Organized a Colloquium entitled
Stages of Ethnic and Nationalist Violence: Perspectives of the Global ‘North’ and ‘South’
Date and venue: November 1, 2019, Malostranské náměstí 25, Prague 1, 118 00 (Charles University, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics building)
Complete report si available for download here
This colloquium seeked to establish a platform that would combine scientific research with the stories, perspectives, and contributions beyond academia of those actively engaged in the study of memory, nationalism, ethnicity, identity, migration, violence, and related issues in history, political science, philosophy, sociology, photography, and other disciplines, while facilitating outreach into digital humanities as well as the usage of research tools and sources of the digital era. The aim was to address said issues within a trans-geographical and trans-disciplinary space where multiple perspectives, from both the so-called ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’, do not talk to each other as if they were universal categories, but critically engage with their own diversity. By speaking of ‘stages’ our main idea was to address violence considering the intricate phases that lead up to it. We thus intended to cover and approach actions as varied as social categorization, petty acts of discrimination and exclusion, polarizing policies, and spaces of persecution, among others, as early stages of violence. Instead of being seen as potential stepping-stones to later, more striking, ‘stages’ of violence, such as the persecution or extermination of peoples, they are often overlooked and dismissed, with well-deserved attention often being diverted straight towards these later stages, thus preventing the issues from being addressed in their infancy.
List of speakers:
- Luis Escobedo (keynote) - Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice (formerly Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice), University of the Free State, South Africa
- Marek Jandak - VITRI The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
- Carolina Davis - Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
- Jakub Mlynář - Malach Center for Visual History
- Ileana Selejan - UCL Anthropology, University College London, UK
- Arnab Dewan - independent film-maker, Denmark
09.00 - 09.30: Reception
09.30 - 09.40: Welcome remarks, introduction of panel 1 participants
Panel 1: Social categories, dehumanization (Chair: Nikola Karasová, Beyond Hegemonic Narratives and Myths Research project, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University)
09.40 - 10.10: ‘Storytelling migrants: Agency in the face of categorization, xenophobia, and denial’ (opening talk), by Luis Escobedo, Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, University of the Free State (UFS), South Africa
10.15 - 10.35: ‘Reflections on the imaginary of the Mapuche people in contemporary Chile. Perception, media and myth around the “Mapuche conflict”’, by Carolina Davis, Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, University of Pardubice
10.40 - 11.00: ‘The Order of Genocide in the Eastern Ottoman Periphery: Armenian Victims in the Elazığ Region’, by Marek Jandak, VITRI The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice, Charles University, Prague
11.00 - 11.30: Open conversation with the audience
Panel 2: Remembering violence, telling the stories (Jiří Kocián, Malach Center for Visual History, Charles University)
13.00 - 13.05: Introduction of panel 2 participants
13.10 - 13.30: ‘Remembering Revenge: Narrative Accounts of Revenge in Genocide Survivors' Testimonies’, by Jakub Mlynář, VITRI The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice, Charles University, Prague
13.35 - 13.55: ‘Actions. Situations. Possible Scenarios.’, by Ileana Selejan, UCL Anthropology, University College London, UK
14.00 - 15.00: Screening of documentary film Life is still not ours: A story of Chittagong Hill Tracts (2012), by independent film-maker Arnab Dewan
15.00 - 15.10: ‘Life is still not ours’, by Arnab Dewan
15.10 - 15.40: Open conversation with the audience
15.40 - 16.00: Closing remarks, meet the participants
Name: Luis Escobedo
Affiliation: Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, University of the Free State (UFS), South Africa
Storytelling migrants: Agency in the face of categorization, xenophobia, and denial
In contemporary post-apartheid South Africa, the voices of many international migrants are often rendered ‘unsuitable’ in front of dominant narratives supported by post-political and post-racial discourses, assimilation and accommodation processes, indifference towards or denial of xenophobia, and aversive and structural forms of racism and discrimination, among others. This ‘unsuitability’ relates to what Lyotard calls differend, a case of conflict that cannot be equitably resolved given the absence of universal premises for judgment between parties. Thus, public discourse is not understood as hegemonic, but instead signifies what is normal, rendering the non-hegemonic voices within it as ‘unsuitable’. He distinguishes differend from litigation, which is a case of conflict that can be solved given the presence of a ‘rule of judgment’ that is fairly applicable to all contesting arguments. By engaging with the life stories of international migrants in South Africa, we have observed that even the migrants, and their various identities, to whom widespread discrimination, dehumanization, and xenophobic attacks, are less, or not at all, directed, are still subject to a dislocation from their previous situatedness, experiences, and stories. In this process, they, and their multiple identities, are ascribed reductionist categories and meanings, which are often erroneous, misleading, and derogatory. In recent years, however, migrants in South Africa have increasingly told their stories in written and other easily accessible formats. This talk illustrates how stories and narratives do not only allow these migrants to transcend reductionist categorisation; they also allow migrants to propose, and in themselves constitute, spaces of litigation.
