” and “Krakoa”--which emphasise mutant sovereignty as a post-genocide reparative project with unintended negative consequences, this paper examines the way that the presentation of victim populations as threats prevents genocide recognition and constrains potential reparations.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A1 4: Preventing Genocide
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Elisenda Calvet Martinez, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 4 

Can We Predict Genocide?

Deborah Mayersen

University of New South Wales Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Australia

The ability to predict genocide is an important component of attempts to prevent it. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of risk assessment lists that identify and rank countries at risk of genocide, mass killing and/or mass atrocities. This paper offers a critical examination of these risk assessment lists. How accurately do they predict genocide and other mass atrocities? Based on a comprehensive analysis of risk lists, I suggest that they have a good ability to identify countries at the very highest risk levels, and countries in which risk is rapidly rising. They can therefore be a useful tool for practitioners and policymakers in some respects. Their predictive capacity, however, is limited by issues of overprediction, imprecision and inconsistency. This places serious limitations on their current forecasting capacity. At present, therefore, risk assessment lists should be used carefully and critically, and alongside qualitative assessments, when assessing risk of genocide and/or mass atrocities.

Atrocity Forecasting with Quantitative Models: Uses, accuracy and new forecasts

Sascha Nanlohy

University of Sydney, Australia

This paper will discuss the policy utility of atrocity forecasts with quanitative models as a tool of atrocity prevention and assess the accuracy of the Atrocity Forecasting Project's 2016-2020 forecasts and how they compare with other early warning systems. The paper will suggest how the policy community working on atrocity prevention can utilise atrocity forecasts and introduce new forecasts for 2021-2023.

Beyond linear conceptions of genocide. Introducing the Genocide Hexagon

Timothy Williams

Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany

There is broad recognition that linear conceptions in explaining the genesis of genocide are inadequate. Yet the simplicity of linear models as an understandable heuristic renders them attractive to secondary- and tertiary-level teaching and advocacy. For example, Genocide Watch’s 10 stages of genocide paint a clear picture of how genocide occurs, flagging important factors that explain part of radicalisation processes (while Genocide Watch’s stage model claims not to be linear, it assumes that each later stage must be preceded by the former stages). This paper introduces the ‘Genocide Hexagon’ as an alternative approach that overcomes the linearity of stage models but retains the simplicity of an abstract model that can be used in teaching and advocacy. The Genocide Hexagon identifies six key environmental factors that make genocide more likely to occur and can each be counteracted with certain long-term and short-term prevention strategies (preliminary selection): justification; securitisation (victims as threatening); power threat to political leaders; eradication of constraints; preparation (creation of capacities for implementation); mobilisation. The Genocide Hexagon is conceived as a spatial model that visualises the likelihood of genocide according to the degree that each of the six factors is present in a specific case (the hexagon is fully filled when all factors are present to the fullest degree, while the hexagon contracts along these axes if some factors are less prevalent); triggering factors that demonstrate agency transform this genocidal potential into an actual genocide are superimposed. This paper begins with a critique of previous heuristics before introducing the Genocide Hexagon through its conceptual foundations across six factors and its spatial representation. It also demonstrates briefly what types of prevention could be effective depending on the present factors and how the Genocide Hexagon could be used fruitfully in education and advocacy.

Atrocity Prevention and UK Foreign Policy: Conceptual, Institutional, and Operational Challenges

Ben Willis

University of Plymouth, United Kingdom

This article explores how the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities is integrated into UK foreign policy across its early warning, development, diplomatic, and defence work. In doing so, it addresses a persistent gap in the burgeoning academic literature on mass atrocity prevention, which has offered limited consideration to date of how the UK and like-minded states have embedded an atrocity prevention 'lens' into their national policy-making architectures. The article proceeds in four parts. The first part situates the evolution of UK atrocity prevention policy within longstanding cross-party support for the Responsibility to Protect and a more recent association with the broad UK foreign policy agenda of tackling conflict and instability overseas. The second part discusses the causes and consequences of these problematic conceptual associations. The third part considers the institutional arrangements through which oversight, direction, and coordination of UK atrocity prevention policy is exercised. The fourth part then examines the extent to which atrocity prevention is operationalised via the UK’s self-identified toolkit of measures. The article concludes by offering suggestions for policy reform and calling for further research into how the UK and other like-minded states integrate the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities across their foreign policy work.

1:30pm - 2:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
2:00pm - 3:00pmKeynote Alice W. Nderitu: United Nations Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Plenary room 
3:00pm - 3:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
3:30pm - 5:00pmLocal Partner - ICIP & ACCD: 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia: how the diaspora builds peace and memory
Location: Plenary room
International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) and Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD)
The session will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation in English
Last September 2016, the government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed the “Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace”. Because of the Peace agreement, the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition was created. This mechanism includes three entities: a Special Jurisdiction for Peace; a Special Unit for Finding Missing Persons, and the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition – also called “The Truth Commission”. Since 2019, ICIP performs the functions of the technical secretariat for the Truth Commission in Europe, with the aim to facilitate the process of contact and coordination among the various organizations of victims in exile and support groups. There are currently 15 support groups in 10 countries, one of them in Catalonia. From the more than eight million of the officially registered victims caused by the Colombian armed conflict, thousands have been forced to flee the country since the 1950s and many of them settled in Europe since then. To meet their needs, the Truth Commission became the first of its kind to actively include the victims living outside the country in the different phases of the transitional justice process. This is considered a unique and inspiring experience for other processes in the world. Among the different actions developed, we must highlight the more of 1.200 victims’ testimonials. It is also worth mentioning the importance of the different approaches -such as gender, ethnic or psychosocial- taken in order to identify the impacts that the armed conflict have caused to the victims; to clarify the cases of enforced disappearance; the attacks and massive killings of human right defenders, activists and political leaders.
Plenary room 
5:00pm - 5:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C1 1: Impact of COVID on the Field of Genocide
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Sara Brown, Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education, United States of America
Room 1 

Challenges to Remembering, preventing and memorializing political genocide of Union Patriótica Party. Experiencias of Memory, justiciability and transitional justice under Covid reality.

Santiago Medina-Villarreal

Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia

Victims of the Political Genocide committed against members of political party in Colombia between 1985 and 2016 were victimized almost 4000 victims as members of the political party. Currently the victims are facing new challenges to remember the past and pursuing justice in a transitional context. In the context of the Covid Pandemic the Inter-American Court of Human Rights would had a virtual hearing about this case. The case have been pending before the Inter-American System by almost 30 years without justice. Victims had due testify to the Court using digital technologies. In addition, in the context of transitional justice process in Colombia the Special Jurisdiction of Peace and the Truth Commission heard victim´s testimonies to memorializing the past occurred in relation with the political genocide. The presentation will demonstrate how the victims and organizations of victims were faced with the impunity throughout the virtuality. In fact, a strategy to facilitate workshops, encounters, hearings, and the urgency to gave their testimonies to the Truth Commission, because the mandate will finish in November of 2021. That experiences of victims shows their capability and adaptation to face new forms of participating, in strategies of remembering, justice and memorializing. On the other hand, the participation of victims have been enriched by the amplification of access to public information about the memory of the political genocide.

Social Media and Pandemic Responses: Independent or Compounding Forces in Atrocity Risk and Resilience?

Nadia M Rubaii, Max Pensky

I-GMAP, Binghamton University, State University of New York, United States of America

Independently, social media and the COVID-19 pandemic provide challenges and opportunities for atrocity prevention, and together they may amplify risk or resilience. That is, while each have the potential to heighten genocide risk or allow for more effective genocide prevention, the response to a global pandemic at a time when social media is such a powerful force increases the stakes and may exaggerate the effects. This paper builds on prior research examining the use of social media to spread dangerous speech that incites violence as well as a tool to engage in counter speech (Benesch, 2012, 2020; Callamard, 2018; Kaye, 2019), as well as research articulating how pandemic responses can contribute to atrocity risk or resilience (Rubaii, Whigham & Appe, 2020; Waller 2020). Our typology evaluates countries along two dimensions – social media contributions to atrocity risk or resilience, and pandemic response contributions to atrocity risk or resilience. We speculate and seek to empirically evaluate whether the risk/risk (lower left quadrant) and resilience/resilience (upper right quadrant) are more common than the mixed responses. Drawing upon examples representing diverse geographic, political, economic and social criteria, we illustrate how the two forces work independently or to compound each other, and emphasize lessons that can be learned from cases demonstrating resilience on one or both dimensions.

[Note: We were unable to include the figure representing the dimensions/quadrants]


Benesch, S. (2020). Countering dangerous speech. USHMM.

Benesch, S. (2012). Dangerous Speech. World Policy Institute

Callamard, A. (2018) The prevention of atrocity crimes and social media. Global Freedom of Expression. Columbia University

Kaye, D. (2019). Speech Police. Columbia Global Reports.

Rubaii, N., Whigham, K., & Appe, S. (2020) The Public Administration Imperative of Applying an Atrocity Prevention Lens to COVID-19 Responses. Administrative Theory & Praxis.

Waller, J. (2020). Implications of COVID-19 for Atrocity Prevention, AIPG.

Genocide, Covid-19, and Structural Violence

Adam Jason Jones

University of British Columbia Okanagan, Canada

This paper will consider specific elements of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in the light of existing research on genocide and structural/institutional violence. Four case-studies will be considered, in which it is argued that Covid-19 policy measures have resulted, or may have resulted, in destructive consequences that approach or surpass the pandemic's health toll, whether on a local, national, or global level. (1) Extended-care homes and the "genocidal continuum" in the western world (with a case-study of Quebec). The elderly have been widely recognized as the most vulnerable to the pandemic, which has highlighted systemic debilities in their care and treatment. The little-studied phenomenon of gerontocide will be addressed in this context. (2) The crisis of opioid overdoses in British Columbia, Canada, which killed more people in 2020 than Covid-19, homicides, suicides, and automobile accidents combined. Research suggests that the sharply-increased death-toll is a consequence of provincial government decisions to exclude safe-injection sites from the list of "essential services" allowed to remain open during the pandemic, while liquor stores, for example, were deemed "essential." (3) Agricultural and meatpacking workers in the United States. These workers, many of them undocumented migrants, have been notably hard-hit by the pandemic. Whistleblowers have pointed to systemic negligence and unsafe/abusive conditions in these industries. Federal policies have focused on maintaining supply chains and shielding corporate actors from liability, rather than safeguarding workers. (4) Drawing upon the preceding themes, the globally-gendered impact of pandemic-era policymaking will be examined, with particular attention to women and girls in spheres including employment, health, education, and (forced) marriage. The paper concludes with policy recommendations, as well as observations about prevailing framings and possible futures of genocide studies.

Introduction to Digital Technology Tools for Engagement in Remote Classroom Settings

Amy Fagin

Beyond Genocide Centre for Prevention, United States of America

This presentation will adhere to the submission guideline for “use of digital media in genocide education and human rights movements”. After the onslaught of instructional challenges faced by academic teachers at all levels of education during the pandemic it is essential that educators are prepared to utilize the growing body of tech tools that advance learning and engagement via remote access.

Fortunately, there are many groundbreaking “tech tools” that facilitate effective and creative integration for a distance learning classroom experience. Emergent digital technologies and their potential use for supporting specified learning outcomes can be applied to a wide range of disciplines.

For this presentation I will offer five three-minute pre-recorded screencast demonstrations that will introduce and outline how-to-find and how-to-use a wide variety of tech-tool categories. The presentation will offer step by step demonstrations with several popular tools that are designed to augment individual and collaborative learning in a remote classroom setting. The following categories of media tools will be introduced: Screen-casting, Podcasting, Augmented Reality Applications, and Digital Presentation Tools. Each demonstration will be designed to facilitate curation of skills in facilitating learning outcomes for genocide education / prevention for a sampled selection of academic disciplines within the field.

A spreadsheet of tech tools and their links will be provided for participants and a 5-minute Q and A will close the 20-minute presentation.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C1 2: Emerging Scholars World Café
Location: Room 2
Room 2 
5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C1 3: Multimedia Coverage of Collective Reburials in post-Genocide and Mass-Violence Contexts
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Clara Duterme, Aix-Marseille University, France
Room 3 

Multimedia Coverage of Collective Reburials in post-Genocide and Mass-Violence Contexts

Chair(s): Clara Duterme (Aix-Marseille University, France)

In his seminal article “From Tear to Pixel, Political Correctness and Digital Emotions in the Exhumations of Mass Graves from the Civil War” published in 2016, Spanish social anthropologist Francisco Ferrándiz has shown how the exhumations of victims of mass violence were subject to extensive sound and visual recordings that were immediately disseminated and worldwide broadcasted through traditional and digital media. This immediate and global digitalization of a collective experience is affecting the short and long-term construction of social memory in contemporary societies affected by mass violence, “accelerating the memory-construction process and projecting it into the global arena”. Collective re-burials frequently organized as a follow-up of the exhumations carried-out in post-mass violence settings are subject to similar intense coverage and global broadcasting. This panel (set up in the frame of the comparative research program Transfunerary aims at questioning the specificities and consequences of the reburial’s massive media coverage. What role do these funerary records play in the various resilience processes of post-conflict societies? What types of images and imagery are produced, shaped and put into circulation? What echoes do these images provoke in social life? These questions will be addressed on the basis of several fieldworks carried out by social anthropologists and psychologists in Europe and Latin America.


Presentations of the Symposium


Reality check. The media coverages of Great Purges victim’s reburial in nowadays post-soviet Russia and their effect.

Elisabeth Anstett

Historians now agree on the fact that approximatively 700 000 soviet citizens were murdered during the period of the great purges in the second half of the 1930ies. The soviet State policy of dead-bodies concealment combined with further post-soviet State policy of disinterest if not denialism of the crimes committed under the Stalinist regime, has led to a very limited number of exhumations of the great purges victims. Focusing on a series of annual mass graves opening and victims’ reburials, undertaken since the end of the 1990ies at a local level in the Voronezh region (500km south-east from Moscow), this paper aims at enlightening what is at stake in their local and national media coverage during the celebrations of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions (30rd of October), and the way in which these recurrent audio-visual short narratives contribute to counteract victim’s identity erasure at a more global level.


Visual recordings and media coverage of controversial collective burials of the Peruvian internal armed conflict.

Valérie Robin Azevedo
Université de Paris – URMIS

Visual recordings of the collective burials following the exhumations of victims of mass violence in Perú have played a key role in the publicization, recognition and legitimization of the families looking for their disappeared loved ones, in the aftermath of the internal armed conflict. However, when the media coverage concerns collective burials that do not meet the expected norms of the “innocent victim”, it might also lead to the opposite result: disproval of the presence in public space of such manifestations and refusal to consider some of the dead as victims of State mass violence. We will focus on the circulation of images of a collective senderista burial linked to a prison massacre, and question how visual recordings and their diffusion in the media and social networks contributed to create a massive moral panic about the “terrorist” ceremonies and rejection of the mausoleum of senderist ex-activists. The displacement of the dozens of corpses and the subsequent destruction of the mausoleum has been captured live and simultaneously broadcasted on television. We will question how the diffusion of these images shapes, performs and illustrates the difficulties of post-conflict elaboration of a renewed citizenship contract and the building of a more inclusive nationhood.


The “Memoria Virtual” in Guatemala. The use of images to build and to disseminate the memory of victims

Clara Duterme
Aix-Marseille University

In the aftermath of the genocidal violence against indigenous population in Guatemala, the publication and diffusion of images continue to prove its importance in the process of establishing the truth about the massacres. The exhumations and re-inhumations of victims of the conflict, carried out since the 1990s, are particularly fertile ground for the production of impactful and telling images. As today’s democratic State still doesn’t take charge of the victims’ compensation nor recognition, the memory work is carried out by NGOs and civil society organizations. Pictures of the exhumated victims, of the forensic work and of the disappeared have been made visible in the public space by various methods for many years, however the development of digital media has led actors to increasingly invest in this space. Through the example of the digital project “Memoria virtual”, I will show I will show how a memory of the violence in Guatemala is collectively elaborated and shared, focusing on the contributions of the forensic teams FAFG and CAFCA.


The corporeality of the dead in the public arena: An analysis of two cases in the contexts of the Malvinas War victims in Argentina and the detained-disappeared in Chile.

Laura Marina Panizo

In this paper I will show how the publication on social networks of exhumed bodies’ photographs, in the context of restitutions, have different impacts on family members in two different cases: one is the exhumations of remains of the Malvinas War victims, and the second is the restitution of a body of a detainee disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. We will try to see how the different repercussions of the diffusion of the images not only have to do with the characteristics related to the socio-historical context and the cause of the death in each case, but also with the position of the relatives at the moment of diffusion regarding the rites of passage and their confrontation with death.


Looking at the exhumation: ethical reflections on the image, privacy and about looking at the exhumations of Bojayá (Colombia)

Juan Pablo Aranguren
University of the Andes

This paper analyzes some ethical and political dimensions involved in the registration and large broadcasting of photographic images of the exhumation process carried out in Bojayá (in the Chocó Department, 379km from Bogota in Colombia) in 2017, 15 years after a massacre that left 119 victims. The long-lasting forensic procedure ended in 2019 with the identification, restitution and delivery of the remains to the victim’s families. The presentation delves into the debates generated around the presence of journalists and photographers at the initial 2017 exhumation, and analyzes the tensions around the public uses of testimony and images, the tensions with the community of survivors and journalists around the photographic record and the representations that were derived from the act of restitution and delivery of 2019.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C1 4: The Oxford Handbook on Atrocity Crimes
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 4 

The Oxford Handbook on Atrocity Crimes

Chair(s): Hollie Nyseth Brehm (The Ohio State University)

Social scientific research focusing on mass atrocities, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, was given a new impetus after the end of the Cold War. In the last few decades research on the causes, prevalence, and aftermath of these crimes has been scattered across different academic disciplines. As an inherently interdisciplinary field, genocide studies facilitated cross disciplinary debate among scholars from amongst others criminology, international (criminal) law, political science, psychology, sociology, history and anthropology. The purpose of the Oxford Handbook on Atrocity Crimes, that is about to be published, is to further this development by bringing together scholars who each study the different categories of atrocity crimes from their own perspective to discuss the similarities and differences among genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and as such debate the state of the art of the field and how it should move forward.

The proposed panel is composed of contributors to the Handbook that will present their interdisciplinary research on genocide and other mass atrocities. Melanie O’Brien and Maartje Weerdesteijn will discuss the etiology of atrocity crimes. While Melanie O’Brien will examine the relationship between human rights and different types of atrocity crimes, Maartje Weerdesteijn will discuss the role regime type (democratic versus dictatorial) plays in bringing forth these different crimes. Erin Jessee will focus on the actors involved in atrocity crimes and discusses how actors may shift roles in episodes of mass violence. Finally, Kjell Anderson will focus on both the causes and actors of atrocity crimes in a case study of the Sinjar Massacre.


Presentations of the Symposium


Human Rights and Atrocities

Melanie O’Brien
University of Western Australia

Atrocity crimes are often also referred to as mass human rights violations. Indeed, atrocity crimes are human rights violations, although analysis of the conduct involved under both labels is rare. Behavior that is categorized as atrocity crimes (war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity) overlaps with that which is categorized as human rights violations. This chapter examines the relationship between human rights and atrocity crimes, considering human rights as means of prevention of atrocities, the relationship of each category of atrocity crime with human rights, and the importance of the human rights law regime in times of atrocity. Overall, there is a need for more engagement with the human rights regime in the mass atrocity contexts, from prevention through to accountability.


Democracies, Dictatorial Regimes, and Atrocities

Maartje Weerdesteijn
VU Amsterdam

A lot of research has been done on the relationship between regime type and mass atrocities and other human rights violations. The field has been hampered, however, by the diverse definitions that are employed for these violations and because of the lack of interaction between qualitative and quantitative strands of scholarship. This chapter takes a first step to remedy these difficulties. It will provide an overview of the most prominent empirical research on the relationship between the regime type and the prevalence of atrocities and will reflect on the consensus among scholars that established democracies are least likely to perpetrate mass atrocities. Subsequently, the most commonly used explanations for this finding are set out. In order to understand further why dictatorial regimes are more likely to perpetrate mass atrocities, a qualitative analysis is put forward that links the regime type to other known risk factors for mass atrocities.


On the Margins: Role Shifting in Atrocity Crimes

Erin Jessee
University of Glasgow

This chapter critically assesses the dichotomy of victims/survivors and perpetrators that proliferates in the media and other public discourses about genocide and related mass atrocities, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. Drawing on over a decade of oral historical and ethnographic research on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda—in which approximately 800,000 civilians, most of whom were Tutsi, were murdered by Hutu Power extremists— this chapter argues that most people’s experiences of mass atrocities are more complex than this dichotomy permits, and often included actions that challenge the boundaries between victim/survivor, bystander, rescuer, and perpetrator categories. It thus advocates for considering genocide-affected individuals as “complex political actors” whose actions exist along a spectrum of genocidal violence. This allows for deeper consideration of the shifting roles that people take on during periods of extreme violence, and in response to shifts in their nation’s political climate and personal circumstances.


Genocide Against the Êzidîs in Iraq: The Sinjār Massacre and its Aftermath

Kjell Anderson
University of Manitoba

In 2014 the “Islamic State” commenced a systematic campaign of violence against the Êzidîs (Yazidis) religious group within their traditional homelands in northern Iraq. This chapter systematically analyses this campaign through the lens of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). It considers inter-communal relations before the Sinjār Massacre, as it came to be known, as well as the nature of ISIS’ campaign, and questions of identity, legal accountability, and victim trauma after the massacre. It is concluded that the Sinjār Massacre and its aftermath may constitute the crime of genocide. This crime was enacted through multiple methods including, but not limited to, killing, forced displacement, forced conversion, forced marriage, and the destruction of cultural property.


Crimes against Humanity in Ethiopia (1935-2020)

Tadesse Simie Metekia
Jimma University, Ethiopia

Ethiopia has experienced a gamut of mass atrocity violence over the last century. Colonial, political, and ethnic violence have been cyclical phenomena and have often escalated into mass atrocity crimes against civilians. By exhibiting an historical synopsis of mass atrocity violence in Ethiopia since 1935, this chapter demonstrates how the expression crimes against humanity can be operationalized to perceive, understand, and explain mass atrocity violence in diverse temporal, political and socio-economic contexts. Additionally, the chapter narrates an Ethiopian genealogy of transitional justice. The chapter concludes that crimes against humanity—as a judicial, scholarly, and historical framework—captures best the dynamics and nature of mass atrocity violence in Ethiopia. Simultaneously, we observe that Ethiopia has been spearheading trends in international law and transitional justice, but has done so on its own terms.

7:00pm - 7:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D1 1: Digital Archives
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Suren Manukyan, Armenian Genocide Museum&Institute, Armenia
Room 1 

Decolonizing the Genocide Database

Christopher P Davey

Brigham Young University, United States of America

This paper frames and describes an ongoing project that seeks to offer a broader database of genocide cases. The purpose of this project is to explore and attempt to fill database and analytical gaps. Current collections tend to be either heavily qualitative as witness archives or limitedly quantitative in their scope of cases. As part of a faculty mentored research project, students collaborated working in different areas. These areas include: review of case studies (50 broad cases ranging from 1788 to present day) and literature review of mass violence and genocide; review of definitions of genocide and offering a collaborative definition for the cases reviewed; review of existing databases to determine what has been done, solidify the importance of ours, and determine what value we are adding from our approach; and compilation of a poster and working towards an online database. Some preliminary analysis of this database shows innovative connections between imperialism and genocide, not widely addressed by the field at present. This paper argues for and addresses this project, its potential for decolonizing the study of genocide and enabling broader thinking about how we measure and understand this concept. This database is further representative of digital ways of engaging with genocide for a global scholarly audience.

“The Culture of Terror during the Guatemalan Genocide in Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo’s Digital Archives”

Vera Estrada Burrows

University of Texas at Austin, United States of America

This paper explores the culture of terror the Guatemalan government promoted during the early 1980’s genocide as recorded in Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo’s (GAM) online digital archive. According to Guatemala's two truth commissions, REHMI and CIH, the Guatemalan army annihilated anywhere between 440 and 626 Indigenous Maya villages during Guatemala’s thirty-six-year armed conflict. Although the state, through its government agents such as the army and law enforcement agencies, attempted to exterminate most of the Maya population during two dictatorships, it also targeted specific individuals that the state regarded as subversive or in association with the guerrilla movement, regardless of evidence or lack thereof. Government agents often attacked individuals in their homes before publicly torturing and executing them, or they forcibly disappeared their targets, thus converting them into what researchers such as Carlos Figueroa Ibarra regard as ‘the disappeared”--los desaparecidos. Through various detailed witness accounts, the GAM archive demonstrates Guatemala’s permanent state of exception to strategically promote fear and thus generate the culture of terror civilians lived under. This paper analyzes case studies that show that government agents seldom hid their identity, or were easily identifiable, while carrying out acts of violence. As a result, this archive is currently an active tool to prosecute and bring perpetrators to justice.

Guatemala; Culture of Terror; Digital Archives

Memory Beyond the Memorial

Stephanie Wolfe

Weber State University, United States of America

In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide within Rwanda the country has been transformed. Among these transformations was the creation of a series of memorials to document, preserve, commemorate, and focus national attention on the concept of “Never Again.” In 2016, the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) estimated there were 265 official memorials and 113 private sites designated as genocide cemeteries; however, this number is ever changing as memorials are created, centralized, or merged. These memorials are physical representations of the genocide, preserved in memory and seen as “home” to many Rwandans.

Increasingly, Rwandans have explored ways to expand this memory beyond the memorial itself. Rwandans have engaged in the creation of graphic novels (published both in print and digitally online), with photography, artwork, and song. In addition there has been an increased emphasis within the country to record and digitize testimonies, the creation of films and theater productions based on the genocide, and many more expressions of memory which document the genocide.

This paper will explore the way that Rwandans bring memory beyond the memorial space itself, in addition to how memorials themselves engage in the digital world. It asks the question of how these new narratives engage with both Rwandans themselves, and with the outside world. It will conclude with a brief look at how these narratives impact our understanding of the genocide and the narratives of the state, the survivor, the denialists, and the genocidairs.

This paper is based on fieldwork in Rwanda which occurred between 2011 and 2019, in addition to the explorations of digital transmissions of memory.

Digital Programming and the Small Holocaust Education Center: Examining Paths and Obstacles to Visitor Engagement

Laura B. Cohen

Kupferberg Holocaust Center, Queensborough Community College, United States of America

As Holocaust education centers and commemoration venues shift to virtual and remote programming (due to Covid-19 and creative trends), so has the need to formally assess how effectively these evolving platforms engage their visitors. The ability to analyze the efficacy of visitor engagement in a digital context is especially important for small organizations, whose budgets and stakeholders differ greatly from large museums and memorials. This presentation will focus on how effectively small Holocaust education resource centers are transitioning to visitor-centered, collaborative digital programming using original, empirical research that examines the following questions:

  1. How has visitor engagement at small Holocaust education centers been affected, if at all, with the shift to digital programming?
  2. How have small Holocaust education centers’ ability to fulfill their mission been impacted, if at all, by this shift?
  3. How do visitors’ demographics affect their engagement, if at all, with digital programming at small Holocaust education centers?
  4. What obstacles (budgets, human resources, administrative jurisdiction, political landscape, community sensititives, etc.) are these small centers facing, if any, in their ability to implement visitor-centered digital programming?

This presentation summarizes data and insights from a survey recently administered digitally to visitors and administrators at The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, located at one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse colleges and counties in the United States. To this end, the KHC has been offering an increasing amount of virtual programming and digitally-based support services to supplement its in-person offerings, including: an original virtual exhibit; online library study guides; internet-based testimonies of local Holocaust survivors; student-centered, immersive pedagogy projects; online presentations from visiting scholars; and remotely-managed student internships. It is also anticipated that the unique diversity of this research population will make findings and recommendations more generalizable.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D1 2: Hatred and Genocide in the United States
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Alexis Anne Poston, George Mason University, United States of America
Room 2 

It Can Happen Here: White Genocide and Lessons from Trump’s USA

Alexander Laban Hinton

Rutgers University, United States of America

If many people were shocked by Trump’s 2016 election, many more were stunned when, months later, white power extremists took to the streets of Charlottesville chanting “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us!” Like Trump, the Charlottesville marchers were dismissed as aberrations --the momentary appearance of “racists” and “haters” who did not represent the real United States. Rather than being exceptional, these events are symptoms of the country’s long history of racism and systemic white supremacy, genocide, and atrocity crimes. And, as underscored by the Capitol riot that ended Trump’s term, there is a high likelihood that such violence will occur here again. This reality, the author argues in a just published book, It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US, is a key lesson we learned from the Trump presidency. It is also a lesson that is connected to the white power frame of white genocide, or the feared extinction of the white race that legitimates race war and even the genocide of non-whites in response. This paper discusses the origins of this idea and its connection to the pre– and post–civil rights history of white power extremism—ranging from the systemic white supremacy that informed settler colonial genocide and slavery to the ideology of contemporary groups like the alt-right. The paper concludes by noting how the idea of white genocide was directly mobilized not just by groups like the alt-right, but mainstream media and the Trump administration.


Alexander Laban Hinton, It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US (New York: NYU Press, 2021).

Never Again, Again and Again: Repetition of Holocaust Education as Anti-Racism in the 21st Century

Willa Rae Witherow-Culpepper

Rutgers University Newark

This paper will discuss whether Holocaust education (HE) has been given too much responsibility as a one-size-fits-all antiracism initiative- with special focus on its current role as state-mandated or core curricula across Europe and the United States- its efficacy, and particularly recent attempts by Holocaust remembrance institutions to use new digital technologies to reach current generations of young people and convince them of their relevance in an age of aggressively competing and conflicting information streams.

With anti-racist education initiatives denounced as inflammatory and divisive by both the US and UK governments in 2020, HE initiatives are often positioned as the key source of institutional anti-racism education across Europe and the US. 2020’s widespread public demonstrations seeking racial justice shows that many feel race and racism are not being sufficiently addressed- yet the USHMM model of using HE to train local and federal policing departments in empathy and tolerance remains. As a genocide scholar and instructor at a state university campus ranked 'most diverse in America,' I have seen students question the universality of HE as a sufficient civics- rather than history- lesson particularly given Newark’s history of riots and negative police relations. New Jersey also has state mandated HE before higher education- yet during lessons on conflict and human rights, students have voiced a frustration at the limitation of HE (in which it is tasked with too much and expected to provide a universal example in a complicated contemporary society) while other case studies of genocide and mass violence are relegated to niche college classes or specific disciplines like the humanities. Remote learning saw lessons distilled into online formats during increasingly turbulent times- robbing institutions like USHMM of their on-site power and tour programming- but perhaps also allow for a reimagining of this educational space without geographical restrictions or borders.

