This semester, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies research assistant, Michael Soto, had the opportunity to interview Carlo Tognato on his 2020 edited volume, the Courage for Civil Repair: Narrating the Righteous in International Migration. In this interview, Tognato discusses the evolution of his work and some of the core themes of this new volume. Below we share excerpts from this interview. Be sure to listen to the entire interview here!

Michael Soto: So one of the things that we’re interested in is this idea of the righteous, which originally comes from use related to the Holocaust. Has there been resistance by either the authors, the protagonists they write about, readers, or others about using the term the righteous in these different contexts as opposed to related to the Holocaust as it’s usually associated?

Carlo Tognato: Let’s say that in general, across various societies, for example, the US, attempts to extend the categories that come from Holocaust memory to other contexts that do not belong to Holocaust memory have always been pretty controversial. So some people believe that those kinds of extensions, are in a way, diluting or are hijacking the true Holocaust experience. And then there are others, also within the Jewish community, who believe that actually, the extension of those categories and those experiences from the Holocaust memory to other setting or other situations outside the very phenomenon of the Holocaust are a way to even redeem the very experiences of some of the victims of the Holocaust.

For example, when the Trump administration went along with the policy of family separation at the border, Jewish activists came to Congress and staged a protest that this was a group … called the Never Again Action, and they said that as Jews, they had an obligation to step up and show that in the face of certain kinds of injustice and the specific experience of family separation they couldn’t be indifferent. And so, they had to stand up and take a position. So in societies, it has been controversial. Some have thought that this is legitimate, and some others thought it’s quite illegitimate to extend those categories outside the phenomenon of the Holocaust — categories that were born out of the Holocaust experience.

Among the authors of the book, there have been cases that talk about the experience of righteous that were born out of Jewish communities in Vienna or Berlin. And so, in those cases, in a way, the Holocaust memory is there [in] the background. And there are other cases, for example, the case from Australia, that talks about the actions that doctors and doctor associations took in defense of the immigrants that were secluded in detention centers, sometimes in little islands in the Pacific. …

And then there are other cases in which Holocaust memory is not even latent and it’s not even in the background. And so in these cases, the authors of those chapters, you know, cases from Mexico, from Cyprus, from Columbia — they are looking at the experience of civil courage of particular actors, but what the book does it juxtaposes the memory of the righteous in the Holocaust to cases in which that memory is there, within the cases and it’s evoked or at least indirect — and with other cases in which it doesn’t play a role.

So in a way, that juxtaposition constitutes a sort of narrative intervention on our part by means of which we are trying to translate the experience of certain actors, within certain contexts, to some broader audiences that might use the category of the righteous to understand what those actions within those specific cases (actions of civic courage) might actually be about.

And so, in those cases, the authors are not referring directly to the category of the righteous but, again, the book provides an umbrella to juxtapose those cases — to draw some parallels and incite us to see potential points of [comparison], but also potential differences. […]

Michael Soto: Related or another idea that recurs or comes up in the book is the idea of how it’s sort of a reinforcing cycle. How the acts of the righteous — either inspire or provide insight into a different way of doing things — a better way of doing things, and others sort of follow. Could you tell us more about that?

Carlo Tognato: Okay, there are various factors that have been found to influence the decision of the righteous to stand up and act. There are some in the literature, especially in the Holocaust literature, [and] some have been identified as psychological factors. There are other social factors, for example, the belonging to certain organizations, certain political parties, or gender or religious beliefs. … And then there are other institutional issues that create (or not) the opportunities for the person to act, and you know to actively engage in action, and, you know, be courageous in a moral, civil way.

So what scholars have found is that none of these factors seem to be sufficient by their own to move the person to engage in an act of courage — of moral and civic courage. What we do in the book is that we are focusing also on one specific cultural dimension, and what we are saying is that in order to enact some civil courage, people also needed to be culturally competent and culturally competent about how the horizon of inclusion and exclusion –how that border between outsiders and insiders is defined {culturally speaking) –in civil communities.

And competent about the history of the trial and errors that within a certain specific context, people who belong to those contexts have experienced and therefore they know what we anticipate when they engage in the breach of that horizon of inclusion and exclusion within their own civil community.

And the more we can cultivate that kind of cultural competence –to understand how that border between insiders and outsiders is defined and upheld — the more people will be able to work out ways to breach it and ways to see the cracks in between those borders. 

And they will be able to engage in those acts. They’re trying to modify those borders, while reducing the risk of doing so. What has been found in the literature is that competence is important for people to engage in acts of courage, and what we are doing in the book is to underscore that among all the different types of competence, like you know organizational competence, psychological competence, there is a very specific aspect of cultural competence… and we focus on that.

So essentially there are various factors that play out to make it to allow people to be courageous and the idea is that if we reflect on those ingredients and, in our case on the cultural ingredients, we will be able to make people reflect on what they need to look at in their everyday life, in order to be able to work what are the channels that can be conducive to change. […]

So the idea is that people who engage in acts of civic courage have to understand the risks involved in contesting the social groups or their society that demarcates insiders from outsiders. Because obviously any attempt to contest those borders would be met by backlash and by the defensive reactions of the guardians of that order, who will try to reabsorb the breach and push those who engaged in some breaches back. […]

The people who engage in acts of civil courage are … trying to engage in something that is right, but they are pragmatic enough to understand that the way to achieve that may entail a lot of constraints, and they have to be creative about searching for the cracks that allow them to contest the border between the insiders and outsiders, minimize backlash or reactions, try to make those contestation stick, and come across as authentic and convincing to other people within their own to the communities.

** This interview excerpt has been edited for clarity and brevity. To listen to Dr. Tognato further discuss the concept of the righteous and his new book, please click here.

Michael Soto is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology and fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Globalization Change (ICGC). His dissertation research is on the transition to peace in Colombia, with a focus on reintegration and reconciliation processes.

It’s been over four months since the Ethiopian national military invaded the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. The fighting continues, and the situation has deteriorated into a major humanitarian crisis, marked by mass killings, food shortages, a collapsed health care system, and the flight of at least 60,000 Tigrayan refugees into Sudan. Estimates of how many people have been internally displaced range from hundreds of thousands to over two million.

