Event Title

Reconciling Evil: Perpetrators and Memory in Post-Genocide Societies

Start Date

13-1-2012 9:00 AM

End Date

13-1-2012 10:30 AM

Description

This paper, focusing on conference themes related to genocide memory and dealing with shared violent pasts, will first outline an explanatory model of perpetrator behavior that synthesizes the wide range of factors that spur ordinary people to commit genocide and other mass atrocities. The model, drawn from my book, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2007), offers a detailed analysis of a process through which the perpetrators themselves – either in committing atrocities or in order to commit atrocities – are changed. Grounded in extensive archival research and primary source interviews with alleged and convicted perpetrators of atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the model emphasizes three proximate, here and now constructions that converge interactively to impact individual behavior in situations of collective violence. The Cultural Construction of Worldview examines the influence of cultural models – related to collectivistic values, authority orientation, and social dominance – that are widely shared by the members of a perpetrator group. The Psychological Construction of the “Other” analyzes how victims of genocide and other mass atrocities simply become the “objects” of perpetrators’ actions through the processes of us-them thinking, moral disengagement, and blaming the victims. Finally, the Social Construction of Cruelty explores the influence of professional socialization, group identification, and the binding factors of the group in creating an immediate social context in which perpetrators initiate, sustain, and cope with their cruelty. This model will then be discussed in the context of genocide memory and how post-genocidal societies deal with shared violent pasts. Central to this discussion will be an analysis of how varieties of justice – retributive and restorative – construct genocide memory and, particularly, how these strands of justice contextualize and explain perpetrator behavior. Drawing on the “power of place” with the conference location, I will focus this analysis on the post-conflict legacies of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Rwandan national courts, and Gacaca courts. Consistent with the conference format, this presentation should engage a wide variety of disciplinary discussions (history, psychology, sociology, political science, peace studies, etc.) as well as be applicable to practitioners in related fields.

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Jan 13th, 9:00 AM Jan 13th, 10:30 AM

Reconciling Evil: Perpetrators and Memory in Post-Genocide Societies

This paper, focusing on conference themes related to genocide memory and dealing with shared violent pasts, will first outline an explanatory model of perpetrator behavior that synthesizes the wide range of factors that spur ordinary people to commit genocide and other mass atrocities. The model, drawn from my book, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2007), offers a detailed analysis of a process through which the perpetrators themselves – either in committing atrocities or in order to commit atrocities – are changed. Grounded in extensive archival research and primary source interviews with alleged and convicted perpetrators of atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the model emphasizes three proximate, here and now constructions that converge interactively to impact individual behavior in situations of collective violence. The Cultural Construction of Worldview examines the influence of cultural models – related to collectivistic values, authority orientation, and social dominance – that are widely shared by the members of a perpetrator group. The Psychological Construction of the “Other” analyzes how victims of genocide and other mass atrocities simply become the “objects” of perpetrators’ actions through the processes of us-them thinking, moral disengagement, and blaming the victims. Finally, the Social Construction of Cruelty explores the influence of professional socialization, group identification, and the binding factors of the group in creating an immediate social context in which perpetrators initiate, sustain, and cope with their cruelty. This model will then be discussed in the context of genocide memory and how post-genocidal societies deal with shared violent pasts. Central to this discussion will be an analysis of how varieties of justice – retributive and restorative – construct genocide memory and, particularly, how these strands of justice contextualize and explain perpetrator behavior. Drawing on the “power of place” with the conference location, I will focus this analysis on the post-conflict legacies of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Rwandan national courts, and Gacaca courts. Consistent with the conference format, this presentation should engage a wide variety of disciplinary discussions (history, psychology, sociology, political science, peace studies, etc.) as well as be applicable to practitioners in related fields.