Unsettling Narratives: Teaching About Genocide [in the United States (a Settler Colonial Nation-State)]

George D. Dalbo

University of Minnesota, United States of America

Despite the widespread nature of Holocaust education and the growing prevalence of comparative genocide education in secondary schools across the United States (Totten, 2012), little is known about what is taught, let alone how and why teachers approach genocide education. For many secondary educators, teaching about the Holocaust has led to greater awareness and inclusion of other instances of genocide and mass violence within their curriculum. Greater inclusion has the potential to provide greater clarity around how and why genocides continue to occur, despite promulgations of “never again”; to expand students’ awareness of events, places, and peoples that have been traditionally underrepresented in U.S. curriculum; and engender notions of democratic citizenship and tolerance. However, some instances of genocide and mass violence, particularly those tied to difficult national and local histories, remain absented from or hidden within the curriculum, either excluded from the course of study altogether or, when included, not discussed as genocide (Hinton et al., 2014). In the United States, these include narratives of mass violence perpetrated against Indigenous nations and peoples, the enslavement of African Americans, and violence perpetrated against other minoritized groups.

Taking up settler colonialism theory (Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 2006; Veracini, 2010, as well as the notion of difficult knowledge (Garrett, 2017; Pitt & Britzman, 2003) and multidirectional memory (Rothberg, 2009), this qualitative study explores non-Indigenous secondary social studies (history and social science) educators’ perceptions of and approaches to teaching about national and local histories and legacies of Indigenous dispossession and genocide and African American enslavement and disenfranchisement within the context of comparative genocide elective courses and units of instruction. Further, this paper seeks to demonstrate and analyze the limits of and possibilities for comparative genocide education within public secondary schools in the United States, a settler colonial nation-state.

Genocide, Reproductive Violence, and Slavery in the United States of America

Elisa Gabriella von Joeden-Forgey

Keene State College, United States of America

The history of genocide and the history of slavery are usually considered to be two separate fields of study, linked only by their shared association with large-scale human rights abuses. Comparative approaches, such as Steven Katz’s recent The Holocaust and New World Slavery (2019), tend to emphasize differences, such as the pronatalism of US plantation slavery versus the anti-natalism and mass murder of the Holocaust, to make the case that genocide and slavery constitute ontologically separate processes. This paper will use the insights of gender scholarship and postcolonial studies to make the case that North American slavery was indeed a form of genocide and that it should constitute a central case study within an ‘American model’ of genocide. In particular, this paper will examine the familiarities between reproductive violence on US slave plantations and reproductive violence during classic cases of genocide, emphasizing the deep conceptual, ideological, and historical connections between policies of anti-natalism and pro-natalism (useless bodies and valuable bodies), that together reflect a genocidal logic. In so doing, the paper will bring North American slavery into the case history of genocide by using precisely the distinctions that are usually made to separate these two crimes.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D1 3: Hashtags and Accountability
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 3 

#LANDBACK: A Paradox of Decolonization and Reparations

Kerri Malloy

San Jose State University

Hashtags, the finding aids of social media, permit the curation of posts, tweets, and stories on specific subjects, movements, and interests. The use of hashtags enables those involved in the movement to share information, work together, and expand their message's reach. However, while creating a digital genealogy of the movement, organizers may transfer ownership of the intellectual property created to support the movement. Acceptance of user agreements with a click transfers rights to the accounts' content to social media companies. The #LANDBACK movement's mission is to return lands to Indigenous peoples and achieve justice for historical and present wrongs. The campaign launched on October 12, 2020, by the NDN Collective to restore ecological health to stolen lands and return the land to Indigenous ownership across North America. Using #LANDBACK across social media, the NDN Collective brought together local and regional efforts into national movements in the United States and Canada. The acquisition of land was the driving force of the genocide of Indigenous peoples in North America. The land is the unintended monument to those who died at the hands of the settler-colonial project. This paper will examine the origins of the #LANDBACK movement, its progress, and social media user agreements' complications. The use of social media posts to document the movement's progress and successes while simultaneously adding companies' digital intellectual property creates a decolonization paradox. The reclaiming the land from settler-colonial control while adding to the infinite digital intellectual resources of social media companies will be interrogated. A movement dedicated to restitution and reparations for genocide willingly surrenders Indigenous digital intellectual knowledge used to advance its goals. An incredible price in human lives was the cost of having the land stolen. The loss of control of knowledge in the digital age is incalculable.

#Kifaya|#Enough Dangerous Speech for South Sudanese: Collaborative Strategies by Musicians in South Sudan

Susan Appe1, Nadia Rubaii2, Kerry Whigham2, Samse Sam3

1Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy University at Al, United States of America; 2Binghamton University and the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention; 3Talent Initiative for Development, South Sudan

Even in countries where only a small fraction of citizens are formally educated or have access to the internet, social media and dangerous speech can call for incitement and directed attacks which exacerbate conflict, hampering attempts to build trust and dialogue amongst groups and communities. Those with access and the ability to use online outlets indeed have the power to influence opinion and group relations. As such, they also have the power to be what the group #DefyHateNow calls ‘positive influencers’ in a rapidly growing social media arena (

This is the case in South Sudan where young people and musicians in particular have influence over their networks and fanbases; and these exchanges are occurring in a country facing serious ongoing violent conflict. This paper presents the story surrounding the process of developing and promoting a South Sudanese best-selling peace song, #Kifaya, which literally translates to #Enough. The song seeks to magnify the voices of the South Sudanese musicians as peace builders in the diaspora and in South Sudan. #Kifaya debuted at a 2018 culminating event, PeaceJam, that was the result of trainings on mitigating dangerous speech among youth musicians and a collaborative songwriting process. The song’s lyrics encourage peace and reconciliation among the divided and grieved South Sudanese communities.

As a case study, the #Kifaya project underlines the various and different set of actors that can be (and need to be) involved in atrocity prevention, e.g., more “civilian-led” (Kantowitz & Fox, 2020) or “local first” (Moix, 2016) approaches and also speaks to the trends in the decentralization and so-called ‘localization’ agenda in development practice. Using frameworks to mitigate dangerous speech and digital platforms to promote peace, the case of the #Kifaya project highlights community-based organizations, youth, musicians and even diaspora as engaged atrocity prevention and development actors.

Retreating international accountability for crimes of genocide: the case of South Sudan

Clemence Pinaud

Indiana University, United States of America

From the onset of the new civil war that started in 2013 in South Sudan, the academic community mobilized against media portrayals highlighting the ethnic nature of the crisis and violence against civilians. Elite greed in South Sudan became the “master narrative” of conflict there. Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) carried out an investigation and released a contentious report in 2015 which, despite highlighting state planning and coordination of grave ethnic violence, concluded in one paragraph that there was no crime of genocide in South Sudan. Only in 2016 did the UN Human Rights Council agree to the creation of the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) for South Sudan, which concluded to a case of “ethnic cleansing”, an accusation with no legal teeth. The AU, the UNHRC, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International all pointed out that crimes against humanity and war crimes may have been committed. But there was no attempt to launch an investigation into the crime of genocide, despite academic research warranting one.

This paper investigates the reasons behind the lack of pursuit of such investigation, and the general lack of accountability in South Sudan. Based on over 400 interviews with survivors, diplomats, human rights investigators and aid workers in South Sudan, Uganda’s refugee camps from 2014 to 2017, and distantly in 2021, it explores the reasons behind the international silence regarding genocidal violence in South Sudan. It explains the global retreat of the international regime of accountability with references to Darfur, Syria’s Yazidis, and Burma’s Rohingyas. It posits that American and regional interests continue to dictate the pursuit of the crime of genocide, with different outcomes. Political interests are dictating more than ever the labelling of the crime of genocide, with questionable results, and in some cases, negative impacts.

Hate crime in the digital age: Catalytic role of social media in Bangladesh

Tawheed Reza Noor

Binghamton University, United States of America

With the tremendous advancement of information technology, we need not look far to see, side by side with positive vibes, immense hatred has been flourished in this digital age. Violence attributed to online hate speech, particularly through social media, has been increased worldwide. Bangladesh is no exception. This very country got emerged through bloody genocide in 1971, and came across with series of political and military upheavals that affected its politics for the following decades. All these contributed to craft a society with distortions. In this backdrop, the present paper searches how the social media users spreading hate crimes all over the society that affect communal harmony and balance of the country. This paper reminds the possibility of horrific crimes to be repeated if the society fails to control the online propagations.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D1 4: Roundtable: New Books in Genocide and Perpetrator Studies
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Timothy Williams, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Room 4 

Roundtable: New Books in Genocide and Perpetrator Studies

Chair(s): Timothy Williams (Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany)

Why do people participate in genocide and what motivates them? Why do other individuals not participate? How do perpetrators locate themselves within and interact with normative discourses at the societal level? Why does genocide even occur and what differences can be seen in various communities? These questions are fundamental to our understanding of genocide and are addressed from different perspectives in three recently published books. Kjell Anderson (Perpetrating Genocide: A Criminological Account, Routledge 2019), Omar McDoom (The Path to Genocide in Rwanda. Security, Opportunity, and Authority in an Ethnocratic State, Cambridge UP 2020) and Timothy Williams (The Complexity of Evil. Perpetration and Genocide, Rutgers University Press 2021) each in their own unique way contribute to the interdisciplinary debate by making new arguments at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. These books all strive for systematic and comparative explanations that challenge some of the field’s current thinking. Each also provides nuanced empirical insights from Rwanda or Cambodia, as well as Burundi, Bosnia, Bangladesh, the Holocaust and Iraq. This roundtable will bring the three authors into a discussion with each other on their own new perspectives. Anderson, McDoom and Williams will engage in a discussion about shared ideas as well as points of dissent in order to highlight what new directions their research opens up for the study of genocide and perpetrators. The roundtable will be moderated by Hollie Nyseth Brehm.


Presentations of the Symposium


Roundtable: New Books in Genocide and Perpetrator Studies

Timothy Williams1, Omar McDoom2, Kjell Anderson3, Hollie Nyseth Brehm4
1Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany, 2London School of Economics, UK, 3University of Manitoba, Canada, 4Ohio State University

see above.


Date: Tuesday, 20/July/2021
10:30am - 11:00amReception
Location: lounge
11:00am - 12:30pmSession A2 1: Denialism in the Digital Age
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
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.

11:00am - 12:30pmSession A2 2: Asian Experiences
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Simarjit Kaur, TARAN Peace building NGO, United Kingdom
Room 2 

Digital memory for a lasting peace: the “Khmer rouge history” app

Aude Brejon

Université Panthéon Assas, France

The mens rea of any genocide consists in intending to destroy a determined social group. However, none of the genocide recognized reached their goal to erase the related group. In the aftermath of these crimes, States must deal with a divided population that must be reconciled to enforce a new social pact. Since the Nuremberg trials, such a challenge has gone from being ignored to its full acknowledgement. Among all the measures taken in virtue of this outreach, those related to memory programs are recognised as of the most efficient to maintain a lasting peace. Those have evolved from static and limited reminders of the acts perpetrated, such as statues to more dynamic programs such as retrospective and exhibitions. However, as shown by the policy led by the Italian government in Sicily for the crimes perpetrated by Cosa Nostra, these memory measures tend either to be forgotten or in the latter case, to cease after a certain amount of time. The measure enforced by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia constitutes a turning point in this matter. In the case 002/02, civil parties proposed a judicial reparation project consisting in launching an “App-learning on Khmer Rouge History”. Due to the specificities of the Cambodian territory, that is the lack of communication infrastructures and those of the Cambodian population, about 70% of the total population is under 30 years old, this app constitutes a revolutionary method. It allows the youngest generation to be taught about the khmer rouge history and specifically about the genocide that occurred. The use of app technology allows a permanency in the memory program, independently from a government, which members have been clearly identified as linked with the regime involved in the Cambodian genocide.

Genocide Recognition, Social Repair and Cultural Heritage in Cambodia

Rachel Killean1, Christoph Sperfeldt2

1Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom; 2University of Melbourne

On 16 November 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, delivered its much anticipated second judgment against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, two former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. This judgment features the Court’s first convictions for genocide perpetrated during the regime, finding both defendants guilty of genocide against the ethnic Vietnamese population, and Nuon Chea guilty of genocide against the Cham Islamic population. In this paper, we discuss the implications of this judgment for genocide recognition, social repair and minorities’ cultural heritage in Cambodia, drawing on our research with the Cham and ethnic Vietnamese communities. In particular, we highlight the divergences that can exist between adjudicated and socially constructed recognition of genocide, the meaning of genocide recognition in the context of ongoing human rights violations, and the harms that remain without redress in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“Identifying and Countering Holocaust Distortion. Lessons for Southeast Asia” – a case study of a digital exhibition

Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska1,2

139;Never Again' Association, Poland; 2GSSR, Poland

The paper draws upon the project currently implemented by the ‘Never Again’ Association and supported by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, “Identifying and Countering Holocaust Distortion. Lessons for Southeast Asia” in 2021-2022.

Southeast Asia had its own experiences of World War II as well as other conflicts and instances of genocide, but the awareness of the Holocaust is scarce, which provides fertile ground for distortion. The project covers Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It addesses not only the Holocaust, but aims to inspire critical memory discourses in dealing with the past, thus contributing to the culture of human rights and genocide prevention in the region.

One of the project activities is a digital interactive exhibition, tackling the subject of Holocaust distortion and genocide denial as well as hate speech, and addressing specifically Southeast Asian audiences.

How can we present the universal significance of the Holocaust as a point of reference in debates on human rights, using regional and local historical and contemporary contexts to deliver the message? To what extent the experience of past atrocities can be applied to the understanding of contemporary instances of violence, genocide and suffering of victims? How it can be reflected through the digital representation? How can we cultivate empathy among the audiences of the proposed exhibition using digital technologies? How can we build up the humanisation of experiences by using digital resources? The paper addresses the challenges and potential in exploring the issue of Holocaust distortion and genocide denial by digital technologies by analysing the particular exhibition.

Representing Khmer Rouge violence in the digital age

Caroline Bennett

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

In this paper I ask, what is the relationship between the digital circulation of images, and ways of understanding and remembering the Cambodian genocide? And how do these relate to state projects of memory making?

The violence of the Khmer Rouge regime is highly visualised in Cambodia. Memorials exhibit human remains, photographs of those tortured are used in museum displays, and autobiographical and academic texts often feature images of dead bodies or mass graves from the genocide. Pre-covid, hostels in Phnom Penh screened films such as ‘The Killing Fields’ (Joffe 1984) to their residents to help them learn about Cambodia. Historian David Chandler has argued that Cambodian politics has created a ‘phantasmagoric’ Khmer Rouge, bearing only a loose semblance to the reality of the regime. Film, art, and photography play a role in this. All were suppressed under the Khmer Rouge, except when used in its service – photographs to document prisoners, or as proof of execution, for example. Following its fall, these visual artifacts continued to be used as evidence of violence of the regime, supporting both state-centred histories, as well as providing counter-narratives to this. This extends through tourism and political campaigning, to local modes of memory making, and recently, forms of transitional justice. Recently, media emerging from within and outside Cambodia is creating new ways of relating to the regime.

Presenting the initial thoughts of a new research project, which considers global aesthetics and its influence on state, international, and local, understandings of the Khmer Rouge, this paper will consider the relationship of digital and social media to this.

11:00am - 12:30pmSession A2 3: Advantages and Risks of Digital Technologies
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Rosa Ana Alija, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 3 

The use of geospatial technologies in Myanmar to document genocide

Elisenda Calvet Martinez

Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

In the last two decades, the purposes and potential of geospatial technologies have significantly increased, moving from the sphere of governments to smaller users, such as human rights and humanitarian organizations. In the past, satellite imagery was used for scientific purposes, to target enemy facilities, manage environments and monitor land-use change, however, today the different uses include evidence for prosecution in international criminal tribunal trials, humanitarian relief and human rights activism.

In Myanmar, more than 730,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military campaign of ethnic cleansing began in August 2017. The government rejected broad evidence of human rights violations, denied independent investigators to access to Rakhine State, and sanctioned local journalists for reporting on military abuses. In Myanmar, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has relied on satellite imagery to collect information about the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. The findings of the FFM based on satellite imagery have been used to support in 2019 the opening of an investigation by the International Criminal Court on the situation of Bangladesh/Myanmar. Furthermore, in 2019 Gambia requested to the International Court of Justice the application for provisional measures to Myanmar to prevent genocide against Rohingya and the application was partially based on the satellite imagery information provided by the FFM.

In the context of Myanmar, a diversity of non-state actors is using geospatial imagery to document the ongoing destruction and burning of villages, clearance operations and new constructions in the Rakhine State. The aim of this contribution is to study these efforts to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of international crimes such as genocide committed in Myanmar, and explore to what extent these “satellite forensics” are currently supporting international legal proceedings to determine individual and state responsibility for genocide against the Rohingya community.

Humanitarian technologies and ‘cyber-humanitarian interventions’

Rhiannon Neilsen

University of New South Wales, Australia

This paper critically examines the role of humanitarian technologies – such as satellite imagery, mobile ‘apps’, and crowd-source mapping – in the context of atrocity crimes in the 21st century. In particular, it highlights two core limitations of the ways in which these existing technologies are used for human protection purposes. The first limitation is that these current uses of new technologies for atrocity prevention are overwhelmingly passive. That is, humanitarian technologies are being used almost exclusively for the identification, observation, verification, and documentation of atrocities for (ideally) prosecution and transitional justice. The second limitation is that these uses of new technologies are ultimately designed to 'help vulnerable populations help themselves'. In other words, much of these new technologies rely on the vulnerable populations, in extreme conditions, being aware of, having access to, and then using - at their own risk - such technologies. Whilst not dismissing the importance of existing humanitarian technologies, this paper gives thought to how more proactive uses of cyber-capabilities might be used to protect populations from atrocity crimes in 2020 and beyond. As such, this paper introduces a series of 'cyber-humanitarian interventions' that aim to disrupt potential perpetrators' means and motivations for perpetrating genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.


Narek Poghosyan

Comparative genocide department of the Armenian Genocide Museum-institute, Armenia

The accelerating pace of technological development in recent years, in particular the use of artificial intelligence (AI) has raised serious concerns among experts that it, along with its advantages, can pose many dangers to mankind when machines think and make decisions for them. Particularly risky is that the development of AI and autonomous weapons can be used to target certain national, religious and racial groups, thereby increasing the risk of genocide and mass killings. In the present day, when the global arms race using AI is a reality, many technologists are turning their attention to banning lethal autonomous weapons. In addition, in order to prevent the potential negative consequences of AI development, industry professionals have suggested the need to develop an AI code of ethics. The creation of appropriate legislative mechanisms based on ethics and the protection of human rights has already become an urgent matter for mankind to prevent the possible risks posed by the development of robotics and artificial intelligence technology. Since artificial intelligence is used to detect and prevent various types of crime, it is therefore necessary to use the opportunities provided by it to prevent genocide and mass murder.

11:00am - 12:30pmSession A2 4: Preventing Genocide and Responsibility to Protect
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Timothy Williams, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Room 4 

Eve of Disruption: The risk of atrocities in oil dependent states in a post-oil world

Sascha Nanlohy

University of Sydney, Australia

The collapse of the global oil price in 2020, in large part triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused speculation that peak oil has now already occurred. The combination of drastically reduced demand, and a rapid push to transition to renewable energy sources to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, has had significant implications for oil producing states that depend on income from oil exports. This paper will discuss the potential for violent ethnic conflict in some oil dependent states, as a result of the low price and reducing demand for oil. The decline in price could create severe economic shocks and long term negative growth, a key conflict risk factor, in states already vulnerable to violent ethnic conflict. Many of these states are also likely to disproportionately see the effects of the climate crisis, creating multiple opportunity structures for violent mobilization and mass atrocities, including genocide. The paper will consider the role of the oil price collapse in the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war as a case study.

‘’Ethiopia’s hidden war in the Tigray region’’: Taking genocide alert seriously

Gebrehiwot Hadush Abera

KU Leuven, Belgium

On Nov.4, the Ethiopian Prime minister Abiy Ahmed declared a military operation in the Tigray region. From the hour the war was declared, the Ethiopian government shut down electricity, telephone, and internet connections in Tigray. While electricity and telephone services are partially restored in some areas controlled by the Ethiopian national army and allied forces, a large part of Tigray remains cut off from any means of communications. On Dec.24, the UN High commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet warned that “the continuing lack of overall humanitarian access, coupled with an ongoing communication blackout in many areas, raises increasing concerns about the situation of civilians.

Given that all means of communication with the region have been prevented, gathering evidence of serious violations of human rights including genocide has proved difficult. Most reports are coming from rights organizations and journalists who interviewed survivors and eyewitnesses who escaped from the war zone. Going by these information, the situation is grim, which includes extrajudicial killing in Maikhadra and in other places such as Maraim Dengelet, Guya, and Shire; systematic and widespread sexual violence; wanton destruction of property; and widespread looting.

The genocide watch has issued a genocide alert on Ethiopia stating that “ genocide watch now considers Ethiopia on stage 9: extermination”. At this point, Tigrean diaspora are mourning for the killing of their relatives, and they describe it as genocide. Yet, while reports point at the potential of genocide against Tigreans in Ethiopia, the world seems to be waiting to see it happen. This paper is, therefore, based on the argument that information blackout presents serious practical challenges to the prevention of genocide. Then, this paper will assess and review the present genocide response to information blackout during military operations and will recommend practical solutions to the prevention of genocide in the course of military operations.

The Role of the International Court of Justice for the Responsibility to Protect

Martin Mennecke

University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

It is a commonplace in the R2P discourse to describe accountability measures as key means to implement the responsibility to protect. In particular the International Criminal Court is regularly highlighted as a central actor, both in the literature, the annual R2P reports issued by the UN Secretary General and the subsequent debates in the UN General Assembly.

Conspicuously absent from this conversation is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This article examines the potential role of the ‘World Court’, as The Gambia in November 2019 started a new case under the UN Genocide Convention against Myanmar before the ICJ. Analysing the limitations and prospects and existing ICJ case-law, the article concludes that the International Court of Justice can make an important and unique contribution to the responsibility to protect.

Mass Atrocities in Myanmar, the Atrocity Gap and the Responsibility to Protect in a Digital Age

Camilla Buzzi

Østfold University College, Norway

Growing attention is being paid to the need to address hate speech in traditional and new media to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. International hard and soft law has begun to address the accountability of business and other private actors, including media, in the face of mass atrocities. However, when states and private actors alike are complicit in mass atrocities, a gap arises in the international human rights architecture, compounded by the new technologies. We can speak of an atrocity gap, which is reflected in the case of Myanmar, and which needs to be addressed in order to fulfil the purposes of the Genocide Convention.

Liberalisation of the telecommunications sector is a significant part of the political changes initiated in Myanmar in 2011, making smartphones, SIM cards, and access to the internet more widely available. Social media (SoMe) platforms, notably Facebook, have emerged as the main access to the internet for many people. As the transition has proceeded, SoMe has become a space both for human rights activism and for inciting human rights abuses against vulnerable minorities. Both the state and civil society in Myanmar have used Facebook to foment violence and mass atrocities against the Rohingya and other vulnerable minorities.

This presentation builds on findings from a research article focusing on the case of Myanmar that has been accepted for publication by Global Responsibility to Protect journal. I will examine some challenges for internet and SoMe governance drawing on the response of Facebook and internet service providers in Myanmar to charges of contributing to mass atrocities in order to explore how to apply the norm of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005, on the net. The aim is to provide input for lessons learnt on mass atrocity prevention in a digital age.

12:30pm - 1:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
1:00pm - 2:30pmPanel on Projections of War: Cinematic Representations of Bangladesh’s Independence
Location: Plenary room
Chair: Catherine Masud (University of Connecticut)
On the occasion of the 50th year of Bangladesh’s Independence, this panel will delve into the different aspects of representation around the 1971 War in the work of three films by Tareque and Catherine Masud: Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom, 1995), Muktir Kotha (Words of Freedom, 1999), and Matir Moina (The Clay Bird, 2002). These films, in different ways, serve as tableaux for the “projection” of narratives about the war, both in terms of the stories they contain, and also as interpreted by the spectators experiencing the films’ projections on the screen. Four scholars from within and outside Bangladesh will analyze the films’ projections with respect to gender, sexual violence, religious identity, and documentary truth in the context of the larger historical legacy of the war and its continuing repercussions. Catherine Masud, Co-Director (Muktir Gaan, Muktir Kotha) and Producer (Matir Moina), will Chair the session and participate as a Respondent. Fahmida Akhter (Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh) "Interpretive Framework in Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom)." This article explores the interpretive framework of the documentary film Muktir Gaan (1995) in representing history and gender. The film, which follows the journey of a musical troupe during the war, contains both fictional techniques and factuality and presents as an audio-visual collage of “alternative” history with underlying strategies of gender representation. Naeem Mohaiemen (Columbia University) "Simulation in the Afternoon: A 'Documentary' Faces Evidence Quest." The release of Muktir Gaan in 1995 ended a long, politically induced drought in films about the 1971 war that created Bangladesh. Built by Tareque and Catherine Masud from footage shot by Lear Levin, the film was received by most Bangladeshi audiences as an exact documentary. The film crew’s discussion of simulations and the inclusion of a “making of” section in the digital versatile disc (DVD) release a decade later have done little to change audience perceptions. This believing audience derives from a willing suspension of a skeptical eye, due to an absence of a moving image record of the war. An initially declarative, and oral, culture around Bangladeshi war memories in the 1970s has been replaced by the search for evidence. Nayanika Mookherjee (University of Durham, UK) "Gendered Embodiments: Mapping the Body-Politic of the Raped Woman and the Nation in Bangladesh." There has been much academic work outlining the complex links between women and the nation. Women provide legitimacy to the political projects of the nation in particular social and historical contexts. This article focuses on the gendered symbolization of the nation through the rhetoric of the ‘motherland’ and the manipulation of this rhetoric in the context of national struggle in Bangladesh. I show the ways in which the visual representation of this ‘motherland’ as fertile countryside, and its idealization primarily through rural landscapes has enabled a crystallization of essentialist gender roles for women. This article is particularly interested in how these images had to be reconciled with the subjectivities of women raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War (Muktijuddho) and the role of the aestheticizing sensibilities of Bangladesh’s middle class in that process. Zakir Hossain Raju (Independent University of Bangladesh) "Madrasa and Muslim Identity on Screen." This chapter demonstrates how Bangladeshi art cinema, a national-cultural institution developed in a post-colonial nation-space in South Asia and addressed to a global audience, represents and interacts with Islamic education and Muslim identity. Here I deconstruct the cinematic representation of Islam and Islamic learning in Bangladesh within the larger framework and continuous process of identity formation of Bengali Muslims.
Plenary room 
2:30pm - 2:45pmShort break
Location: lounge
2:45pm - 4:00pmEmerging Scholars Panel
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Timothy Williams, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Plenary room 
3:45pm - 4:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
4:15pm - 5:15pmKeynote Alexa Koenig: Gender, Genocide and the Probative Power of Digital Information
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Elisenda Calvet Martinez, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
From the spread of mis- and dis-information, to the proliferation of hate speech, to the documentation of international crimes, we have seen the power of social media to sow distrust, but also to communicate facts that are critical for justice and accountability. How can online information be effectively, efficiently and ethically mined to better support those at risk of genocide worldwide? Drawing from insights derived during the four year process of developing the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations, this keynote focuses on the diverse ways in which genocide is being perpetrated in the 21st century, the sometimes gendered nature of those crimes, and how online information can be harnassed to help prevent future harm and secure accountability in court.
Plenary room 
5:15pm - 5:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C2 1: Changing Ideologies and Identities in Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Erin Jessee, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Room 1 

Changing Ideologies and Identities in Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Chair(s): Erin Jessee (University of Glasgow)

In the study of genocides, mass atrocities and violent conflicts, scholars now widely recognise that the kind of ideologies and identities which may be used to justify such violence are not rigid and unchanging. On the contrary, existing research emphasises that ideologies and identities are continuously contested, with dominant interpretations radicalising or moderating over time in response to changing circumstances and to the efforts of activists, intellectuals, politicians, media and social movements. This panel seeks to address this gap in scholarship, drawing together a highly international and interdisciplinary group of scholars whose papers intersect and complement each other in presenting evolving and emerging scholarship within the field.

While the conference itself gathers scholars, activists, and other individuals to discuss genocide, it is the language used that is the focus of Willa Culpepper's paper. Noting the popularity of the word 'evil' in discourse about genocide, Culpepper asks whether this term is as used, or useful to perpetrators or victims in understanding the violence they are intimately familiar with. Similarly, Lesley Owen's paper explores the terminology and imagery used in prejudicial ideologies, and the political misappropriation of scientific knowledge. Yet such ideologies and identities aren't static- and it is these dynamic shifts throughout conflicts that Timothy Williams and Leader Maynard seek to draw academic focus to. The longevity or flexibility of these ideological commitments is relevant to Lesley Daniels' work, as she explore the identities that remain after the conflict, and what this legacy means for post-conflict environments. Together these papers draw together research on Cambodia, Rwanda, Germany, Indonesia, Former Yugoslavia and the USSR. Together, they seek to inform and enlarge understanding of the roles of identity and ideology in ethnic conflict, genocide and political violence- with expert Erin Jessee chairing.


Presentations of the Symposium


‘Ideology from nature’: exploring the role of biological images in the convergence of genocidal ideologies

Leah Owen
University of Oxford

This paper explores how everyday and scientific knowledge about the natural world - encounters with pests, folklore about predators, and personal experiences with sickness and parasites - often cause ideologies of ethnic prejudice to converge according to similar genocidal logics. This has been observed at a superficial level in scholarly discussions of dehumanisation, but even more detailed examinations (e.g. Savage, 2013; Neilsen, 2015) seldom explain why certain images or comparisons are selected, and how they contribute to the development of prejudiced ideologies. Through an examination of three primary case studies - Germany, Rwanda, and Cambodia - I seek to remedy this.

Using a discourse-analysis approach, I examine how imagery of nature was readily incorporated into the development of genocidal ideologies. Rather than developing through slow cultural/historical accretion, nature imagery could be ‘bolted on’ to existing ideologies of ethnic prejudice, predicating extremely negative traits to its subjects and offering a distinctive repertoire of ‘biosecurity’ violence to be used against them. Despite very different contexts, this led to strikingly similar conclusions across cases about how violence should be targeted and enacted. I discuss how genocidal discourses employing dehumanisation tend to converge, adopting similar ‘internal logics’ in ways their different cultural contexts would not predict.


Post-conflict resonance of identity claims: The case of Aceh, Indonesia

Lesley Daniels
Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals

During conflict, armed groups may use ideological or ethnic claims to gain support. However, post-conflict these groups can struggle to transition from fighting to governing and we know little about the long-term effects of their claims on this process. For example, are groups tarnished or legitimized by such claims? This research examines micro-level attitudes to different claims and uses a range of experiments in an original survey in Aceh to disentangle long-term effects. The results show that exclusive identity claims are rejected and do not translate into political support. The most potent predictors of support are security and an improved economic deal. We know a lot about why regions return to conflict after secessionist wars, yet we know little about those that remain at peace. The findings have implications for post-conflict management.


