• Mostar bridge, Sarajevo
  • Victims of genocide, Nyamata memorial, Rwanda
  • Parade of coffins, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Mountain gorilla twins, Rwanda
  • Mosque, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Altar, Nyamata memorial, Rwanda
  • Remembering the dead, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Rural life, Rwanda
  • Victims of genocide, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Prisoners at work, Rwanda
  • Pigeon square, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • VIctims of genocide, Ntarama, Rwanda

Oxford University Press Blog highlights Oral History Review article, ‘Managing Danger in Oral History Fieldwork’

November 10th, 2017

Following the publication of my latest Oral History Review article, ‘Managing danger in oral historical fieldwork,’ the Oral History Review team requested that I address some follow-up questions on the Oxford University Press blog. Over the past two weeks, these have been published as two separate entries. The first post, ‘Six questions to ask before you hit record,’ highlights three questions aimed at helping oral historians better identify potential areas of risk for participants, and three questions aimed at helping them identify resources within their respective communities that can help them maintain positive mental and physical health, particularly when working on difficult subject matter. For the second post, ‘On burnout, trauma, and self-care,’ Andrew Schaffer posed questions to me that addressed such topics as how the article was being received by oral historians given the tendency for discussions of practitioners’ mental and physical health to be relegated to corridor talks (rather than academic publications, for example), and what oral historians could do better in future to help support each other. It’s wonderful to see the article getting highlighted in this manner, and indeed to see so much interest in the topic of managing danger surrounding oral historical research, not only as it relates to interviewees, but for practitioners as well. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation at the joint conference hosted by the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland on ‘Dangerous oral histories: risks, responsibilities and rewards,’ in Belfast in June 2018.

New book review: André Guichaoua’s From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994

October 12th, 2017

Genocide Studies and Prevention has just published my latest review of André Guichaoua’s From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994. Translated from the original French by Don Webster, From War to Genocide is an excellent addition to the English-language literature on Rwanda. Guichaoua draws upon an impressive range of evidence collected by the Office of the Prosecution for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as part of its efforts to hold accountable those individuals with primary criminal responsibility for the 1994 genocide. As the former lead expert witness for the prosecution at the ICTR, Guichaoua had unprecedented access to these materials, which he then supplemented with his own interviews and related fieldwork among Rwandans who were not complicit in the genocide but had been close to Presidents Juvénal Habyarimana (r. 1973-1994) and Théodore Sindikubwabo (r. AprilJuly 1994), the interim President who ruled briefly following Habyarimana’s assassination. The outcome is a comprehensive overview of the civil war and genocide in Rwanda and one that speaks to several key debates among experts on the conflict: most notably, the question of which parties to the conflict were most likely responsible for Habyarimana’s assassination. Another potential point of controversy in Guichaoua’s book is his discussion of whether the genocide was the inevitable outcome of a long-term plan on the part of the Habyarimana regime, or the result of a last ditch effort on the part of the interim government to eliminate all Tutsi civilians in order to undermine the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front’s likely support base, in the increasingly likely event that they won the civil war and became the new ruling party of Rwanda.

Taken together, From War to Genocide offers a thorough overview of the rapidly shifting political climate in Rwanda during the civil war and genocide grounded almost entirely in primary sources (many of which are available online at the book’s website) and Guichaoua’s extensive knowledge of Rwandan politics.

New Chapter on Reconciliation for Andrea Pető’s new Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Gender: War

September 20th, 2017

Professor Andrea Pető‘s highly anticipated Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Gender: War has just been published. It includes an impressive array of chapters on such topics as men and women as combatants (by Björn Krondorfer and Edward Westermann, and Senem Kaptan, respectively), genocide (by Elisa von Joeden-Forgey), resistance movements (by Weronika Grzebalska), pacifism (by Ingrid Sharp), transitional justice (by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin), and post-conflict reconstruction (by Birgitte Refslund Sørensen), all approached through a gender lens. Read the rest of this entry »

New Publication: Managing danger in oral historical fieldwork

September 1st, 2017

The latest issue of Oral History Review has just been published, and it includes my new article on ‘Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork.’ This article has been on my to-write list for some time now, and is informed by the fieldwork that I’ve done since 2007 in conflict-affected settings, such as post-genocide Rwanda and Bosnia, where state-level actors often regard the study of history as politically provocative. I evaluate an interdisciplinary body of literature on anticipating and managing danger in qualitative fieldwork with the specific needs of oral historians in mind. However, while the article speaks to the best practices that oral historians can apply and adapt when working in overtly dangerous settings or on potentially provocative subject matter, it’s also intended to benefit oral historians who work on low-risk projects, but nonetheless find themselves unwittingly caught up in interpersonal conflict, political upheaval, or even mass violence. Read the rest of this entry »

New position: Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in History at the University of Glasgow

May 20th, 2017

I’m excited to announce that this July, I’ll be moving to a new position in History at the University of Glasgow. I’ve accepted a three-year contract as a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow, and will be launching a new research program on Armed Conflict and Trauma. I’ll be continuing my work on Rwanda, but in addition will be focusing on a new research project: “Toward an Oral History of Mass Atrocities: Beyond Trauma and Healing in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Canada.” I’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Oral History Centre as a Research Associate, and will also be developing new international research networks and collaborations. My email address after 1 July 2017 will be erin.jessee@glasgow.ac.uk.


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