Tag: ‘genocide’

Official Launch: Special issue of Oral History Forum d’histoire orale on “Confronting Mass Atrocities,” co-edited by Erin Jessee and Annie Pohlman

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

cover_issue_46_en_USThis morning, the Oral History Forum d’histoire orale launched its special issue on “Confronting Mass Atrocities,” co-edited by myself and Annie Pohlman. The special issue is being published online on a rolling basis and access is free. Thus far, it includes Introduction – Confronting Mass Atrocities in Oral Historical Practice by Annie and I, which explains the impetus for the special issue and provides a brief summary of the different contributions. Next, John Roosa‘s article Who Knows? Oral History Methods in the Study of the Massacres of 1965-66 in Indonesia assesses the contributions made by oral historians over the past two decades to our understanding of the massacres of Leftists in Indonesia following a military coup in October 1965. Then, Annie Pohlman considers the risks involved in carrying out oral history research on these events in present-day Indonesia in Telling Stories about Torture in Indonesia: Managing Risk in a Culture of Impunity. We’ve also included two book reviews. Catherine Baker evaluates Jenny Edkin’s Missing: Persons and Politics, which brings together oral historical and archived narratives related to the impact of missing persons’ disappeared in the course of war and mass atrocities, as well as everyday events, on surviving family members and friends. Sarah Watkins then reviews Jennie Burnet’s Genocide lives in us: Women, memory and silence in Rwanda, a rare and timely ethnographic study on post-genocide Rwanda. (more…)


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…)

New publication: The Limits of Oral History

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

This morning, I received a copy of the new issue of the Oral History Review, which contains my first publication from my doctoral dissertation. My paper, “The Limits of Oral History: Ethics and Methodology Amid Highly Politicized Research Settings” is intended to promote discussion among oral historians about the distinct theoretical, ethical and methodological challenges that emerge when working in highly politicized research settings – those in which government seek to aggressively control sociopolitical discourses surrounding recent conflicts to prevent renewed violence and/or legitimize their claim to power. Whereas most oral historians celebrate their discipline for its humanizing potential and its ability to democratize history by engaging with the lived experiences of ordinary civilians, I argue that greater discussion is needed to identify instances in which oral historical methods prove to be impossible, politically inappropriate or even dangerous. This is a particularly timely conversation given the Oral History Association’s emerging interest in promoting oral historical research on “emerging crises.” (more…)


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