Ideological and Identity Change in Theories of Genocide

Timothy Williams1, Jonathan Leader Maynard2
1Bundeswehr University Munich, 2King's College London

Contemporary research on genocide broadly recognises that ideologies and identities – widely thought to play some significant role in mass violence – are mutable and dynamic phenomena. Yet most theories of genocide only attend to such dynamism implicitly. This paper identifies four broad competing implicit accounts of ideological change found in theoretical approaches to genocide: essentialism (emphasising continuity over change), autonomism (emphasising cultural agency detached from other causal factors), symptomism (emphasising deeper material or structural determinants of ideology/identity) and cumulationism (emphasising the escalating radicalisation of ideology and identity in mutual interaction with other causal factors). The first three suffer from widely-critiqued problems, but much work on genocide nevertheless continues to work implicitly within such accounts. The fourth receives more explicit endorsement, yet often remains excessively linear, and vague on the underlying interactions between ideology/identity and the broader causal environment. Based on this critical organisation of existing research, we distinguish key points of a) relative consensus, b) significant dispute and c) unaddressed questions in recent research on genocide, and suggest pathways for future theorisation and empirical research on ideological and identity change.


‘The Devil Makes Work:’ The Use of Conceptual Language of Evil in Genocide Analysis

Willa Rae Witherow-Culpepper
Rutgers University Newark

Despite the considerable legacy of Arendt’s disruptive and pivotal text on the Banality of Evil and the Eichmann trial, the label ‘evil’ continues to be applied to analysis of genocide and explanations for the violence at both local, interpersonal levels and events consuming whole communities and regions. That this language continues to be used by scholars and prevention-practitioners as well as journalists and other non-academic commentators is problematic: much of the language is used for purposes of moral weight in a presumptive secular manner, but have inescapable ties to religious themes and terminology that may be inappropriate when applied to the diverse cultural and religious realities of social landscapes that have experienced genocide. Moreso, it undermines advances in genocide scholarship that have proved that beyond the strategic military goals, politically utopic aims and propaganda of regimes that low-level perpetrators usually commit abhorrent violence for a myriad of reasons, some of them mundane and very far from the supernatural or otherworldly evil. This paper reviews the continued prevalence of this problematic language within the field, and why it should be refuted alongside a synthesis of current scholarship that attempts to demystify perpetrator research from the language that currently bedevils it.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C2 2: Fieldwork Challenges of Genocide Studies Research: Cambodia, Rwanda and Rohingya Case Studies
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Stephanie Wolfe, Weber State University, United States of America
Room 2 

Fieldwork Challenges of Genocide Studies Research: Cambodia, Rwanda and Rohingya Case Studies

Chair(s): Stephanie Wolfe (Weber State)

Fieldwork is a crucial part of genocide scholarship research, and it comes with very particular challenges. Studying genocide sites and interviewing survivors form a key part of empirical research carried out by genocide scholars and are a crucial contributor to the in-depth analysis that scholars make. Empirical research takes many forms, but in genocide studies may include interviewing victims and/or perpetrators, assessing museum sources, or analysing court proceedings. What barriers exist for researchers seeking to undertake fieldwork at genocide sites or with genocide survivors or perpetrators? Embarking on such research is an incredibly complex logistical process, which may involve acquiring government permissions, obtaining interpreters, making local contacts, finding interview subjects, accessing museums or archives, and much more- often in a foreign country where the researcher may not speak the local language. This panel will explore the practical challenges of fieldwork in genocide studies. This panel presents the experiences of three female scholars in three different countries: Cambodia, Rwanda and Bangladesh. Each presenter will reflect on their theoretical and practical approach to fieldwork, and the challenges they have faced in organising and undertaking their fieldwork. Taken together, the panel will draw out challenges faced by researchers across the board, but also highlight differences experienced in different locations. The case studies chosen enable the panel to compare fieldwork challenges in the context of a historical genocide (Cambodia), a more recent genocide (Rwanda), and an ongoing genocide (Rohingya), thereby contrasting tests faced by researchers depending on the recentness of the genocide under study. Presenters will cover issues including cultural dynamics, gender concerns (for researchers and participants), fieldwork logistics, personal safety, local collaborations, political considerations, power differentials, and self-reflexivity as a researcher. The chair of this panel will also serve as a discussant.


Presentations of the Symposium


Practice, Positionality and Partnership: Reflections on Fieldwork in Cambodia

Rachel Killean
School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

In this presentation I reflect on my nine years’ experience of conducting qualitative research in Cambodia. Throughout my career thus far, I have been motivated by Kieran McEvoy’s ‘transitional justice from below’ perspective, which draws attention to the frequent marginalisation of victims’ voices and prioritisation of elite actors in processes of transition. As a result, my work has often been centred around engagement with victims and survivors of genocide. Yet as a white western researcher I am also an ‘elite actor’, meaning power dynamics and positionality inevitably shape my practice of fieldwork. In this presentation I aim to reflect on these dynamics, as well as on the particular and additional dynamics that can arise when working with a local partner organisation. Based on my fieldwork experience, at a minimum I argue in favour of a self-reflective and reflexive approach to working with victims and survivors, and for the pursuit of genuinely collaborative (not extractive) relationships with local partners.


The Practicalities of Building a Flashlight: Fieldwork in Rwanda

Sara E. Brown
Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education (Chhange)

My talk will reflect on my experiences working and conducting research in Rwanda. I first traveled to Rwanda in 2004, and years later I was fortunate to conduct my doctoral work there. As I set out to better understand the role of women during the genocide, I was deeply influenced by Cynthia Enloe’s likening of concepts to flashlights and set about building a flashlight that would illuminate the corners of my intended area of study. While some of my efforts were successful, I still faced many challenges implementing this method. In this talk, I will discuss my effort to conduct fieldwork that went beyond “add women and stir” and how I navigated the unique and intersecting practical, personal, and political considerations of this research. From logistics to identity-based power differentials to the ever-developing political landscape in Rwanda, I look forward to an engaging discussion about how we approach fieldwork across our discipline.


Researching an Ongoing Genocide: Interviewing Rohingya Refugees

Melanie O'Brien
School of Law, University of Western Australia

This paper will discuss the logistical challenges facing a researcher looking to research an ongoing genocide, using the case study of the Rohingya genocide. The presentation will detail the author’s experience undertaking fieldwork in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, outlining the extraordinary logistical challenges faced to undertake such fieldwork. This will include preparatory stages and on-the-ground challenges, from paperwork to cultural considerations, and discussion of specific research challenges for women. I undertake my research from a feminist theoretical perspective, using a do-no-harm, victim-centred approach, seeking to give voice to women. This paper will also take an intersectional feminist theoretical reflection on the challenges of fieldwork. This will include critique of Western ethics requirements and how these are not necessarily fit for empirical research with genocide survivors, and discussion of the gendered nature of empirical research logistics. The paper seeks to start discussion of how the various hurdles can be overcome to enable a smoother fieldwork research process for genocide scholars, particularly women.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C2 3: Genocide Denial and Its Consequences
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Armen Marsoobian, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 3 

Genocide Denial and Its Consequences

Chair(s): Armen T. Marsoobian (International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America)

The panel will explore a variety of harmful consequences for individuals, communities, and states that arise from the denial of genocide and mass atrocities. Aside from acting as a hindrance to just reparations and reconciliation, the denialist social environment hinders self-development and identity formation for victims, survivors, and their descendants. Sustaining a denialist environment for long periods of time often requires that high levels of hatred be maintained and results in the demonization of the victim group. Victims are perversely turned into potential or actual genocide perpetrators in this denialist narrative. Blaming the victim is often part of the playbook for denialists. The central role of denialism for the establishment of supremacist nationalist ideologies and the subsequent destruction of the victim group’s cultural heritage is analyzed. Drawing upon a range of philosophical work and memory studies, these presentations explore the epistemic injustice engendered by genocide denialism. The century-long denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish state and the more recent Azeribaijani aggression against Armenians and their cultural heritage serve as the primary focus of these presentations.


Presentations of the Symposium


A Regime of Epistemic Injustice: Turkey’s Three Pillars of Genocide Denialism

Imge Oranli
Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communication Program, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts,Arizona State University

Epistemic injustice is an umbrella term referring to various forms of harm and injustice that target the epistemic agency of individuals and groups. I apply the epistemic injustice framework to discuss the ethical and epistemological implications of the Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. The paper begins with a discussion of the conditions under which a regime of epistemic injustice develops in Turkey. I call these conditions the three pillars of genocide denialism; these three major conditions have historically supported each other in building a regime of epistemic injustice in Turkey: 1) the supremacist founding ideology of the Turkish Republic (Turkism), 2) the institutional practices based on this ideology (especially, educational and legal), 3) “Turkish” individuals’ ‘active ignorance’ and ‘epistemic vices’ (Medina 2013). After a brief introduction of these pillars of genocide denialism, I concentrate my discussion around the third pillar, where my main aim is to show how the racial ideology of Turkism and the institutional practices that are supported by this ideology impact the “Turkish” individual’s epistemic reservoir, causing what José Medina refers to as epistemic vices and active ignorance. The condition of active ignorance refers to a type of ignorance that involves an internal resistance to incorporating true belief and rejecting false belief, which is linked to epistemic vices, ‘a set of corrupted attitudes and dispositions that get in the way of knowledge’ (Medina 2013, 30). I argue that it is on the basis of this epistemic make-up that the ‘Turkish’ individual becomes a candidate for genocide denialism.


Genocide Denialism, Collective Misremembrance and Hermeneutical Oppression

Melanie Altanian
School of Philosophy, University College Dublin

When human beings experience traumatizing events, such as genocide, they have a legitimate interest to understand what happened to them, to render it intelligible to themselves and others. Specifically, remembering genocide is important for self-constitution, social criticism and justice. Insofar as we consider truth as crucial to our integrity and projects of self-constitution, this requires that our social environment provides accurate and meaningful epistemic resources, or if it lacks them, provides a space in which those affected can articulate significant social experiences and generate shared interpretations of those experiences as epistemic equals. However, what if this process is disrupted by genocide denialism? How can genocide denialism perpetrate a particular epistemic injustice against those who seek to “truthfully remember” their genocidal experiences?

In this paper, I argue that genocide denialism, as collective genocide misremembrance and memory distortion, constitutes hermeneutical oppression of genocide victims, survivors and descendants. Inspired by Sue Campbell’s relational account of reconstructive memory, I show that genocide denialism involves several forms of disrespectful challenges to memory and accordingly, systematically misrecognizes rememberers. Genocide denialism thereby poses unwarranted institutional constraints on a core human capacity through which we learn by experience and thereby develop personhood, as well as moral and epistemic agency. Adopting the case of Turkey’s denialism of the Armenian genocide, I discuss three interrelated mechanisms through which this can happen: i) through conceptual distortions of “genocide”; ii) through the normatively distorted policy of “just memory”, and iii) through the systematic portrayal of Armenians as “vicious rememberers”.


Genocide Denial and Its Consequences for Victims and Perpetrators

Armen T. Marsoobian
Philosophy Department, Southern Connecticut State University

Genocide denial has long been acknowledged as an essential feature of the crime of genocide. Denial is often evident before the actual violence commences and continues well after the overt violence has ceased. Appreciation of the serious detrimental consequences of denialism on the victims and perpetrators, both as individuals and as communities, has garnered little attention in the broader genocide studies field. Denial has been acknowledged as a hindrance for legal redress for genocide and in the achieving reconciliation and justice. Yet the long-term harm of continuing denial requires more further exploration. My presentation will explore two aspects of denialism: 1) How denialism as a state policy has detrimental effects on the citizens of a perpetrator society both in terms of stoking ethnic hatred that extends well beyond the state’s borders and in hindering the establishment of an open and free society within the state. The detrimental effects on democratic nation building are evident in such denialist societies. 2) Denialism is a serious harm to the victims and survivors of genocide that continues for generations. Such harm is just as destructive to the collective identity of the victim group as the actual physical killing that took place. Key themes from the Claudia Card’s philosophical work on social death and Jeffrey Blustein on the moral burdens of memory and the making of self-identity will be marshalled to explore the evil of genocide denialism. The primary illustrative example will be the Azerbaijani and Turkish denials of the Armenian Genocide.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C2 4: The Future of Ethical and Inclusive Research Practices
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Emily Sample, George Mason University, United States of America
Room 4 

The Future of Ethical and Inclusive Research Practices

Chair(s): Emily Sample (George Mason University, United States of America)

This panel will discuss the logistical and ethical dimensions of inclusive research practices. What are the realities and of ethical and inclusive research, and what tangible steps forward can be made in academic practice? In Genocide Studies in particular, the way in which we engage with our interlocutors, field assistants, interviewees, and research partners can have far reaching consequences. Some research methods have recognized the importance of acknowledging power, identity, and reflective practice, but these necessary considerations have not been universalized into other fields or methodologies. Despite renewed discussions about diversity and inclusion in higher education, many academic institutions offer limited opportunities for engagement with research ethics, from power asymmetry, sharing raw data and published analysis, and opportunities for joint publication, to ethical project budgeting. In our current COVID-19 reality, data collection has and must fundamentally change. Is this the opportunity for radical normative change in how scholars and practitioners collect and share data? This panel seeks to contribute not only to this discussion, but to open a multi-disciplinary conversation about the lessons learned from trans-national fields, such as anthropology and peace studies. Based on their own research experiences, participants will share reflections on the value of multi-disciplinary research and methodology, and what it means to engage in ethical and inclusive research collaborations. This roundtable aims to offer both a robust discussion on the principles and practicalities of ethical research, and the future of inclusive trans-national scholarship.


Presentations of the Symposium


Pandemic Methodology: New directions in Research Collaboration

Emily Sample1, Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku2
1Raphaël Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program, George Mason University, United States of America, 2Regional Associations for Community Initiatives-Uganda

This presentation explores the changing relationship between Global North/Global South (GN/GS) researchers and their scholarship. GN scholars often focus their studies on GS topics and case studies, both with and without partnerships with GS scholars. This topic is of specific relevance as scholars pivot their research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and investigate new ways to do research “in the field.” In the increasingly digital age, how can we blend technology and ethical research practices across the globe? This is a unique moment to reassess the ways in which we build, foster, and maintain GN/GS research relationships. This presentation will highlight the logistics, benefits, and challenges of an on-going GN/GS research collaboration from the perspectives of a GN and GS research partnership. We have worked together to complete a multi-month, cross-continental research grant at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through reflecting on our own experiences, this presentation will focus on the ethical considerations, lessons learned, and recommendations for future researchers.


Taking a Feminist and Decolonized Ethnographic Approach to Research in Indonesia

Shelly Clay-Robison
George Mason University

This discussion focuses on the use of ethical feminist and decolonized ethnography in the post-mass atrocity context in Indonesia. It will use a case study of on-going research conducted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with the survivors of the 1965 mass killings and their allies. Because survivors continue to live in an oppressive context, this discussion will focus on what it means to represent and frame a marginalized community and how the researcher can avoid reinforcing harmful stereotypes. Additionally, in post-atrocity settings, researchers should be aware that marginalized voices must be given considerable attention as their messages are often silenced or ignored. However, a feminist ethnographic approach is a way to effectively understand the layers of power dynamics around privilege, class, race, and of course, gender. Similarly, the nature of this research also requires a decolonized methodology, or one that seeks to understand multiple, sometimes incoherent historical narratives without linear chronologies, and one where histories should not be understood from a patriarchal, western framework exclusively.


Are We Listening? Preventing Future Genocides by Listening to Victims of the Past and Present

Kristina Hook
Better Evidence Project, George Mason University

In recent years, a growing number of peacebuilding and conflict resolution voices across the scholarly, practice, policy, and even privately funded efforts have called for a more meaningful incorporation of local expertise in mitigating violence. In this paper, I engage these debates and their application for the closely related field of preventing and mitigating genocides and mass atrocities. In particular, I focus on questions of knowledge production and evidentiary standards within primarily Western technocratic spaces, i.e., what constitutes an evidence-based approach to understanding, halting, and healing from the complex sociopolitical phenomenon of genocide? In this paper, I seek to raise challenging yet essential questions for our normative field of genocide studies, in particular asking if unconscious cultural biases and embedded power dynamics are preventing us from meaningfully incorporating local knowledge. I will discuss the results of primary interviewing data from local peacebuilders. By posing these questions directly to those working in these contexts, my paper incorporates the viewpoints of those who self-identity as engaging in violence prevention in their communities as a necessary prerequisite for survival and future flourishing, rather than purely normative commitments or analytic interests. In so doing, this paper is intended to spark increased conversation around questions of inclusion, ethical data gathering, and embedded power dynamics.

7:00pm - 7:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D2 1: Intent in the Genocide Convention
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Gregory Howard Stanton, Genocide Watch, United States of America
Room 1 

Intent in the Genocide Convention

Chair(s): Gregory Howard Stanton (Genocide Watch, United States of America)

In The Gambia v Myanmar, the International Court of Justice must decide whether Myanmar committed acts of genocide against its Rohingya population; whether the Rohingya are a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group protected by the Genocide Convention; and whether Myanmar intended to commit genocide against them. The question of intent will decide the case. The ICJ has only twice decided whether a state violated the Genocide Convention. In Bosnia v Serbia, the ICJ held that there was insufficient evidence that Serbia intended to commit genocide. Instead, Serbia's intent was to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian Muslims from Serb-held areas of Bosnia. The ICJ held that to prove genocidal intent, genocide must be the only possible intent of Serb action. In Croatia v Serbia, the ICJ similarly held that Serbia's intention was “ethnic cleansing,” not genocide.

Prof. William Schabas defended Myanmar in The Gambia v Myanmar, based on the ICJ’s Bosnia and Croatia decisions. He claimed Myanmar’s intent in 2017 was the “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya from Rakhine province, where Myanmar faced a Rohingya insurgency. Genocide was not the only possible intent that could be inferred from Myanmar's actions. Therefore, Myanmar's acts did not meet the "only intent" test for genocide.

This panel will consider and demolish Schabas’s argument. It will show that the ICJ's decisions in Bosnia and Croatia were based on an erroneous theory of genocidal intent, first published in Schabas’s treatise, Genocide in International Law. The panel will propose a concept of intent that accords much better with international criminal law. State intent should be judged by considering the foreseeable consequences of a systematic and widespread pattern of acts aimed to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. This concept of intent accords with the concept of intent in other crimes against humanity.


Presentations of the Symposium


Schabas’s Singular Intent Theory – An Impossible Threshold of Genocidal Intent

Julia Sierra
Genocide Watch

In The Gambia v Myanmar, Professor Schabas argued that Myanmar did not commit genocide against its Rohingya population. His argument rested on two ICJ cases, Bosnia v Serbia and Croatia v Serbia. In both cases, the ICJ held that to prove genocidal intent, destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group must be the only intent that can be inferred from a state’s actions. If some other intent can be inferred, such as “ethnic cleansing,” then the actions lack the required genocidal intent. Schabas’s singular intent theory was first stated in Genocide in International Law, which heavily influenced the ICJ’s decisions in Bosnia and Croatia, and acquittals by the ICTY. Schabas’s singular intent theory ignores the fact that the same act may have multiple intents, and they do not cancel each other. Genocidal massacres may also be intended to achieve “ethnic cleansing.” Schabas’s theory imposes an impossible threshold to prove genocidal intent. It contradicts basic principles of domestic and international criminal law. The ICJ should reject Schabas’s singular intent theory. It should hold that intent to destroy a group, in whole or in part, can be proven by a systematic, widespread pattern of actions, like other crimes against humanity.


"Ethnic cleansing" is a term for genocide denial.

Jennifer Kirby-McLemore
Genocide Watch

The term “ethnic cleansing” — a translation of the Serbo-Croatian phrase etnicko ciscenje — is a euphemism first used in the 1990s during the Bosnian Genocide by Slobodan Milosevic and Serb propagandists. The motive behind introducing the term was to deny that Serb forces were committing genocide. Since then, the term “ethnic cleansing” has been used as a term for genocide denial. It is used by UN officials, diplomats, and journalists to avoid using the terms “genocide” or “crimes against humanity.” “Ethnic cleansing” is not prohibited by any international treaty. In the ICTY under Chief Justice Cassese, the term “ethnic cleansing” was used to acquit defendants of the intent required to convict them of genocide. In Bosnia v Serbia and Croatia v Serbia, the ICJ used “ethnic cleansing“ to negate allegations that Serbia intended genocide. “Ethnic cleansing” has also been used by UN officials, diplomats, and journalists to deny that Myanmar was committing genocide against the Rohingya. The term has obstructed efforts to prevent or prosecute genocide. International lawyers, policy makers, and journalists should expunge “ethnic cleansing“ from the legal lexicon and instead use established legal, prosecutable terms such as “forced deportation“ and “genocide.”


Distinguishing Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya from Croatia v Serbia

Giada Corsoni
Genocide Watch

The ICJ is not bound by prior decisions. Nevertheless, it is hesitant to overrule them. The facts in Croatia v Serbia are distinguishable from those in Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingya. The Rohingya genocide was more systematic and widespread than Serb atrocities in Croatia.

• The ICJ in Croatia stated: “[...] the number of victims alleged by Croatia is small in relation to the size of the targeted part of the group.” Rohingya victims numbered over half of the Rohingya population. Thirty thousand Rohingya were massacred; 700,000 Rohingya were deported; mass rape of Rohingya women was Myanmar Army policy.

• There is no minimum number of deaths necessary to prove genocidal intent. Conditions of life deliberately imposed to destroy a group is sufficient. Myanmar destroyed 434 Rohingya villages (over half) and destroyed all Rohingya food sources.

• Hate speech on Facebook created a culture of genocide in Myanmar.

• Decades-long ethnic and religious discrimination against Rohingya was Myanmar state policy.

• Myanmar's state army, the Tatmadaw, directly committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. In Croatia, Serb militias, not the Serbian state army, committed the crimes.


Re-thinking State Intent

Vian Saggo
Genocide Watch

This paper will discuss how we should think about intent when we evaluate state practice, specifically for the crime of genocide. Can states – as abstract entities – be ascribed mens rea? Mens rea is a concept borrowed from individual criminal law. Individuals have minds. States do not. The paper will analyze state responsibility for genocide under international law, as identified in the case law of international tribunals and courts, particularly in the decision of the International Court of Justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro. The travaux préparatoires of the Genocide Convention as well as the International Law Commission’s project on state responsibility, specifically Draft Article 19 on state crimes, will be examined to evaluate what types of responsibility exist for states vis-à-vis the commission of genocide. How can judges assess the extent to which a state can possess genocidal intent? This paper maintains that individual acts of genocide can only be committed by individuals. This does not mean that states cannot be made liable for violation of the Genocide Convention. Instead, this paper will propose a better approach for analyzing state intent, by judging the foreseeable consequences of a systematic pattern of acts of genocide.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D2 2: Signals of Genocide
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Carse Ramos, Rhode Island College, United States of America
Room 2 

Guide on Responding to Genocide

Murad Ismael, Alexia Anne-Charlotte Rauen

Sinjar Academy, United States of America

The IS-perpetrated Yazidi Genocide that began in August 2014 led to the death of approximately 5,000 Yazidis and the kidnapping of around 6,800 women and children. The genocide continues into present day, with around 3,000 women still in IS custody, and many members of the Yazidi community unable or unwilling to return to their ancestral lands. Now over six years from the initial onset of the genocide, this guide will explore the lessons learned in the Yazidi case. The guide will cover the early indicators and immediate consequences of the genocidal attacks as well as recommendations for action and resistance for the targeted community. Mass captivity characterized the Yazidi experience; the guide offers strategies to avoid capture and possibilities for escape or rescue. Also covered is the need for advocacy and credible information dissemination from teams on the ground and teams operating remotely to potential interventionists. The guide further explores humanitarian advocacy, the need for documentation, and recommendations for dealing with mass grave exhumations. Rooted in the Yazidi experience, this guide will prove invaluable for those responding to future genocides and those wishing to better understand the Yazidi perspective. We would like to acknowledge the support of Kerry Propper as instrumental to this guide

Where Does the River Start?: Structural Genocide Prevention and Local Conflict ‘Triggers’

Emily Sample

George Mason University, United States of America

This presentation investigates local conflict ‘triggers’ within the context of structural genocide prevention. The physical violence we see manifested in mass atrocity events is embedded within systems of structural violence. This does not mean that these events are always predictable, as many social processes parallel the path to mass violence, but that in understanding potential ‘triggers’ we must focus on upstream prevention, not only early warning. The presentation analyzes structural conflict, as well as local understandings of conflict, in order to identify how both factors can fuel the perpetration of mass atrocities. Using a case study of Uganda, this presentation highlights potential local conflict triggers as responses to pressures, norms, and interlinking structural systems. This paper reflects on Bellamy’s (2016) concept of structural atrocity prevention, which argues, “by changing the social and political contexts to make them less permissive of atrocities we can change individual decisions about whether to perpetrate these crimes.” This presentation presents a dynamic picture of existing conflict by highlighting long- and short-term mass atrocity triggers, how these manifest in local contexts, and how this can inform intervention policy.


Christi Ann Yoder

Center for Genocide Research and Education, United States of America

The problem of what to label the events of 1972 in Burundi has vexed scholars for some time. Was it a double genocide? Or perhaps it was what Helen Fein refers to as a selective genocide. Regardless, the Tutsi-led Burundi government continues to deny they committed genocide, instead arguing they are the victims of genocide by the Hutu. This denial may play a role in why scholars are so conflicted about what to label the violence in 1972. Why is more not known about the events compared to the events in 1994 in Rwanda? We argue that the general public was less aware of Burundi's events in 1972 than events in 1994 Rwanda due to the level of media technology available at each time point. The less well-developed media technology in Burundi in 1972 has enabled the Burundi government to deny genocide occurred, whereas international attention in Rwanda did not leave this option open. We will explore media technology's role in the ability of perpetrators to deny genocide using Rwanda and Burundi as case studies.

Internet Shutdowns: A Growing Mass Atrocity Risk

Rob Scharf

Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, United States of America

Rapid and widespread global adoption has made the internet indispensable to contemporary mass atrocity prevention. Serving as both tools and indicators, online technologies work to increase transparency and democratize information, while providing spaces for people to gather and exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. However, despite guarantees contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, inter alia, the number of government-ordered internet shutdowns around the world continues to increase each year.

Data published by digital rights groups reflect a total of 377 documented internet shutdowns between the years of 2016 and 2018. In 2019 alone, at least 213 shutdowns were enacted. The diversity of governments authorizing shutdowns grew as well, with internet access being blocked or restricted in 33 countries in 2019, compared to 25 in 2018. Shutdowns were also not limited to authoritarian states, with prominent incidents taking place in large democracies and countries undergoing democratic transitions.

This study will use a data-informed approach to examine the character of recent internet shutdowns through a variety of national and sub-national case studies, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and others. These cases represent a variety of civic and political contexts, shutdown strategies, and justifications offered by decisionmakers, allowing for a broad comparative look at how the practice impacts atrocity prevention today.

The framework of risk factors conceived by Dr. James Waller will be employed as an analytical tool to identify specific ways in which internet shutdowns can exacerbate dynamics related to governance and social fragmentation that increase the likelihood of large-scale violence and human rights abuses. The text will also include a brief examination of recent, current, and pending legal challenges that have been made in response to the proliferation of internet shutdowns.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D2 3: Testimony of Genocide
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Tawheed Reza Noor, Binghamton University, United States of America
Room 3 

The Continuation of Trauma through Transcribing: Generational Survivors and the Inability for a 'Post-Holocaust'

Sarah E Snyder

University of Texas at Dallas, United States of America

Historians use the term ‘post-Holocaust’ to indicate the period from 1945 onward; however, for survivors of the Holocaust and their families, the Holocaust did not end in 1945. In fact, for some, it was just the beginning of their struggles. In order for historians to have a clearer understanding of the trauma survivors have endured, we must approach time differently. Trauma does not operate on a timeline and thereby our understanding of ‘before,’ ‘during,’ and ‘after’ are flawed. In order to convey this flaw, this study will examine memoirs of second and third generation survivors and of a child survivor. Within the second and third generation group, there are two types of generational memoirs that are scrutinized for this case study. The first being when a child or grandchild records the stories of their parent(s) or grandparent(s) without any of the second or third generation’s story implicitly written. ‘Implicitly’ is used in the context that it is impossible for any writer to not impose at least some stylistic portion of themselves into writing, but the intent was to focus on the parent or grandparent. The other type of memoir is when they write their parent(s) or grandparent(s) story intertwined with their own story. Additionally, the child survivor has a unique role in memory and trauma studies. Much like later generations who write about the Holocaust, but have not experienced the trauma firsthand, the child survivor must write about what they lived through and experienced, but cannot remember without the assistance of research or other survivors. This study shows that survivors continue to demonstrate trauma related paranoia. It is through these findings that it becomes evident that historians must learn to study trauma without placing strict timelines that prevent understanding of how trauma impacts those who have experienced complex-trauma.

Teaching with Audio-Visual Testimonies of Survivors and Witness to Genocide

Kori Street

USC Shoah Foundation, United States of America

USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education is dedicated to making
audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides a compelling voice for education and action. The Institute currently has 55,000 testimonies in 40 languages, recorded in 63 countries, contained within its Visual History Archive, making it one of the largest digital collections of its kind in the world.

In this innovative and interactive presentation, a USC Shoah Foundation representative will
discuss and demonstrate how the Institute strives to share the insights within its vast collection
by making them accessible to educators and students across the world in the 21st century.
Testimony-based education intervenes in the cycle that leads from hatred to genocide.

IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation’s free educational website offers practical digital tools and
multimedia testimony-based resources for primary, secondary and higher education classrooms.
The variety of resources available on the platform are designed based on the constructivist
pedagogical framework as well as critical race theory. This approach allows the Institute to
actualize its Theory of Change.

The Institute's Theory of Change asserts if students and educators work with testimony they will
experience attitudinal and behavioral changes that will make them more likely to contribute to
civil society. Through their engagement with stories that tell of the consequences of hate,
discrimination, violence, resilience and hope among other universal themes, students will
understand the value of testimony, gain knowledge, expand their critical thinking and develop
empathy. These aptitudes will shape responsible choices that reflect a refusal to tolerate racist
ideas of prejudicial treatment, and a willingness to counter attitudes and acts of hatred.

Survivor Memoirs – A Multi-faceted Source, A Less-employed Field of Inquiry for Genocide Studies

Rubina Peroomian

UCLA, United States of America

For many decades now, since the study of the Armenian Genocide found its way in academia, the domain was mainly limited to the study of archival materials. Artistic representations of the Genocide were appreciated as poetic responses but dismissed as historiographical sources. Regarding survivor memoirs, there was a total rejection of the notion that they can introduce an effective and valid field of inquiry beyond that “scientific” domain. Historians argued that the memoirist, especially writing years after the event, adopts an individualistic approach, “exaggerates and beautifies,” presents the imagined truth, and writes down what his or her “fading” memory can serve.