At 110 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa. Tigrayans are an ethnic minority that comprises about 7% of the country’s population. Their regional political party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has wielded a disproportionate amount of power in Ethiopia in recent decades, dominating the national ruling coalition from 1991 until 2018, during which time an official system of ethnic federalism inextricably linked ethnicity and politics.

The TPLF made many enemies during its years in national leadership; a period characterized both by Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth and infrastructure development and by tremendous repression of individual rights. After current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power, he embarked on a series of reforms that earned him international praise.  At the same time, tensions were brewing. Many Tigrayans were expressing skepticism that Ethiopia was trending in the right direction.

When TPLF forces attacked the national military’s Northern Command in early November 2020, Abiy sent Ethiopian government forces to Tigray. They were joined by Amhara militia groups and, within weeks, by Eritrean forces coming from the north.

The Ethiopian government’s official position is that “rule of law measures” or “law enforcement operations” are being carried out against the TPLF “criminal clique.” They claim military operations ended in November. However, the ongoing, full-scale military incursion enveloping the entire Tigray region contradicts this explanation; arresting TPLF leaders doesn’t require airstrikes, artillery, and months of troop deployments.

The perception among Tigrayans is that they are being targeted in an ethnic cleansing campaign. This view is reinforced with each new report of indiscriminate shelling of residential neighborhoods and each new revelation of unspeakable brutality directed towards civilians by armed forces. The total disregard shown by the Ethiopian government for Tigrayan civilians’ welfare has been a notable theme of the crisis. 

Despite a deluge of evidence that Eritrean soldiers have a significant presence across much of northern Tigray, including video documentation and countless firsthand accounts, the Ethiopian government has made no attempt to protect its citizens from their rampage, insisting that the Eritrean forces are not there.

Those like me, who were previously Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia (RPCVs), have been touched by the conflict in a unique way. With some exceptions, most of us do not have family ties to Ethiopia or identify with any particular Ethiopian ethnic group, and none of us are affiliated with any Ethiopian political party. What we do have are deep personal ties to communities where we spent years of our lives. RPCVs who lived in Tigray find ourselves anxiously waiting for news of the fates of people we care about; our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and former students back in the place we once called home, the place where my Tigrayan friends took to calling me zihawna (“our brother”) and wudi adinna (“son of our country”).

Abi Adi, Tigray, circa 2013, where the author taught in the primary
schools for two years

In our conversations in recent years, some of my former students expressed doubts about whether they would be safe if they attended university outside Tigray; they feared that being Tigrayan would make them targets for retaliation by those who harbored grievances against the TPLF. When I returned to Ethiopia in 2018, I saw that this trepidation was widespread. I noticed increased security measures in rural Tigray that didn’t exist during my Peace Corps days.

Now, all their worst fears are being realized. The government-imposed telecommunications blackout of Tigray (now only partially lifted) slowed, but did not stop, the gradual flow of information about conditions on the ground to the outside world. Journalists’ access to Tigray is substantially restricted, and some of those who have been able to enter have been targeted for arrest. Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations have inexplicably been blocked from accessing most of the region. 

The current situation in Tigray raises many questions. What is the actual objective of the national government’s military offensive, given that it’s clearly wider in scope than the mere arrest and capture of TPLF leaders? What is the purpose of unleashing Amhara militias and Eritrean forces on the civilian population? Why shut down telecommunications access for millions of people? And what will the future of Ethiopia look like when the war ends?

The world will be watching for the answers.

Thor Hong (MPP ’15) was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia from 2011
to 2013 and a coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative
from 2014 to 2015. He lives in Washington D.C.

In Colombia, an official call to mourn the country’s growing number of COVID-19 victims came alongside the news of defense minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo’s death due to the virus. Within the same day, on January 26th, Colombian President Iván Duque issued an executive decree calling for the “honoring of the memory of COVID-19 victims and especially that of Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García” via a three-day period of national mourning. Duque used rhetoric surrounding this symbolic act to describe COVID-19 as the “invisible enemy” that Trujillo faced while in the “line of duty,” relegating the disease to a collective threat similar to the lingering conflict violence that Duque’s administration has been ill-equipped to manage.

Colombian presidential decree from Jan. 26, signed and stamped

Duque’s strategic fanfare of national mourning came amid ongoing political and infrastructural battles in containing COVID-19 throughout Colombia and the unexpectedly slow march toward vaccine procurement and distribution in one of the wealthiest countries in South America. An official Facebook post announcing the days of mourning garnered outraged comments from the public who demanded more accountability from Duque’s administration. One individual condemned the president specifically, saying, “A leader knows how to anticipate what is to come, but you didn’t do that, so here we are today mourning.” In this public reaction, the charade of presidential mourning for a tragedy that demands (ongoing) governmental intervention and accountability was called out as a paradoxical measure. 

In an almost split-screen occasion, exactly one week prior to Colombia’s state-mandated mourning, U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden led a night of mourning and commemoration for the nearly half a million American lives lost to COVID-19. The ceremony featured visually stunning lights running the length of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in D.C. and a musical performance from a nurse serving on the “frontlines” of the battle against COVID-19. 

In Biden’s case, this calm and dignified occasion on the eve of his inauguration stood in stark contrast to the chaotic optics of Trump’s exit from office and the former administration’s fierce denialism toward COVID-19’s harm and destruction. The ceremony was an opportunity to dramatize the passage to a new administration that is both haunted by yet still immediately in the throes of a deadly pandemic. The New York Times declared that Biden had “assumed the role of mourner in chief,” which interestingly preceded and loomed over the formal transfer of power that would occur the following day on the Capitol steps. 

In both cases, national governments deliberately incorporated mourning into a political agenda still threatened by the urgency of COVID-19 as a mortal, societal, and economic hazard. These vague yet chronologically significant mandates of mourning represent a broader phenomenon I’ve come to reflect on in my research as “meddling commemoration,” or commemoration that is deployed in the middle of a persistent, collective threat. 

