The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944, and in 1948 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In this context, our Unit treats prominent atrocities of the twentieth century, but topics of interest extend before and after this period as well beyond the legal definition of genocide. This Unit addresses religious aspects of genocidal conflicts, other mass atrocities, and human rights abuses that have made a deep and lasting impact on society, politics, and international affairs. Unit interests also include instructive lessons and reflections that Holocaust and Genocide Studies can lend to illuminating other human rights violations and instances of mass violence and the construal of genocide within a human rights violation spectrum that allows for the study of neglected or ignored conflicts that include a salient religious element. Our work is interdisciplinary and includes scholars from fields including History, Ethics, Theology, Philosophy, Jewish Studies, Church History, Anthropology, Political Science, Gender Studies, and regional area studies of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
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Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit
Call for Proposals
The Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit is committed to diversity and inclusivity. Pre-arranged panels should reflect gender and racial/ethnic diversity as well as diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank as appropriate.
The Afterlife of Catastrophes in Cities
2022 Presidential Theme: Religion and Catastrophe
For a possible Religion and Cities Unit/Religion, Genocide and Holocaust Unit co-sponsored session, we encourage submissions that explore the afterlife of catastrophes in cities. Memories of violence are hidden in plain sight—in architecture or city planning—while other remnants of violence are not so hidden, as in public ruins or through monuments. Religion plays a role in both perpetuating this violence as well as providing space for healing and reconciliation. Guiding questions may include but are not limited to: How do communities “remember” in these spaces? How does the afterlife of catastrophes in cities, as opposed to other community arrangements, impact religious and political collective memory? What are the ethics of memory? What performative or ethical difference, if any, is there among preserved ruins versus hidden violence versus versus memorials?
Disaster Displacement and Climate Refugees
2022 Presidential Theme: Religion and Catastrophe
For a possible Religion,Genocide and Holocaust Unit/Comparative Religious Ethics Unit co-sponsored session: As climate change increasingly compels people to move and migrate beyond their borders, particularly those in climate “hotspots,” what should be our attitude in regard to immigration and asylum policies towards refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), and the stateless who wish to escape the violence of the climate crisis? As climate change is a threat-multiplier, what constructive role should state and non-state actors (e.g. religious actors) play in the refugee crisis in the interest of decreasing the likelihood of mass atrocities?
Exploring the Material Objects/Remnants/Relics of Genocide
An invitation for proposals dealing with the study of genocide and material culture. Such material may include artifacts, weapons, remains, burials, and places of killing, the archeological process, and curation of these items as evidence. It may also include the symbolic meaning of objects and places of genocide including memorials and museums that have become notorious, iconic, or touristic. What role does material culture play in the destruction (in whole or in part) of an ethnic, national, or religious group? How do objects as well as spaces function as bearers of meaning in the construction of post-genocide religious narratives? How does trauma or an object’s proximity to violence alter its significance, both religious objects and quotidian ones? How do academics, institutions, museums, libraries, and others differ in their understanding of material remnants of genocide as relics, and how does this understanding shape how such artifacts are cared for, displayed, and narrated? How does genocide change the ways that matter matters within a religious framework?
The Holocaust and Slavery: A Comparison
Coincidentally, and a year apart, two influential miniseries--Roots (1977) and Holocaust (1978)--aired in the United States. Arguably, their scope and impact on American culture remain unparalleled. In the 1990s there were several attempts to bring the atrocities of American Slavery and the Shoah or “catastrophe” in conversation with each other, most notably Laurence Mordekhai Thomas’ Vessels of Evil: American Slavery and the Holocaust (1993). It appears that another spate of attempts to compare the Holocaust and American Slavery are emerging, in both a written and visual format. For instance, Beverly Mitchell’s Plantations and Death Camps: Religion, Ideology, and Human Dignity (2009); Steven T. Katz’s The Holocaust and New World Slavery: A Comparative History (2019), Susan Neiman’s Learning from the Germans (2019), Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020), and Director Raul Peck’s docuseries, Exterminate All the Brutes (2021). We invite papers that engage any one or several of these works or that more broadly investigates the bases, ethical implications, and fruitful avenues for a comparison between the Holocaust and American Slavery and their legacies. This may include, but is not limited to: an explorative comparison of the contours of the written versus visual media representations of these atrocities; how current events are shaping this renewed interest; and the era of Nuremberg Laws in Germany (and its other European iterations) and Jim Crow in the United States. Papers may be considered for a journal special issue (mass atrocity focus comparison) or edited book (if the papers specifically treat mini-series representations).
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Rebecca Carter-Chand, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandell Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Jay Geller, Vanderbilt University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Lily An Kim, McMaster University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Sarah K. Pinnock, Trinity University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
David Tollerton, University of Exeter1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023