Tag: ‘ethnography’

Upcoming AAA panel on “Approaching Perpetrators:” Thursday, November 21 at 8am

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

AAA Annual Meeting

It’s official! Our panel on “Approaching Perpetrators: Ethical, Methodological, and Theoretical Considerations”  has been accepted to the upcoming American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Chicago. The panel will take place on Thursday, November 21st from 8am – noon. (more…)

Call for Papers: AAA Panel on “Approaching Perpetrators”

Monday, March 18th, 2013


Approaching Perpetrators: Ethical, Methodological and Theoretical Considerations


For the

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

November 21-24, 2013

Deadline: April 1, 2013, to meet the AAA’s April 15th deadline


Organizers: Erin Jessee and Tal Nitsán

Liu Institute for Global Issues, The University of British Columbia


Discussant: Jeffrey Sluka, Massey University, New Zealand

In recent years, anthropologists have contributed much to public and academic understandings of state violence and related mass atrocities, as evidenced by the growing anthropological discourses on virtual war, political violence, genocide, and transitional justice. Yet most anthropologists focus on the perspectives of victims and survivors of these atrocities, leaving the subject of perpetrators relatively unexplored. This panel seeks to address this gap in the literature by bringing together anthropologists whose fieldwork draws upon the narratives and experiences of perpetrators, broadly defined.

We invite papers that take a nuanced look at the social, cultural, economic, political and historical processes through which civilians, soldiers, and government officials become perpetrators of state violence and related mass atrocities, and in the aftermath, the politics of memory and history that often influence the myriad ways that transitioning communities respond to their actions. Possible questions for consideration include: What might ethnographic research among perpetrators look like in different settings? What are some of the particular ethical and methodological challenges of conducting ethnographic research among perpetrators? And to what end? Can engaging with perpetrators enhance our understanding of state violence and related mass atrocities?

Those interested in submitting a paper should send an abstract (maximum 250 words) outlining their proposed contribution, along with their full contact and affiliation details to Erin Jessee (erinjessee@gmail.com) no later than April 1, 2013.

New Book Review: Živković’s Serbian Dreambook

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Another year, another book review for the Oral History Review. This time, I was invited to review Marko Živković’s Serbian Dreambook: National Imaginary in the Time of Milošević. The latest contribution to the Indiana University Press series on “New Anthropologies of Europe,” Živković highlights the narratives of Serbian civilians – mostly educated elites – who “were as immersed in everyday life as anyone else in Serbia, but also, in their professional role, capable of detachment and the kind of reflection that is enabled by a more synoptic view of the situation” (p. 12). In doing so, he reveals a complex matrix of ethnonationalist mythologies – which he refers to as the Serbian imaginary – that were revised and reinvented by Serbian civilians in their efforts to come to terms with the lived experiences of political upheaval, war, and mass atrocities surrounding the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

For those who are interested, you can download the complete book review here.

New Course Website: The Ethnography of Political Violence

Friday, January 4th, 2013

So I’m trying something new this semester. Rather than working through UBC’s e-learning system, I’ve decided to create my own course website and to encourage students to interact with the required readings via a blog in order to earn their “participation mark”. The resulting website is: The Ethnography of Political Violence. I will be uploading brief introductory blogs twice a week – in time for our classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons – and then asking students to add their reading reflections as comments. This online dialogue will then form the foundation for our in-class discussions. Feel free to follow along!


Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

After being lost in online editing software for over one year, my review of Ivana Macek’s Sarajevo Under Siege: Anthropology in Wartime has finally been published. Part of the prolific Penn Press series on The Ethnography of Political Violence, Macek’s book is a valuable and timely contribution. As the Former Yugoslavia – and Bosnia-Hercegovina in particular – falls victim to waning international attention, Macek provides a new angle on the Bosnian War that is rich with ethnographic detail and analysis.

In particular, I appreciated Macek’s nuanced analysis of the varying roles people adopted during the seige. Rather than fall victim to overly simplistic understandings of civilians as either victims, combatants, or war criminals, for examples, Macek maps how different phases of the siege caused people to react differently, adopting different political and ethnonational / ethnoreligious identities in an attempt to negotiate protection and solidarity, and lend some rationality and acceptability to the violence they were experiencing. In doing so, she reveals the ethnonationalist / ethnoreligious dynamics that continue to contribute to ongoing tensions in the region. Macek notes: “Before the war, whatever concern [people] had with identifying others’ ethnoreligious background and ethnonational identity was aimed mainly at being respectful of differences. During the war, however, it became vital for people to identify one another’s position – their ethnonational identity, their feelings about other groups, and their opinions about nationalism itself and who was responsible for the war in order to know whether a reliable relationship could be established or maintained” (p. 167). (more…)


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