Having always argued for the validity of this literary genre, I will present its contribution to genocide studies as records of everlasting and indelible iconic images (Charles M. Anderson and Marian M. McCurdy) in survivor’s mind that can light a dark corner in the history of the Armenian Genocide (“I remember everything so clearly as if it happened yesterday…” Yervand Kyureghian asserts). These memoirs as well as diaries kept during the event, are living history with a power, more than documents and statistics (Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi), to touch people, to transmit knowledge and information (Thomas Hammarberg), to promote empathy and break down intolerance, hatred, and prejudice.

Holocaust scholarship has long acknowledged the effectiveness of memoirs and their role in the Jewish collective consciousness. In another part of the world, in response to Stalinist terror, the “Memorial” movement was launched to collect and register the memoirs of Stalin’s GULAG, as the only source of social life in the USSR to counter Soviet State historiography.

With the perpetrators’ denial and the disappearing of survivors, memoirs and recorded oral testimonies carry the burden of proclaiming the truth, as Bertha Nakashian proclaims in her memoir, “I was there…I was a witness.”

Perpetrators of sexual violence during the Bosnian Genocide and the Holocaust

Sandra Grudić

Clark University, United States of America

Sexual violence as a weapon of war has drawn scholarly attention since the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, and so has sexual violence during the Holocaust, although Nazi Germany discouraged it and prohibited sexual relations between Germans and the Jews. My paper zeroes in on the Bosnian genocide and the Holocaust. Based on testimonies and secondary sources, I will examine how the profiles of the perpetrators (consistent or variant) affected the overall vulnerability of the survivors and their willingness to testify about their experiences. Bosniak women were sexually assaulted in a systematic way; their perpetrators were almost always members of the Serbian police, military or paramilitary units, and in most cases, the victims knew the perpetrators as their neighbors, co-workers or townspeople. Due to this proximity the victims and their families often left the area permanently out of shame and humiliation. By contrast, Jewish women during the Holocaust encountered profiles of perpetrators of sexual violence that were variant, ranging from Nazi men and women, collaborators, men in hiding, partisans, other Jewish men (in ghettos and camps), and even the liberators (Russian in particular). I argue that the degree of variance in perpetrators’ profiles influenced whether the survivors of sexual violence perceived the assaults as primarily “political” (ethnic) or “gendered.” Bosniak women tended to perceive their assaults as “political,” concluding that they were targeted as Bosniaks. Survivors of sexual violence during the Holocaust, by contrast, viewed themselves as victims of “gendered” assaults, due to the variance in both ethnic and military status of their perpetrators. These different perceptions were tied to how the assaulted women negotiated their social identities, engaged in self-blame, feelings of shame, and whether they were willing to talk about their experiences.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D2 4: Accountability and Deniability
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, 'Never Again' Association, Poland
Room 4 

Faking Facts: The Case of

Sarah Afaf Samwel

Carleton University, Canada (FCA) is a genocide denial website masquerading as a fact-checker. Founded in 2015 to correspond with the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the website claims to offer "another side" to the story of the Armenian Genocide, primarily that it didn't happen and the mainstream narrative is a lie. FCA operates at the intersection of online misinformation and genocide denial. It is a safe haven for those who wish to deny instead of grapple with the uncomfortable truth of the Armenian Genocide. Although no one claims ownership of the site, there are direct parallels in their content with the Turkish official position and propaganda.The site's rhetoric also aligns with Jones's (2011) genocide denial statements. So, well intentioned readers trying to inform themselves may be ingesting propaganda and genocide denial. This may lead to the reader to engage in memoricide. Memoricide is the willful destruction of the memory and cultural treasures of a targeted group so that any narrative that remains is the one promoted by the perpetrators (Civallero, 2007). In the digital age, FCA inserts itself as an agent of memoricide. However, it is not engaged in a destruction of instutitons or documents, but rather of the Armenian narrative. The destruction of the Armenian narrative eradicates the memory of the genocide and, therefore, of the the Armenian people. Indeed, this form of memoricide may become common as more and more information is produced and consumed online. In this presentation, I will explore how FCA both utilizes its veneer of a fact-checker to maintain its credibility and how this can lead to a form of digitial memoricide.

Genocide Knowledge and Epistemic Circle

Joachim J. Savelsberg

University of Minnesota, United States of America

The presentation summarizes core arguments from a new book, entitled: Knowing about genocide: Armenian Suffering and Epistemic Struggles (University of California Press, 2021). It asks how repertoires of knowledge emerge, among Armenians and Turks and in world society, and what dynamics they unfold. By knowledge, I do not mean certified knowledge but simply humans’ taken-for-granted assumptions about the world. The epistemic circle begins with everyday exchanges, or micro-politics. They involve conflicting pressures to silence, deny or acknowledge. Knowledge entrepreneurs, actors with privileged access to channels of communication, often set the parameters for such exchanges, exercising epistemic power. Some practice radical denial, even against overwhelming evidence, a pattern that reaches beyond the issue of genocide, especially in the current era of authoritarian populism. Knowledge entrepreneurs also initiate large collective rituals to confirm a sense of community among their followers and to solidify knowledge. Finally, when radically distinct repertoires of knowledge face one another, conflicts and struggles erupt. They unfold in distinct social fields such a politics and law, embedded in national contexts and in world society with its pronounced human rights scripts since the end of the Second World War. I finally argue that denialism in the context of (partial) human rights hegemony likely produces effects that are counterproductive in the eyes of those who deny mass atrocities. This presentation provides an overview of the epistemic circle while going into greater depth for two of its components.


Daniel Rothenberg

Arizona State University, United States of America

Cuxum Alvarado was working as a landscaper in Waltham, MA when he was identified as a former member of the civil patrol that played a key role in the Guatemalan genocide in the early 1980s. He was identified through careful research supported by social media and digital data now widely accessible to almost anyone. He was arrested in 2019 and deported to face trial in 2020 for rape and sexual violence against indigenous Maya Achi women committed as part of the country’s genocide (one of the groups profiled by the Guatemalan Truth Commission in a region they found ‘acts of genocide’ committed by the State and by State-supported actors, such as the civil patrols). What does this case, and others like it, mean for genocide accountability and potential prevention in an era when hiding, even thousands of miles from one’s home country, is increasingly difficult? This paper explores this issue by arguing that digital identification of alleged genocide perpetrators is an enormously powerful tool for improving accountability, though one which presents a series of potential risks. The paper focuses on the case of Guatemala in which large numbers of Guatemalans–both victims and perpetrators–have migrated to the United States, where they have often re-constituted their lives in diaspora communities, often seeking to avoid formal reckoning with the trauma and impact of ‘la violencia’ (‘the violence’ as the genocide is known locally). As digital traces expand in their reach and as citizen investigators and others expand their searches, the possibility of improved accountability as well as potential prevention expands along with the potential for false claims, overlapping and conflicting legal regimes (U.S. immigration and Guatemalan domestic justice, for example), and a variety of shifts in the meaning, impact and possibility of being named a genocide perpetrator.

Victimizers in documentary cinema. A possible taxonomy

Lior Zylberman

CONICET/CEG-UNTREF, Argentine Republic

This paper is part of an investigation on the representation of genocides in documentary film. After having made an approach to what I have called a “comprehensive approach” –pointing out thematic motifs and poetic-rhetorical functions–, in this instance my interest is to think how the perpetrators are (re)presented; in that sense, my goal with this paper is to present a taxonomy of the representations of the victimizers in documentary film. To this end, after presenting some possible debates on the subject, I will suggest forms and modalities of representation of the victimizer in documentary film. Thus, two main discursive forms will be presented –visual and verbal– and four modalities of representation –archive, evocative, declarative and participatory– being the combination of both what will allow the analysis of the different strategies of representation of this actor in documentary filmmaking.

Esta presentación es parte de una investigación sobre la representación de los genocidios en el cine documental. Después de haber hecho un acercamiento a lo que he llamado un "enfoque integral" -señalando motivos temáticos y funciones poético-retóricas-, en este caso mi interés es pensar cómo se (re)presentan los perpetradores; en ese sentido, mi objetivo con este trabajo es pensar una taxonomía de las representaciones de los victimarios en el cine documental. Para ello, tras dar cuenta de algunos posibles debates sobre el tema, sugeriré modalidades de representación del victimario en el cine documental. Así, se presentarán dos formas discursivas principales -visual y verbal- y cuatro modalidades de representación -archivo, evocativa, declarativa y participativa- siendo la combinación de ambas lo que permitirá analizar las diferentes estrategias de representación de este actor en el cine documental.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D2 5: Indigenous Peoples' Caucus 1
Location: Room 5
Session Chair: Kerri Malloy, San José State University, United States of America
Room 5 

Date: Wednesday, 21/July/2021
11:30am - 12:00pmReception
Location: lounge
12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A3 1: European Genocides
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Caroline Bennett, Victoria University of Wellington, United Kingdom
Room 1 

Communism, Genocide and Mass Killing: Overturning the Existing Consensus

Jonathan Leader Maynard

King's College London, United Kingdom

Many of the largest genocides and mass killings in human history have been conducted by Communist states: in particular, the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, China under Mao, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Something of a consensus exists in comparative scholarship as to why. Communist states are held to adhere to ‘utopian’ or ‘revolutionary’ ideological goals of societal transformation, that require certain groups incompatible with the revolutionary utopia to be purged. In this paper, I argue that this established consensus is largely wrong, only really fitting (and even then imperfectly) the Khmer Rouge case. The conventional wisdom faces two important problems. First, if Communist violence is rooted in revolutionary goals, why do many Communist states that share such goals (for example, Vietnam, Cuba or Nicaragua) not engage in large scale mass killing? Second, why, if Communist violence is essentially orientated around transforming society to fit longstanding utopian ideals, does it generally emerge only in response to specific periods of crisis, rather than as a general tool of social reengineering? By re-examining three cases: early Soviet violence under Lenin, the collectivisation and Great Terror campaigns under Stalin, and the Cultural Revolution under Mao, I show that these problems reflect a mischaracterisation of the link between Communism and violence in the established consensus. Ideology is crucial, but Communist mass violence is not rooted primarily in transformational goals, but in hardline communist ideas about security and warfare. These ideas are not universal features of Communism, and they generate a strategic conception of Communist violence as a response to contingent threats. Consequently, they encourage a resort to mass killing only by certain Communist regimes in response to certain conditions. I conclude by linking this argument to broader shifts in recent scholarly understandings of ideology and strategic decisionmaking in genocide and mass killing.

Digitally mapping the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus

Theodosios Kyriakidis

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

While the study of the Pontic Greek Genocide has been largely been researched in fragments, ie there are specialized studies for specific areas, or for specific periods, and other surveys through specific archives, there has not been a study that utilizing all the above data to place the plan of extermination of the Greeks in a single geographical and chronological context.

In this particular presentation, the chrono-geographical mapping of the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus on a digital map will be attempted. That is, to present on a digital map the chronological and geographical record of the massacres and persecutions. The fact that this mapping is necessary is related to the absence to date of a study that examines the overall extent of this genocide in time and its geographical spread. The imprinting on a digital map, which will document this gradual extermination of the Greek element from Pontus, will help us better understand, in relation to the utilization of other historical data, how the extermination plan was implemented.

The map will be digitally created using the method of Geoinformatics through Geographic Information Systems, (G.I.S.). The combination of the aforementioned technologies with the historical data from the sources, give the opportunity: to ask, analyze and further research questions, to create specific thematic maps, or create and analyze statistical data. In other words, this paper wants to show that the characteristic feature provided by Geoinformatics (spatial connection with descriptive information), makes it a unique tool for collecting, processing and analyzing data to delve into the history of the Pontic Greek Genocide.

Military Traditions and Leadership Styles in the SS-Einsatzgruppen

Maayan Armelin

Clark University

Mass executions across Nazi occupied Soviet Union marked the first stage of systematic annihilation during the Holocaust. The SS-Einsatzgruppen, mobile paramilitary units, murdered over a million and a half civilians, shooting them in the margins of cities, local castles, and into pits in the hearts of forests and fields. My paper will examine how EG officers’ leadership styles interacted with particular settings in the occupied territories and affected individual Einsatzgruppen members’ willingness to participate in mass executions.

Spotlighting three units, Einsatzgruppen members’ postwar witness accounts reveal their officers followed the German military tradition of Auftragstaktik (mission command), by which the leadership required junior officers on the ground to set their immediate goals and promoted them based on proven results. Anticipating later promotion, some EG officers initiated more executions and pushed for faster killing rates. Discussing a number of EG officers, I will analyze their different approaches while dealing with personnel of competing German institutions, recruiting local leaders, and manipulating victims into participating in their own demise. I will also explain how officers’ leadership styles promoted particular hierarchies and specific social relations, and how these encouraged followers to actively contribute to their units’ crimes.

Characterizing the settings in which Einsatzgruppen officers operated, I will consider how contemporary urban and rural spaces in the Baltics, Belarus, and Ukraine provided the necessary conditions for Einsatzgruppen leaders and their followers to abandon universal values and adopt new standards of brutality.

My paper will clarify how the interaction between military traditions, leadership styles, and particularities of space encouraged Einsatzgruppen members to engage in mass violence. Understanding how these factors facilitated genocide perpetration serves to analyze past and current groups of perpetrators who act in volatile spaces. It could thus help prevent future cases of mass violence from escalating into mass atrocity.

The Group Targeted by Soviet Genocide in Lithuania: The Legal Perspective

Dovilė Sagatienė

Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

In 2015 the conflict between Soviet/Russian and Lithuanian narratives about Soviet repressions during occupations (1940-1941 and 1944-1990) against Lithuanian nation reached the legal level, when European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) discussed the application of Lithuanian domestic regulations in the framework of two postwar international legal instruments: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).

The aim of this presentation is to expose the legal debate about the group targeted by Soviet genocide in Lithuania, revealed in the cases Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania (2015) and Drėlingas v. Lithuania (2019). Both of the aforementioned ECtHR cases were concerned with the Lithuanian legal definition of genocide, which included inter alia protection of political and social groups and

explicitly had retroactive application in the context of Soviet crimes. In 2015 the ECHR was not convinced that Lithuanian partisans, who had resisted Soviet rule for almost a decade, were subject to the crime of genocide. However, in March 2019, the ECHR promulgated a decision, which may challenge the definition of genocide established in the 1948 Genocide Convention, as it approved the judgment of Lithuanian domestic courts that systematic killing of partisans was genocide of the Lithuanian nation in part.

The implications of the ECHR judgment in the Drėlingas case are fundamental. For the first time, an international judicial institution has recognized genocide in Lithuania by the Soviet regime. This also provokes the resumption of the long-lasting discussion about the scope of the crime of genocide among international scholars. The presentation of the analysis of the European case-law regarding the group targeted by Soviet genocide in the upcoming IAGS conference would benefit greatly to this regard.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A3 2: Memory in the Digital Age
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Melanie Altanian, University College Dublin, Switzerland
Room 2 

The Elephant in the Memory Room: Perpetrator's Sites in Comparative Perspective

Antonio Míguez Macho

University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

This paper presents an overview of the theoretical-conceptual proposal, which explores the relationship between space and examples of twentieth-century mass violence through the eye of the perpetrator's sites. The study of sites of memory of mass violence is linked to the practices of violence and, at the level of memory, to the management of the memory of the victims. However, we know that violence is constituted as a shared action in which together with the victim or victims, there is (visible or hidden, as often happens) the figure of the perpetrator. Based on a comparative study of how the managemente of these sites of violence-sites of memory is approached in the history of genocidal practices of the 20th century, from Choeung Ek to Buenos Aires, and from Madrid to Nairobi, this proposal presents an analysis that discusses the complexity of the presence of the absent in terms of the memory cycles of our time. In a journey through spaces, memorials and sites of denial and amnesia, we would observe the way in which the figure of the perpetrators are represented or hidden as the Elephant in the Memory Room. In an unequal and conflicting process, many uncomfortable questions about the past remain to be resolved, including the existence of numerous irregular graves that have not been exhumed and, above all, the fight against a denialist discourse that is entangled with ideas of reconciliation and forgetting.

Atoning for Violent Pasts: Assessing the Promise of Political Apologies

kasturi chatterjee

FLAME University, India

Political apologies have emerged as significant tools through which societies now seek to redress their violent pasts. Desired for their efficacy in righting past wrongs, facilitating closure, and promising hopes for reconciliation in the future, political apologies also attract criticisms for being vacuous, hypocritical, and doing too little too late. This paper intends to present an overview of political apologies along three lines. The first part deals with the meaning of political apologies and what they are expected to accomplish, thereby throwing light on why such apologies are demanded by victims of mass violence and why they are offered. The second part takes stock of the conditions an apology must fulfill in order for it to be effective or successful; since having to perform somewhat different functions, political apologies are distinct from interpersonal apologies in several ways and are required to meet a different set of criteria to be considered useful. The third part identifies some of the contradictions inherent in political apologies, emanating both from their scope as well as larger moral and philosophical concerns regarding the relevance of an apology as a just or moral response to genocides or other “crimes against humanity”. An appraisal of what political apologies can do and cannot do, then, can lend some balance against tendencies that either expect apologies to work under all circumstances or favor an off-hand dismissal of the phenomenon as meaningless without any regard to its many other benefits.

Temples of Memory: What's in the name?

Rafiki Ubaldo

Temples of Memory, Sweden

In this abstract submission I outline the the main elements of the paper I wish to present at the IAGS conference in Barcelona. First, I will present a historical background of Temples of Memory ( In doing so I identify and discuss the most important characteristics of the three different phases the platform went though since its inception in 2010. Second, I will discuss the lessons learned from what the platform was in its beginnings and what it became. Third, and finally, I reflect on the possibilities and limitations of online memorial spaces like Temples of Memory in the education against genocide.
On the one hand there is the photographic dimensions of the project; that is the photographer's transition from film photography to digital photography and the impact of such a transition in regard to questions of archival authenticity of genocide related photographs.
On the other hand there is the developments in Content Management Systems (CMS) that allowed the project to go from a small size photograph exhibition to interactive and large screen photographic exhibition to long form photographic storytelling and interactive photo-literature that elevates Temples of Memory to a kind of online memorial monument.
The third phase is more about the intended and the unintended consequences of the two phases above. These developments allowed Temples of Memory to become a shared memorial experience. The hope is that this shared experience becomes a tool for learning and teaching against genocide. 

Finally I discuss the importance of what is intentionally and consciously not photographed, the challenges of using some of the images in the classroom, and the aspects of user experience privacy.

Ius post bellum and transitional justice: a theoretical framework of memory policies.

Aitor Diaz, Raül Digón

UB, Spain

Academic reflection on the construction and maintenance of peace is based on teories such as ius post bellum one, a normative framework that can be linked to transitional justice and democratic memory. This paper proposes an encounter between these approaches through the study of their respective concepts. Therefore, it identifies the points of intersection and advances an incipient synthesis, as a contribution to the debate on the principles that affect public policies of memory, peace and human rights.

In this way, we proppose a theoretical paper around three angles of discussion: the ius post bellum, transitional justice and the politics of memory (democratic memory and/or historical memory). All this, applied to the management of post-conflict and transition towards democratic systems scenarios, in which there has been a genocide or similar violent dynamics.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A3 3: Women's Caucus 1
Location: Room 3
Room 3 
12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A3 4: The Hunt for the Missing: Enforced Disappearances in Punjab by the Indian State
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Timothy Williams, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Room 4 

The Hunt for the Missing- Enforced Disappearances in Punjab by the Indian State. The struggle for Justice for thousands of Sikhs murdered in a region of Impunity thirty years on.

Simran Kaur1, Paramjeet Singh1, Dalsher Singh1, Baljinder Singh2, Jagjit Singh2

1TARAN Peace building NGO, United Kingdom; 2Punjab Disappearances Advocacy Group (PDAP)

From 1984- 1994 the Sikh minority in India suffered state sanctioned extra judicial killings, mass torture and targeted massacres tantamount to genocide amidst civil war. Survivors of the killings faced insurmountable legal and political obstacles in fighting for justice, coercion, and few convictions of Indian police state terror. Many survivors are also torture survivors and yet continue in their quest for justice in a region of impunity. Many have died not knowing the truth and were neglected in poverty. The rise in Hindutva/Indian nationalism has made India yet again one of the flashpoints for potential mass killings in the world and minorities vulnerable.

Dreams of international tribunals for the survivors, continue even as time is running out to evidence the murders of the missing. We are interested in any delegates, experienced and new researchers, who want to collaborate with us in seeking to create the first International Tribunal for the Widow Survivors of Punjab at The Hague or in Barcelona from IAGS2021 to help peace and reconciliation in this region and welcome you to keep in touch.

Human Rights activists and researchers from Punjab, after decades documenting and interviewing the missing, share the struggles of widows and torture survivors. Often the only solidarity survivors got until the end was knowing they were not alone amongst the thousands who were disappeared, huddled in small gatherings, awaiting the next torturous steps for justice, while India denied state murder. This panel is here to honour them.

Jagjit Singh, Advocate, Baljinder Singh, Gurmej Singh- Punjab Disappearances Advocacy Project; Parmajeet Singh Gazzi, Advocate, Editor of Sikhsiyasat, Director of the film ‘Outjustice’, Dalsher Singh, independent scholar and Simarjit Kaur, independent scholar, author of the novel Saffron Salvation will highlight these experiences along with film excerpts.

1:30pm - 2:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
2:00pm - 3:00pmKeynote Emilio Silva: Spain: between exporting justice and importing impunity. Grandchildren fighting against oblivion
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Rosa Ana Alija, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Since the 1990s, the Spanish justice system has played a leading role in some of the most important milestones in the application of the principle of universal justice. The arrest of Pinochet in London, the opening of judicial proceedings against the dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Guatemala... This happened in a country with thousands of people who disappeared in mass graves, tortured, looted or died in exile. In the Spanish transition period, the 1977 Amnesty Law established political and legal impunity, and a coup d'état in 1981 sealed social impunity, rebuilt on the fear of the return of another dictatorship. It was not until the new century that the grandsons and granddaughters of the disappeared recovered the memory of the victims and set in motion a social process to sweep what the elites had swept under the carpet of history and fight for justice. Twenty years later, no one responsible has been tried and some police torturers still enjoy special pensions granted by the dictatorship. It is a long road of struggle against impunity.  
Plenary room 
3:00pm - 3:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
3:30pm - 5:00pmLocal Partner - ACCD: New Technologies and the Search for Missing Persons: Processes and Experiences
Location: Plenary room
Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD)
This session will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation in English
Plenary room 
5:00pm - 5:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C3 1: Algorithms and Social Media
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Emily Sample, George Mason University, United States of America
Room 1 

Online hate, offline violence

Matias Sakkal

Auschwitz institute for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities

The Second World War brought to light the horrors of “state discrimination”, and how exclusion and hate speech can be implemented as a state policy. Nowadays, challenges have changed. Although in the past the fear was that discrimination would become part of the official discourse of a state, and translate into exclusionary policies, today, what should also draw public attention is the fact that the logic of discrimination, classification and exclusion circulates freely on social networks.

The main social networks use algorithms that consist of a series of automatic mathematical calculations that determine what is shown to the user. Until recently, publications were displayed chronologically; however, with the expansion of social networks, the algorithm has begun to show what it considers relevant to the user in order to attract their attention.

Consequently, if these algorithms show meaningful content to the user, it probably is information the user agrees and feels comfortable with. At first glance, this would not present a problem. Furthermore, receiving that sort of material may even be considered appealing. However, what happened in Myanmar is a proof of how social media have considerably amplified the rise of hate-fueled rhetoric and polarization.

What role is online hate speech and disinformation playing in the resurgence of oppression and human rights violations?

Are social media business models compatible with democratic values ​​and the protection of human rights?

What tools, mechanisms, and approaches can be used by state, civil society, and the private sector to counter online hate?

Who should be held accountable for the regulation of hate speech on social media?

Today's challenges are extremely complex and require serious and reasonable discussion; a debate with a perspective on the prevention of mass atrocities, something that a programmed system would not be able to do.

“A Neutral Platform for ‘Free Speech:’ The Role of Social Media in the United States’ Continued Perpetration of Mass Atrocities against Marginalized Groups

Alexis Anne Poston

George Mason University, United States of America

Parler co-founder Jared Thomson claimed he and co-founder, John Matze, founded Parler “to provide a neutral platform for free speech…” This promise of no censorship has drawn over three million individuals to this new social media platform. Screenshots of Parler posts have demonstrated the use of the social media platform to encourage (1) violence against marginalized communities and individuals with more left-leaning political views, (2) incitement of political violence, and (3) inherently genocidal rhetoric. However, Parler is not the first social media platform that has permitted such posts. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, and many others actively permit hate groups and individuals who use their social media profiles to promote genocidal rhetoric, organize inherently violent organizations (i.e., the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally), and carry out inherently violent attacks against individuals with very little, if any, type of punishment (i.e., bans, removal of profiles, etc.) Furthermore, there have been numerous reports of social media platforms disproportionately censoring members of marginalized groups and organizations that are actively working to address systemic racism, misogyny, genocide, fascism, and war. In this paper I will argue that social media platforms are playing an active role in the continued perpetration of mass atrocities against marginalized groups in the United States. Furthermore, this paper will discuss possible paths forward that can be used to hold social media platforms responsible for enabling the commission of mass atrocities and future prevention.

Media Representation of Suicide Bombers

Christina Teresa McCormick

George Mason University, United States of America

In the 21st Century, terrorism and other violent acts of mass atrocity often receive significant media coverage. They also allow editors and journalists an opportunity to formulate how individuals perceive the event, but not all violent acts are reported on, receive the same amount of attention, or are depicted in the same way (e.g., location, victim(s), weapon), or published by the same outlets. Previous research has revealed diverse frames and narratives that the media utilize when portraying female suicide bombers, in addition to demonstrating how effective narratives and frames can be in forming public opinion, identities, and affecting policies and political agendas. There has, however, not been a study that examines these specific outlets or looks at potential differences between them with respect to the frames they use. Proceeding from a Critical Discourse Analysis of five news outlets, this study endeavors to detail and analyze the primary delineations that were used by journalists to depict these women. It also puts forward how the identified frames depict these women’s actions with the gender and patriarchal constructions that promulgate in many societies, thereby protecting the systemically dominant narratives. It is critical that journalists provide a valid representation of these women and not constrain them as either victims or active agents of violence. This can only be achieved by creating awareness throughout journalism which seeks to understand the ramifications of their discursive writing habits and provides relevant data and actionable recommendations to news publications and organizations that serve to alleviate and address any barriers and pressures they may face.

Can Mathematical Models Predict Genocide?

Jack Nusan Porter

The Davis Center, Harvard University

My paper which was accepted at the last Yerevan conference but I did not give the paper due to health reasons. So I submit it here. I wish I could send the entire paper. It is "Can Mathematical Models Predict Gencode?" in short, how probability theory, chaos theory, and Bayesian analysis can pridict not only genocide but teriroristic attacks and assassinations.

The digital world can be used both to predict and to commit genocide and terror, for both good and evil.

The security departments of nations have long used these techniques to track and to predict genocidal and terroistic attacks, including assassinations,. I hope with feed back I will improve my model.

I am sorry I am a few days late. I have been trying desperately to get a covid-19 vaccine. I am 76 and finally I got approval to get one next week.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C3 2: Repetition of Hatred and Violence
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Khushboo Chauhan, O.P. Jindal Global University, India
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.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C3 3: Confronting Rohingya Genocide with New Technology
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Elisenda Calvet Martinez, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 3 

Confronting Rohingya Genocide with New Technology

Chair(s): Mofidul Hoque (Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh, People's Republic of)

Ever since the sudden influx of Rohingya victims of Genocidal brutalities to Bangladesh the global community has acted in many different ways. While the Security Council has failed to react appropriately the process of justice and accountability has taken its own course. Both ICJ and ICC has taken up the case in their respective court. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the reality and many activities among and with the Rohingya community has come to a standstill. One the other hand digital platform and new technology has created new opportunities to address the issue of confronting ongoing genocide. New technology has to play more effective role in various aspects such as documentation of atrocity crimes and projecting the plight of the victims. Digital communication has opened new possibilities and international community must take advantage of that. The panelists will address the issue from various perspectives to enhance the role of new technology in confronting Genocide.


Presentations of the Symposium


Art and Genocide: Creating Digital Platform

Mofidul Hoque
Liberation War Museum

Even since Bangladesh hosted more than 700,000 Rohingya victims of genocide the local people extended various support to the refugee community. This has found reflection in various artistic endeavour to uphold the victims suffering, highlight the pattern of atrocities and bring hope to the hopeless people. The artistic community of Bangladesh reacted in many ways including painting, sculpture, literature, theatre, film-making, photographs etc. They also engaged with the victim community encouraging them to come up with their own artistic renderation. Such efforts have given rise to a wealth of artistic treasure. Since last one year with the spread of Covid-19 pandemic the artistic activities has come to a standstill. On the other hand the digital platform and social media has become more active and showed new possibilities. How that new opportunity can be exploited to promote art against genocide is the challenge of the day. The paper will highlight the role of art and the way digital communication can enhance that role to confront Genocide.


Educating Rohingya Children: Use of Digital Technology

Prethee Majbahin
Liberation War Museum

Conflicts, unrest political environment and poverty have contributed to the growing flow of refugees around the world, particularly from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Most recently, Bangladesh has been overwhelmed by the Rohingyas since violence erupted in Buddhist- dominated Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Millions of Rohingyas have fled from their country to Bangladesh. Conditions are worsening in the border town of Cox’s Bazar where the influx has imposed additional pressure on Rohingya camps that are already overwhelmed with people from earlier waves of refugees. Though the Rohingyas are expected to return back to Myanmar as early as possible, the Government of Bangladesh with support of humanitarian partners is trying to support the Rohingya refugees by allowing them access to basic services, including education. This research aims to provide an overview of education system in Rohingya camps by examining present situation of the schools in Rohingya refugee camps and analyze the use of digital technology in education. Moreover, this study will shed light on the challenges prevailing in Rohingya education system, risk factors of dropouts of Rohingya children and develop a constructive framework that might be helpful to ensure better education for the Rohingya refugees.


Quilt of Memory and Hope: Digital Exhibition of AJAR and LWM

Pia Conradsen1, Nasrin Akter2
1AJAR, 2Liberation War Museum

The Rohingya are very likely to be involved in decades of struggle for the fulfillment of their rights. The fight against impunity must be a process that strengthens women survivors and their networks to demand rights and improve the quality of their lives in the camps. Since March 2019, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and the Liberation War Museum (LWM) have been conducting participatory action research with more than 80 women in the Rohingya Refugee Camps in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Based on reflections of their life-stories, the women sew a panel to express their feelings, hopes, dreams, and memories. In May 2020, AJAR and LWM launched the online exhibition Quilt of Memory and Hope: Story of Rohingya Women Survivors sharing the stories from Rohingya women survivors told through the embroidered panels.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe our understanding of transitional justice should explore the relationship between human rights education and healing outcomes through digital technology, specifically through creative expression familiar to the community. The online quilt exhibition is one way to preserve, remember and share the stories of victims. This ability to hold these stories in a digital space is playing an increasingly pivotal role in preserving records for genocide prevention and education as well as the advancement of rights, including access to justice.


