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
Open Call: “We Charge Genocide”
We invite papers for a possible joint session focused on the seventieth anniversary of the 1951 We Charge Genocide petition, submitted to the United Nations for relief against U.S. abuses of Black citizens. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the legacy and significance of the petition's anniversary, activism under the We Charge Genocide Chicago organization and their report presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2014, and other related issues and concerns. Co-sponsored with the Religion and Human Rights Unit.
Open Call: Religious Institutions and Genocide
Although access to the recently opened Vatican Archives and the documents of Pope Pius XII has been delayed due to the pandemic, the opening of the archives and the fortuitous premiere of the 2020 film about the Holocaust and the Vatican, Holy Silence, by director Steven Pressman, have reinvigorated discussions about the involvement of religious figures and institutions in mass atrocities. We invite papers that address the role of religious institutions in mass atrocities, both as entities that foment violence as well as thwart violence and provide relief. Special co-sponsorship by the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
Open Call: Children and Genocide
We invite papers that explore the treatment and experiences of children affected by genocide and other mass atrocities and human rights violations and the roles religious institutions and individuals have played in shaping the experience of children and/or documenting the hidden voices or experiences of children. "Children" may include child survivors, children born during a mass atrocity, and children born as a result of genocidal rape as well as the mourning of mothers who have lost children or engaged in infanticide.
Open Call: Pandemic Apocalyptic Rhetoric and Conspiracy Theories
We invite papers that explore the proliferation and impact of apocalyptic rhetoric and genocidal conspiracy theories animated by COVID-19 in particular or by other pandemics more generally for comparative purposes to COVID-19. This may include but is not limited to claims that the virus and/or its correlating vaccinations are orchestrated "genocides" against certain groups.
Open Call: COVID-19, Mass Atrocities, and Religion
COVID-19 has not only laid bare and exacerbated inequities, but it is also a threat multiplier for mass atrocities. We invite papers that investigate the dynamics of COVID-19, mass atrocities, and religion. This includes, but is not limited to, how the pandemic has intensified human rights violations against religious groups or what responsibility religious institutions and individuals may have in confronting these threats.
Pre-arranged Book Panel: Laura Levitt's The Objects That Remain (Penn State University Press, 2020)
Weaving together an examination of the evidence in police storage of her unsolved rape and an appraisal of artifacts in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Laura Levitt investigates how material objects can be traces of violence and interrogates how we think about evidence as well as its potential for understanding traumatic events and pursuing justice. Panelists will critically assess the book and identify its most significant contributions to research on the intersections of material objects, trauma, and justice research. The author will respond to each panelist's analysis as well as answer questions from session attendees. Possible co-sponsorship with the Women and Religion Unit.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Jay Geller, Vanderbilt University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
K. Christine Pae, Denison University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Sarah K. Pinnock, Trinity University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
David Tollerton, University of Exeter1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023