In sociological understandings of commemoration following polarizing events, the baseline assumption is that commemoration occurs “after the fact.” As far as the timing of state-sanctioned commemoration, it is usually a matter of days, months, years, or decades between the tragic event and the present ceremonial actions. This distance determines the various ways that political actors interpret and mobilize collective memory of the event. What happens, though, when commemoration (and mourning, in this case) coincides with the ongoing unfolding of a singular, slow-moving tragedy like COVID-19?   

President Duque’s and President Biden’s commemorative actions at the start of 2021 certainly do map onto real losses in the past, as they emphasize the deaths accrued in the pandemic thus far. But they also overlap with ongoing loss, to which both governments are accountable for putting an end. The complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic is such that natural disaster has intertwined with the failures of political leaders and their corresponding infrastructures in a way that makes it easier for governments to divert blame (at least rhetorically). 

The challenge of initiating “meddling commemoration,” then, in the case of a decree or ceremony, is that it must not revert to a diversionary tactic. While mourning and remembrance serve an important function in society, these symbolic actions cannot and should not replace the material crisis management demanded of governments when the “object” of commemoration—in this case, pandemic deaths—extends as a threat to our present and future.

Kristin Foringer is a USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on law and culture in post-conflict Colombia, with current work focused specifically on collective memory and symbolic reparations in the country.

On December 30, 2020, Argentina’s Senate voted to legalize abortion. This decision found resonance with thousands of activists present outside the national Congress building, waiting, witnessing, and testifying why aborto sea ley, why legal abortion, must be the law. After 12 years of debate – really, after decades of debate in the wider public forum, the news of the official tally in favor of legalization was met by tears of joy, drumming, and dancing in the streets of Buenos Aires. These celebrations were echoed and sustained in the streets and homes throughout Argentina, but also across the wider transnational feminist network, both in physical spaces and in the digital public sphere. 

(Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro, Y Gratuito – Regional CABA, Instagram, January 3, 2021)

In these final days of 2020, the anthem of Argentina’s feminist movement for abortion access transformed from sea ley to es ley. This was a moment that condensed time and space, moving from “it will be law” to “it is law.” From a projection into a labored-for, hoped-for future, these social movement actors found themselves now able to make a definitive statement on social reality as it now is, a defined present. Es ley, it is law, it is our right, our bodies.

In the course of their fight, for justice, health equity, and bodily sovereignty, activists have articulated various framings of abortion as a human right, as a necessary health service, as embodied resolution, as one piece of the puzzle for labor and economic justice, as part of the prevention of gendered violence, and as the marea verde of feminist activism that continues to sweep across Latin America.

“Ahora Que Sí Nos Ven” (Now that we are seen). March 9, 2020. The Transnational Feminist Strike, City of Buenos Aires. Photograph by author.

This marea verde (green wave), as the transnational feminist movement in Latin America has come to be known, uses a variety of visual symbols in their activism. One of the most recognizable is the green pañuelo (head-kerchief) introduced by Argentina’s movement for reproductive justice and the legalization of abortion. The pañuelo is a bricolage of political history and contemporary mobilization, repurposing the white head-kerchiefs worn by the Madres and Abuelos de la Plaza de Mayo in their protests against the desaparecidos, the forced disappearance of their children and human rights violations of the state. 

The Madres and Abuelas wore their head-kerchiefs in their weekly marches around the central plaza in downtown Buenos Aires, directly outside the presidential mansion, the Casa Rosada. The pañuelo brought the intimacy of the family into the public forum, making an explicitly gendered and very visible statement that expanded the definition of who is a political actor, what mobilization can look like, and which motivations can spur collective action.

(Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Facebook)

With their embrace of the pañuelo, turning it green and wrapping it around necks and wrists as well as hair, Argentina’s contemporary feminist movement expanded the terms of mobilization and the definition of violence once again. It has likewise been transformed into a symbol of protest against gender violence by the Ni Una Menos movement. From their first mobilizations in 2015, Ni Una Menos has worn purple pañuelos in protest of femicide and gendered violence of all kinds, and proclaiming “nos queremos vivas, libres, y sin miedo” (we want them alive, free, and without fear). United by the pañuelo, Ni Una Menos’s work against gender violence overlaps with the goals of the campaign for the legalization of abortion.  

In the weeks between the vote in the lower house and the deciding vote in the Senate, feminist groups from around the world sent messages to Argentina’s feminist groups supporting their fight, wearing the distinctly Argentina symbol of the pañuelo, extending the symbol again beyond physical borders. As an expression of inter-movement and transnational solidarity, the pañuelo has circulated across borders, bridging diverse issues, and framing them collectively as issues of collective violence perpetrated by, at best, the negligence of the state and at worst, by the state’s direct action. 

With this re-articulation of the pañuelo, activists also make present those who are absent, visible only in the spaces created by their ghosting as victims of state violence, intimate violence, of the violence enforced through the absence of access to sexual and reproductive health services like legal abortion. It calls back to those disappeared by the state during Argentina’s dictatorship of 1977-1983, connecting political violence to reproductive violence. It joins the cry of ¡Ni una menos!, of not one more death of a trans- or cis-woman, bringing together questions of reproduction, gender, and sexuality into new focus. 

It connects abortion access to labor rights and poverty, finding the connections between individual experiences of harassment and hunger with collective locations in social structures of inequality. And it gives a logic for connecting access to abortion with the experience of the pandemic, articulating how differential access to prevention and services is undergirded by those same social structures that perpetuate gendered violence.

“La violencia machista es epidemia y no hay barbijo que nos proteja” (Sexist violence is an epidemic and there is no face mask that will protect us). March 9, 2020. The Transnational Feminist Strike, City of Buenos Aires. Photograph by author.

On January 14, 2021, Ley 27.610 Acceso a la Interrupción Voluntaria del Embarazo was signed into law by President Fernández. It went into effect on January 24, making Argentina the third country in South America to fully legalize abortion as a fundamental human right of its citizens. This is, of course, only one more step towards reproductive justice in Argentina – the difficult process of putting policy into practice remains. And yet, it is a very large and significant step forward in the march towards gender equity across the continent, across the world. 