Digital Technology in Documenting Mass Atrocity Crimes: A Project to Implement

Sharjin Jahan, Kazi Taposhe Rabeya
Liberation War Museum

Ever since the sudden influx of Rohingya victims of Genocidal brutalities to Bangladesh the global community has acted in many different ways. While the Security Council has failed to react appropriately the process of justice and accountability has taken its own course. Both ICJ and ICC has taken up the case in their respective court. Ever since the sudden influx of Rohingya victims of Genocidal brutalities to Bangladesh the global community has acted in many different ways. While the Security Council has failed to react appropriately the process of justice and accountability has taken its own course. Both ICJ and ICC has taken up the case in their respective court. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the reality and many activities among and with the Rohingya community has come to a standstill. One the other hand digital platform and new technology has created new opportunities to address the issue of confronting ongoing genocide. New technology has to play more effective role in various aspects such as documentation of atrocity crimes and projecting the plight of the victims. Digital communication has opened new possibilities and international community must take advantage of that. The panelists will address the issue from various perspectives to enhance the role of new technology in confronting Genocide.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C3 4: Genocide Memorialization in the Digital Era
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: David Simon, Yale University, United States of America
Room 4 

Genocide Memorialization in the Digital Era

Chair(s): David Simon (Yale University, United States of America), Eve Zucker (Yale University, United States)

Rapidly changing technology enables individuals and communities to remember mass atrocities in new ways. Developments from blogs and social media to holograms, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality each permit changes in the very nature of memorialization, including simultaneously, and sometimes paradoxically, decentralizing and globalizing it.

Virtual memorialization loosens, if not shatters, the control states once possessed over memorialization in its predigital practice. It expands beyond the traditional forms like monuments, museums and archives, and so bears the prospect of fundamentally changing how and where collective memory is formed and retransmitted. Digital technology allows those processes to devolve to individuals.

As a result, new local and transnational connections emerge, sometimes reinforcing state narratives and sometimes contesting them. Meanwhile, previously marginalized voices may find a broader audience and emergent virtual communities can generate their own vocabularies as well as their own touchstones for pride, grievance and understanding.

The emergence of digital memorialization provides scholars with a new terrain to assess across the disciplines. For historians there are new opportunities to use new sources and appreciate a broader array of perspectives about the past. Political scientists might analyze emergent discourses – and discord – surrounding the past. Sociologists could study how new forms of memorialization change the way we see each other, and anthropologists might consider how these developments change who we see ourselves and, even, who we are.

The participants on this panel embrace different disciplinary approaches to the study of digital memorialization, focusing particularly on the memorialization of episodes of genocide. Representing Africa, Europe, and North America, and addressing cases pertaining to Africa, Asia, Europe, they collectively highlight some of the convergences in the practice of memorialization in the digital era while appreciating the particular patterns and nuances that emerge in different social, historical and cultural contexts.


Presentations of the Symposium


Wikipedia as a Site of Virtual Memorialization

David Simon
Yale University, USA

Wikipedia is a user-curated, online encyclopedia. As such, it possesses all the ingredients to be a site of contested virtual memorialization: members of the general public who are passionate about the propagation of a certain interpretation regarding a particular historical event have the potential to contribute to the production of a seemingly authoritative narrative that becomes globally available. Of course, others with divergent interpretations of the same event have, in theory, equal access to the same process.

In this paper, I examine how contestation over the interpretation of mass atrocity events plays out over Wikipedia. I do so by examining the text and – more importantly – the contribution histories of several events that culminated, or nearly culminated in genocide. Selected events include the Biafran Secession/Nigerian Civil War, the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the 2007-2008 Kenyan post-election crisis (as well as pages addressing memorials for each). I will address the stability of the narrative on view over time, the trajectory of narrative development, the respective contexts of competing narratives, and the strategies that authors of competing narratives appear to devise, both within a given Wikipedia page and within the broader Wikipedia environment.


Collaborative memory production through digital media: Cases from the Holocaust

Eve Zucker
Yale University, USA

The individual and micro-collective practice of digital memorialization of past genocides is increasingly available through online searching, archiving and narrating on and through digital platforms and through the use of other digital tools such like google maps, digitalized photographs and documents. Through such activities, individual and micro-collective memories are formed, reformed, and shared among survivors, descendants, and at times the wider public.

Through a description of the researching of stories of two mixed marriage German families who survived the Holocaust, I examine the roles and implications of the modes and character of information collection. In both cases, few details were available of these dark years until recently through initial chance findings on the internet, followed by further discoveries. This paper examines the emergent connections, and the transmissions that culminated in the discovery of shared histories set to the background of the COVID pandemic.

The cases demonstrate how the utilization of digital media in memorial activities fosters collaboration producing microcommunities of memory, enables new trajectories in memory transmission, potentially creates new epistemologies and perhaps even ontologies, and expands our notions of time and temporalities.


'January 7' on Cambodian Political Elites' Social Media Accounts

Daniel Bultmann
Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

In Cambodia, January 7 is a public holiday commemorating the day in 1979 when Vietnamese troops alongside Khmer Rouge defectors ousted the Khmer Rouge regime from power. At the same time, it is a highly contentious day, as many Cambodians view it as the day when the Vietnamese took power and—at least for some of the most radical wings within the opposition and despite officially withdrawing their troops in 1989—never returned it, installing a puppet regime under the leadership of Heng Samrin, Chea Sim, and Hun Sen.

Using social network analysis, the presentation analyzes the discourse surrounding that day on the social media accounts of members of the Cambodian power elite. Data were collected from the Instagram and Facebook accounts of the 500 most powerful members of the government, opposition, and civil society. The presentation maintains that memorialization of that event is not necessarily politically differentiated but is socially differentiated instead—each social group within the elite has its own interpretation of the regime and the day of liberation. Moreover, the degree of anti-Vietnamese rhetoric can be explained by the varying levels of relative deprivation experienced by these power elite groups in the aftermath of the invasion.


#TogetherAsOne: Commemorating Historical Traumas during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Victoria Walden
University of Sussex, UK

Commemoration events involve people coming together in a specific location to perform a set of ritualistic behaviours. Embodied co-mingling and co-performance are the very essences of ’co-mmemoration.’ However, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 forced organisations to quickly rethink plans for what would have been huge commemorative events at specific sites commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the final Nazi concentration camps and the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide.

In this paper, I explore examples of online commemorations held during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to consider the extent to which this digital shift changes the form of the ‘commemoration event’. If such events are rooted in togetherness, physical place, and ritualistic performativity, to what extent do digital commemorations, often accessed from far-away domestic spaces rather than public places, offer new ways to think about what commemoration is, and what it can be? Do they simply remediate physical events, or do they differ so much from their offline counterparts that they cease to be commemorations at all, but rather present new forms of memory practice?


Commemoration in a time of Restriction: Rwanda’s Memorialization Process During a Global Pandemic

Jean-Damascène Gasanabo
National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide, Rwanda

In 2020, the global pandemic presented deep challenges to Rwandan traditions of remembrance. Memorialization and commemoration comprise a central pillar to healing and growth in the country, while forming a vital component for collective unity and remembrance of those who were lost in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. For Rwandans, memorialization ceremonies have created a time and space for communities to come together, support one another, and address current issues which afflict our country.

The inability to conduct memorialization practices in person forced Rwandans to adapt. The Commission National pour la Lutte contre le Genocide (CNLG) utilized technology to adapt to the situation and create virtual opportunities for individuals to partake in both commemorative and educational events about the Genocide. Using television and radio shows, newspaper articles, social media, continuous release of information, recorded panel discussions, and presentation to both domestic and international audiences, CNLG created a platform for people to engage in the memorialization process while adhering to safety protocols.

In this paper, I examine the gains and losses inherent in these virtual ceremonies. While they lacked the cultural atmosphere of Kwibuka and other commemoration ceremonies, they nonetheless created an opportunity to reach a wider audience as well as to engage individuals in meaningful and constructive conversations about the Genocide and current issues of genocide ideology and denial.

7:00pm - 7:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
7:30pm - 9:00pmsession D3 1: Movement Stemming from Genocide
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 1 

Episodes of Genocide: The Gatumba Lens

Christopher P Davey

Brigham Young University, United States of America

This paper addresses how single episodes of genocides, or massacres, frame an intersubjective pattern of genocide. In August 2004, a Burundian refugee camp housing mainly Congolese Tutsi refugees or Banyamulenge, was attacked in a manner indicative of violence against Tutsi during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Whilst this case can be seen in isolation, it serves as a distinct narrative point for Banyamulenge in Congo and in the wider diaspora. This paper examines the significance of a single massacre using the Gatumba case study, and will use various sources, such as NGO reporting, to recount this 2004 attack. In doing I answer the following question: How does massacre create genocide narrative identity? It is then hypothesized that massacre creates meaning in memory as a distinct narrative point, constructing a gneocie narrative identity. This paper focuses on a narrative analysis of fieldwork interviews with current and former Banyamulenge soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as interviews with Banyamulenge refugees in the global diaspora, particularly those in the UK and USA. The creation of genocide narrative idnetities happens through the processes of reciting trauma, narrative production within group networks, and through memorialization.

The Principle of Non-Refoulement in Atrocity Prevention

Susan Braden

Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, United States of America

Transitional justice in societies which have experienced atrocities includes a variety of processes which fall under the pillars of truth, justice, reparations, memory, and guarantees of non-recurrence. Some scholars argue that processes contributing to each of these pillars should be pursued simultaneously, to help ensure a society is able to process things and move forward. As the guarantees of non-recurrence pillar is rather vague and open-ended as a concept, it has been regarded as the least developed thus far. As a result, it is necessary to broaden perspectives on approaches which contribute to guaranteeing the non-recurrence of atrocities but have not yet been identified as such. The principle of non-refoulement is one of these. It is an aspect of international law stating that individuals, including but not limited to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants (regardless of migration status) should not be transferred to a country where their safety is in danger or they face degrading or ill-treatment. Most often, refugees have fled from a country due to a threat of identity-based violence against them. Since the guarantee of non-recurrence pillar specifically refers to preventing the recurrence of atrocities, utilizing the principle of non-refoulement in international law should serve as an additional atrocity prevention tool to further ensure that those who have experienced identity-based violence in a country are not returned there to face the same violence and persecution. Therefore, this presentation will demonstrate why the principle of non-refoulement should be considered as one of the many tools which contributes to the guarantee of non-recurrence of atrocities under transitional justice, and thus contributes to atrocity prevention overall.

A Theory of Displacement Atrocity Crimes: New Frontiers in Mid-Range Theory

Andrew R. Basso

Western University, Canada

Why do perpetrators use forced displacement as a tool to commit atrocity crimes? ‘Displacement Atrocity’ (DA) crimes are understood as indirect killing systems that uniquely fuse forced displacement and systemic deprivations of vital daily needs (food, water, clothing, shelter, and medical care) to destroy populations in whole or in part. In this presentation, I offer a full typology of DA crimes based on genocidal or non-genocidal intent (x-axis) and kettling or escorting subtypes (y-axis). Kettling DA crimes occur when perpetrators displace populations into large geographies and do not allow them to escape from a cordon of death measured in geographical area. Escorting DA crimes occur when perpetrators exploit long distances and destroy targeted populations using linear death marches measured in kilometres. I have also uncovered causal pathways which specifically trigger DA crimes. To demonstrate the utility of the DA crime theory as an explanatory and predictive model, I use the Herero Genocide (genocidal kettling, 1904-1908), Ottoman Genocide of Christian Minorities (genocidal escorting, 1914-1925), Expulsion of Germans (non-genocidal escorting, 1944-1950), and structural possibilities for climate violence (non-genocidal kettling, 21st Century) as cases. I also test these processes of violence against counter-cases that were perpetrated at approximately the same times and spaces as the main crucial cases but DA crimes did not occur: the Nama Genocide (1905-1908), Hamidian Massacres (1894-1897), the Holocaust (1938-1945), and possible prevention regimes for climate violence (21st Century). This important addition to mid-range genocide theory identifies and classifies a new type of annihilatory practice in DA crimes. This aids in recognizing, stopping, and punishing violent displacements in the past, present, and future. It is vital to study these practices given the current record number 79.5 million displaced persons globally and the structural possibilities for future DA crimes against disempowered groups.

Can Children Speak? New Perspectives on Forced Displacement and Survival during the Armenian Genocide

Asya Darbinyan

Clark University, United States of America

A major focus in scholarly discussion on Armenian children during genocide has been their persecution and victimhood. In very few publications children emerge as important actors; their individual experiences and agency are rarely considered or analyzed. Writing about the importance of children’s eyewitness testimonies, Donald E. Miller rightly stated, “rather than seeing it as a liability, we believe that this point of view [children’s perspective] offers a unique opportunity to understand human tragedy as it affects those who are typically voiceless in the society.” (D. E. Miller and L. Touryan Miller, 1993) Building on Miller’s argument, in this paper, I examine the experiences and accounts of Armenian children from Van, Bitlis, and elsewhere, who found temporary shelter and refuge in the Russian Empire. My project recovers the largely neglected voices of this particular group of survivors of the genocide and displacement at the Ottoman-Russian border regions during the First World War.

This paper focuses on the accounts of Armenian orphans and underlines both the devastating condition of children and other refugees during the crisis and the challenges they yet had to face, trying to survive in a new place. Furthermore, these testimonies show the level of self-awareness of these children in distress. While their memories of suffering and loss were very fresh and painful, in many instances these refugee orphans realized the depth of their situation, complained about the shortcomings of the relief work and, at the same time, appreciated the assistance provided for them.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D3 2: Justice, Truth, and Memory (Spanish Session)
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Noemi Morell, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 2 

¿Que entienden los tribunales argentinos por genocidio? Un análisis de las sentencias judiciales

Malena Silveyra

Centro de Estudios sobre Genocidio, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero/ Observatorio de Crímenes de Estado- FSOC, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Cuando los tribunales califican los hechos como genocidio no dicen siempre lo mismo. Esta ponencia se propone analizar las sentencias argentinas que califican los crímenes de Estado perpetrados entre mediados de la década del 70 y 1983 como genocidio.

Desde la reapertura de los juicios en 2006 se instaló el debate sobre la calificación jurídica. Impulsado originalmente por querellantes, la insistencia en que se calificara como genocidio, pretendía acercar el modo de comprender y nominar el proceso construido por sobrevivientes y organizaciones de derechos humanos con las definiciones judiciales.

Por las características propias de la figura jurídica de genocidio (crimen que requiere la intención de destrucción total o parcial de uno de los cuatro grupos establecidos en la Convención de 1948) los tribunales que debatieron su aceptación han debido introducirse con mayor profundidad en el debate sobre quiénes eran las víctimas (si constituyen un grupo o parte de un grupo) y sobre la causalidad del proceso (para establecer la intención del perpetrador).

En 43 causas se incorporó la calificación entendiendo que se aniquiló a una parcialidad del grupo nacional argentino. Sin embargo, en lo que refiere a la intencionalidad de los perpetradores hay tribunales que la ubican como el intento de destrucción del grupo nacional argentino (mediante el aniquilamiento de una parte) mientras que otros consideran que se intentó destruir un grupo nacional (parcialidad) caracterizado por sus prácticas políticas. Estos modos de concebir el grupo atacado y la intencionalidad del perpetrador construyen distintos sentidos sobre el proceso histórico ubicando al conjunto social en distintas situaciones respecto del mismo (afectación primaria o secundaria).

En la ponencia se analizarán las 43 sentencias haciendo incapié en las argumentaciones respecto de la aplicabilidad de la figura jurídica de genocidio de acuerdo a la Convención y en la interpretación sobre el contexto histórico nacional.

Genocidio: memoria y olvido


Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentine Republic

Los derechos a la verdad, la justicia y la reparación, como derechos de las víctimas de violaciones de derechos humanos y de crímenes tales como el genocidio y los crímenes de lesa humanidad, conforman un tríptico sobre el cual se basa la justicia transicional y la prevención de nuevas violaciones y nuevos crímenes.

Allí aparece la memoria, como forma de reparación según la doctrina imperante. Pero la memoria es más que una forma de reparación. Primero, no es sólo una forma de reparar los daños de las víctimas individuales sino que también es una forma de determinar la verdad y hacer justicia. Este es un derecho de toda comunidad como víctima colectiva. Segundo, la memoria es el ingrediente esencial que permite fundar la justicia transicional hacia una paz duradera, por medio de la garantía de no repetición.

El derecho a la reparación de las víctimas de violaciones de derechos humanos, entre ellas, las víctimas de genocidio, comprende entonces el derecho a la memoria, no como una individualidad o forma sino como verdadero hilo conductor de satisfacción de todos sus derechos y, en consecuencia, de las obligaciones de los Estados. Porque la memoria no solo se satisface con reparación, sino que también es alcanzada por la búsqueda de la verdad y la posibilidad de justicia. Y la herramienta digital es una colaboradora eficaz en este proceso de memoria.

Contra este tríptico se alzan voces y experiencias comparadas que postulan el olvido. Se expone abiertamente la propuesta de olvidar como modo de transición hacia la paz. En contra de estándares internacionales claros sobre la necesidad de verdad, justicia y reparación (con la memoria presente en los tres derechos), existen ejemplos concretos que han procurado el olvido, en un claro atentado contra los derechos de las víctimas.

Reconfiguraciones en torno a la Verdad, la Memoria y la Justicia durante el gobierno de Cambiemos en Argentina (2015-2019). Un análisis de la prensa escrita

Natalia Paola Crocco

CONICET- Centro de Estudios sobre Genocidio-UNTREF, Argentine Republic

En diciembre de 2015 asume la presidencia de la Nación Argentina Mauricio Macri. Durante su mandato que se prolongará hasta el año 2019 se destacaron dos características fundamentales respecto al proceso de juzgamiento por los crímenes cometidos por el estado durante la última dictadura militar (1976-1983) que se desarrollado desde el año 2006. La primera característica se vincula a la continuidad de los juicios; en segunda instancia se produce una reconfiguración de los principales consensos en materia de memoria, verdad y justicia construidos desde finalizada la dictadura y muchos de ellos consagrados desde las políticas públicas y el discurso oficial durante las presidencias de Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) y Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015).

Este proceso de continuidad y reconfiguración se desarrolló en un contexto de acelerado abandonó por parte del Estado del acompañamiento oficial del proceso de juzgamiento y al desfinanciamiento, desmantelamiento y discontinuidad de las distintas áreas y programas estatales vinculados a la memoria, la verdad y la justicia. A este creciente abandono estatal en materia de derechos humanos, en simultáneo se le acopló un conjunto de declaraciones públicas expresadas por funcionarios gubernamentales relativizando los crímenes cometidos durante la dictadura como así también el alcance de los juicios en materia de responsabilidades.

Esta ponencia propone analizar los desplazamientos políticos mencionados a partir del análisis de archivo de la prensa escrita digital. Específicamente se trabajará con los diarios La Nación, Clarín y Página/12 dando cuenta sobre la disputa en torno a la legitimidad del juzgamiento a los responsables de los crímenes y a la emergencia del discurso académico en los diarios como parte de esta disputa. El análisis propuesto constituye una parcialidad de mi tesis de doctorado y se sostiene sobre un trabajo de archivo exhaustivo y la propuesta metodológica de la arqueología de Michel Foucault.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D3 3: Fifty Years of Bangladesh Genocide and Aftermaths
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Adam Jason Jones, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Canada
Room 3 

Fifty years of Bangladesh genocide and aftermaths

Chair(s): Adam Jones (University of British Columbia)

This year Bangladesh observes its 50th birth anniversary. The country came into being through a barbaric genocide in 1971 that causes lives of certainly well into seven figures. This is a thematic panel discussion dedicated to the Bangladesh case entitled Fifty years of Bangladesh genocide and aftermaths. With Professor Adam Jones, a renowned genocide expert, in the chair – the panel consists of four scholars from Bangladesh, affiliated with reputed international universities, as presenters. The titles of the papers include: i) Intergenerational memory of genocide in digital age: The case of Bangladesh; ii) Factors and perceptions of 1971 genocide among Bengali young people: an ethnographic study; iii) Justice for the victims of 1971genocide: Achievements, challenges and the future; and iv) Bangladesh genocide: Recognition at home and abroad.


Presentations of the Symposium


Intergenerational Memory of Genocide in Digital Age: The Case of Bangladesh

Shahriar Islam
Binghamton University

Even after 50 years of experiencing genocide, Bangladesh still looks to answer some pertinent questions regarding the memory of that horrific violence across generations. In this research, I focus on the intergenerational memory of genocide in Bangladesh to understand digital media's role where different generations have exposure to the growing digital platforms in the 21st century. My presentation will portray a part of my field research in Bangladesh that I conducted to collect data on intergenerational memory and its impact on trust in governance for my doctoral thesis. In the data analysis, I found that different generations perceived the high school textbooks as a lesser credible source of memory of genocide that transmits across generations. However, as different generations perceived that their genocide memory heavily relies on movies, novels, and familial interaction, we need to understand how digital media affects such perceptions. In my presentation, I depict how digital growth affects intergenerational memory, which is critically informed by movies, novels, and familial interaction and, to some extent, the high school textbooks to contribute to the 1971 genocide's socio-political recognition within the country, which would prevent intractable conflicts.


Factors and perceptions of 1971 genocide among Bengali young people: An ethnographic study

Md Asaduzzaman
Arizona State University

Bangladesh is going to celebrate its fifty years of independence. Behind this, history was shaded by 3 million deaths and brutal genocide by the Pakistani Army in 1971. This study explores how young Bengali people perceived that history and genocide after 50 years. This study examines what factors and perceptions are significant to perceived genocide history and how this history is roaming on Bengali young's social and cultural domain through the anthropological theoretical lens of historical particularism. In this study, data gained by interviews, observation, autoethnography methods and analyzed relevant secondary sources.


Justice for the Victims of 1971Genocide: Achievements, Challenges and the Future

Emraan Azad
University of Cambridge

Throughout the history of independent Bangladesh, different political factors have impeded and delayed international justice process for the victims of 1971 genocide committed against the Bengali population by the Pakistani military forces in association with the local collaborators. One early legislation known as the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order 1972 and the tribunals established under this law were abrogated by the military-backed government of 1975 immediately after the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Even the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 which was made to prosecute international crimes of 1971, was kept non-functional until 2010 only when the first ever international criminal tribunal was established to try accused individuals responsible for committing genocide. Even many of the anti-liberation forces who once opposed the independence of Bangladesh and assisted the Pakistani perpetrators to commit international crimes, were officially forgiven, received with state honour and gradually rehabilitated in national politics by almost all the post-1975 governments – both military and civil ones. This array of political favouritism then actually provided a stamp of legitimacy to the culture of impunity in the socio-political history of Bangladesh. In this backdrop, the present paper intends to analyse the historical evolution of international justice process in Bangladesh, specifically outlining its core achievements, challenges and the future. In doing so, the paper also discusses notable political impediments that were state-sponsored to slow down the whole justice process since the time of independence.


Bangladesh genocide: Recognition at home and abroad

Tawheed Reza Noor
Binghamton University

Bangladesh emerged in 1971 experiencing horrific genocide perpetrated by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators. Although during its emergence, this case received intense media coverage, and got recognized as one of the most concentrated act of genocide in the twentieth century but over time many factors (including deadly denial) played roles due to which the Bangladesh case lost its importance at home and abroad. Bangladesh’s birth was a unique phenomenon as it was the first nation-state that emerged through a successful liberation war against a neo-colonial state. In 2021, Bangladesh fulfils its 50th year but unfortunately despite a body of good literature that endorse Bangladesh case, hardly it is considered as ‘genocide’ in the global forum/arena/listing. While genocide has become a much-studied topic in the academia, very little attention is paid to Bangladesh case – one of the most horrific episodes in twentieth century. At this outset, the present paper explores and analyzes the recognition aspects of Bangladesh genocide, particularly pinpointing the key issues, and challenges for achieving due recognition of this very case. The paper concludes with the expected strategies that may help achieving the long awaited recognition of Bangladesh genocide.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D3 4: Transmedia Engagements with the Armenian Genocide and Its Legacies
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Armen Marsoobian, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 4 

Transmedia Engagements with the Armenian Genocide and Its Legacies

Chair(s): Armen Marsoobian (International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America), Adam Muller (University of Manitoba)

This panel considers different aspects of the way the memory and meaning of the Armenian Genocide is conveyed, transformed, and recovered by different media, including heritage sites, monuments, virtual augmentations, photographs, and podcasts. Our primary emphasis falls on the kinds of stories that are both made possible and/or precluded by the technological and other constraints inherent in specific representational contexts and expressive media.

The panel begins with Donna Frieze’s account of “transmedia storytelling” as she develops this idea through sustained consideration of a podcast devoted to narrating the history of the Armenian Genocide; Armen Marsoobian will provide details concerning a digital memory project built around an important photography archive that aims to shed light on the variety and richness of pre-genocide Armenian life, as well as the scale and force of its destruction; Peter Balakian will assess the impact of government attempts to eradicate the memory of Armenians in Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan, which continues to destroy and reappropriate Armenian cultural heritage; and Adam Muller will introduce, contextualize, and assess the prospects of a new digital collaboration seeking to disrupt attempts at Azeri genocide and other denial through virtual reconstructions of lost Armenian cross-stones.

The four papers comprising this panel converge in their acknowledgment of the dependence of genocide memory and cultures of remembrance not just on the specifics of the stories we tell about the past, but also on the location these stories are told, and the representational means used to tell them. Together our papers will argue that while the facts of a genocide remain discoverable, which of those facts are remembered – and how, where, and through which representational means remembering takes place – remains contingent in ways that create opportunities for enhanced forms of genocide education.


Presentations of the Symposium


Erasing History: Cultural Genocide, Digital Witnessing, and International Law: The Armenian Cemetery in Djulfa, Nakhichevan

Peter Balakian
Colgate University

The case of the systematic campaign by Azerbaijan to destroy Armenian cultural heritage in the historic Armenian province of Nakhichevan, which is now under Azeri control, has been recorded by digital media: video footage and satellite cameras. Between 1998 and 2004 about 10,000 stone crosses or khachkars in the largest Armenian cemetery in the world in Djulfa, Nakhichevan were destroyed and erased. The goal was to eradicate the Armenian historic presence from a part of this segment of its homeland for the purpose of erasing history to further Azerbaijan’s colonial conquest in the south Caucasus. The most dramatic images were captured in December of 2005 by Armenian Bishop Nishan Topouzian standing few a hundred yards across the Araxes River in Iran with a video camera. His footage of Azerbaijani forces sledge hammering hundreds of khachkars, loading the debris into trucks and then dumping the remains in the River went viral and quickly became a digitally transmitted witness account of the violence.

My paper will discuss this history through the lens of Raphael Lemkin’s notion of cultural destruction as a component of genocide as he defined the problem in his various writings starting with his 1933 Madrid paper. From Lemkin’s notion I will then explore the relevance of the Hague Protocols of 1954, ‘77, and ’99 that deal with the destruction of cultural property as an international crime. I will close by suggesting how witness images and their presence in our digital memory constructs might impact pursuits of justice.


The Power of Personal Archives in Witnessing, Teaching, and Visual Storytelling: The Armenian Memory Project

Armen T. Marsoobian
Southern Connecticut State University

The Armenian Memory Project is a collaborative effort designed to harness the energy and resources of academia and the Armenian American diaspora for the goal of fostering greater understanding of endangered and destroyed Armenian cultural heritage and the impact human rights crimes had on the Armenian community. In 2019 and 2020, students and faculty from the University of Connecticut worked with Armenian American institutions and individuals on an initial project, employing digital media technology to tell the story of one immigrant Armenian family, the Dildilians. Under the auspices of the university’s Norian Armenian Program, a unique course was created to produce a documentary film centering around the experiences of this family in Ottoman Turkey before, during, and after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Designed and taught by a documentary filmmaker with support from a family archivist/historian, the course brought a select group of students together in a collaborative and transformative learning experience. By immersing themselves in the Dildilian family’s extensive photography and documentary archive, these students came to understand the important role that the past continues to play in the lives of Armenians who live among us today. Furthermore, by taking on the responsibility as storytellers of the Dildilian narrative, students developed a deeper identification with this distant history and, in a wider sense, an appreciation for the ethical value of memory in bearing witness to the past injustices. This collaborative and participatory framework for teaching using archival collections can serve as a model for creating a transformative learning experience in the study of human rights, war, and genocide for outreach to schools and the wider community.


Recovering the Khachkars of Djulfa: Challenging Genocide Denial in Azerbaijan

Adam Muller
University of Manitoba

This presentation explores the aesthetic and political possibilities inherent in a new critical-creative digital collaboration entitled The Khachkars of Djulfa. While multifaceted, the project seeks above all to promote genocide education and challenge genocide denial through the construction of a “spatial augmented reality” virtual 3D installation that recreates some of the thousands of khachkars (cross-stones) destroyed in the medieval Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, Azerbaijan, by the country’s Turkic government. The khachkars were eradicated as part of Azerbaijan’s attempt to erase any physical traces of an Armenian population and its history in its territory.

Taking as a point of departure Peter Balakian’s view that the destruction of Djulfa’s khachkars contributes to an attempted cultural genocide in Azerbaijan (and, relatedly, Turkey), my remarks will explore the political and technological contexts for The Khachkars of Djulfa, with special emphasis on the latter. I will discuss some of the lessons we can learn from present as well as past “digital sites of mourning” (DSMs), a term I will unpack, contextualize, and offer for critique. Organized around experiences of loss, the DSM concept helps to explain the scope as well as the political and pedagogical ambitions of The Khachkars of Djulfa.


Date: Thursday, 22/July/2021
11:00am - 11:30amReception
Location: lounge
11:30am - 1:00pmSession A4 1: Armenian Genocide and Beyond
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Marc Sherman, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem, Israel
Room 1 

Armenian Resistance to the Hamidian Massacres

Deborah Mayersen

University of New South Wales Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Australia

Between 1894 and 1896, the Hamidian massacres claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. This paper presents an exploratory analysis of Armenian resistance to the massacres. It examines the context and contours of resistance, including the strategies employed, scope and organization of resistance efforts. Evidence indicates that resistance was widespread, and Armenians adopted a diverse range of strategies in attempting self-protection. In some places Armenians mounted organized, armed resistance, with limited successes. In other locations a range of non-violence resistance strategies were utilized. These included attempts to purchase immunity from the violence, to seek sanctuary in places perceived as safe, and to hide from the perpetrators. The relative powerlessness of the Armenian minority, however, meant that most attempts at resistance were overwhelmed. Additionally, resisters were often targeted for especially violent retribution. The lack of success of resistance efforts can also be partially explained by the role of the Ottoman government in the massacres.

Armenian genocide scholarship in the digital era

Suren Manukyan

Armenian Genocide Museum&Institute, Armenia

Sources of Armenian genocide were long time very problematic for many scholars for several reasons.

During the WWI war, military censorship was enforced in the Ottoman empire and any information about the Armenian massacres was prohibited. The orders and decisions of the main criminals – Young Turk leadership were not documented, and those that were written were deliberately destroyed. Foreigners were also restricted from entering the country to keep the crime in secrecy. However, to some extent evidences were preserved in the archives of various countries: Turkey, Germany, Russia, Great Britain and France.

