Dressing the Fool: Silence as a Weapon in the Fight for History in “Denial”

A competent accomplished woman goes up against a populist outsider who has created a reputation built on lies.  Sound familiar? Maybe, but this is not about the 2016 US election: it is the plot of the film Denial (2016), based on the true story of the trial between Jewish Studies and Holocaust scholar Deborah E. Lipstadt and British Holocaust denier David Irving.

There is no denying that Denial is a film for our times. Conceived nine years ago, and filmed in 2015, the parallels between the trial and the President election is not lost on viewers. Frustratingly, we do seem to live in a time in which history is ignored, facts seem like an inconvenience and there is a prevailing ideology – that one’s opinion is more important, regardless if you can back it up with facts or not.  What happens in this scenario is that there can be no debate between anyone because those espousing opinion, cannot rationally articulate their argument against those who cite facts.

Continue reading “Dressing the Fool: Silence as a Weapon in the Fight for History in “Denial””

Urgent Action in Relation to the Chemical Attacks in Darfur: Open Letters to U.S. Government Officials and UN Personnel

October 14, 2016

To: President Barack Obama;

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon;

Prince Zeid, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity to the UN Secretary General, respectively.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR); U.S. Senator McGovern (D-MA); and, U.S. House of Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)

From: Scholars of Genocide Studies from Across the Globe, Human Rights Activists, Anti-genocide Activists, and People of the Cloth

Re., Actions That Must Be Taken Immediately in Regard to the Chemical Attacks on Darfur

Continue reading “Urgent Action in Relation to the Chemical Attacks in Darfur: Open Letters to U.S. Government Officials and UN Personnel”

Rami Malek: Coptic-Egyptian? Arab? White?

Rami Malek recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series for his role in Mr. Robot, designating him as the first “non-white” actor to win this award in 18 years. Malek was born in the US to Coptic Christian-Egyptian parents, meaning that his win is widely celebrated amongst Arab, Egyptian, Coptic, and American communities. This win highlights the fluidity and complexity of identity, and particularly sheds light on debates about Copts as Egyptians, Copts as Arabs, and Middle Easterners and North Africans as non-white.

Continue reading “Rami Malek: Coptic-Egyptian? Arab? White?”

Eye on Africa – 2016-17 Preview

As the academic year begins, there are four countries that I will largely be keeping an eye on.

The first country is Burundi, where extrajudicial killings have increased since the hostilities began last year. There still seems to a jarring lack of attention on this small East African nation that has had a long history of strife and atrocity.

Continue reading “Eye on Africa – 2016-17 Preview”

Gender-Based Violence Against Men and Boys During Mass Atrocity: An Interview with Prof. Gabrielle Ferrales

In March, Gender & Society published an article titled, Gender-Based Violence Against Men and Boys in Darfur: The Gender-Genocide Nexus. The paper, co-authored by Dr. Gabrielle Ferrales (Sociology, UMN), Dr. Hollie Nyseth-Brehm (Ohio State) and Suzy McElrath (Ph.D. Candidate, UMN), analyses gender-based violence against men and boys during mass atrocity. Demonstrating new theoretical connections between gender, violence, and hegemonic masculinity, this work significantly advances our understanding of how genocidal violence is gendered, but also more broadly how gender inequalities can be reproduced and maintained in diverse settings and social structures.

Continue reading “Gender-Based Violence Against Men and Boys During Mass Atrocity: An Interview with Prof. Gabrielle Ferrales”

Political Uses of Spain’s Blood Libel Myth: Dr. Weissberger Shares Her Research at NYC Conference

Dr. Barbara Weissberger is an emerita professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. Next month, she will be presenting her work at the Blood Libel Then & Now: The Enduring Impact of an Imaginary Event conference in New York City.  

The Edict of Expulsion of all unconverted Jews that Queen Isabel and King Fernando issued in April of 1492 ended more than a millennium of co-existence between Christians and Jews in the Spanish kingdoms. Between 1391 and 1413 that often fragile co-existence began to unravel when real and threatened violence against Jews caused a massive wave of conversion to Christianity, creating a diverse group known as conversos. Prior to the conversions, blood libel accusations against Jews in Spain, unlike in the rest of Europe, had been exceedingly rare.