The marea verde, the green tide, continues to swell with raised fists and pañuelos, in the pursuit of a transversal, feminist future. With its evolution and sustained crescendo as a movement, it carries us to expanded definitions of collective violence and connection across historical and contemporary traumas. And today, in recognition of International Women’s Day, we can continue to bear witness, remember, and imagine an expansive and just future. 

Samantha Leonard is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at Brandeis University, where she is completing her dissertation tentatively titled “Defining Violences: Feminist Movements Against Intimate Partner Violence in Argentina and the United States.” She is also currently a research associate for the “Cascading Lives: Stories of Loss, Resilience, & Resistance” project, directed by Dr. Hansen at Brandeis University and Dr. Kibria at Boston University, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Raikes Foundations. Her interests broadly include culture, social theory, social movements, violence, and race, gender, and class. 

Last Friday, Minnesota nearly became the first state in the country to recognize the Khojaly Massacre as a genocide. A last-second amendment from Governor Walz’s office, however, changed the language in the declaration to massacre, mirroring language found in an earlier declaration Minnesota passed in 2016. In all, 24 states have passed resolutions recognizing the Khojaly events as a massacre. 

In February 1992, in the midst of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenian forces took the Azeri-held town of Khojaly. Human Rights Watch chronicled the killings of Azeri civilians, with estimates between 200 and 1,000 Azeris being murdered by Armenian forces. While there is a general consensus of war crimes committed against the citizens of Khojaly, scholars stopped short of calling it genocide outside Azerbaijan or its close ally, Turkey (Armenia, for its part, continues to deny wrongdoing in Khojaly, blaming Azeri militia embedded with civilians). 

Billboards in Minnesota commemorating the events in Khojaly (via)

Therein lies the greatest challenge with labeling events as genocide: We’re often quick to apply the term in spite of a lack of supporting evidence. At best, applying the term genocide is meant to generate increased awareness and support for victims. At worst, it’s a term applied to denigrate enemies. As Mahmood Mamdani writes, “It seems that genocide has become a label to be stuck on your worst enemy, a perverse version of the Nobel Prize, part of a rhetorical arsenal that helps you vilify your adversaries while ensuring impunity for your allies.” The label of genocide applied by the governor’s declaration would have oversimplified a complicated historical event and eliminated the scholarly impetus for critical examination.

While the events in Khojaly nearly three decades ago are clearly heinous, dig a little deeper and you can find bigger issues at play. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in conflict for decades, well before the massacre, over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Beyond that, Azerbaijan is one of two nations to outlaw recognition of the Armenian genocide, an event with unanimous academic consensus. It’s uncomfortable to see Minnesota playing the part of the pawn in a global blame game involving the push for recognition of crimes as genocide. 

For more than two decades now, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has been raising awareness and supporting academic work exploring the crime of genocide. The next time legislators wish to delve into the topic, I encourage them to reach out – there’s a lot to learn.

Joe Eggers is the Assistant Director for the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.

Michael was born and raised in New Jersey and moved to Minneapolis in 2016 to pursue his graduate studies. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology and a Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC). He has a MA from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and a BA from Harvard University.

His dissertation examines the social reintegration of ex-combatants in Colombia, with a comparative element on Northern Ireland. Michael is interested in the relationships that form between ex-combatants and others following a peace accord and the ways these interactions transform perspectives of each other and the past. 

During the summer of 2017, Michael conducted fieldwork in Belfast with his advisor Joachim Savelsberg and the support of the Human Rights Lab, where he interviewed participants in various grassroots peace-building initiatives. He briefly discusses this project in this video

During the 2019-2020 academic year, he conducted fieldwork in Meta, Colombia, traveling between the state capital Villavicencio and rural areas of the surrounding municipalities of Mesetas and Vista Hermosa, which have formal settlement camps of FARC ex-combatants. He curated photos from his fieldwork as a photo essay for the Latin American Studies Association’s Colombia section. And he wrote a blog post for a leading Colombian newspaper on the murder of Rodolfo Fierro, a FARC ex-combatant that Michael had become close to through his research.

During the Spring 2021 semester, he is also working as a research assistant for Professor Alejandro Baer and CHGS.

Writing about time and historical periodization in his 2012 book, Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust as Historical Understanding, Alon Confino contended that “Linking the events to what came before and after is crucial to the interpretation of what actually happened.” What Confino meant by this is that “foundational pasts,” or events that are “brief, radical, violent, and self-avowedly transformative,” must be understood within larger understandings of historical beginnings and ends. In other words, major historical ruptures, such as the French Revolution and the Holocaust (the foundational pasts on which Confino focuses), are shaped by the events that come before and after them.

A photo of a Holodomor monument in Kyiv taken by the author.

Confino’s theoretical framework is important because it forces historians, of which I am one, to think more critically about how we define historical ruptures in terms of time. Historians often designate historical events into digestible, neatly-defined moments to which we apply dates and years. In many respects, this is useful for marking events and situating them within larger processes at work, but such designations can also be limiting. I agree with Confino when he states that time periods “should be regarded as heuristic devices, categories used to make sense of the story, not as having inherent meaning.” 

Confino’s theoretical positioning on historical beginnings and ends became apparent to me when I began formulating my dissertation topic on the aftermath of the 1932-1933 famine in Soviet Ukraine, now referred to as Holodomor (death by starvation). I became interested in the idea that such a significant historical rupture like the man-made famine of 1932-1933—or what we might call the “foundational famine,” to use Confino’s terms—could really just end in 1933. The famine’s toll was enormous, and it left some three to five million people dead. For those who did not survive starvation, the famine was the ultimate rupture. Those who survived were left to make sense of it, and for many, the famine did not simply end.

Whereas most research on the Holodomor ends in 1933, this is where mine begins. The Holodomor, which is now a regularly researched topic by scholars in a number of disciplines, has been the focus of several articles and books in recent years. Newer publications, such as Anne Applebaum’s popular history of the Holodomor, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, speak to this. Despite new scholarship, there is still a dearth of literature dedicated to the aftermath of the famine. 