Name: Carolina Davis
Affiliation: Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value
Reflections on the imaginary of the Mapuche people in contemporary Chile. Perception, media and myth around the “Mapuche conflict”
Less than a year ago the death of Camilo Catrillanca, the grandson of a prominent Mapuche leader, shot by the Chilean police shook the Araucanía region in the south of the country. This incident brought a conflict that has been part of the political discussion in Chile since almost the formation of the Chilean state back to the media-headlines. The imaginary of the Mapuche people in Chile has been undergoing a constant transformation over the many years of the formation of the nation. However, with the “return to democracy” in 1990 – after 17 years under the Pinochet dictatorship – the images of this conflict and of this ethnic group that have been depicted by the media, are tainted with misconceptions that show a contrast between the romanticised images that Chileans have of the Mapuche and the general opinion and the portrayal of these people as terrorists. In this presentation, I would like to illustrate a brief historical development of how the images of the Mapuche people have changed during time, and how these representations have affected the public opinion of this ethnic conflict along with the prejudices and reductionism that accompany it.
Name: Marek Jandák
Affiliation: VITRI The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice, Charles University
The Order of Genocide in the Eastern Ottoman Periphery: Armenian Victims in the Elazığ Region
The presentation will examine experiences of victims of the Armenian genocide in microcosm of provincial Ottoman twin-towns of Harpoot and Mezreh (today Elazığ). This experiences includes such practices as paralysation of the local Armenian community during the home searches and arrests in spring 1915 and the subsequent massacres, death marches and the forced assimilation of children and young women.
Name: Jakub Mlynář
Affiliation: VITRI The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice, Charles University
Remembering Revenge: Narrative Accounts of Revenge in Genocide Survivors' Testimonies
The desire for revenge had been often an important element of the lives of genocide survivors', at least for a while. As such, it often made its way into the narrative accounts of the personal past that some of them shared in various research or educational contexts. In my paper, I will focus on the narrative accounts of revenge in oral history interviews from the USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive (http://vhaonline.usc.edu). In this context, we may identify several categories of revenge and their logical combinations, as reflected during the instance of specific oral history interview. First, there is potential (dreamed of, seeked for, imagined) and actual (practically carried out) revenge. It is also interesting to focus on how and why the transition from potentiality to actuality did or did not happen. Second, there are three main categories of revenge in relation to the situatedness in the temporally plotted structure of the narrative: during the genocide, during the transitional days, and post-genocide revenge. Practices and devices of revenge differ profoundly on the level of potentiality and actuality, as well as in the different historical periods. I will illustrate this variety by audiovisual excerpts from the interviews, and also explore the ways by which people make sense of potential or actual revenge in the context of their life stories.
Name: Ileana Selejan
Affiliation: UCL Anthropology, University College London, UK
Actions. Situations. Possible Scenarios.
Zigzagging through personal memory and historical episodes of great consequence – the fall of the Berlin wall, the Romanian revolution and the April 2018 protests in Nicaragua – in this talk I seek points of connection between the personal and the political, exploring how the two are intimately and inextricably intertwined. The approach can be situated in-between historical analysis and autobiographical fiction. The aim is to enable multi-layered narratives, and contrasting, conflicting temporalities to co-exist. Illustrative of this intent, I will be showing work by the Romanian artist Călin Man who intervened upon the more well-known documentary photographs referenced in the presentation (the "source" images) by conflating them with everyday snapshots from the city of Arad taken at different points along the temporal arc described.