As a consequence of Genocide Armenians spread throughout the world. The subject was also banned in Soviet Armenia. So, the preserved testimonies were distributed among different communities, and to study them, one had to travel around the world without a sure guarantee that they would be available to the researcher.

Early editions were printed in very limited editions and were not available even in large libraries. Armenian media of the time was very rarely preserved.

The digital age has changed the situation drastically. Different communities, archives and individuals around the world have begun to digitize their content - letters, memoirs, photographs, and in some video interviews with survivors. The network of depositories in the Internet allowed scholars to have access to rare, unique materials and huge corpus of documents.

In my presentation I will show the “Map of Armenian genocide digital materials” available from different parts of the world and waiting for its researchers.




The State of Israel is deserving of severe criticism for its denials of genocides to other peoples.

I personally live appreciatively in Israel but am frequently criticized by fellow Jews for calling attention to Israel’s moral failings. There is no doubt that Israel suffers continuation of historic antisemitism in prejudicial attacks such as by the UN. However, I am convinced that legitimate critiques are necessary to bring about positive change to greater decency, integrity and democracy in Israel.

We expected that Israel as heir to the forever-unforgivable Holocaust would be “a light unto nations” in empathy, rescue and prevention of genocide.

Woe unto us. The outstanding case of Israel’s blatant denials is its failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In my new book, ISRAEL’S FAILED RESPONSE TO THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE: Denial, State Deception, Truth versus Politicization of Histor, published by Academic Studies Press, I cite previously classified documents of the Foreign Ministry that tell a“political whodunit” tale in which Israel lied with chutzpah and impunity and accused Turkey, the original perpetrator and to this day continuing denier of the Armenian Genocide, of threatening Jewish lives if Israel allowed the famous 1982 First International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide to take place. (It did take place successfully despite brutal Israeli efforts to cancel it.)

I add that many readers will be fascinated at revelations of how Shimon Peres and Elie Wiesel, otherwise heroes for many of us, led efforts to wipe out the conference.

I go on to how Israel systematically avoids recognition of genocides of other peoples, such as Yezidis by ISIS, Rohingya by Myanmar, and Uyghur by China; and report on the ultimate degradation of how Israel continued to be a major arms supplier even to countries engaged in genocide or who were considered potential perpetrators (e.g., Azerbaijan).

Memory, Trauma and Cooperation: An analysis of genocide recognition efforts among Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in Australia

Themistocles Kritikakos

University of Melbourne, Australia

This paper examines a unique period in the early twenty-first century when Greek, Assyrian, and Armenian community members in Australia cooperated to attain genocide recognition. Unlike the Armenian genocide, the lesser-known Greek and Assyrian experiences of violence in the late Ottoman Empire (1914-1923) have been traditionally overlooked by scholars and gained little to no political recognition. However, there has recently been a historical reappraisal of the Greek and Assyrian experiences of violence in relation to the Armenian genocide. By using an oral history method, this paper investigates the transmission of trauma through time and place, and how the past is remembered within families and communities. It also examines how the three groups have negotiated memories to attain genocide recognition and re-imagined the Australian military and humanitarian response to the plight of Greek, Assyrian, and Armenian victims, survivors, and refugees from the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1930. This paper ultimately contends that while divergences and differences inform how the three groups remember the past within their respective communities, a common understanding and shared memory of the past informs genocide recognition efforts.

11:30am - 1:00pmSession A4 2: Political Implications and Strategies
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Paramjeet Singh Gazzi, Director of Outjusticed; Editor Sikh Siyasat; Advocate, India
Room 2 

Britain’s ‘Unfinest Hour’? From Sarajevo to Srebrenica: The British reaction to the unfolding crises

Lorna Waddington

University of Leeds, United Kingdom

This paper investigates how and why the British Government formulated its responses to the human rights’ violations in Bosnia, from the siege of Sarajevo to genocide at Srebrenica. The British have often been portrayed, not least by themselves, as championing international opposition to human rights abuses. However, a closer examination of the British reaction to the Bosnian crises, demonstrates the importance of considerations of Realpolitik both internally and externally. At the same time, this paper highlights the fact that British responses were also shaped by other contextual factors – especially the important role played by the British media and the public in pressurising their government to act as the situation worsened in Bosnia. The paper will compare the official British government stance, to those of the armed forces, the media and the general public. This research draws upon recently released documents from the British National archives, parliamentary proceedings, newspapers and interviews with various groups (including, but not limited to government and foreign office officials; members of the armed forces; journalists; survivors from Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The paper also includes a discussion regarding the evolving nature of the research due to COVID-19, not least the move from archival visits to a widespread use of hitherto unused digital sources. This paper also forms part of my larger research project which examines Britain’s reaction to what Samantha Powers has referred to as a Problem from Hell.

When is genocide ‘successful’ for governments implementing mass violence as a political strategy?

Timothy Williams

Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany

Genocide is an act of heinous violence, but in its genesis it is also just one of several (violent and non-violent) policy options that governments have in dealing with internal conflict. While there has been much work on when governments choose genocide as a policy option, there is considerably less literature on the consequences that this policy choice has for the governments. Non-systematic evidence suggests that the egregious horror of genocide frequently provokes international outrage and intervention, subsequently leading to a loss of power for the government, rather than the consolidation of power that was intentioned. However, there are also numerous examples of governments who implement genocide, successfully consolidating their rule and remaining in power. This paper draws on a dataset of genocides from 1900-2013 to interrogate under what conditions governments lose power after genocide and when governments ‘successfully’ implement genocide and retain their power. Given that multiple factors can coalesce in different ways to provide for multiple pathways these outcomes, the paper pursues a configurational approach and provides the results of a crisp set Qualitative Comparative Analysis. The results will then be interpreted in terms of their contribution to possible prevention strategies for curbing genocide.

Cultural Genocide

Anthonie Holslag Holslag

Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands, The

In this panel I would like to discuss cultural genocide; not as a specific category, but as an element in the barrage of violence with the sole attempt to eradicate an identity and/or an identifiable group from a landscape, nation-state, area etc. I will show that this eradication falls in the same process of Othering and Selfing that is at the nucleus of genocide. Or, as a matter of fact, it is the physical outcome of essentializing the Other (Hinton 2002:5), but more importantly establishing a new “Self” through the destruction of another identity and its heritage. Genocide is symbolic violence against an imaginary existential enemy. Cultural genocide is a part of a larger process.

The Media, Power Politics, and the Dilemma of Civilian Protection in the Post Libyan Responsibility to Protect Intervention

Nicholas Idris Erameh, Victor Ojakurotu

Academia, Nigeria

Despite the broad acceptance of the Genocide Act and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), the World continues to witness systemic holocaust, with the Rohingyas in Myanmar, Kasmir and in India and the Uyghur in China as most recent. Though studies abound of mass atrocity against civilians, only few have interrogated the current and ongoing holocaust experiences in Myanmar, India and China. Therefore, this study attempts to provide questions through broader engagement with the emerging and contending issues within the context of media conspiracy, lack of global concern and the implications of these cases on civilian protection and the future application of both the Genocide Act and the RtoP doctrine. Qualitative methods were employed for this study. Though, the widespread mass atrocity perpetrated against the Rohingyas, Kasmiris and Uighuris dates back decades, the renewed state sponsored violence against these minority groups in the post RtoP intervention in Libya suggests that the way and manner the international community responds to holocaust situations remains shrouded in Power politics and economic imperialism. This has been made worse by the apparent lack of media coverage, adequate reporting and unperturbed posturing of the United Nations Security Council. While these cases have thrown up intractable challenges, there is a need for robust judicial process to punish those culpable of mass atrocity against civilians in these cases in line with the Genocide Convention, broader engagement with the RtoP doctrine to address its conceptual and operational dilemma, stiffer sanctions for perpetrators of mass atrocity, national and regional government commitment, early conflict detection, expansion of the membership of the United Nations Security Council, prompt and accurate international media reporting of mass atrocities as they occur, and more importantly, ensuring that future intervention in holocaust scenarios are guided by the principle of Jus in Bello and Jus Ad Bello.

11:30am - 1:00pmSession A4 3: Legal Issues
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Elisenda Calvet Martinez, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Room 3 

How Far Can the Law Reflect the Contingent Nature of Genocide?

Onur Uraz

Hacettepe University, Turkey

The greatest achievement of modern law is its ability to reduce the complexity of real-life situations to abstract normative generalisations in such efficiency that applying generalisations back to novel situations causes moral dilemmas or questionable outcomes only in minority of situations. That said, genocide poses a rare challenge to lawyers on this front due to its uniquely collective and processual nature, as well as the contingency inherent to the protected good, namely ‘groups’. While this complex nature of the phenomenon is one of the underlying reasons for ambiguities in the legal definition, the judicial response to these has largely been introducing further universals in order to ensure ‘strict normativity’. However, such practice became possible only in expense of (i) adhering to substantialist and static ways of thinking about the groups – whether it is individualistic or collectivistic and (ii) representing genocide in an overly intentionalist manner. Consequently, the prevailing judicial representation not only widens the gap between the social reality and legal abstraction, which reduces the law’s efficiency and reliability in punishment and prevention, but also obscures the moral wrong of genocide that should guide the assessment process because of the constant clash between individualistic and collectivistic viewpoints. This paper argues that a way to move beyond this problematic and archaic conception is rethinking the legal representation from a relational standpoint and recognising the inherent relatedness between intentionality and collective ethos. This would ultimately dictate that the search for ‘objectivity’ in genocide law should not be understood in relation to ‘strict normativity’, but rather ensuring the predictability and consistency of the reference points in the assessment and application.

The Impact of the ECtHR’s Case-law on the Crime of Genocide: Towards a New Jurisprudence in International Law?

Gustavo Minervini

University of Naples Federico II, Italy

In March 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rendered its judgment in the case of Drelingas v. Lithuania concerning the application of the principle of legality (Article 7 European Convention on Human Rights) with regard to the crime of genocide. The Drelingas judgment is significant to the extent that it challenges the traditional narrative according to which the crimes committed by the Soviet regime were not genocidal and arguably widens the scope of the 1948 Genocide Convention in order to include ‘ethno-political’ genocide, thus granting further protection to victims.

In this regard, different authors have pointed out how such a construction, despite its commendable effort, raises several concerns. In greater detail, the Court – bypassing the ‘as such’ requirement and implicitly overruling the judgment of the Grand Chamber in the case of Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania – overcame the well-established exclusion of political groups from the list of protected groups ex Article II of the Genocide Convention. Although the choice to limit the protection afforded by the Convention was already controversial in 1948, the reasoning of the Court is far from being convincing, for it neglected to conduct a careful examination of the mens rea requirement as well as of whether its interpretation of the wording ‘in part’ was foreseeable at the time the applicant committed his crimes.

Against this background, this presentation will focus on the shortcomings of the Judgment, whose outcome seems at odds with the principle of legality and supported by a flawed reasoning. In this respect, the presentation will dwell upon the possible far-reaching impact of the Drelingas judgment on future cases, contending that the lack of clarity and some unconvincing arguments should dissuade the same ECtHR as well as other international courts and tribunals from endorsing it.

‘Back to basics’: Genocide by destroying the group identity The case of indigenous people and the ICHR jurisprudence

Claudia Jiménez


It is well known that the genocide concept devised by Lemkin was related to the protection of the group as such and therefore its identity was a fundamental piece. However, the political pragmatism of the late 1940s endend with an extremely restrictive positivisation, to the point that it could be said that it borders its "denaturalization. A good example of it is the ICJ interpretation of “ethnic cleansing” in the Croatia v. Serbia judgment (2015).

This narrow view of genocide clashes with the very purpose of the norm, and affect certain groups such as indigenous communities who define their identity not only on the basis of individual characteristics of their members but also on strictly collective ones: for instance a certain vision of the world, or its special bond with the earth.

The recognition of "subjectivity" to indigenous communities as such based on the collective identity should serve also for international crimes –including genocide- against the group by attacking its collective characteristics. All, beyond the victimization also of the individuals who are part of the community. This approach from the HR perspective has been developed by the Inter-American system of human rights with a very important evolution. From what the Commission sustained in the Aché (1977) or the Miskito case (1984) the Court has evolve and review that doctrine already in the Awas Tingni case (2001) and later in the famous Plan Sánchez case (2004) followed later by Moiwana (2005), Cgitay Nech (2010) or Rio Negro (2012), among others.

The question to be debated in this contribution is to what extent this jurisprudential evolution can help to "recover" the ultimate meaning that Lemkin was pursuing with the crime of genocide: avoid the destruction of a group defined by its identity whatever: religious, racial, national, ethnic or of any other kind.

How to Win a Case of Genocide: Analyzing the Triple Strategy of the Advocates of the Rohingya Minority in Myanmar

Hilly Moodrick-Even Khen

Ariel University, Israel

The Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar was subjected to discrimination and gross violations of human rights for many decades. This is the context of the last two waves of military crackdowns that took place in Rakhine state in Myanmar between October 2016 to January 2017 and between August to September 2017, in which the Tatmadaw army and civilians in Rakhine state committed atrocities against the Rohingya that amounted to crimes against humanity and genocide.

Encouraged by the investigations of the UN mechanisms, advocates for the Rohingya minority’s suffering took actions to leverage the mechanisms’ findings. They endeavored for an international condemnation of the state of Myanmar at the ICJ and they filed a complaint in an Argentinian court for the application of universal jurisdiction to prosecute individuals – including the military and the political leadership- responsible for ordering and committing the atrocities. They also encouraged an investigation of the atrocities in the ICC.

The litigators main focus was set on genocide, a strategy which has its faults and merits. On the one hand, genocide is “the crime of crimes,” with the stigma of the most heinous crime. However, genocide is also the hardest crime to prove, particularly the special intent to commit it.

In this article, I assess the chances of the triple strategy applied by the Rohingya minority advocates. I argue that the strategy of litigating the Rohingya case in three different fora, assures that its three components back up each other, so that the flaws of one are compensated by the other. Thus, the chances for accountability for the crime of genocide are increased. The three fora work interoperably to achieve the goal of proving that the crime of genocide has taken place in Myanmar, to impose state responsibility and to convict those responsible for the crime.

11:30am - 1:00pmSession A4 4: Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part I)
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Zahira Aragüete-Toribio, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Room 4 

Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part I)

Chair(s): Zahira Aragüete-Toribio (University of Geneva, Switzerland)

This three-part panel examines the blind spots of the “fight against impunity”, a universal guiding principle, which has become central in the international legal system in order to promote peacemaking and peacekeeping, security, democracy, and the rule of law in situations emerging from mass violence. This “fight” is built upon the recognition of four complementary and intrinsically linked fundamental rights: the right to truth, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and the guarantee of non-recurrence. Each of these rights, to which the victims are entitled, is associated with a state obligation: the obligation to investigate, to prosecute and sanction, to repair, and to prevent. These four pillars are indivisible from criminal justice. Nevertheless, even though the notion of the “fight against impunity” has stimulated a vast array of legal and judicial tools to deal with mass crimes, at national and international levels, one observation still remains: in spite of everything, impunity persists in most cases. In such instances, some conflict and post-conflict situations across the globe have shown how the “fight against impunity” has taken the form of a demand for the restoration of truth in the face of rampant governmental and judicial inaction. The three sessions of this panel aim to provide a much-needed interdisciplinary reflection on the ways that the right to truth is mobilized as part of transitional justice initiatives, which take a judicial or extrajudicial form or are enacted through civil society-led endeavours happening sometimes at the margins of state involvement. Presentations from law, philosophy, political science, and social anthropology provide novel insights about the ways in which state and non-state driven transitional justice paradigms engage with notions of truth in relation to but also beyond criminal inquiry and prosecution, in contexts of ongoing impunity for, and/or denial of, mass crimes.


Presentations of the Symposium


Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice

Sévane Garibian
University of Geneva and University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

This presentation sets the theoretical frame of the upcoming edited volume Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights (RTTR), the result of a four-year research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and in which the authors of this three-part panel have participated. Mass crimes impunity is a reality that has admittedly been denounced, exposed for what it prevents, but it has rarely been considered per se for what it paradoxically generates. This paper delves into the blind spots of the “fight against impunity”, analysing the flaws and stalemates of such a fight and what they entail from an interdisciplinary point of view. In so doing, it addresses the research question around which the book is built: if the right to truth supposes a state obligation to investigate and constitutes the first pillar of the “fight against impunity”, then what meaning and what function does it have when criminal punishment is inaccessible? The presentation outlines the different contributions comprised in the RTTR volume, exploring situations in which retributive justice is not attainable, where impunity is, a priori, irremediable for many reasons which are often combined, hence generating alternative justice mechanisms which aim to address and acknowledge – or conversely to conceal and silence – the traces of unpunished or unpunishable crimes.


What Truth for what Right? Philosophical Perspectives on the Quest for Truth in the Aftermath of Mass Crimes

Julie Saada
Science Po, France

The right to truth raises specific questions for the reflection both on the emergence of this type of norm, on its nature, and on its social and political effects. How can we understand a right that is both enshrined in international human rights law while resulting from mobilizations on the ground by civil society actors? What do these claims for truth about past crimes tell us about the meaning of human rights? In what sense could truth be the object of a right and how is it constructed in these claims? In contexts of impunity, how do the claims for truth made by victims differ from the legal categories used in trials? Finally, what are the expectations regarding the truth and its publicity in contexts following mass crimes or systematic human rights abuses? This paper proposes to present the right to truth within a philosophical framework that will develop three perspectives: that of the regimes of legality in which the right to truth is inscribed, that of the regimes of truth it covers, and, finally, that of the effects of truth expected by the mobilization and use of the right to truth.


The Right to Truth: Content and Expression

Melanie Klinkner, Howard Davis
Bournemouth University, UK

Following atrocity crimes, including forced disappearance, extrajudicial killings and torture, the human (psychological) interest of victims and their relatives in knowing the truth of what happened, clearly justifies a moral right to the truth. Over the past decades this need has found expression and concretisation in international law and jurisprudence placing an obligation on others to provide an objectively convincing and authoritative account of what happened to victims of such heinous crimes. This contribution examines the content of the right to the truth and its suggested components to comprise (a) an authoritative investigation resulting in an explanation which includes an element of victim involvement; (b) the effective, impartial investigation has to take into consideration the wider public implications of the atrocities; and (c) these investigations have to be authoritatively and independently reported. Further, the paper examines (d) how the right to truth has found expression in positive human rights law, in particular, the investigative duty which (especially in the American and European human rights courts) attaches to the right to life and other rights.


About Dissimulation, Erasure and Silence: Social Anthropologists Facing the Missing Traces in Post-Mass Violence Context

Elisabeth Anstett
CNRS / ADES, France

Rather paradoxically, if considering that the subjects of death and material culture have stood among the founding topics of their discipline, social anthropologists have only recently paid attention to the way in which a society bears and copes with the tangible traces of intentional destruction and mass annihilation. When in the field, social anthropologists have indeed had, and still have, to a large extent, to overcome two types of denial. The first form of denial has lastingly occurred inside the discipline itself (for a large set of reasons that are not elaborated upon in this piece), preventing social anthropologists to address the issue of mass crime and genocide directly, even when working in post-genocidal contexts. The second form of denial occurs in connection to the lack of access to information in societies deeply affected by mass intentional death and high levels of impunity. Scholars here are frequently confronted with mutism, dissimulation and lies. This paper will analyse the twofold effect that various ways of silencing the traces of violence have had on the social anthropologist’s work, simultaneously obliging him to work with and on denial.

1:00pm - 1:15pmBreak
Location: lounge
1:15pm - 2:15pmKeynote Tim Cole: Digital Mapping the Holocaust and its Aftermath
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Armen Marsoobian, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Plenary room 
2:15pm - 2:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
2:30pm - 3:30pmIAGS Founders panel
Location: Plenary room
Plenary room 
3:30pm - 4:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
4:00pm - 5:00pmLocal partner - EUROM: Current Debates And Challenges On Genocide Education: A Triangular View
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: David González, European Observatory on Memories, Spain
The educational transmission of genocide is one of the main challenges faced by organizations dedicated to the memory of genocide. It is important to know what to transmit, how to do it, and what specific audiences to target. The memory places that represent events as traumatic as genocide have an enormous evocative power, which allows them to have a huge range of didactic resources destined to the memorial transmission of the genocide. The following panel will present the cases of three institutions that work on initiatives that link heritage, education and genocide, such as the Hrant Drink Foundation in Istanbul, the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris and the Historical Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Therefore, it is intended to reflect on the ways to face education on genocide in the Armenian, Jewish and Bosnian cases, and how the use of didactic tools related to heritage can help achieving this memorial transmission through education.
Plenary room 
5:00pm - 5:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C4 1: Approaches to Education and Memorialization
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Sara Brown, Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education, United States of America
Room 1 

Frontiers of Memorialization: The Memeification of Atrocity Events

Elizabeth Topolosky

Topolosky Law Offices, United States of America

With the rise of the internet, communities across the world have never been more connected. Like offline social groups, online communities develop their own languages complete with specialized vernacular and inside jokes. These jokes often take the form of memes—pictures, videos, or text created to be posted and re-posted. While many memes are inoffensive, others contain explicit, xenophobic, sexist, and violent imagery. Some even pull images directly from atrocity events like the Holocaust, the September 11 attacks, Christchurch shooting, and Toronto Lorry attacks. We now live in a world where online groups increasingly influence real world behavior. Memes act as intertextual propaganda to unprecedently large audiences, and perpetrators reference memes while committing atrocities like the Toronto lorry attack (April 2018) and Christchurch shooting (March 2019).

This image-based talk explores three main themes: (1) why certain atrocities are memeified while others are not, (2) what influences image and messaging selection, and (3) the memorialization of atrocity events by internet subcultures separate from the larger zeitgeist. It examines image selection, intended audiences, the correlation between the level perceived anonymity and the level of explicit violence shown in atrocity memes, and factors that limit the memeification of an atrocity event.

Memorial Museums in Guatemala: The Role of Social Media and ‘Never Again’

JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz1, Martha Galvan Mandujano2

1Texas A&M University at Galveston, United States of America; 2California Polytechnic State University

We examine two memorial museums in Guatemala to gauge their efficacy in promoting their educative missions of “never again.” Following every genocide, ‘never again’ often accompanies the construction of memorials, especially memory museums to commemorate victims and educate about genocide in the spirit of never again. We explore the role of social media platforms to promote their educative missions. We investigate if social media allows memory museums to foster a moral responsibility on their virtual visitors to advocate for ‘never again’ in the face of genocide? The lack of improvement in human rights in Guatemala alongside growing patterns of hate worldwide drives this research. Museum visits ostensibly instruct us to be better human beings, imparting visitors with a moral obligation to create a better world. Can social media platforms replicate the physical museum experience and elicit similar responses that in-person visitors experience? We compare the comments we call memory words left by visitors in the virtual world and compare them to memory words left by visitors in the physical museums’ visitor logs collected on previous visits. We assess each museums’ typology of memory-words to consider whether they resulted in a particular message (specific to Guatemala) or a universal message of never again and if so, in what context. Our study is not without its limitations. One limitation centers on reliability and our inability to measure the longevity of sentiment. How long after one exits the physical and virtual memorial museum does the experience remain? Is the longevity of the experience necessary to promote a ‘never again’ response in the face genocide? Or is the experience of having visited the memorial museum itself a sufficient reminder to elicit a ‘never again’ response? We would expect that social media memory-words have more durability through sharing capabilities and virtual museums facilitate multiple visits.

Preventing the Normalization of Genocide: Lessons from the Cinematic Genre of Science Fiction

Daniel Conway

Texas A&M University, United States of America

In this presentation, I defend the claim that teachers and scholars in the field of genocide studies may (and should) make productive use of popular films in the genre of science fiction. The films in question are especially useful in alerting viewers to the subtle and indirect ways in which an initial refusal of genocide on the part of a nonviolent populace may give way over time to a grudging acceptance of discrimination, segregation, relocation, violence, and other measures that promote the normalization of genocide. In short, I offer, we stand to learn a great deal about ourselves, including our unknown capacities for indifference, intolerance, bystanding, and hatred, from an examination of human encounters with alien others.

Drawing on several representative films in the genre of science fiction, I will demonstrate how unfamiliar others—e.g., aliens, androids, and avatars—are subjected to escalating degrees of suspicion, fear, intolerance, emotional/psychological abuse, and hatred. I will be especially concerned to illuminate three contributing factors to the normalization of genocide: the use of demeaning language to enforce political disenfranchisement and encourage self-contempt in unwanted others; the role of the new media in exacerbating (and even fabricating) social and political crises; and the increased reliance on “experts” (and other supposed authority figures) who assure ordinary citizens that measures leading to genocide are both reasonable and just.

In this presentation, finally, I will focus on four popular films in which the prospect of genocide receives serious philosophical consideration: Blade Runner (Scott, 1982); Aliens (Cameron, 1986); District 9 (Blomkamp, 2009); and Arrival (Villeneuve, 2016).

Broadening the Bounds of Sacred Space: Peripheral Commemoration and the Case of Contemporary Rwanda

Brooke Chambers

University of Minnesota, United States of America

Scholars have long studied the power of commemorative space and ritual in post-genocide societies, and collective memory experts have showcased the power of such space and ritual to transform narratives of violence. While this power is well established, this paper seeks to delve more deeply into how its impact can differ for actors, based on both physical proximity and identity. This conceptualization, which I term peripheral commemoration, places commemorative space and ritual back into broader social space. Doing so allows for a multitude of dynamic, and otherwise potentially overlooked, impacts of commemoration to come to the fore. These different impacts of and experiences with commemorative space and ritual, I argue, both create and reify differences in knowledge within communities.

Commemoration in Rwanda proves a fitting example for an illustrative application due to the highly public nature of many sacred spaces and rituals. Many formal memorial sites in Rwanda were the sites of large-scale massacres in the 1994 genocide, where victims gathered in highly-visited, assumedly safe spaces like churches or schools. As such, many current memorial spaces (and the ritual events that often feature these memorials) are in highly visible spaces. This balance of public and sacred provides a clear example through which to investigate differential engagement with commemorative space and ritual. My application draws from ethnographic work in memorial sites and commemorative ceremonies in Rwanda, alongside 27 semi-structured interviews with young Rwandans who have varying engagement with commemorative space.

The theoretical concept of peripheral commemoration, alongside its application in contemporary Rwanda, disrupts hegemonized or universalized tendencies in conceptualizing commemorative space and events. In line with scholars of collective memory and cultural trauma, this perspective allows us to appreciate the dynamic, diverse, and wide-reaching potential of commemorative space.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C4 2: Preventing Genocide and Promoting Peace in Iraq through Grassroots Outreach and New Technologies
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Elisa Gabriella von Joeden-Forgey, Keene State College, United States of America
Room 2 

Preventing Genocide and Promoting Peace in Iraq through Grassroots Outreach and New Technologies

Chair(s): Elisa Gabriella von Joeden-Forgey (Keene State College, United States of America)

This panel will present the work of the Iraq Project for Genocide Prevention as an example of a grassroots-based approach to genocide prevention. The three panelists will each discuss a different aspect of the work we have been doing together and separately since 2016, emphasizing the use of grassroots modalities to support human security in a country and a region characterized by palimpsestic genocide. We will make a case for the importance of engaging the global grassroots in prevention strategies and retheorizing genocide prevention in a way that empowers communities to solve problems from the bottom up, including through the use of intensive, on-site workshops, train the trainer sessions, online education, regional summits, and the development of context-specific prevention materials in regional languages. In particular we will focus on the need to create a global genocide prevention App that has the ability for people to document, analyze, and communicate the experiences of their communities in local, regional, and global contexts. Drawing on recent events in northern Iraq, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh, we will offer ideas of how such an App can be developed, what it should include, and the transformative effects it can have on how we approach genocide prevention as a more horizontal and globally integrated community.


Presentations of the Symposium


International Solidarity and Genocide Prevention: Silenced Histories & New Frameworks for Action

Elisa von Joeden-Forgey
Keene State College

Like the Convention that recognized genocide as an international crime, the field of genocide prevention has been deeply influenced by post-1945 political realities, particularly the Cold War and its aftermath. These influences have guaranteed that prevention has remained largely an elite, state-based, Western, and military effort that defines the grassroots primarily as the recipients of prevention rather than its agents. This paper will examine the history of the emergence of prevention mechanisms by focusing on silences and aporia that have narrowed the frameworks and the mandates informing praxis. Drawing on experience in conducting grassroots genocide prevention initiatives in Iraq, it will sketch some of the ways in which local prevention work can challenge and disrupt the academic and political assumptions about genocide prevention and accountability while offering thoughts about new ways forward in national, regional, and global contexts.


Collective Approaches to Accountability and Justice: The Case of Iraq

Irene Victoria Massimino
National University of La Plata

The purpose of this paper will be to present the empirical work on genocide prevention and accountability to be carried out by the Iraq Project. In this particular presentation, I will focus on accountability and justice as essential interconnected elements for the prevention of atrocities. Furthermore, I will explore the idea of working for accountability and justice from a collective approach. From this perspective, a collective approach will return the power to resolve the conflict to the community, including victims and perpetrators; therefore, presenting an alternative and complement to institutional accountability. Despite the fact that the State appropriated the conflict, in a criminological sense, it appears as necessary to look for alternative forms of justice in order to heal the victims and the community, preserve the memory and prevent future crimes.


Born of ISIS Genocide: Risk of Statelessness and Stigmatised Nationality Acquisition for Children of Yezidi Survivors

Thomas McGee
University of Melbourne

Children born to Yezidi survivors of genocidal rape during Islamic State (ISIS) captivity are likely to face a future interspersed with difficult realisations about the tragic circumstances of their coming into this world. In the shadow of the trauma endured by their mothers, many are subject to the legacy of genocide. One such manifestation is their civil documentation predicament, as they are trapped between the risks of statelessness and the possibility of acquiring a dangerously stigmatised nationality that associates the children with their perpetrator fathers. Considering the human rights and best interests of such children, this paper unpacks the legal, religious and social dimensions that complicate their ability to access the right to a nationality, and traces the evolving community discourse on the issue. The central claim is that in exceptionally tragic circumstances, accessing a stigmatised form of nationality may be just as problematic as the plight of remaining stateless. Despite some initial ‘creative’ informal solutions to the problems the laws have (so far) failed to solve, the paper concludes by turning to the international community to fill the gap in protection available to these children.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C4 3: Representation in Genocide
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Sabah Carrim, Texas State University, United States of America
Room 3 

Decolonial Reparations: A Case for the Armenian Genocide

Lori Pirinjian

University of California, Los Angeles, United States of America

One of the similarities between Armenian and Native American history is that of genocide. Armenians were victim to mass violence, displacement, and perpetration beginning in 1915 and throughout WWI[1] while Native Americans experienced genocide, marginalization, and erasure by European colonists throughout Turtle Island – the United States – for centuries[2]. A large part of both of these histories is that of genocidal reparations. Scholars of Native American descent have recently turned to the concept of decolonial reparations, one which describes reparations that exist outside of the definitions of the colonizing group and are created by and for the perpetrated people.

