Yale Launches Program to Study Genocide

Auschwitz. The Killing Fields. Ethnic cleansing. Armenia. Rwanda. Over and over in the 20th century, tribal identity, religion, language, race and culture have been employed to isolate one group of people from their neighbors. Isolation has led to discrimination, persecution and sometimes genocide. Why does this happen? What can be done to prevent it in the future?

This semester, Yale University will begin to examine these and related questions, inaugurating a Genocide Studies Program at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, which will include a public lecture plus discussion sessions for enrolled graduate students and faculty members. Ben Kiernan, professor of history and director of the Cambodian Genocide Program, will be seminar director.

The Genocide Studies Program is funded by a Mellon Foundation Grant as a Sawyer Seminar, named in honor of John E. Sawyer, the Foundation’s second president. Sawyer Seminars are university-based explorations of the historical and cultural origins of contemporary developments. The Mellon funding will support a post-doctoral fellow, Edward Kissi, who is a Ghanaian graduate of Concordia University, and three Yale graduate students. It will also enable visiting scholars from abroad to participate in selected sessions.

The program will use comparative and multi-disciplinary approaches to theoretical issues and case studies of genocide. Analysis, documentation, recovery and prevention will be among the topics addressed in sessions that consider war crimes, race and ideology, truth commissions, humanitarian intervention, the impact of international politics and more.

The seminars will be held on Thursdays, 1:30-3:30 p.m., in Room 203, Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave.

On Jan. 15, David Scheffer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, will speak on “Prosecuting Genocide.” This talk is free and the public is invited.

As Ambassador at Large, Scheffer addresses serious violations of international humanitarian law anywhere in the world, coordinating support for the Yugoslav and Rwandan War Crimes Tribunals and leading United States participation in the United Nations negotiations to establish a permanent International Criminal Court. Scheffer has served in the Clinton Administration since 1993, when he was appointed senior advisor and counsel to then-ambassador Madeleine Albright. Prior to 1997, he was an adjunct professor of international law at Georgetown University Law Center. He has served as senior associate in international and national security law at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1989-1992), senior consultant on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs (1987-89), international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations (1986-87), adjunct professor at Columbia University (1986-87) and research associate at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs (1983-84).

The following speakers are scheduled for later in the semester:

Frank Chalk, professor of history and co-director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University, on “Theories of Genocide”; Helen Fein, executive director, Institute for the Study of Genocide, on “Genocide: Foundations and an Interdisciplinary Review”; Gregory Stanton, U.S. Department of State, on “The Seven Stages of Genocide”; Vahakn Dadrian, director of the Genocide Study Project, H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, on “History of the Armenian Genocide”; Deborah Dwork, director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at Clark University, on “Auschwitz: Utopia and Dystopia”; Bruce Jones, post doctoral fellow in international relations, Stanford University, on “Reflections on the Rwandan Genocide: Mobilization, Participation, and the Production of Violence.”

A second series of lectures will be presented during Fall Semester 1998, concentrating on the recording and documentation of genocide.

Media note: Journalists may arrange to attend seminars and interview speakers by calling the Office of Public Affairs at Yale.

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325