On April 23-25 the Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies, along with the Human Rights Program, Institute for Global Studies and the Ohanessian Chair, marked the centennial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 with a series of events. This included a keynote by Middle East scholar Bedross Der Matossian, an international student conference titled “One Hundred Years of Genocide: Remembrance, Education, Prevention”, a teacher workshop on World War I and the Armenian Genocide, as well as a guided tour of Bdote, a sacred Dakota site at Ft. Snelling State Park led by Professor Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair.


The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Department of History are pleased to announce the 2015-2016 Bernard and Fern Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

c8e9469d-ec05-47ef-a3c4-e213f785d467Yagmur Karakaya is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is interested in collective memory, popular culture and narratives of history. Yagmur is currently working on her dissertation project on Ottomania, which focuses on contemporary interest in the Ottoman past in Turkey. She is interested in how different groups of minorities engage with the ways in which Ottoman past is recalled and how they situate themselves in this narrative. During her Badzin Graduate Fellowship year, she will focus on the commemoration of the Holocaust in Turkey, and the relative silence on the Armenian genocide situating both of these phenomena in the current political interest in the Ottoman past. This project will engage with current debates regarding memorialization and denial in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies within the context of Turkey. She will be focusing on two major non-Muslim minorities in Turkey: the Jewish and Armenian population, conducting interviews with the members.

Talking to a journalist in Nairobi this weekend, he mentioned something that I thought was as unnerving as it was interesting. The journalist lamented at the fact that it seemed the world had gotten so tired of Darfur that the news of soldiers raping at least 221 women and girls in the village of Tabit last October hardly caused a ripple. The first allegations of the 36-hour rape ordeal came in November when Radio Dabanga (The Hague) initially reported on the crimes. In December, the ICC prosecutor decided to shelve the war crimes probe after almost five years of stagnation by the world court, stating she needed more support to address Sudan’s lack of cooperation, and that the rape of the 200 women and girls in the village “should shock [the] council into action.” Sudanese security forces killed approximately 200 protesters in 2014 and the Sudanese state has been so confident that nothing would happen to it, it created a new force, the Rapid Support Forces, which was accused of having burned 3,000 villages in 2014.

We have come a long way from events that sought to raise awareness such as ‘Rock for Darfur’ (which according to Voice of America had 22 concert in 2006 alone), a long way from buying, and proudly donning, t-shirts 6086ed3a-bbed-40b0-b5c3-bc404feae1dbwith ‘Save Darfur’ emblazoned on them. Syria, Iraq, Liberia, South Sudan, and Central Africa Republic have overtaken Darfur in the attention sweepstakes in the news. In previous posts I have talked about Compassion Fatigue and the four horsemen of the apocalypse whenever atrocities were covered in the media. However, when is it ok to say enough is enough? When do we, as global citizens, stop shaking our heads and going “tsk tsk, it is so sad what is happening in that country”?  These are questions I have asked myself over the past few years. As a graduate student, I have often wondered if my keeping an eye on Darfur is influenced by the fact that my research is in the region. Would it matter as much if my research was on, say, farming practices in Africa?  I would like to think it would, if for no reason other than the fact that my country (Kenya) shares a border with South Sudan. I would like to think that whenever I opened the local daily at a coffee shop, or on my way to work in the morning, I would read the news about Darfur and seek out like-minded individuals to try and help in some way, shape or form. What form of help this would be I’m not sure as of yet. So to the question, what have I done for Darfur lately? My honest answer is not as much as I would have liked to do. As Darfur has morphed into a conflict occurring in the shadows (a dreadful prospect) my sense of hopelessness has also increased. What will your answer be?

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. 

Event Review: International Symposium “Reframing Mass Violence: Social Memories and Human Rights in Post-Communist Europe”

(IAS Collaborative)

March 4-6, 2015

An international symposium on “Contested Past, Contested Present: Social Memories and Human Rights in Post-Communist Europe” took place at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities on March 4-6. It was organized by the IAS Collaborative “Reframing Mass Violence”, and sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, among other supporters.


792d6a4c-bc67-4b10-83d9-c42313e8740fUtjiua Muinjangue is the chairperson of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation. Ms. Muinjangue spoke on behalf of the school of Social Work at the University of Minnesota on the genocide of the Herero on November 10, 2014.


e30c4b58-0e40-4824-9fc0-0c9da4edc48eCHGS is pleased to welcome Jennifer Hammer, new program associate in the Institute for Global Studies with special responsibility to support the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Center for Austrian Studies. Jennifer completed her degree at the University of Minnesota in Anthropology and Japanese, and has done graduate work in the history of design. Jennifer comes to us from the Department of Communication Studies and has programming and management experience at a number of non-profit organizations including JSTOR, Artstor, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

A Conversation with Gabriel Gatti (Professor of Sociology, University of the Basque Country, Spain)

Due in large part to humanitarian law and transitional justice, the categories of detained-disappeared and forced disappearance are today well established – so much so that in some places like Argentina and Uruguay an intense social life has taken shape around them and in their wake. Victims mix with institutions, laws, and professionals (forensic anthropologists, social scientists, jurists, psychologists, artists, archivists, and writers), occupying intersecting positions and doing so with varied narratives, from the epic and heroic to the tragic and traumatic. Based on extensive fieldwork in Argentina and Uruguay, Gatti analyzes these worlds in an attempt to understand how one inhabits the categories that international law has constructed to mark, judge, think about, and repair horror.

Gabriel Gatti is Professor of Sociology at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. His research and teaching focus on contemporary forms of identity, in particular those constituted in situations of social catastrophe, rupture, and fracture. He is the author of Identidades débiles, Identidades desaparecidas, Les nouveaux répères de l’identité collective en Europe, and Basque society. His latest work, Surviving Forced Disappearance in Argentina and Uruguay: Identity and Meaningwas published in august of 2014. He is also a main researcher behind the Mundo(s) de victimas (World(s) of victims) a study of four cases that deal with the construction of the “victim” category in contemporary Spain.

Professor Gatti’s visit is part of the Reframing Mass Violence Collaborative Series. Sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study, the Human Rights Program, the Department of Sociology, the Department of Political Science and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

221When the National Football League’s Washington Redskins franchise traveled to the University’s TCF Stadium to play the Vikings, they brought with them a considerable amount of controversy. It has been difficult to avoid the debate surrounding the Washington team and their controversial moniker. This is not solely a Minnesota phenomenon; nearly all of the team’s away games have seen a significant amount of protest by both sides. The use of the redskin name has pitted advocates of a change to a more inclusive name against supporters of the football team and their more than eighty year history.  While fans of the franchise argue that the name does not reflect any racism, it is important to understand the origins of the term redskin and how it fits into the wider context of the Native American genocide.


One of the lasting effects of the genocide in Rwanda is that all African conflicts are always compared to Rwanda. The metric always seems to be whether or not they will be as bad as Rwanda if intervention does not occur. Rwanda has become a sign of guilt, a reminder that we as humanity did nothing to stop one of the more atrocious and rapid killings of peoples in an African country. Of course this ignores that the Democratic Republic of Congo has been embroiled in some variation of the same conflict for as almost as long as I’ve been alive (and I’m somewhat old enough to remember images of the late Mandela walking free from Robben Island holding Winnie Madikizela’s hand).


204Professor Vidal, who taught at the University of Minnesota from 1972 until his retirement in 2003, is widely known as an innovative, original, and productive scholar in the field of Latin American studies. The collective impact of his work and influence opened up new fields of intellectual inquiry to which he contributed through his high intellectual standards, independent spirit of inquiry, and unwavering commitment to human rights.