As a relatively recent phenomenon, scholars in the field of Armenian Studies have yet to address the concept of decolonial reparations within the Armenian context. In this presentation, I will apply the concept of decolonial reparations to the Armenian case and suggest what these reparations could look like for the global Armenian community. I will propose solutions created by and for Armenians that expand reparations from legal and land repayment to include a range of genocidal compensation.

My work will begin with a side by side summary of the histories of the Armenians and the Native Americans – highlighting their similar history of genocide, cultural erasure, and settler colonialism. I will then introduce the concept of decolonial reparations as presented by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, two Native American scholars who are leading advocates for decolonization. I will conclude with concrete examples of decolonial reparations for Armenians.

[1] Theriault, Henry C, Alfred de Zayas, Jermaine O McCalpin, and Ara Papian. Resolution Without Justice: Reparations for the Armenian Genocide: The Report of the Armenian Genocide Study Group. March 2015.

[2] Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native. Journal of Genocide Research 8 (4): 387–409.

Queer Resistance to Mass Atrocity in the Digital Age

Stephen Louis Capobianco

State University of New York at Binghamton, United States of America

Communities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals exist around the world and have faced and continue to face unique identity-based violence. Many individuals in these communities operate outside of traditional gender-roles in many societies and whose very existence challenges structures of social organization and power distribution. This paper explores how a focus on mechanisms to protect individuals and communities of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations offers a pathway to incorporate the notion of queer resistance to mass atrocity into genocide prevention practice and research. Using a combination of a queer theoretical lens and a multilevel structural context analysis, the author examines how genocide prevention practice and research benefits from a better understanding of the systematic violence against marginalized groups such as the LGBTI population. The author employs an analysis of state-based metrics for level of protections for this population and questions their trustworthiness in understanding the dynamics of gender-role and sexual orientation-based violence. The paper also examines how technology has amplified the echoing effects of resistance to oppression from transnational queer communities. Further practice and research that connects queer communities across states to combat oppression and increase social protections may lead to more resilient societies and communities with less chance of mass gendered lethal violence.

Halidé Edip, a Controversial Figure of Turkish Feminism and her Vision of Armenian Orphans in the Post-genocide Stage

Nélida Elena Boulgourdjian

University of Tres de Febrero, Argentine Republic

From our previous research on the treatment of children in two cases of State violence, the Armenian and Argentine Genocides, we propose to inquire about the incidence of the renowned Turkish feminist Halidé Edip in the fate of the Armenian children during the post-genocide stage.

Halidé Edip Adevar (1884-1964) was a leading Turkish novelist, journalist and feminist, considered the "Mother of the Turks" in popular Turkish history. Even though she was not part of the Committee of Union and Progress, she shared its ideology, reflected in her writings. She became involved in the Turkish nationalist movement, headed by Mustafa Kemal and she was invited by Djemal Pacha, one of the Armenian Genocide leaders, to administer the orphanage in Antoura (Lebanon) where the Armenian orphans were raised as Turks, losing their identity and culture.

The aim of the paper is to detect through ot jer autobiographical volumnes, Memoirs of Halidé Edip (1926) and The Turkish Ordeal (1928) her vision of the treatment received by Armenian children that contradict the true story. We start from the hypothesis that Halidé Edip, aware of the central role of women in understanding Turkish nationalism, was a promoter agent or facilitator of Turkish policy on minorities, with special reference to the issue at hand.

The sources used in this paper are diverse: publication of Halidé Edip, published documents and extensive secondary sources.


y Bhim nie

Dega people activist & Independent Scholar, United States of America

Nearly all aspects of the world had known that the Vietnam However, a few people had known the land between the North and South Vietnam, so-called the Central Highlands, which sits on the traditional land of the Dega people. They have existed for thousands of years in a homogeneous of a peaceful society.


We are ethnically distinct from the leading group of Vietnamese. We descend from Malay world ethnic Austronesian linguistic roots, and we speak a language called Rhade, a member of the Chamic subgroup of the Austronesian language. We refer our self as Anak Dega, in English means the son of Dega. We make up one of the largest tribes centered around the Buon Ma Thuot city, Dak Lak province, in Central Highlands in Vietnam.

The Dega genocide cannot understand without reference to the dimensions of colonialism, war, and communism.

The destruction of the Genocide on the Dega people in the Central Highlands in Vietnam has been less catastrophic. Still, it is the worst horror of human history, causing the whole group of people to no longer to exist and disappear. Physical killing and its destruction in politics, society, culture, economy, biology, religion, morality, and habitat environment lead to the destruction of the Dega people.

Dega genocide is a special one in human history that has occurred for an extended period of several decades. It has happened in slow motion, gradually, but indeed both in peace and war times, and it is continuing at present. Because its perpetrator is still alive and has tremendous capability to distort, minimize, and obfuscate. It does not alarm the majority of Dega people or the international community. Thus, the Dega genocide has not much-captured sympathy to be written in history and brings to the mainstream of consciousness.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C4 4: Approaching Acts and Laws
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Room 4 

Confronting Structural Violence: Employing Atrocity Prevention Frameworks in Law School Classrooms

Carse Ramos

Rhode Island College, United States of America

While there are increasing trends towards interdisciplinary approaches, lawyers often find themselves on the frontlines of efforts to both prevent and reconcile with genocides and other mass atrocities. This holds true whether we are talking about wars or extreme human rights violations globally or issues of police brutality and the legacies of racial oppression in the US. Despite the critical role of lawyers, there is little to no attention paid given to these subjects in traditional legal pedagogy—to the extent that such discussions occur, they are most often found in niche, upper-level seminar classes into which students self-select. This presentation will begin by focusing on the implications of this grave omission, arguing that introducing atrocity prevention and structural violence frameworks into mainstream legal curricula is critical in order to keep pace with the tragic events unfolding on a seemingly daily basis. The presentation will then introduce and discuss Cardozo Law’s Combating Structural Violence initiative (of which I am part) that offers concrete methods and materials to incorporate critical discussions on identity issues (e.g., race, gender presentation, citizenship status) into the teaching of common law school courses. At this point, I plan to primarily discuss our modules for Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law; however, as the project progresses, this may change.

Truth Commissions and Their Contributions to Atrocity Prevention

Kerry Edward Whigham

Binghamton University, United States of America

Over the past four decades, transitional justice has transformed from an emerging field to one that has become quite normalized within the international human rights regime. In particular, truth commissions have emerged as one of the components of the standard approach in making transitional justice a reality in post-atrocity contexts. To date, researchers and practitioners have focused significantly on improving the procedural aspects of truth commissions to ensure that they uncover the realities of what occurred during their investigatory mandates, protecting and promoting victims' right to truth in the process. Far less attention has been devoted to understanding how and if truth commissions contribute to the prevention of future violence. At the center of this research project lies the hypothesis that truth commissions can contribute to mass atrocity prevention, though they do not always do so. Truth seeking exercises are not in themselves preventive, but only if attention is paid to ensure they respond to and seek to diminish the risk factors related to mass atrocity violence in each particular context. The research looks beyond the widespread assumption that truth commissions (and transitional justice more broadly) are innately guaranteeing the non-recurrence of the violence in response to which they are created. This presentation will outline the results of an in-depth, mixed methods research project that has evaluated 50 cases of truth commissions from 1974 to the present, comparing them with 54 negative cases, in which internal political conflict occurred without a subsequent truth commission. Risk indicators from both sets of cases were compared longitudinally to uncover correlations between truth commissions and risk mitigation. This quantitative analysis was supplemented with in-depth qualitative research into eight specific truth commissions in seven countries. The results demonstrate that truth commissions may, in fact, contribute to a decline in atrocity risk in some cases.

Legalization of jus cogens norms in sub Saharan Africa

Stacey Mitchell

Georgia State University, United States of America

It has long been noted by Fein and many others that certain state-sponsored crimes (“life integrity violations”) constitute a slippery slope towards genocide. But what are the conditions under which the legalism of prohibitions on political crimes such as killings and torture take place? How do we measure legalism? Just because a country ratifies the ICCPR or the Torture Convention does not mean the prohibited behavior will not occur. Likewise, because killings or torture may occur in a country does not mean that country is headed for a genocide. I argue that legalism is appropriately conceived of as a matter of those factors that create obligation on the part of state actors. Relying on the framework for legalism created by Brunnée and Toope (2010), I suggest that three inter-related elements–shared understandings, criteria of legality, practice of legality—are necessary for a jus cogens norm to assume obligatory status domestically. Using qualitative and quantitative methods I test Brunnée and Toope’s model on the 46 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, for the period between 2005-2018, examining a variety of factors (economic, political, international) that influence the legalism of laws prohibiting political killings and torture. Moreover, I introduce a number of quantitative measures of legalism, including media integrity and judicial independence. The goal of this study is to increase understanding of why jus cogens prohibitions find greater grounding in some countries and not others, and what this means for genocide prevention and education efforts.

The Impact of Atrocity Prevention Legislation: Taking Stock of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act and the Global Fragility Act

Jack Mayerhofer

Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities

The role of legislators is an area of genocide prevention that has gained increased attention. Furthermore, given the dangers of social media for disseminating disinformation and even facilitating atrocities, coupled with legislators’ growing desire for industry regulation, parliamentarians will only become a larger actor in prevention efforts in the digital age. Until recently, legislative action relied primarily on MP’s individual capacity to advocate for prevention through their speaking privileges and supervisory functions. This was due to the fact that legislation for universal atrocity prevention did not exist within national legal frameworks. However recent developments, particularly within the US, allow us to consider the impact of prevention legislation not as a theoretical question, but as a reality. This presentation will address the impact of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (GAPA) and the Global Fragility Act (GFA) for atrocity prevention. Equally importantly, it will highlight where these laws have fallen short and offer recommendations for increasing their efficacy. This conference comes at an opportune moment as the GFA and GAPA have been law for one and two years respectively. Furthermore, the Global Fragility Strategy (GFS), which guides the more than $900 billion multi-regional, multi-national, 10-year implementation plan of the GFA was released only one month ago. This is significant given that one of the greatest criticisms of GAPA is that it did not authorize any funding to achieve its aims. Given the raft of legislative developments of the last two years, combined with the recent nomination of Samantha Power as Administrator of USAID, the lead implementing agency for the GFA, now is a critical moment to take stock of what impact these laws have had for atrocity prevention and to identify recommendations for how they can better work in concert to deliver a comprehensive approach for early atrocity prevention.

5:30pm - 7:00pmSession C4 5: Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part II)
Location: Room 5
Session Chair: Marion VIRONDA DUBRAY, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Room 5 

Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part II)

Chair(s): Sévane Garibian (University of Geneva and University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland)

This three-part panel examines the blind spots of the “fight against impunity”, a universal guiding principle, which has become central in the international legal system in order to promote peacemaking and peacekeeping, security, democracy, and the rule of law in situations emerging from mass violence. This “fight” is built upon the recognition of four complementary and intrinsically linked fundamental rights: the right to truth, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and the guarantee of non-recurrence. Each of these rights, to which the victims are entitled, is associated with a state obligation: the obligation to investigate, to prosecute and sanction, to repair, and to prevent. These four pillars are indivisible from criminal justice. Nevertheless, even though the notion of the “fight against impunity” has stimulated a vast array of legal and judicial tools to deal with mass crimes, at national and international levels, one observation still remains: in spite of everything, impunity persists in most cases. In such instances, some conflict and post-conflict situations across the globe have shown how the “fight against impunity” has taken the form of a demand for the restoration of truth in the face of rampant governmental and judicial inaction. The three sessions of this panel aim to provide a much-needed interdisciplinary reflection on the ways that the right to truth is mobilized as part of transitional justice initiatives, which take a judicial or extrajudicial form or are enacted through civil society-led endeavours happening sometimes at the margins of state involvement. Presentations from law, philosophy, political science, and social anthropology provide novel insights about the ways in which state and non-state driven transitional justice paradigms engage with notions of truth in relation to but also beyond criminal inquiry and prosecution, in contexts of ongoing impunity for, and/or denial of, mass crimes.


Presentations of the Symposium


Truth, Justice and Impunity in Post-Franco Spain

Zahira Aragüete-Toribio
University of Geneva, Switzerland

Since the year 2000, family and civil-society groups, which form the so-called movement for the recovery of historical memory, have exhorted different Spanish governments to clarify the fate of the more than 114,000 victims killed and buried in mass graves by Francoist allies and authorities during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the dictatorship. They have also demanded the annulment of the 1977 Amnesty Law, which provided full impunity for these mass crimes after the death of the dictator. Scarce or insufficient governmental and judicial response to such claims led to the development of bottom-up truth-seeking and memorialization actions, which prompted the collaboration between scientists, historical memory associations, family groups, and political representatives in the creation of local post-transitional justice programmes. This presentation examines how ideas and practices connected to truth-seeking and justice are negotiated in disparate regional historical memory projects, and legal tools that aim to mend the effects of deficient state policies and judicial inaction. It also evaluates how a very recent governmental will to position the state at the forefront of the deployment of post-transitional justice initiatives might transform the nature of and approach to Civil War-related anti-impunity paradigms in the country.


Performing Truth? Examining Transitional Justice Practice in West Africa

Kelebogile Zvobgo
1College of William & Mary, USA

Transitional justice (TJ) measures have proliferated over the past half-century. Scholars cite this trend as evidence of an accountability norm that has spread around the globe. Yet, TJ’s spread does not necessarily imply norm diffusion and acceptance; it can also be explained by instrumental adaptation. Essentially, TJ adoption may reflect a desire to perform rather than a substantive commitment. We propose that the difference can be discerned as early as the design stage, with implications for TJ institutions’ operation, outputs, and outcomes. We conceptualize a spectrum: At the lower end, performance, TJ mechanisms are poorly designed, under-resourced, and under-supported by governments, and, at the higher end, substance, they are well designed, adequately resourced, and strongly supported by governments. To begin to disentangle substance and performance, we study truth commissions, generally the first TJ measures implemented after political violence, and we focus on Africa, home to one-third of global commissions. We analyze data on institutional design from the Varieties of Truth Commissions and produce case studies of three West African commissions. We find strong evidence of performative TJ: Many African governments have created commissions that are ill-equipped to uncover the truth. Consequently, they have served to (re)produce, rather than combat, impunity.


Diaspora Mobilization for the Right to Truth in Contexts of Ongoing Political Violence and Forced Displacement: The Case Study of Syria

Julie Bernath
Swisspeace and University of Basel, Switzerland

This paper proposes to analyse how forced displacement and ongoing political violence shapes mobilisations for the right to truth in the Syrian context. It draws from qualitative research conducted in Lebanon and Germany between the end of 2018 and early 2020. This paper first shows that transnational networks of activists, civil society actors and lawyers creatively use the spaces across various host country contexts to mobilize for transitional justice and the right to truth. However, Syrian refugees abroad are not exempt from exposure to transnational repression from the Syrian regime. This shapes what types of demands are voiced publicly, and by whom. Second, host countries who welcomed Syrian refugees have also become a target audience for transitional justice mobilization. Advocacy regarding human rights violations in Syria is not only aimed at confronting the denial and impunity of the Syrian regime, and of the other involved conflict parties. It is also used to question the normalization of the status quo in Syria and to reframe discussions of reconstruction and return of Syrian refugees in the light of demands for the right to truth, justice and accountability.

7:00pm - 7:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D4 1: The Democracy-Genocide Relationship: New Considerations
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Sara Kristine Cohan, The Genocide Education Project, United States of America
Room 1 

The Democracy-Genocide Relationship: New Considerations

Chair(s): Sabah Carrim (Texas State University San Marcos, USA), Adam Muller (University of Manitoba, Canada), Sara Cohan (The Genocide Education Project, USA)

For decades in states with democratic structures across the globe, from Oceania and East and South Asia, through Europe and Africa, to the Americas, far-right racist, xenophobic, nativist, etc., groups have been dismissed as aberrations not threatening democratic societies’ fundamental stability. The long-standing view that democracies do not commit mass human rights violations such as genocide, manifested in the 1990s labeling of those that do as “failed” or “rogue” states, has obscured, however, the reality that is well known to the groups targeted by democracies’ far-right movements, which have been calling attention to the organized, pervasive, semi-official violence they have long practiced. As broadly successful mass movements, aided and perhaps made possible by internet-based communication and social media, have expanded their targets, asserted themselves increasingly forcefully in the mainstream, and gained influence there, even those in dominant policy and elite circles are finally taking notice of the major threat they pose. These movements are recognized to be more extensive, organized, and invasive of government and civil society structures than was previously imagined, at least in the policy and media mainstreams. But this comes as no surprise to those understanding the role such forces have long played in democracies.

How have these groups used social media to increase their impacts? How have they transitioned into the mainstream? Why have they broadened their targets? What are the implications of these movements for putatively democratic countries? What is their genocidal potential, and what will it take to prevent it? More broadly, what does such groups’ presence in democracies and the genocidal history of democracies tell us about the fraught relationship between genocide and democracy? How must “democracy” be reconceived to prevent the rise of these movements and the genocidal potential they represent in the future?


Presentations of the Symposium


The Rise of United States Hate Groups in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Sara Cohan
The Genocide Education Project, USA

In response to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, there was a renewed rise in hate organizations and hate-related activity. Leaders included disenfranchised Southern racists, rural separatists, anti-Semites, wealthy capitalists and even soldiers who served in the Vietnam War.

Right wing extremists like Richard Butler, David Duke, Louis Beam and William Pierce began to construct modern hate tactics and reorganize hate groups during the dawn of the Information Age. These agents of hate were (and are) able to manipulate economic concerns, fear of the “other,” and political failings and create ingenious propaganda used to organize extremists not only in the United States but internationally as well.

With almost every deadly attack launched, the American majority’s response is superficial horror. After attacks, information about hate groups dominate the news for only a moment. Those same Americans that distance themselves at the instant violence occurs, sell the products of hate groups, provide them with online platforms, and elect their chosen politicians to office. The American majority have benefitted from the growth of hate groups and will continue to do so economically, socially and politically as long as the industry of hate remains unchecked.


The New Right Wing Nativism, Trump, and the Assault on American Democracy

Peter Balakian
Colgate University, USA

With the virulent reemergence of far-right nativism, driven by fantasy-conspiracy ideas, now fueled by former President Donald Trump’s anti-state, racist populism, the United States is facing its worst political crisis in modern history. Donald Trump’s activation of these malignant forces has now led to violence of an unprecedented kind, as the terrorist insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 demonstrated. Using Robert Lifton’s notions about cultic extremism and Irvin Staub’s social psychological theory about populist rage, “hard-times” conditions, and damaged self-esteem, I will analyze some roots of the current American nativism as well as some of its new dimensions. I will explore the alt-right’s conspiracy theories that demonize the imagined enemy (liberals, Democratic party legislators, celebrities, and cultural elites) as pedophiles engaged in satanic cults of child murder and blood-drinking – with origins in medieval European Christian (Catholic Church) Antisemitism – and how this intersects with the big lie, promulgated by Trump, that claims the 2020 election was rigged and stolen by fraud.

What might it mean for a democracy when its head of state makes destructive falsehoods a normative part of life? Can a democracy survive this?


"An uncomfortable day for Canada”: Genocidal Violence, Democracy, and the Work of Repair

Adam Muller
University of Manitoba, Canada

This paper assesses the significance and effects on genocide education and reconciliation of two major federal government attempts to document the harms of Indigenous genocide in Canada. Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), which examined the treatment of children in Canada’s Indian Residential School system from 2008 to 2015, and the 2015-2018 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), shocked a majority of Canadians by concluding that settler colonialism in Canada resulted in an ongoing genocide of the country’s Indigenous peoples.

This paper will review the conclusions of the TRC and the MMIWG, describing how the latter built upon, refined, and enlarged the genocide claim first advanced by the former. I will weigh the responses of various levels of Canadian government, as well as the general public, to the idea that genocide has been perpetrated domestically. My analysis will show that, while there have been important advances in the genocide awareness of Canadians, significant structural and ideological obstructions continue to prevent broad acceptance of the genocide claim, and so retard the work of reconciliation and redress that the TRC and MMIWG have both signalled remains vital to a properly functioning democratic polity.


From Democracy as Anti-Genocide to Democratic Genocide: Rethinking Genocide Prevention and Repair

Henry Theriault
Worcester State University, USA

A prevalent view is that the tendency toward genocide is inversely proportional to that toward democracy. Similarly, perpetrator society democratization is often construed as effective repair: democratization restores victims’ rights, dignity, and well-being, thereby addressing a genocide’s impacts. Genocides by democracies are usually attributed to anti-democratic tendencies in them.

Democracy is not inherently antigenocidal, however: democratic systems and structures can be genocidal and enablers or tools of perpetration. States can democratically commit genocide, as evidenced by decentralized decision-making and popular participation in many US genocides against Native Americans.

The genocidal potential of democracy results from the domination relations established by the non-citizen or non-voter exclusions through which every democracy defines itself and asserts cohesion and specificity. Following the work of Anne Waters, such exclusions produce dominance hierarchies. Further, democratic systems are incomplete: their actual functioning is determined by the ethical values, power differentials, etc., that are fed into them. Digital communication tools have much increased tendencies of voting populations to self-organize and be manipulated toward genocidal attitudes and actions.

To be non- or antigenocidal, democracy must be augmented by ethical and inclusivity standards guaranteeing the same rights insiders have to outsiders and that domination relations within it are actively corrected.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D4 2: Interpretations of the 10 Stages of Genocide Model
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Gregory Howard Stanton, Genocide Watch, United States of America
Room 2 

Interpretations of the 10 Stages of Genocide model

Chair(s): Gregory Howard Stanton (Genocide Watch, United States of America)

The 10 Stages of Genocide model was developed by Dr. Stanton and grew from his original 8 stages . This model is the primary method for which the non-profit Genocide Watch examines cases and issues alerts which are categorized as a (1) Watch (2) Warning, or (3) Emergency Alert . Since the model is accessible to the general public, there is a great deal of opportunity for interpretation and scholarly pursuit within the full model as well as each of the stages individually. Additionally, the non-linear nature of the model provides the opportunity to analyze historical instances of genocide and examine genocidal processes globally.

While the 10 Stages model demonstrates the genocidal process, each stage therein represents a process in itself. Therefore, each stage can be expanded significantly and interpreted in a variety of ways. Each one of these stages is connected to a wide array of academic literature and is inclusive and applicable to events that take place across a myriad of cultures. Genocide Watch already uses a holistic understanding of genocide to recognize events worldwide that constitute ongoing genocides in the latter stages of the model, including extermination (Stage 9). It is equally critical to examine the different methods adopted by states to incite earlier stages of genocidal processes, including classification, symbolization, dehumanization and polarization.


Presentations of the Symposium


“One would think Satan has invaded the place”: Toxifying Language and the Genocidal Process in Rwanda

Holly Scala
Genocide Watch

This paper, based on my recent Masters thesis, seeks to specify empirical differences between two types of rhetoric thought to contribute to the onset of genocide: dehumanization and toxification. It utilizes digitized radio transcripts from the Rwandan Genocide to test two propositions: that toxification and dehumanization are empirically distinguishable, and that toxification contributes to the onset and/or intensification of killings in a genocidal context. Results indicate that there are empirically demonstrable and measurable differences between dehumanization and toxification, but toxification does not contribute to the onset or intensification of genocide. Instead, the Rwandan case indicates toxification may be utilized as an attempt to motivate latent perpetrators to participate and justify the actions of those already participating in the genocide, as well as to attempt to maintain power in the face of perceived loss. This paper contributes to the literature on dehumanization and the uses of language and radio in genocide.


Recognizing Indirect Methods of Symbolization in Political Discourse & Identity Construction as a Precursor to Genocide

Thomas Shacklock
Genocide Watch

Within the Ten Stages model, symbolization (Stage 2) is usually understood as the application of symbols to groups to visually distinguish them from others. Nazi Germany imposed the Star of David on Jewish people, and Rwanda imposed ID cards on Tutsis. However, in many cases of genocide, processes of symbolization are less overt. Instead, powerful symbols or symbolic constructs associated with dominant groups are used more exclusively to establish perceptions of superiority. This can include references to protecting “traditional (religious) values” or the “nation state” in political discourse and the privileging of dominant groups’ cultural representation over that of others.

This presentation will demonstrate how the effects of this approach compare to those of directly symbolizing target groups. Symbols create simplified, visualized understandings of each group’s value in society. In turn, members of dominant groups develop biases and emotional responses to them. Dehumanization strategies can hence influence populations to perceive groups that do not correspond to images and ideas providing them with a sense of belonging, comfort, and security as threats. Broadening the recognition of symbolization processes to include more indirect, exclusive strategies of symbol manipulation can help identify later risks of genocide targeting a wider range of groups.


The 10 Stage Model Viewed as Gauging Genocidal Opportunity: Using Routine Activity Theory within Macro Level Risk Analysis

Eli J. Szydio
Genocide Watch

Criminological use of Routine Activities Theory provides a framework built on three main points, with a later addition of a fourth. These points describe the environment in which the opportunity for criminal behavior has a higher chance to occur. Using this same perspective, the 10 Stages of Genocide utilized by Genocide Watch is a similarly non-linear model that describes the types of environment in which the opportunity for genocide has an increased likelihood to occur. This demonstrates similarities to work published by Waller, describing further aspects that can commonly be seen in genocidal conflicts which will be discussed in the presentation.

This presentation proposes several visualizations of the 10 stages of genocide that can accommodate an opportunity-driven perspective. While there are stages that are present that qualify an incident as a full genocide, the visualizations provide the stages leading up to that point, along with how the watch, warning, and emergency statuses take key stages into account. Therefore, this presentation moves beyond modelling how the stages are utilized in issuing alerts of genocidal activity, a describing a method to understand the non-linear nature of the model. By utilizing an opportunity perspective, authors can better utilize these risk frameworks and use them to account for situations where only specific stages occur and manifest themselves in non-traditional sequences.


War in a Digital Age: Can Social Media Language Proliferate and Harbor Genocidal Intent? A Case Study of the Invasion of Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh in 2020

Sehnaz Guven
Genocide Watch

In the year 2020, COVID-19 took our digitalized age to the next level, when we also witnessed some of the most violent events of the decade. On social platforms, hate speech circulated quickly. Protests became more frequent. Funding became easier to access. This presentation analyzes the Azerbaijani invasion of the Republic of Artsakh. Since the invasion started in September 2020, countless social media posts were created by people from all around the world, sharing their opinions. This presentation will examine whether these online posts that people can share so freely can incite and harbor genocidal language within social media platforms and, therefore, generate genocidal incitement. The presentation will observe whether such use of social media constituted any of the first five stages of the 10 Stages of Genocide published by Dr. Gregory Stanton, I.e., Classification, Symbolization, Discrimination, Dehumanization, and Organization. While the model is non-linear, the early recognition of these stages is crucial in predicting and preventing genocides. The paper's examination of social platforms and the interaction of their users concludes that social media proliferated genocidal intent in the online audience during the occurrence of the war.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D4 3: Complexities of Perpetrators and Victimhood
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Khushboo Chauhan, O.P. Jindal Global University, India
Room 3 

Can We Identify with a Perpetrator?: Reading Deogratias

Kaitlyn Jeanette Newman

Georgia College and State University, United States of America

Deogratias, a graphic novel about a Rwandan Hutu boy by the same name, is unique among comics. Written explicitly for Western audiences, the story invites readers into the life of a morally grey character who is struggling to come to terms with his complicity in the Rwandan genocide. The novel operates on a fractured timeline, moving between present-day (post-genocide) Rwanda and flashbacks to the periods just before and during the genocide. The comic uses these temporal shifts to bring to the fore the question of Deogratias’s identity; the flashbacks allow the reader to see him as both a sympathetic character, swept up in circumstances and events much more powerful than himself, but also as a person complicit in the most horrible acts against his fellow human beings. At the moments when the horror of his memories overwhelms him, Deogratias believes that he is no longer human but a dog. His destabilized identity plays out visually on the pages as he shifts between human and animal form. This paper argues that the reader is forced to confront questions of identity because the text encourages them to identify and empathize with Deogratias, but also forces them to acknowledge the distance between their own experiences and his. Furthermore, the text is important because it forces readers to confront the experiences of a perpetrator and to acknowledge that morally grey areas sometimes accompany genocides. This paper therefore explores both the stakes of Deogratias’s identity in the comic, and the way in which the reader must be cautious and question their own identity and authority.

The Child Soldier as a Signifier: Afro-Pessimism in Select African Child Soldier Works

Ademola Oladipupo Adesola

University of Manitoba, Canada

The plights of children caught in mass atrocities as victims and/or perpetrators have compelled strong attention from the international community, more commonly as constituted by the United Nations (David Rosen 2015; Katrina Lee-Koo 2011). This overwhelming interest overlaps with a vast growth in pop-cultural productions of films, novels, memoirs, and autobiographies based on experiences of child soldiers in recent ethno-political conflicts across different African contexts. As Rosen submits, “the contemporary literary gaze” on children in atrocities “remains firmly fixed on Africa” (47). In several such pop-cultural expressive forms one encounters the African child soldier as an affective figure serving in different ways to offer insight into the toll of African wars on children. Although there are robust critical receptions of these works, relatively not much focus has been accorded to child combatants as both signifiers reifying an Afro-pessimism that conceives of Africa, the setting of these stories, as unlivable, dangerous to children, and given to purposeless wars.

In this paper I will engage Emmanuel Dongala’s Jonny Mad Dog and Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation as representative child soldier narratives which do more than portray the complex image of African child soldiers. I will analyze these works and their filmic adaptations to show how they participate not only in pathologizing African wars as meaningless, greed-driven, and lacking in ideology, but also reinforcing longstanding Afro-pessimism that synonymizes the continent with disease, poverty, violence, and backwardness. My paper will demonstrate that the iconographies of both childhood and child soldiers in the selected texts serve to signify the African child soldier lived space as an immature, chaotic, and troubled child in need of an adult’s this being the West) intervention. Additionally, I argue that these works frame Africa in a Conradian sense and thus decontextualize and de-historize what has made child soldering possible.

Social Processes on Trial

Carse Ramos

Rhode Island College, United States of America

This presentation will explore the idea that in the process of putting former child soldiers on trial, we are adjudicating socialization processes—the ways through which we learn what it is to be and exist as social beings and internalize norms. Motivated by discussions surrounding what weight should be given to the previous experiences of Dominic Ongwen, the first former child soldier to be charged by the International Criminal Court with acts of which he himself had been a victim, this paper questions assumptions regarding learning norms in particular contexts; the social roles of rebel organizations like the Lord's Resistance Army; and how both relate to the proffered trial defenses of duress and mental defect. As the judgment on Ongwen’s case has been scheduled (currently set for early February), I will also speak to the trial outcome and possible implications for law and a more complicated understanding of victimhood as we go forward. While largely a theoretical endeavor, I pull from field research and interviews undertaken in Uganda and at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, as well as analysis of trial transcripts. The proposed presentation comes from a book currently in progress.