Continue reading “Political Uses of Spain’s Blood Libel Myth: Dr. Weissberger Shares Her Research at NYC Conference”

Student Spotlight: J. Siguru Wahutu

img_9446J. Siguru Wahutu was born and raised in Kenya and moved to Minneapolis to pursue his undergraduate education. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Sociology and Global Studies and a minor in Cultural Studies. He stayed in Minnesota to obtain his PhD in Sociology with a thematic focus on genocide, media and collective memory and a regional focus on Africa. Wahutu is broadly interested in how news organizations and journalists in Africa produce knowledge about genocide and mass atrocity in neighboring African countries. He was the 2013-2014 and the 2015 Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He also writes for the CHGS blog on current events in Africa.

Wahutu’s current research focuses on how Africa’s media represented the violence in Darfur between 2003 and 2008 and compares this to how media from the global north portrayed events in Darfur during the same period. This research project aims to examine the process through which African news organizations frame atrocities and actors in atrocities for their national audiences. While much has been written about how the global north represents the global south during instances of mass violence, little is known about how Africa represents Africa. This is the gap in scholarship that Wahutu’s work fills. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Wahutu will be editing his dissertation and submitting research papers to academic journals.

Indigenous Youth and the Looming Threat of Cultural Genocide in Minnesota

On August 20th, the Star Tribune published a story highlighting the incredible disparity between Native Americans and the rest of Minnesota in foster care placement. According to Stahl and Webster’s article, American Indian youth are ten times more likely to end up in foster care in comparison to the rest of the state. On average, two indigenous youth are sent to foster homes in Minnesota every day, the highest rate in the nation.

The sheer number of Native American children being sent to foster care in the United States is creating a significant problem. In 1978 Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). At the time, it was an attempt to keep Native American youth in tribal communities by placing them with Native foster families whenever possible. Now nearly thirty years later, Minnesota has a shortage of Native American foster homes to house the increasing number of children being taken from their home.

Continue reading “Indigenous Youth and the Looming Threat of Cultural Genocide in Minnesota”

The “Acid Test” for Right Wing Populism

PopulismoThe semester is about to start and I find myself touching up syllabi and putting some order in my course material. While reviewing files, I came across a very helpful handout from a conference I attended at the University of Bayreuth in 2010. The topic from then is even more timely today: “Analyzing Right-Wing Populist Discourse across Europe.” In it, discourse analyst Ruth Wodak laid out the most salient features of Right Wing Populist rhetoric, which she identified in statements from political leaders across the old continent. Given the indisputable “toxicity” of this discourse, here we will label the following ten elements from Wodak’s handout as the “Acid Test” for Right Wing Populism:

Continue reading “The “Acid Test” for Right Wing Populism”

Genocide in South West Africa: German Leaders Agree with the Historians—Finally

Genocide is a familiar topic to Germans. Today, it is almost impossible to visit Germany and not confront remnants of the darker chapters of the country’s history. Germans interact with and recognize a variety of tangible reminders of the crimes committed by the Third Reich. Countless memorials stand as physical evidence of a violent “past that will not go away”—a past that a majority of Germans publically acknowledge should not go away.[1]

But what about Germany’s other genocide? What place does its memory have in German society today? Between 1904 and 1908, German colonial soldiers carried out the first genocide of the twentieth century in what is now the present-day African state of Namibia (German Southwest Africa).[2] This systematic campaign against Herero and Namaqua peoples—regarded by some scholars as the “Kaiser’s Holocaust”—claimed the lives of over 100,000 men, women, and children through starvation, imprisonment, exile, and murder. German colonial leaders’ impetus for the genocide arose during the so-called Herero-Namaqua Aufstand (Herero-Namaqua Uprising), which began in January 1904 when Herero leaders revolted against the German administration in Southwest Africa. The Namaqua joined the campaign several months later.

Continue reading “Genocide in South West Africa: German Leaders Agree with the Historians—Finally”