The Guatemalan Lesson
You are not obliged to complete the work, but you are not free to desist from it either.
-Rabbi Tarfon (from the Talmud)
On February 6, as part of the IAS Collaborative Reframing Mass Violence lecture series, CHGS partnered with the Human Rights Program and the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul for a screening of the documentary film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator . A discussion with its director, Pamela Yates, and producer, Paco de Onís followed. Granito tells a breathtaking story of courage and perseverance in the pursuit of justice that uniquely embodies the quote above from the Talmud.
The film spans thirty years as five protagonists in Guatemala, Spain, and the United States attempt to bring truth, memory, and justice to the violence-plagued Central American country. A US filmmaker, a forensic anthropologist, a Spanish lawyer, a Maya survivor, and a Guatemalan witness activist each become a "granito," a tiny grain of sand, adding up to an extraordinary accomplishment three decades after the atrocities: the indictment and trial of ex-dictator General Ríos Montt, former de facto president and responsible for a genocidal campaign that killed thousands of indigenous Guatemalans during the bloodiest phase of a war against the leftist guerrillas in 1982-1983. On May 10, 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide by a court in his own country.
The last chapter of this Guatemalan story is yet to be written. Only ten days after the ruling, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala overturned the conviction under pressure from an organization representing the country's deeply reactionary oligarchy.
Still, the judgment marked a turning point in Guatemalan history, and it has also become part of the history of human rights. It sends a clear message to other parts of the world where present or former perpetrators still live in freedom and privilege despite proven involvement in atrocious crimes. It also teaches an important lesson: As a collective effort, step by step or "grain by grain," even in Guatemala-one of the most profoundly unjust societies in the Americas-justice can be achieved.
Call for Applications: Bernard and Fern Badzin Graduate Fellowship in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2014-15
Silhouettes in memory of Jews deported from the Grunewald Station, Berlin. Sculpture by Karol Broniatowski. Photo: Elowitz 2012.
The University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Department of History invite applications from current doctoral students in the UMN College of Liberal Arts for the Bernard and Fern Badzin Graduate Fellowship in Holocaust and Genocide Studies for the academic year 2014-15.
The Badzin Fellowship will pay a stipend of $18,000, the cost of tuition and health insurance, and $1,000 toward the mandatory graduate student fees.
Eligibility: An applicant must be a current student in a Ph.D. program in the College of Liberal Arts, currently enrolled in the first, second, third, or fourth year of study, and have a doctoral dissertation project in Holocaust and/or genocide studies. The fellowship will be awarded on the basis of the quality and scholarly potential of the dissertation project, the applicant's quality of performance in the graduate program, and the applicant's general scholarly promise.
Required application materials:
1) A letter of application (maximum 4 pages single-spaced) describing the applicant's intellectual interests and dissertation research and the research and/or writing which the applicant expects to do during the fellowship year
2) A current curriculum vitae for the applicant
3) An unofficial transcript of all graduate work done at the University of Minnesota
4) TWO confidential letters of recommendation from U of MN faculty, discussing the quality of the applicant's graduate work and dissertation project and the applicant's progress toward completing the degree, sent directly to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Deadline: All application materials must be received by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 3:00 pm on Friday, March 14, 2014. The awardee will be announced Friday, April 25, 2014.
Genocide and its Aftermaths: Lessons from Rwanda
A Series of Events to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda
April 16, 17, 19, 2014
The Institute for Global Studies in partnership with The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Human Rights Program are hosting a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. The events will include a public conference, a student conference, and a K-16 teacher workshop. The objectives of the commemorative events are: promoting public understanding of what happened in Rwanda, discussing the immediate responses of the international community to the violence, and analyzing the long-term consequences that the cataclysmic failure to prevent the genocide had on international policy and action.
Sponsorship made possible in part by the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Fund at the Minneapolis Foundation.
For a complete listing of events, participating scholars and sponsors please click here
New on CHGS YouTube Channel
Antisemitism Then and Now
Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht
Panel Discussion, December 5, 2013
Is there a new antisemitism? A growing body of reports and research centers claim that a new strain of antisemitism is sweeping the globe. Five renowned scholars in the field of antisemitism studies discussed historic antisemitism, its long term after effects and contemporary manifestations in Europe and the US.