“Do Actual Communists Have Human Rights?”: Using art to address a half century of genocidal propaganda and policies in Indonesia

Elizabeth F. Drexler

Michigan State University, United States of America

The 1965-66 genocide in Indonesia was accompanied by policies and propaganda that continue to influence current political and social life. The visceral power of propaganda endures consciously and unconsciously even after it has been factually challenged and its official broadcast discontinued. One result is the lack of dissonance between the idea of valuing human rights and dehumanizing communists. In human rights discussions and presentations, students asked me if actual communist had human rights. The logic and apparatus of stigmatization is not limited to communists, but extended to sexual and religious minorities in the present. Examining ongoing public protests demanding an end to impunity for genocide and subsequent authoritarian era violence as well as recent artistic and creative works probing unanswered questions about the genocide, I argue that the use of performance, visual art work, and music has slowly started to undermine practices of dehumanization and stigmatization. I explore how creative works are performed in public and circulate across the archipelago on social media to open a new space for discussion of the past that engages affective rather than legalistic sensibilities. This new digital space has provided a powerful form of intergenerational transmission of knowledge and regeneration of a youth movement for justice.

7:30pm - 9:00pmSession D4 4: Indigenous Genocide
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Suren Manukyan, Armenian Genocide Museum&Institute, Armenia
Room 4 

Water’s Children: Symbiogenetic Destruction through Canadian Residential Schools and the Fate of Lake Winnipeg

Andrew Woolford1, Wanda June2

1University of Manitoba, Canada; 2University of Manitoba, Canada

This presentation re-examines the genocidal impact of residential schools by centering the relationship between Indigenous nations and water. Drawing on Survivor testimonies of their childhood and relations to water before residential schools, we outline how “symbiogenetic” relations between Anishinaabe peoples, their language, identity, and Lake Winnipeg were disrupted through the Canadian assimilative project. Symbiogenesis is the process whereby complex systems are produced through inter-species relations. In the context of genocide studies, we suggest the “groups” that genocide studies seeks to protect are symbiogenetic associations sustained through relations between the human and other-than-human worlds. Childhood is a particularly important time for development of such relations, especially within Indigenous nations; however, residential schools operated to sever and recalibrate these relations, compelling Indigenous children to reimagine their relations with water through the lens of settler capitalism, culminating in the present toxification of Lake Winnipeg. We argue that this process needs to be understood not solely as ecocidal or genocidal, but as one of a shared, symbiogenetic destruction of human/other-than-human relations, resulting in a form of social/natural death.

Paratext in National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives

Michael James Campbell

University of Manitoba, Canada

My paper will be a subsection of my master's thesis research set to be conducted under the supervision of Dr. Adam Muller and Dr. Kjell Anderson.

My project will consider to what extent Canada is continuing to reinforce genocidal ideologies in the paratext in Indian Residential School (IRS) archival documents. Paratext can perpetuate specific biases. Scholars have shown that paratext is often the site of racial supremacy. A few words of paratext have the power to transform the entire meaning of text toward provoking racial hatred or justifying past acts of atrocity. Currently, there is a dearth of scholarship applying these theories of paratext to archival records of Canadian IRS. My project will apply theories of paratextual racial supremacy to IRS archives at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).

My thesis project will explore the following questions: (1) To what extent can literary paratext theory be applied to the NCTR archives to understand the truth preserved in the records beyond the paratext framing each document? (2) How does the NCTR archives preserve the ideologies in paratext that led to Canada’s residential schools and perpetuate the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada? (3) Does presenting the paratext uncritically violate Canada’s domestic and international human rights commitments?

My paper will be a case study examining one or several connected instances of paratext supporting the ideological mission of IRS. I will conduct a qualitative analysis of all publicly available IRS documents associated with Manitoban IRS to select one such case study. The paper will draw from peer-reviewed and elder approved historical accounts of IRS to ensure the accuracy of the project.

Digitization and Records of Settler Colonial Genocide: The Role of Access, Privacy and Data Sovereignty

Tricia Logan

University of British Columbia, Canada

Settler Colonial Genocide in Canada has carried on systematically through church, government and corporate structures for over five-hundred years. It takes many different forms and occupies a number of inter-related systems through social, political and economic structures and ideologies. The records of settler colonial genocide exist across Canada in many forms and tell stories of discrete, time-bound events as well as ongoing long-term systems of removal. In Canada, there is deserved and focused attention especially, on the records of systematic violence like the Indian residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the child welfare system.

Digital records of past and contemporary atrocities are seen by many as a way to prevent or reduce atrocities in the future. This paper will examine how methods for digital archiving, access to digital content management systems and control over record collection has transformed the post-reconciliation era in Canada and how many Survivors and communities still struggle to preserve and promote truth in response to ongoing denialism and hatred promoted on digital and social media realms. Records of settler colonial genocide, Survivor statements of truth and community movements towards justice or reconciliation are also being replicated and built in growing digital archives. What has also emerged with the ‘digital turn’ have been questions of access and privacy and how Survivors as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada have control over their own records of genocide. Moreover, how do the ‘right to know’, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a right to data sovereignty over digital records restore control for the narratives of genocide inside Indigenous communities?

Gendered Ecologies in the Cambodian Genocide: An Ecofeminist Framework of Symbiogenetic Destruction

Wanda Nyx June

University of Manitoba, Canada

This paper explores the intersection between ecologies, genocide and gender relations. I draw on critical genocide and ecofeminist perspectives that challenge the anthro/andropocentrism common to genocide studies to initiate development of a conceptual framework that contends with gendered “symbiogenesis” in genocide. Symbiogenesis is the process through which humans and their natural worlds engage in co-constitutive relations that shape the group’s cultural identity. In this sense, the severing of social/ecological relations, defined here as symbiogenetic destruction, can constitute cultural genocide in and of itself or can contribute to, or intensify experiences in, broader genocidal processes. In this paper, I refer to gendered symbiogenetic destruction to argue that gender relations are often a core element of the group’s collective identity that are also intertwined with the natural world. These gendered ecological relations can add to women’s power, but can also be interrupted in a manner that intensifies their experiences of targeted violence in genocide. Gendered symbiogenetic relations may also maintain unequal social relations and structural violence. I illustrate gendered symbiogenetic relations and destruction through a discussion of Cambodian women’s experiences in genocide and in relation with rice fields and rice production. I argue that an ecofeminist understanding of symbiogenesis can provide the necessary framework to engage with gendered ecologies as a complex, multi-layered and embodied phenomenon of social/natural death in genocide. Such an analysis is useful in connecting gendered violence with institutional and structural power both between the victim and perpetrator groups as well as within the targeted group. In other words, an approach that both contributes to the understanding and prevention of genocide and engages in emancipatory praxis to disrupt unequal gender relations that extend beyond the conflict and into “peacetime”.


Date: Friday, 23/July/2021
11:30am - 12:00pmReception
Location: lounge
12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A5 1: Gendered Approaches to Genocide
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Caroline Bennett, Victoria University of Wellington, United Kingdom
Room 1 

The fight for justice of indigenous women in the aftermath of the Guatemalan genocide: How digital sources provide them information, evidence and consolation

Mariana Lara Palacios

Catholic University of Leuven (KULeuven), Belgium

At the centre of the aftermath of the Guatemalan genocide, the result of a civil war of thirty six years, are the thousands of indigenous women who were left without means of survival as the men of the rural villages seized by the army were massacred and dumped in clandestine pits. They found themselves living amongst communities that did not understand that they were also victims of rape and sexual slavery from the military. They were instead stigmatized but never gave up in their search for answers to what occurred to them and their family members who were murdered or disappeared. The path to find justice since then has been tortuous as the country resists to deal with a past marked by massive human rights violations and impunity but also racism against its large indigenous population. Indigenous women learned in time to organize themselves and with the help of organizations they have achieved already successful outcomes (e.g. the cases of former general José Efraín Ríos-Montt related to genocide and crimes against humanity, and “Sepur Zarco” involving the sexual abuse and slavery of indigenous women).

This paper will analyse the ways indigenous women are trying to build cases before the criminal courts in Guatemala in order to seek justice and claim reparations. It focuses on two specific aspects, namely the types of sources mobilised (including digital and forensic sources), and the models of organisation applied (including the assistance from civil society organisations). It will draw conclusions on the strengths and weaknesses of these strategies, and provide recommendations for research, policies and practices related to post-conflict justice contexts.

Sexual Crimes and Genocide in the Digital Age with Special Attention to Southeast Asia

Erika Miyamoto

University of Barcelona, Spain

Mass atrocities have occurred since ancient time and sexual violence have inevitably correlated with those events. However, it was only after the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that the gravity of sexual crimes was considered in international field. Whilst testimonies of witnesses and victims have played significant role in both tribunals, the other forms of evidence were provided such as satellite imagery, forensic anthropology and radio broadcasts. Apart from Bosnian and Rwandan Genocide, South East Asia has also been considerably affected. For instance, there occurred Indonesian genocide from 1965 to 1966, Cambodian Genocide from 1975 to 1979 and, most recently, Myanmar’s genocide against Rohingya from 2016 to present.

Nowadays, it has been gradually recognised that rape and sexual violence can be used as a weapon of war or genocide. However, in the recent trials at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the integrated investigation on the sexual crimes perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge regime was not prioritized, in spite of plenty of evidence. As for the Rohingya Genocide, rape has been used as a part of the genocidal campaign. In this case, the analysis of satellite imagery has revealed destruction of a number of their villages and contributed to the issue of the Report of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar by the United Nations in 2018. Recently, two Myanmar soldiers have confessed to mass killing and rape in video testimony, which could be provided as evidence in the international criminal court (ICC).

Thus, this research will analyse the correlation between sexual violence and genocide with special attention to Indonesian genocide, Cambodian Genocide and Rohingya Genocide and examine how the digital technology can promote justice for the victims of sexual crimes.

(Re-) Gendering genocide: Sexual violence against men in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Anna Gopsill

School of Advanced Study, University of London, Norway

Over the past two decades, scholarly research on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) has steadily grown. Despite this, gaps remain. Significantly, while there is a strong foundation of research on female victims of CRSV, research on male victims is growing but still lags behind. In the Bosnian context, women have been widely recognised as victims of genocidal sexual violence during the 1992 to 1995 war, while male victims of sexual violence often fall under the legal category of torture or crimes against humanity. This is despite a large amount of evidence indicating that men were victims of sexual violence in the conflict.

This paper first consolidates existing scholarship on sexual violence against men in Bosnia-Herzegovina under two main themes: typology of sexual violence and transitional mechanisms for male victims. In so doing, the paper addresses the state of the art of scholarship on sexual violence and indicates avenues for future research. The paper then turns to judgements from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to analyse how male victims of sexual violence were approached and addressed by the tribunal. Broadly, the paper examines the structural issues facing male victims of conflict related sexual violence in achieving justice, through the lens of the ICTY, and suggests a theoretical framework for the further inclusion of male victims into narratives of gender and genocide.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A5 2: Approaching Holocaust in the Digital Age
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Marc Sherman, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem, Israel
Room 2 

Dark Tourism, Social Media & Holocaust: Remembrance or Disrespect?

Khushboo Chauhan

Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India

Dark Tourism is “the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre”. The Holocaust is considered as a benchmark of evil and unsurprisingly even after decades of it’s occurrence millions of people around the world visit sites related to it every year. This has lead to the rise of “dark tourism”, whereby guides, tour operators, museums, etc. are earning a lot of money. The question that arises is that does this tourism help us in understanding not only the gravity of the Holocaust but also bring some sensitization to it's causes or has it just become one more money minting tool that only aims at economic gains by exploiting our fascination with such dastardly crimes?

Further, the digital era has not left even the Holocaust untouched by social media anymore. Due to millions of dark tourists visiting these memorial sites, numerous photographs, videos, and selfies are taken every year. Unsurprisingly, complicating the matter is the use of social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc., filled regularly with posts of various memorial sites thereby resulting in the debate as to whether these platforms are being used for remembrance or for disrespecting the memories of the Holocaust victims?

Hence, the paper aims to firstly, understand the term dark tourism, it’s definition, and the motivation behind tourists while planning to travel to the Holocaust sites. Secondly, the paper will evaluate whether this dark tourism has resulted in becoming a tool for remembrance of the Holocaust or has it turned it into a mere business? Lastly, it aims to analyse the pros and cons of the use of social media in relation to dark tourism and the Holocaust.

The obvious, in non obvious vantage point. Drone imagery for better interpretation and education of Trebinka, Sobibór and Bełzec.

Tomasz Cebulski

Tomasz Cebulski, Poland, Jagiellonian University Cracow

Drones offer new vantage point in understanding and narrating historic and contemporary genocide sites. After two decades of researching, conducting genealogy projects and interpreting Holocaust memorials the 2020 brough me a drone pilot license to give those sites of memory a new vantage point.

I have produced 6 historic films on Holocaust sites. 4 of those personalized with specific family genealogy information on the victims fate. I have hours of footage of Treblinka to be edited and plan for January 2021 a visit to the new exhibit in Sobibor and Belzec. In case of Sobibor I will be publishing in late February an academic review of the new Museum and monument opened there in November 2020.

I am now producing a film on the liberation of on of the largest sub-camps of Auschwitz called Furstengrube. I have conducted the land surveys and collected oral testimonies and historic pictures to have those contrasted with the 2021 remnants of camp fences and towers used now as fencing of a construction material depot. The film will be aired on January 27th , so anniversary on Auschwitz liberation. I was following the story of prisoners massacre that was conducted at the site on January 27th, 1945 in which a pianist and composer Gideon Klein was murdered. Through analyzing testimonies, survivors drown camp maps, drone footage and land surveying I was successful in finding the location of a mass grave of inmates.

My drone historic video project is called Sky Heritage Pictures and I hope to develop it into a useful tool for finding mass graves, improved site documentation and new visual perspective on sites which at times seem to be obvious.

Revisiting Holocaust in the Age of Digital OTT Platform: The representations of atrocities and perpetrators in cinemas made available in Netflix

Md Nazmul Arefin

University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, People's Republic of

How the “story of genocide” is imaged, constructed, and disseminated through cinemas cannot be overlooked for many critical reasons. In genocide studies, cinema is seldom considered as an important substance. In the age of digital OTT (Over the top) streaming platforms, many reports show that, youth, adults, and even children are being impacted by the “Netflix Effect” regarding opinion formation on social reality and history. Hence, it is increasingly important to recognize how a subtle and sensitive subject like genocide is framed and narrated in digitally streamed films, and represented to the audiences for keeping memories alive.

Given the new-age paucity and importance of research on movie discourses on Holocaust, the paper sets out to analyze the memorialization of the Holocaust constructed in the films that are made digitally available around the globe in the most popular online streaming platform Netflix. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) methods, this small-scale interpretative study specifically aims at analyzing the discourses of Holocaust atrocities and horrors depicted in the movies and how they are analogous and diverged from each other. The study also aims at analyzing the ‘perpetrator profiles’ represented as the protagonists behind the Holocaust. The primary findings of this study imply that the selected films have constructed different forms of narratives regarding the Holocaust history that are independent yet interconnected. These digitally available films play an imperative role in keeping the memory of Holocaust active through the exploration and representation of Germany's Nazi past of unthinkable atrocities.

Digital Media in Genocide Education – A Multiperspective Study on the Effects of 3D Interactive Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors

Anja Ballis

LMU Munich, Germany

Since survivors play an important role for teaching difficult history, technological advancements are being used to create and preserve their testimonies. Different players are involved in these efforts, often beginning with the Holocaust. For example, the USC Shoah Foundation developed interactive testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust and furthermore of the Nanjing Massacre. The characteristic of these media formats is the filming of survivors – answering 1,000 to 2,000 questions – in a multiscopic or stereoscopic way for 3D presentation. Supported by voice recognition, these questions and their corresponding replies are then processed so that users receive a stored answer from the survivor if their question can be matched to one of the pre-recorded ones. Independent of time and location, visitors to museums and memorial sites, as well as students in classrooms, can ask their questions to genocide survivors.

To gain insights into the effects of such media formats, I have empirically evaluated two German speaking interactive testimonies of Holocaust survivors at a memorial site in Germany (10/2020). Of central concern is to what extent the audience (1) connects with the survivors’ stories, (2) learns lessons from the past for the present, and (3) how visitors evaluate this form of communication. A mixed method design was chosen combining quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative aspects (interview). The results show that the visitors gain an increased awareness of the importance of human rights, and they actively seek the survivors’ advice for fighting antisemitism. Further, significant differences in terms of gender and residence of the visitors can be identified. My presentation ends with the opportunity for listeners to explore the testimonies and with reflections on how to transfer these results to teaching genocides.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A5 3: Rohingya Genocide
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Ronan Lee, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom
Room 3 

Where Will I Go? The Rohingya Dilemma

Md Khalid Rahman

American International University-Bangladesh, Bangladesh, People's Republic of

Since 25 August 2017, more than 800,000 Rohingyas have left their homeland, fled to Bangladesh, due to violence and persecution by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military force and local Rakhine community. Today, more than one million stateless Rohingyas live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camps at Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. The Rohingyas live a miserable life in these camps in extreme condition. Bangladesh has been bearing and rearing the largest refugee camps on earth for more than three years. Rohingyas not only want to return to their homeland but also, they seek justice for the crimes committed against them. Different stakeholders take various legal initiatives against Myanmar in national and international levels. During this time, several efforts of repatriation have been initiated by the Government of Bangladesh but failed due to adamant mentality of the Myanmar government. It seems that those failed attempts made the repatriation process next to impossible. After the exodus, international community aided funds for the helpless Rohingyas, but they seemed reluctant in the third state resettlement program. Therefore, the burden of Rohingyas falls along on Bangladesh. Regarding integration of Rohingyas, Bangladeshi people share mixed emotions and experiences. After years of complexity the much-contested relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char has become a reality but this process is criticized by several stakeholders or international community. So, the future of the Rohingyas is uncertain and ambiguous. Though there are several solutions, due to complications Rohingyas are in a dilemma which one to take. As the above-mentioned processes of return of Rohingyas are complicated to perform, in this video documentary, we have tried to explore answers to the following questions-

Firstly, how much the Rohingyas have suffered due to persecution? Secondly, can Rohingyas return to Myanmar? And finally, how justice can be served?


Digitizing Responses to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in the Post-Pandemic Era

Mohammad Pizuar Hossain

East West University, Bangladesh & Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh.

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a majority-Buddhist nation in Southeast Asia which has a protracted history of inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict (Walton, 2014, 7). The Rohingya have been among the most persecuted group, with the Kachin, in this country (Selth, 2018, 6). The members of this ethnic group allegedly fled mass killings, mass gang rape of women and children, brutal beatings, enforced disappearances, and other serious human rights violations (Selth, 2018, 6). They had to leave their homeland and take shelter in many neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh. At present, nearly 1.1 million Rohingya refugees live in various refugees camps of Bangladesh (UNHCR, 2020). This crisis is becoming further complicated by the impacts of Covid-19. This pandemic is uniquely compelling the governments and the civil societies of the entire world, including Bangladesh, to digitize responses to the Rohingya crisis. In this situation, the academics, non-governmental organizations, and funding agencies for research should initiate evidence-based studies into the use of digital platforms to address the Rohingya crisis. In line with this, this study intends to explore the prospects and challenges of the use of digital platforms to respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis during the post-pandemic era in Bangladesh. For this purpose, the author of this research adopts both qualitative and quantitative approaches and gathers information using both primary and secondary sources.


Walton, M. J. & Susan H. (2014). Contesting Buddhist Narratives: Democratization, Nationalism, and Communal Violence. Policy Studies, 71, 1-67.

Selth, A. (2018). Myanmar’s Armed Forces and the Rohingya Crisis. United States Institute of Peace.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). (2020). Operational Portal (Refugee Situations).

Legitimizing Genocide in Myanmar: The Road to Impunity

Cecilia Ducci

Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Italy

Despite the development of a norm cluster on the condemnation of the crime of genocide, including the norm on the prevention and punishment of genocide, the non-impunity norm or Responsibility to Prosecute, and the Responsibility to Protect, the ‘crime of crimes’ continues to be committed to date often with impunity. This is often attributed to competing interests within the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) or to non-Western states’ insufficient socialization into the anti-genocide norms. However, counterintuitively, the proposed paper highlights the agency of the norm violators in legitimizing their misbehavior to international audiences by contesting the anti-genocide norms, thus affecting their implementation. It therefore posits that genocide perpetrators aim to prevent a consensus on the definition of the violations as genocide from emerging within the international community, most notably the UNSC, the Secretary-General and regional organizations, consequently impeding any potential punishment measures. Despite being the most prominent case of genocide in the 21st century and numerous human rights NGOs’ calls for action, the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar has been neglected by the international community and collective action to punish Myanmar’s leaders is absent. This paper will draw on the constructivist theory of norm contestation to carry out a qualitative analysis of the discourse advanced by genocide perpetrators and those who defend them (i.e. Aung San Suu Kyi and her defense lawyers). It aims to analyze how genocide perpetrators contest the anti-genocide norms and discursively justify their use of genocidal violence by persuading their target audience and/or silencing their opponents. This paper asserts that an understanding of how genocide perpetrators legitimize their actions to international audiences provides the basis not only to account for why impunity often prevails, but also to reflect on the current state, strengths and flaws of the anti-genocide norms.

12:00pm - 1:30pmSession A5 4: Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part III)
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Zahira Aragüete-Toribio, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Room 4 

Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice (Part III)

Chair(s): Elisabeth Anstett (CNRS / ADES, France)

This three-part panel examines the blind spots of the “fight against impunity”, a universal guiding principle, which has become central in the international legal system in order to promote peacemaking and peacekeeping, security, democracy, and the rule of law in situations emerging from mass violence. This “fight” is built upon the recognition of four complementary and intrinsically linked fundamental rights: the right to truth, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and the guarantee of non-recurrence. Each of these rights, to which the victims are entitled, is associated with a state obligation: the obligation to investigate, to prosecute and sanction, to repair, and to prevent. These four pillars are indivisible from criminal justice. Nevertheless, even though the notion of the “fight against impunity” has stimulated a vast array of legal and judicial tools to deal with mass crimes, at national and international levels, one observation still remains: in spite of everything, impunity persists in most cases. In such instances, some conflict and post-conflict situations across the globe have shown how the “fight against impunity” has taken the form of a demand for the restoration of truth in the face of rampant governmental and judicial inaction. The three sessions of this panel aim to provide a much-needed interdisciplinary reflection on the ways that the right to truth is mobilized as part of transitional justice initiatives, which take a judicial or extrajudicial form or are enacted through civil society-led endeavours happening sometimes at the margins of state involvement. Presentations from law, philosophy, political science, and social anthropology provide novel insights about the ways in which state and non-state driven transitional justice paradigms engage with notions of truth in relation to but also beyond criminal inquiry and prosecution, in contexts of ongoing impunity for, and/or denial of, mass crimes.


Presentations of the Symposium


What’s in a Name? (Re)setting the Scene of Impunity for Mass Crimes

Marion Vironda-Dubray
University of Geneva, Switzerland

Since the “anti-impunity” turn in the late 1980s’, international, hybrid and domestic courts and mechanisms have been created, along with a dedicated legal framework, to “combat impunity” in the aftermath of mass violence. Nevertheless, even though impunity has become key to identify appropriate form(s) of justice in transition, its signification remains ambivalent under international law. This presentation explores the meaning and function that the concept of impunity acquires in these contexts. First, it addresses the dominant understanding of impunity: perpetrators’ freedom from punishment. Questioning this conception, it argues that impunity is better conceived as a continuum of situations that span throughout the criminal procedure, from the absence or the miscarriage of investigation to perpetrators’ acquittal or conviction to derisory penalties. Second, the presentation considers the other understandings that “impunity” might gain within broader transitional justice processes: the lack of acknowledgement of the facts and the victims and the failure to provide them with adequate reparations. It concludes by discussing the need for defining the essence of the concept of impunity, while also taking into consideration the ever-changing contexts of transition from mass crimes.


Rethinking the Iconography of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): An analysis of the TRC’s influence in shaping truth-seeking policy and practice in Africa today

Tafadzwa Christmas
University of Geneva/Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Switzerland

Much has been written concerning the work and impact of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) within South Africa. This chapter is neither a eulogy nor an indictment of the TRC. Instead, it analyses how the TRC has influenced and shaped the conceptualization of truth-seeking norms and framed the role of truth commissions in Africa. The main thesis explored in this chapter is that the current African truth-seeking norms and policies are heavily influenced by the ‘iconography’ of the TRC. The chapter traces the development of the mandates of truth commissions in Africa and also examines truth-seeking policy guidelines propounded by both the African Union (AU) and the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights. By presenting an objective critique of the transposition of the TRC model into contemporary truth-seeking law and practice, this paper examines the conceptualization and implementation of the right to truth as a means to counter denial of and impunity for serious human rights violations in Africa.


In Search of Lost Truth and Justice in Asia: Two Decades of Peoples’ Tribunals in Contexts of Impunity for Mass Crimes

Camille Montavon
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

The past six decades have witnessed a proliferation of peoples’ tribunals organized worldwide by civil society in order to investigate, analyze and denounce massive human rights violations which remained unpunished. This presentation seeks to evaluate the contribution of these “tribunals of opinion” to transitional justice in Asia by examining four examples: the Tokyo Women’s Tribunal (2000), the International People’s Tribunal on Crimes against Humanity in Indonesia (2015), the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on State crimes in Myanmar (2017) and the China Tribunal (2019). After reflecting on the strategies implemented by these alternative justice mechanisms to ground their ontological and “jurisdictional” legitimacy, we consider the roles they may assume regarding the right to truth and the right to justice. The first hypothesis is that peoples’ tribunals could participate in the implementation of the right to truth through their fact-finding function. The second is that they could contribute to the right to justice at two different levels: by providing an acknowledgment to victims who have been left out by official institutions and by paving the way for traditional legal actions. Transversal to the dual axis of this presentation is the question of the articulation of peoples’ tribunals alongside other practices of transitional justice.

1:30pm - 2:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
2:00pm - 3:00pmBusiness Meeting
Location: Plenary room
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
Plenary room 
3:00pm - 3:30pmBreak
Location: lounge
3:30pm - 4:30pmLocal partner - ARARAT: Speaker: Garo Paylan
Location: Plenary room
Plenary room 
4:30pm - 5:00pmBreak
Location: lounge
5:00pm - 6:30pmSession C5 1: The Role of Mass Media
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Kerri Malloy, San José State University, United States of America
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.

5:00pm - 6:30pmSession C5 2: Hiding Information on Genocide and Atrocities
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Manana Vahana Hakobyan, DataPoint Armenia, United States of America
Lost but found in Burundi’s response to genocide: the international dimension of genocide in the Great Lakes. Emmanuel Nkurunziza The existence of genocidal organizations in the east African Great-Lakes region, as well as the cooperation between them, is an established fact. It is also fact that only some of these organizations were ever subject to appropriate judicial treatment. While most of the genocidaires remained unpunished, with the development of digital technologies, the denialist and revisionist propaganda flourished. In addition to the mitigation of atrocities and victim numbers, gradual overlooking of the regional dimension of genocide is the other characteristic of the post-genocide discourse in that area. Since the launch of Burundi’s TRC in 2014, however, there has been considerable reference to perpetrators operating across borders, especially in the commission’s tweets relating to the still-uninvestigated killings of 1972. My presentation seeks to analyze why they were swept away from the general discourse for a while, to end up re-appearing as significant paradigms in Burundi’s efforts to abet other genocides via the restoration of the truth, among other paths. The focus will be on semantic moves relating to those agents of crimes who were highlighted or ignored depending on periods. I will rely on pertinent UN reports on one hand and, on the other hand, on Burundi’s TRC publications with the main focus on digital releases. The overall aim is to establish the extent to which this regional cooperation between genocidal groups is fitted in Burundi’s current recommendable endeavors of truth restoration.
Room 2 

Data Science in Relation to Genocidal Analysis and Prevention

Manana Hakobyan, Taline Mardirossian, Sofi Sargsyan, Armen Hovannisian

DataPoint Armenia, United States of America

As the presence of social media has swept the world, governments and individuals are using its influence to advance their political and personal agendas, including genocidal intentions. Information manipulation has always been the main tool to promote genocidal actions, utilizing the available technological instruments of the given times. The blockade of information and spread of harmful misinformation generated by the increased automated bot activity during the 44 day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 is the most recent application of this process. Modern social media is especially dangerous in circulating misinformation because it reinforces biases of the crowd rather than validating the truth. In the current age, genocidal actions leave footprints on social media, in the form of big data, and thus its origins and the distribution of its ideology can be tracked and illuminated through ​sophisticated ​data science algorithms.

Drawing parallels between case studies from previous atrocities we identify the commonalities of genocidal rhetoric. We analyze the technological tools employed in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and discuss the tactics utilized to influence and shape the perspective of truth through the dominating presence of social media. We investigate the amplification of genocidal violence versus prevention in terms of the information being spread by government entities, as well as the rhetoric of the persons driving national agendas on either side. Using data analysis and web scraping from various social media platforms, we are able to identify the inflection point where hate speech grows into destructive intentions throughout the course of the 44-day war and use this model for preventative measures in the future.

( . . . )

Igor Ripak

individual, Austria

Art exhibition proposal

The subject of my project ( . . . ) is Dobrica Ćosić’s memoir Bosnian War (2012). In this book, Ćosić describes his experience as the first president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992–1993) and his involvement in the peace talks that ended the Bosnian war (1992–1995). Despite covering this period, there is no mention of Srebenica genocide in his memoir. My aim was to highlight his intentional omission of the genocide: I located all the available issues of Bosnian War in public libraries in Serbia, borrowed as many of them as I could and in-situ inserted an edited page which contains the date of the genocide followed by several blank sheets.

I present this several parts: an approximately 5 x 1.5 meter large grid of framed photos, slideshow and optionally a lecture. The photos show thirty-eight books I intervened on, four photos of the actual intervention and one framed text document with short explanation of the project’s background. The slideshow contains photo-documentation of the project’s execution: a 22 days long road-trip through Serbia. Optionally I hold an art lecture about my project’s political and historical background with an emphasis on my experience of it’s preparation and execution.

Please follow the link for the detailed description and photo examples:

Technical Requirements:

Transport of 44 framed photos (30x25cm each).

HD projector.

5:00pm - 6:30pmSession C5 3: Workshop: Bigotry, Hate, and Genocide: Global, Regional, and Local Challenges
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Henry Theriault, International Association of Genocide Scholars, United States of America
This workshop seeks to introduce IAGS to the members, objectives, and initial insights that have emerged from the Global Consortium on Bigotry and Hate. Members of the Consortium will share their efforts to tackle violent hatred individually and collectively. They will provide related updates for each of the countries and regions represented by the consortium’s members: Eastern and Western Europe, including Scandinavia and Russia; East and South Asia; North and South America; and Southern Africa. The purpose of these updates will be twofold: they will (1) provide information concerning present and emerging hate crises, as well as the local steps being taken to address them; and (2) present an opportunity for engaging in structured discussion with members of the audience in order to widening the GCBH’s analytical frame, and share information on strategies for successfully addressing far rightism, its underlying causes and attendant harms.
Room 3