Inspired by the absence of such literature on the aftermath of the Holodomor, I felt compelled to ask more questions about the people who suffered and survived the Holodomor. How did Ukrainians begin to make sense of the famine? In what ways did people begin to recover their lives? How did individuals and groups respond? What types of aid and assistance were organized on their behalf? How was the separation of family members and loved ones reconciled after so many people were separated from each other during the famine? What happened to the children who became homeless as a result? It was these social questions—histories of everyday people attempting to reconstruct, rebuild, and piece-back-together their lives after tragedy—that inspire my work.

Since the aftermath of famine is not written about widely in the historiography of the Holodomor, I was forced to turn to literature outside of Ukrainian history to better understand how to write about the problems left behind by historically defining events. I was tremendously inspired by several texts, including Tobie Meyer-Fong’s work on the aftermath of civil war in China in her book What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China, Ronen Steinberg’s newly published monograph, The Afterlives of the Terror: Facing the Legacies of Mass Violence in Postrevolutionary France, which examines the ways that individuals struggled to come to terms with the Reign of Terror in postrevolutionary France, and Drew Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, which encapsulated the importance of death and its ability to change and shape society. All of these texts reiterated to me the importance of looking to the “aftermath” of major historical ruptures. Doing so, I have come to realize (and am still in the process of learning), reveals a great deal about the event itself.

The above texts, which have all left their intellectual fingerprints on my work, allowed me to take their methodologies and apply them to the study of the famine. For instance, Drew Faust and  Meyer-Fong’s work helped me to think more critically about how the living interacted with the dead and the way that death shaped Ukrainian society after famine.

In my dissertation, I explore both individual and collective experiences of mass death. One of my protagonists, a photographer who lost one of his sons to starvation, documented his son’s funeral and burial by taking photos of the process. He used his photography skills to create memory boards that he would place at the dining room table to remember his late son. In essence, he captured his own grieving process and, in doing so, left us valuable evidence that provides insight into the ways that everyday people attempted to grapple with the famine’s effects after 1933. 

Other aspects of my dissertation, like a focus on international relief efforts, reveal the ways in which various relief committees, religious groups, and individual efforts in countries all over the world responded to the outbreak of famine in Soviet Ukraine. These groups attempted to provide aid and relief in earnest beginning in July 1933, despite the fact that the Soviet Union denied that a famine was occurring and refused to let in humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross. 

Although mass starvation largely subsided by the end of 1933, fears of future famine—particularly in 1934—loomed in the minds of Ukrainians and international actors. Such fears helped to propel a slew of unofficial fundraisers and donations in late 1933 and throughout 1934 and beyond. The famine even made its way into a closed-door session of the League of Nations in 1934 on the eve of the admission of the Soviet Union to the League, although the issue of the famine was eventually pushed to the side to maintain geopolitical stability. The study of relief efforts, therefore, reveals that the famine was of international concern well beyond 1933, and it is a story that cannot be told without incorporating Ukraine into world history. 

It is therefore prudent that historians, as well as other practitioners, consider how we mark time. Simple beginnings and ends are useful to a degree, but if we take Alon Confino’s advice and look more closely at the events that come before and after major historical episodes, particularly acts of genocide, atrocity, and mass violence, we may find that these ruptures leave a number of unresolved issues behind that do not come to a definitive end.

John Vsetecka is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at Michigan State University where he is working on his dissertation (tentatively titled), “In the Aftermath of Hunger: Rupture, Response, and Retribution in Soviet Ukraine, 1933-1947.” John is the founder and current co-editor of H-Ukraine, a site dedicated to the academic study and promotion of Ukrainian studies. During 2021-2022, John will be on a Fulbright grant to Kyiv, Ukraine, to conduct dissertation research.

Harry Harootunian is a Detroit born Armenian-American distinguished historian of Japan and scholar of Marxist theory at the University of Chicago and New York University. Born to a family of Armenian Genocide survivors in 1929, Harootunian achieved renown in academia for his pathbreaking studies of early modern Japan and Japanese cultural and intellectual history. 

Not particularly known for his work on the Armenian Genocide, which he readily admits in his recently published memoir by Duke University Press, Professor Harootunian has nevertheless managed to produce a book of profound depth and beauty. It is equal parts a personal memoir, a sociological examination of the Armenian Genocide and its often unexamined psychological effects on survivors and their children, and a meditation of what it is to be a second-generation immigrant in a country ensconced in mythic self-glorification. 

Prompted by the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Harootunian examines his roots and familial history. He tries to understand the silence of his parents about their life in the Armenian villages of the Anatolian hinterlands in the Ottoman Empire, and more importantly, about their hellish experiences as survivors of the Armenian Genocide. But it is there that our author encounters his biggest challenge, a challenge he comes close to resolving, but one that in the final analysis provides no more clarity than when he first set out on the road. By the close of the book, it still remains a kind of mysterium tremendum, equally unwieldy and fascinating. As he puts it, 

The decision to not share these memories and experiences with the children is still a mystery. It could have been the enormity of experiences, its virtual unbelievability, a negative fable from the Tales of the Arabian Nights, putting into question the credibility of occurrences that exceeded the capability of children and anything they might be able to grasp.

It is not to say, however, that we learn a precious little. It is a silence that speaks louder than many an uttered speech.

No less fascinating than the silence of his parents, which Harootunian attempts to unmute with elegance and certain poetic rhythm, is the process itself and the methodology employed. In a “normal” memoiristic enterprise, a writer’s source material would be the personal memories of the author, past correspondences, memories harvested from his siblings, relatives, and perhaps close friends and colleagues. 

Yet Harootunian is confronted with what can only be described as a persistent absence of evidence. His parents, now long deceased, had refused to deposit any sort of ‘remembrances of things past’ with their children, imagining these memories to be a burden the carrying of which was not to be outsourced to their unwitting progeny under any circumstance. What then the author is left with is an assemblage of fragmentary information, more often hearsay than solid fact. 

Confronted with this reality, Harootunian is left with no option but to employ the powers of his imagination to fill in gaps in order to achieve some semblance of coherence in an otherwise “splintered narrative.” Yet even after much reconstruction, the author remains agnostic, never entirely sure whether this imagination has yielded anything resembling the truth, even if faintly. 