The event was convened by Alejandro Baer, Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) and Klaas van der Sanden, Interim Director, Center of Austrian Studies (CAS). The panel consisted of:
* Philip Spencer (Kingston University, UK, Historian).
* Chad Allan Goldberg (University of Wisconsin Madison, Sociologist)
* Zsolt Nagy (University of St. Thomas, Political Scientist,)
* Gary Cohen (University of Minnesota, Historian)
* Bruno Chaouat (University of Minnesota, French Literature & Thought, former Director, CHGS)
Sponsored by: The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Center for Austrian Studies, The institute for Global Studies, The European Studies Consortium, Center for Jewish Studies, Center for German and European Studies, and the Jewish Community Relations Council
CAR and South Sudan: How do conflicts end?
By Wahutu Siguru
In the past month two significant events occurred in two of Africa's on-going conflicts. The National Transitional council members in Central Africa Republic elected former Bangui (the nation's capital) mayor, Catherine Samba-Panza as its new interim president and South Sudan signed a ceasefire between Kiir and Machar. Kiir is the president of South Sudan and Machar is his immediate former vice-president and the de facto rebel leader.
Ordinarily this would be good news, not this time however. What we have instead seen in CAR is an increase in hostilities between the Muslim and Christian Militias , the killing of a politician who spoke out against the violence, and the threatening of Catherine Samba-Panza by self proclaimed anti balaka leader Richard Bejouane. Peter Bouckart, of Human Rights Watch, has done a wonderful job of highlighting the ever-shifting loyalties of the Chadian troops, a lynching by CAR military and claims of a failure by the French military to carry out its mandate to protect the civilian population.
|Violence in South Sudan, January 26, 2014. |
AFP Photo/Ali Ngethi
In south Sudan, barely 24 hours after the peace agreement was signed clashes across South Sudan with both government and rebel leaders accusing the other of breaking the truce. The sticking point appears to be the refusal by the Kiir government to release political prisoners. The situation is complicated by the claims that rebel forces have committed atrocities against some of the populace. As if all this is not complex enough, Uganda has refused to withdraw its troops sent to help the Kiir government.
One would have assumed that the election of a new interim president in CAR and the signing of a peace deal in South Sudan would do the trick. Unfortunately, both of these are often a means to an end and not an end in and of themselves. Foreign intervention has been shown to not be the panacea for ending intrastate conflict not just in South Sudan and CAR but also other conflicts like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Assumptions that power-sharing deals (like the one crafted by Koffi Annan in Kenya) are the best solution have also been shown to be a mixed bag. If Rwanda, Darfur, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and Mozambique tell us anything, it's that power sharing agreements are fragile at best and catalysts for future violence at worst. Peace talks need to be understood as stopgap measures and the international community has to exert more pressure on the leaders to ensure a resolution occurs in a timely fashion; instead of assuming that the parties at conflict are altruistic and wish to maximize the welfare of the nation as a whole. As CAR and South Sudan continue to show us leaders sometimes do not have the political and institutional capabilities to maximize the nation's welfare.
So how do conflicts end? Unfortunately there is not clear-cut answer to this question. The case of CAR provides a counter narrative to the assumption that all we need is the presence of peacekeepers and South Sudan highlights the dangers of weak and non-existent political institutions that are inclusionary and transparent. There is no magic drug in the pursuit to end these conflicts. In my previous post I called for a rolling of sleeves by the international community. What we have mostly received is moral outrage instead of actual proposals to solve the long-term problems in both these countries. It is within this context, one of multiple actors and issues and of near lack of functioning institutions that the setbacks in CAR and South Sudan should be understood. Any proposals must contain processes for structural changes and be cognizant these changes have to remedy the situation while also chart a way forward.
Wahutu Siguru is the 2013 Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and PhD candidate in the Sociology department at the University of Minnesota. Siguru's research interests are in the Sociology of Media, Genocide, Mass Violence and Atrocities (specifically on issues of representation of conflicts in Africa such as Darfur and Rwanda), Collective Memory, and perhaps somewhat tangentially Democracy and Development in Africa.
IAS Collaborative: Upcoming Public Lectures
Reframing Mass Violence: Human Rights and Social Memory in Latin America and Southern Europe
Thursdays 3:00p.m. to 4:30p.m.