Name: Arnab Dewan
Affiliation: Independent film-maker
Life is still not ours
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) is a region located in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, bordering Myanmar to the south and south-east, and India to the north, north-east and north-west. Today, CHTs consists of three hill districts – Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban. For centuries, CHTs has been home to over eleven distinct groups of indigenous peoples. They continue to live in close conformity with their ancestral ways of life maintaining their individual identities, languages, cultures and beliefs. Since British colonization (in 1860) to date, CHTs and its people have been subject to repeated exploitation. Colonial oppression (1860 – 1947), state hegemony and forced displacement (1947 – 1971) and militarization with two decades of civil war (1975 onwards). To put an end to the conflict, a Peace Accord was signed on December 2, 1997. Twenty years have passed since the signing of the Peace Accord. However, failure to implement the central clauses of the Peace Accord by the Bangladesh Government has resulted in renewed violence, mass violation of human rights, rampant land grabbing, and forced displacement of the native population from their ancestral lands.
With this backdrop, Life is still not ours: A story of Chittagong Hill Tracts (2012) explores the historical development of the region from the British period and how it has led to today's struggles. The documentary presents the reality of 'what happens to a region and its peoples when decisions concerning their lives and future are made without keeping them in confidence, but instead policies are adopted by external authorities for vested interests'. Life is still not ours: A story of Chittagong Hill Tracts (2012) is an attempt to weave together the complex history of this region featuring expert commentaries of Shapan Adnan (Sociologist and Member of Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission), Sugata Chakma (Former Director, Rangamati Tribal Cultural Institute), Sanjeeb Drong (General Secretary, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum), Philip Gain (Director, Society for Environment and Human Development – SEHD), Ida Nicolaisen (Anthropologist and Former Co-chair of Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission), Raja Devasish Roy (Chakma Circle Chief and Member of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues – UNPFII) and Willem van Schendel (Chair in Modem Asian History, University of Amsterdam and co-author of The Chittagong Hill Tracts: Life in a Borderland).
UFS Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice
The Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, formerly the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), at the University of the Free State (UFS), came ‘formally into being’ in 2011 within the framework of transformation of post-apartheid universities in South Africa. Ever since, the unit has sought to collapse the distinctions between the social and the intellectual, the ‘everyday’ and the academe, the institutional and the national, and the personal and the political, and contribute to social justice, social cohesion and reconciliation; higher education transformation; human rights, democracy and citizenship; student activism and ‘the publics’; and the relation between arts and social justice. Currently, the unit focuses its research, postgraduate studies programmes, critical conversations, public lectures, seminars, book launches, arts events, and colloquia mainly on the areas of institutional change, gender equality, and anti-discrimination, while fostering national and international collaborations with scholars from various parts of the globe.
For more information, visit: https://www.ufs.ac.za/institute
Beyond Hegemonic Narratives and Myths (BOHEMS)
Beyond Hegemonic Narratives and Myths (BOHEMS) is a academic project (2017-19) funded by Charles University through the Primus Research Program. Throughout this project, we wish to come to a better understanding of troubled pasts in specifically, but not limited to, the regions of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and the countries of former Yugoslavia. While this project is grounded in academic research, it aims for practical solutions to current issues concerning identity and memory by means of the presentation of these troubled pasts to the public.
For more information, visit: https://www.bohems.fsv.cuni.cz/about
The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice (VITRI)
The Center for the Transdisciplinary Research of Violence, Trauma and Justice represents a hub for the study of collective violence, reconciliation, and transitional justice at the Charles University. VITRI is a joint project of five faculties of Charles University, namely the Faculty of Social Sciences (with the Institute of Political Studies and Institute of Area Studies representing the backbone of the project), the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen (Psychiatric Clinic and the Institute of Pathological Physiology), and the Law Faculty (Department of Legal History). Juniors from the Faculty of Arts (Institute of Global History) and the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (Malach Center for Visual History) complement the team.
For more information, visit: https://www.vitriresearchcenter.org/about