The predicament of what we may call “unsure knowing” was especially the case with his mother, Vehanush. Having grown up in a German missionary run orphanage, she had adopted its rigid Protestant ethic and a corresponding detached emotional world that emphasized stoic perseverance, contributing to her silence. As Harootunian puts it: “What I have been able to piece together from disparate fragments of information and hearsay is not, by any means, her complete story and is at best an outline. For this reason alone, it must stand as much as a recomposed narrative as a verifiable account.” 

Her “disciplined silence,” as he calls it, refused to be probed and prodded. Similar is the story of the author’s father, Ohannes. Though less disciplined than Harootunian’s mother, Ohannes remained equally as silent on his life before the Genocide, only occasionally letting in his children on the carefully chosen episodes from a bygone era and land, if only because he did not reject these memories, cherishing them instead and treating them as something worthwhile. Yet, much like his wife, Ohannes would remain silent on the central formative event of his life, the Genocide.

Although the book is largely a memoir, it is also more than that. In trying to understand the heritage of silence he and his siblings had inherited from their parents, Harootunian attempts to understand the catastrophe that befell the Ottoman Armenians at the turn of the 20th century. If he could not understand the impenetrable silence, he could at least try to understand what lay behind it.  

What we have as a result is a loosely Marxist interpretation of the Turkish destruction of its Armenian minority, which elevates economic and financial rationales over other traditionally accepted motivation; (organic nationalism, religious antagonisms, ancient hatreds, etc.). Though never dismissing these other factors in toto, Harootunian makes a powerful case by situating the Armenian Genocide as an example par excellence of what Karl Marx has called “primitive accumulation” or “original accumulation.”

In this framework, though Armenians were a hated minority, their wealth, real or imagined, was far more attractive to the Turkish ruling class than their blood. In the final analysis, it would be these two elements that would jumpstart the modern Turkish republic, its original sin being an original crime – genocide. In this respect, Harootunian’s book becomes a standing rejoinder against Turkish denialism and silence. He reminds us that not all silences are equal.

The silence of the criminal is much different from that of his victim. Both victim and criminal embrace silence for different reasons, but whereas the silence of the victim can contain seeds of redemption, the one embraced by the criminal only serves to compound his crime. More than anything else, it is his guilty verdict. 

Reading Harootunian’s book, I kept thinking how his attempts to recover the silence of his parents and make them speak resembled watching a silent movie. We see characters move and speak, but we are not entirely sure what it is that they are trying to communicate, if anything. In this regard, what the author is doing is akin to putting subtitles to the film — through an act of will, imagination, and yes, love. In his effort, the author assumes multiple roles: now he is a hard-nosed historian, now a Biblical prophet proclaiming timeless truths, now a poet, and in everything, a faithful son in search of the comforting voice of his parents in a grim shadowland. 

Artyom H. Tonoyan, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

2020 was a year defined by people, groups, and communities standing up for their rights, fighting for equal treatment, and their right to exist. The Black Lives Matter movement across the US and protests in the UK calling attention to the government’s failure to investigate the deaths of Black citizens highlighted historical and current racial disparities. The End SARS demonstrations in Nigeria and farmer protests in India brought international attention to those protesting government policies that gravely affected their livelihoods. The world over, these people, groups, and communities have utilized Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 20, “right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” to do this.

Protestors crowd the street in India, waving the green and yellow flags of farmers unions.” Photo courtesy of Randeep Maddoke via Wikimedia.

However, at almost every turn, these protests and calls for justice, accountability, and respect for fundamental human rights have been unduly met with harsh resistance and actively combatted through violent and illegal means by law enforcement. 

Take, for example, the manner in which the Minneapolis Police Department fired rubber bullets and tear gas upon citizens protesting the heinous murder of George Floyd. In India, scenes of peaceful protesters beaten, hosed with water cannons, and choked in tear gas brought global attention to new laws affecting the farming industry. Moreover, we can also look at the tragic events of “The Lekki Massacre” on October 20th, 2020, as the Nigerian Army fired at and killed their own citizens peacefully protesting at the Lekki toll gate.

The violent response to these protests is highly concerning for several reasons. Of course, it is truly troubling and sickening to see individuals lose their lives for merely seeking to exercise their internationally guaranteed human rights. At the same time, it is deeply disturbing and alarming to see just how easily law enforcement and nation-states are willing to flout international law and standards in their efforts to suppress peaceful protestors and their message(s). 

The right to protest has been under a concerted attack from nation-states within recent years, with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom attempting to impose blanket bans on protesters, which were then overruled by courts. However, the violent resistance which has befallen protesters across the globe in 2020 has taken this attack to a new extreme as states use public health concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to further restrict protests

At almost every step, we have seen states comfortably disregard internationally accepted standards and practices, actively putting their citizens at risk of serious harm and danger. We have seen police deploy tear gas, classified as a chemical warfare agent and banned under the 1925 Geneva Protocol for use in war. Yet, we saw law enforcement agencies across the United States use tear gas against civilians throughout the summer 2020 BLM protests. 

Police also used Kinetic Energy rounds (rubber bullets), demonstrating the weapon’s devastating effects on protestors. Unlike traditional bullets, which pierce the skin, rubber bullets are designed to strike someone with blunt force. However, a 2017 study found that three percent of people hit by rubber bullets died from the injury sustained, and a further 15% were permanently injured.

The summer 2020 protests in Minneapolis tell a similar story as Humphrey School Graduate, Soren Stevenson, was left with serious eye damage after being struck by a rubber bullet. In the Lekki Massacre, the Nigerian state unleashed the force of its military against peacefully protesting citizens, further demonstrating the extreme harm caused by these weapons as they injured dozens, leading to a tragic and heinous loss of life. So devastating are the potential effects of rubber bullets that Dr. Rohini Haar states: “using them against unarmed civilians is a huge violation of human rights.” 

Protestors stand behind barricades holding up yellow signs read that read ‘Oguzo!! Enough is Enough!! #EndSARS!! Now!!’ and ‘Is it a crime to dress the way I want? #thugsinuniform #EndSARS.’ Photo courtesy of Tobi James via Wikimedia.