The collaborative explores the particular developments and transnational entanglements of social memories in societies revisiting their legacies of dictatorship, state terror, and grave human rights violations in Latin America and Southern Europe.
The lectures are by distinguished experts from the countries of study. The next lecture will explore Uruguay.
Uruguayan Memories of Dictatorship: A lector by
Mariana Achugar (Carnegie Mellon University)
Thursday, March 6
Why do family conversations matter in processes of intergenerational transmission of traumatic pasts? Achugar will share some examples from a two-year ethnographic project in Uruguay where 20 youth and their families were interviewed. The analysis of the styles of interactions that occur in these families with different backgrounds will show how they make sense of the past and what narratives characterize their recollections. She will then attempt to explain why some conversations produce "more sharable" memories of the dictatorship.
Spring Educator Workshop: An Overview of Genocide in 1990's and Early 2000's
Men with Weapons. Nuba Mountains.Samuel Totten
January 23, 2013.
An Overview of Genocide in 1990's and Early 2000's and the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda: A Case Study As part of the series of events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda
Saturday, April 19
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Conference Room 325 Coffman Union, East Bank of U of MN
Cost: $25 includes parking, a copy of one of Samuel Totten's books, resources, and lunch
Registration deadline: April 5, 2014
To register please click here.
In this educator workshop, visiting scholar Samuel Totten
will begin by discussing the origins, causes and responses to genocide within the scope of human rights and international law. He will then give an overview and summary of genocides perpetrated in Africa and beyond in 1990s including the Nuba Mountains; Srebrenica; and Darfur before examining in depth, as a case study, the 1994 Genocide of Rwanda. Totten will finish by addressing the latest outbreaks of violence in the world, which crimes against humanity have been perpetuated, and noting where there is a fear of genocide breaking out.
Participants of this workshop will receive resources (including one of Totten's books) and materials to develop curriculum to integrate into their classrooms. This workshop will address the 2011 Minnesota Academic Standards for Social Studies as they relate to human rights, international law, and genocide.
For a complete listing of events associated with Lessons from Rwanda please click here.
Memory, Justice and Reconciliation: Coming to
Terms with Past Atrocities
Countries emerging from eras of repression, armed conflict, or mass atrocities must find a way to address the past before they can make a successful transition into more open, democratic societies. What to do with the past is a dramatic decision for a society that has experienced grave violations to individuals and groups, and to the public's trust in government and in each other.
This institute will explore some of the methods and mechanisms that have been developed by national and international actors, such as truth commissions and national or international criminal prosecutions to assist societies to transition away from a repressive past.
Participants will explore the role of public memory of past violations, including memorials, museums, commemorations and their politics. We will also engage in a study of representations of atrocities and the intersections of art and human rights in media, literature, murals, film and performance arts.
The institute will also provide hands on activities designed to help educators create curriculum and lessons they can incorporate into their classrooms.
Dr. Alejandro Baer, Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Barb Frey, Director, Human Rights Program
Cost: $100 includes all parking, materials, field trips and lunches
Optional on campus housing available for $300
CANCELLATION DEADLINE: If you need to cancel your registration, a refund minus $20 will be issued to you if you cancel in writing to Deborah Jane email@example.com by July 14, 2013. If you cancel after this date, you will not be eligible for a refund.
Sponsors: Institute for Global Studies, European Studies Consortium, African Studies Initiative, Consortium for Study of Asias,Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Human Rights Program.
Genocide: A Reader
By Jens Meierhenrich
Genocide is a phenomenon that continues to confound scholars, practitioners, and general readers. Notwithstanding the carnage of the twentieth century, our understanding of genocide remains partial. Disciplinary boundaries have inhibited integrative studies and popular, moralizing accounts have hindered comprehension by advancing simple truths in an area where none are to be had.
Genocide: A Reader lays the foundations for an improved understanding of genocide. With the help of 150 essential contributions, Jens Meierhenrich provides a unique introduction to the myriad dimensions of genocide and to the breadth and range of critical thinking that exists concerning it. This innovative anthology offers genre-defining as well as genre-bending selections from diverse disciplines in law, the social sciences, and the humanities as well as from other fields. A wide-ranging introductory chapter on the study and history of genocide accompanies the carefully curated and annotated collection.
For more information click here
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to help us maintain and create our internationally recognized resources and programs.