University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Spring 2017 Symposium on Comparative Genocide Studies

Spring 2017 Symposium on Comparative Genocide Studies

Thursday-Saturday, April 6-8, 2017
“Comparative Genocide Studies and the Holocaust: Conflict and Convergence” international symposium

The symposium will address the particular place of the Holocaust against the background of recent knowledge on genocide and mass violence across the globe delivered and disseminated by a new generation of historians, social scientists, and educators. We plan to address definitional, methodological, theoretical, and pedagogical challenges in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives. We are specially interested in addressing debates about comparison and singularity, as they have unfolded with regard to the status of the Holocaust in the context of genocide studies in recent years. The symposium aims to foster an intellectual space for productive dialogue between scholars, curators and educators dealing with the Holocaust and with genocides in various context.
Keynote Address will be the 2017 Ohanessian Lecture by Timothy Snyder.

This conference is presented for University of Minnesota students, faculty, and Twin Cities educators and curators. Registration is required. Registration information coming soon!

*Conference Keynote* 
7:00 pm, Best Buy Theater - Northrop Auditorium
TIMOTHY SNYDER, History, Yale University
The Politics of Mass Killing: Past and Present
Organized by the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair, cosponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Center for Austrian Studies, and the University of St. Thomas' Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, and Grants and Research Office. Made possible with support from the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Fund for Justice and Peace Studies of the Minneapolis Foundation. 


9:00 am Sign in/ refreshments/coffee

9:15 am Welcome

9:30 am
Opening Lectures: Charting the Field
Andrew Woolford, Sociology, University of Manitoba, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
Phillip Spencer, History, Kingston University. Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence.

1:00 - 3:00 pm
Panel 1: Comparative Genocide Research: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges

This panel will engage comparative analysis and typological models for historicizing and contrasting large scale violence against civilians. Questions to be discussed include the following: To what extent is research on genocide and mass atrocities filtered through the lens of the Holocaust or conditioned by existing international law definitions? How are differences and similarities accounted for (for instance between the Holocaust and colonial genocides in the XVIII and XIX centuries)? What conceptual tools, theoretical orientations and methodologies are shared across disciplinary divides?
Alexander Hinton, Anthropology and Global Affairs, Rutgers University. Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights
Eric Weitz, History, The City College of New York
Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Sociology, Ohio State University
Wolf Gruner, Jewish Studies and History, University of Southern California. Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research


3:30- 5:30 pm
Panel 2: Holocaust, Genocide and the Politics of Naming
Despite the existence of a legal definition brought forward by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, the concept of genocide is at times expanded by scholars and activists to encompass different categories and methods of extreme violence, including state terror against political enemies, war crimes and other massive human right violations committed by state and non-state actors. We strive to foster a discussion on the varying effects of the genocide frame when it is adopted in different contexts. How have such frames facilitated or inhibited knowledge and action vis-a-vis unfolding events of mass violence, as well as remembrance, justice, and reconciliation in their aftermath? The panel will examine where and how terminology pertaining to the history of the Holocaust and the concept of genocide is applied and will discuss the potential and limitations of cross-fertilization between scholarly and political/activist and legal agendas.
Tatiana Zhurzhenko, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna.
Carlos Pabón, History, University of Puerto Rico
Joachim Savelsberg, Sociology, University of Minnesota. Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair
Alejandro Baer, Sociology, University of Minnesota. Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


9:00 - 11:00 am
Panel 3: Teaching and Commemorating the Holocaust and other Genocides: Global Perspectives
Holocaust commemoration and education has been for decades a model example to sensitize to the dangers of hatred, discrimination, and dehumanization. This panel will explore the opportunities and challenges of Holocaust education and memorialization from the perspective of different institutions in Europe and the US. Panelists will address changes in how Holocaust history and memory have served as global reference points to raise awareness about other genocides and about state violence and human rights abuses generally.
Irit Dekel, Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Elke Gryglewski, Director, House of the Wannsee Conference Educational and Memorial Site, Berlin

Krista Hegburg, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Claire Mouradian, National Research Center CNRS, Paris

11:00 - 12:00 BRUNCH

12:00 - 2:00 pm
Panel 4: Teaching and Commemorating the Holocaust and other Genocide in Minnesota
This panel will continue the discussion opened in the first panel and address the context of Holocaust and Genocide education and commemoration in Minnesota, specifically against the background of a local history of genocide of the Native American population and the histories of various immigrant groups.
Laura Zelle, Tolerance Minnesota
Dan Wildeson, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, St. Cloud State University.
Lou Ann Matossian, Educator and former Director of the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota.

2:00 - 2:15 pm

Concluding thoughts by the organizers and farewell

Symposium co-organized with the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair; made possible by the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Endowment Fund for Justice and Peace Studies of the Minneapolis Foundation.