What truly compounds this gross violation of international human rights is the continued overall lack of accountability for these violations. Barring a few hearings held at the international level, there has been little done by way of accountability for states openly committing crimes against humanity and other such human rights violations. Calls to suspend future sales of tear gas equipment to the US in the UK fell upon deaf ears. Authorities in Nigeria attempted to cover up the true death toll of the Lekki Massacre. The international community has displayed a collective ambivalence towards the plight of India’s farming community, save for minor commentary from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

On the one hand, it is encouraging to see the beginnings of conversations seeking to hold governments and police forces accountable for their actions against peaceful protesters. We welcome the finding that the City of Portland was in contempt for violating orders limiting the use of tear gas. It is also positive to see state and local lawmakers begin the push for the police to use “less lethal” weapons. However, these are only tiny steps to address a much larger problem.

The continued assault on the right to protest by nation-states is an extremely dangerous and troubling trend. We as citizens run the risk of having one of our fundamental human rights drastically altered and eroded. The fact that so many of the world’s leading nations have been allowed to take such drastic, disproportionate, and unlawful measures to curtail the right to protest is a frightening reality.

Moreover, the lack of accountability with which these nations have been able to usurp international law represents an egregious failure to uphold basic human rights. The right to assemble and peacefully protest is one of the most centrally important human rights guaranteed to each of us. It is a right that needs not only to be protected but championed to the highest degree possible. The manner in which this right has been attacked in recent years is a trend which each of us needs to work diligently to debunk. NGOs, nation-states, and multilateral agencies such as the UN must do more to not only protect the rights of protesters, but also hold accountable the nations and actors who would seek to curtail the exercise of this right.

Sarah Allis is an alumnus of the Master of Human Rights program, concentrating on research methods.

Joy Hammer is an alumnus of the Master of Human Rights program with a concentration in international conflict and security.

Paul Olubayo is an alumnus of the Master of Human Rights program with a concentration in International Justice and Human Rights Law. Paul presently works at an international Anti-Slavery organization.

Hannah Shireman is an alumnus of the Master of Human Rights program with a concentration in research methods. 

Bailey Sutter is a second-year Master of Human Rights student with a concentration in racial justice, education, and the school to prison pipeline.

Vanesa Mercado Diaz is a second-year Master of Human Rights student with a concentration in women’s rights, migration, and Latin America. 

Raven Ziegler is an alumnus of the Master of Human Rights program with a concentration in business and human rights.

In 1975, Edward Tronick and his colleagues conducted what would become one of the most replicated experiments in developmental psychology.  A video discussing a more recent replication of the experiment can be found below:

In the video, a baby sits in a chair. The child’s mother enters the room and begins interacting with her child, smiling, cooing, and responding. Then, suddenly, as part of the experiment, the mother stops, simply standing with a blank expression. The baby notices immediately. At first, the baby makes sounds and moves her arms. Soon, the baby begins pointing to things, hoping to attract the mother’s attention. When the mother gives no feedback, the baby starts screaming and crying inconsolably. Some of the most severe physical reactions occurred within a minute of the mother becoming unresponsive. Eventually, as Tronick described in his original experiment, “When these attempts fail, the infant . . . orients his face and body away from his mother with a withdrawn, hopeless facial expression.”

Evolutionarily, this makes sense. Humans are social creatures seeking reciprocal interaction in order to survive. Other’s faces are deep reservoirs of information we regularly trove for meaning. Psychologist Paul Ekman revealed human faces contain 43 muscles working in concert to show our emotions. His scientific experiments found that our most basic facial expressions (like sadness, anger, and fear) were cultural universals—that our expression of key emotional states had clear meaning across cultures. 

An infant growing despondent at being unable to connect emotionally to a caregiver indicates how early in life we are hard-wired to seek out emotional correspondence to survive. Sociologists have long studied how we rely on others as social mirrors to read for clues about our own sense of self in the social world. Most humans then become especially adept at learning what gets us attention, either positive or negative. When it doesn’t work, we become hopeless.

The still-face experiment indicates infants desperately want attention and feedback from caregivers. When these are withheld, the anchor for their sense of self, and their reality, is cut. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have long hired psychologists to study and then apply such insights on our essential survival instinct—a primal need for clear, positive feedback from others—to gain users. Social media “likes” have been connected to dopamine hits in the brain, or an immediate physiological reaction rooted in a pleasurable response. People post things on social media to be read, seen, and/or heard, and for those posts to be connected back to themselves. Even those who post anonymously are interested in other’s reactions to their input. We don’t post in vacuums.

A recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, titled “They Used to Post Selfies.  Now They’re Trying to Reverse the Election,” discussed how basic human needs for individual affirmation for some people have moved away from face-to-face interaction, toward mediated affirmation rooted in extreme politics. The authors looked at a few young adult’s media posting patterns before and after their online embracing of right-wing and conspiratorial-themed postings. The article indicated that, before these young adults began posting right-wing conspiratorial theories, they used social media to post about themselves, their lives, and their mostly non-political opinions. They, in other words, posted personal information and, as the Op-Ed title says, selfies; pictures of their own faces.

The article said their original approach to posting on social media received little positive feedback—perhaps a few dozen “likes” and handfuls of comments, usually from those they knew. They were not at that point associated with the extreme far-right. Once these young adults discovered and began posting such far-right political content, and learned to choose hashtags used to organize that content by topic for larger consumption outside of immediate friends, “likes” and comments on their posts increased several fold. They became more visible. Those young adults had found groups of like-minded individuals validating each other in what could be called an imagined community.

Communities are groups with shared values and beliefs that interact over periods of time. Communities are a source of affirmation for their members. Communities form an in-group, one that provides an ecosystem of values and beliefs in opposition to other groups or out-groups. In-groups also promote in-group bias, vilifying the out-group based at times on even arbitrary distinctions. One thing the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol showed was how important such a sense of community is to people and how social media can connect disparate far-right groups under one umbrella to pose an imminent danger to the world’s preeminent democracy.

Proud Boys in Pittsboro (2019 Oct)

Social media also involves speed of communication—an individual can post anything, to be seen everywhere in the world, with one click. Such speed of transmission and response, together with the potential for a large audience, makes social media fundamentally different from all previous forms of media-based communication. It provides an enticement for individuals seeking attention to think short-term, for the positive feedback we all crave and can grow despondent without. 

Much attention has been given lately to the “echo chambers” that exist within social media. Perhaps, though, these might be better thought of as emotional and behavioral call-and-response feedback loops. Actual echo chambers don’t have emotions—they are spaces that allow for the repetition of sounds. Emotional and behavioral call-and-response feedback loops, though, are dynamic forms of communication with a self-reinforcing quality that might then trigger action in the physical world.

The dopamine hits for individual users on social media should also be considered through a recognition of the increased importance of social networks responding to hierarchical forms of power. Online, far-right extremists and conspiracy followers developed, and/or found, a network that, initiating an insurrection, aspired to compete for legitimacy over a hierarchal system of elected officials in a representative democracy. 

A man in a Q Anon shirt from a Trump rally in Manchester, NH, August 15, 2019

In his book the Tower and the Square, Ferguson notes that hierarchies (like medieval towers) represent vertical (top-down) forms of power, while networks (like the public square) represent horizontal (equally distributed) forms of power. Social media networks, promoting the immediate dissemination of material through instantaneous posts, pose a challenge to slower, vertical forms of media where editors control and direct content.  Social media can, therefore, more rapidly promote and inspire communities that might then threaten slower, more deliberate forms of government that rely on long periods of campaigning, election, and the weighing of evidence, opinion, and policy.

The speed of social network communication and the immediate feedback of “likes” and “views” promote an environment of information now competing against traditional mass-media sources. The democratic, individualistic, and most importantly, immediate, nature of participation in social media networks means that everyone is, in a sense, competing for attention—for likes, for views, for subscribers. Social media platforms have struggled to vet material on the sites in the same way as hierarchal-based mass media can. Today, social media “influencers” work to find followers, as an important measure of their “success” concerns developing a large following. Generally speaking, social media platforms have promoted attention from others as a more important measure (a measure of audience size and impact) than promoting accuracy and truth.

Media and politics, though, ultimately involve individuals.  Individuals who feel rejected from others can at times be drawn to extremist groups without initially expressing extremist views.  In “White Supremacy Was Her World.  And Then She Left,” Seyward Darby described the experience of one of her interview subjects, Corinna Olsen, who initially turned to online hate forums to ask rudimentary questions about whether Whites should feel able to “feel pride” in “their culture.”  Instead of being ridiculed by true believers for her naivety, Olsen felt acceptance into online forums for hate.  “They seemed immensely interested in me and my life, and they wanted to be my friend.  [For someone who] grew up without friends, that was very appealing.  It made me feel like I must be doing something right” (Olsen quoted by Darby).  Olsen described herself as initially ignorant of those forums with skinheads or Neo-Nazis as trolling for recruits.  Darby, who has long studied hate groups, believes Olsen’s route into hate groups to be fairly common.  For Darby, hate can simply become “a social bond” and “a cure for loneliness.” 

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has proven that through social media, those craving attention can find imagined communities under an umbrella of unfounded conspiracies, hate, and disinformation. But perhaps therein lies another question: how many of the people espousing far-right conspiracy theories, hate, and disinformation on social media are true believers in such communities, and how many might simply be lonely people in search of validation, or perhaps simply opportunists? An element I found noteworthy about the rioters at the Capitol was how many of them held phones with cameras, recording, posting, and live-streaming their participation. The revolution was, indeed, televised, as a form of reality TV delivered on YouTube and Twitter, seemingly featuring real and wannabe “influencers.”

A number of rioters, though, were clearly true believers. Their imagined community was largely based not on a single platform, but a gross rejection of a hierarchal structure of representative democracy in the U.S. They felt they weren’t being represented. So, they had taken to representing their resentment, to themselves and each other, to meet that key social need expressed in infants, for a deep sense of their existence through validation by others. These individuals under one umbrella of imagined community had found enough in common to collectively agree that if their nation’s leader could be re-elected, that too would confirm a change in their marginal status. His and their interests became one. His narcissism and anger at perceived affronts became the galvanizing force and centerpiece for a coalition for wounded pride, hate, and paranoia. Together, the leader and the rioters would right a host of perceived wrongs.

It is then worth considering how politics and emotional expressions might correspond. One recent study of President Trump by psychologist Erika Rosenberg focused on systematically analyzing his facial expressions using Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (the FACS being the original, empirical assessment tool used by Ekman to understand the facial physiological correspondence with human emotion). Rosenberg’s summary of her scientific opinion: “Trump’s facial repertoire suggests these things to me. He has a great deal of fear under the surface. He tries to position himself as superior to others, whether he truly sees himself that way or not. He is rarely happy.”

Such expressions, I suggest, might also fruitfully be read against the symbols on several flags flown by the crowd outside of the riot. Many rioters, claiming they were true “patriots,” brandished the American flag.  Several other rioters held flags with snakes, flags with their leader as Rambo, various flags with guns, and the Confederate Battle Flag. These are symbols of dominance, superiority, aggression, wounded national pride, and righteous anger against deep-seated threats.

Together, I am arguing that the insurrection involved a perfect storm of many seemingly disparate elements. A key is the promotion of conspiratorial views on social media to both true believers and social media opportunists, some of which overlap. Another element is that social media has the perverse effect of separating and isolating us through individual phones and computers (likely compounding some people’s sense of isolation recently exacerbated by the pandemic). Third, a coalition of conspiracy theorists, hate-mongers, and far-right extremists formed something of an imagined community, enough of whose members became determined to wreck a legitimate, representative democracy. Fourth, they were not a community with a shared view, however, rooted in replacing a hierarchal form of representative government with their own policy platform. There were true believers, there were those who became radicalized through fellowship, and there were those who simply wanted attention.  

Social media, when fused with politics, perceived slights, conspiracies, individual isolation through technology, and a narcissistic, anti-democratic, and deeply disturbed leader, created this perfect storm culminating in an insurrection against the modern world’s longest-standing democracy. Holocaust and genocide scholars know well how perfect storms can lead to once unimaginable consequences.

Kurt Borchard, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska Kearney.  His areas of interest include the Holocaust, genocide, social psychology, and critical cultural studies.