Memory Politics: Truth, Justice and Redress
In the aftermath of political violence and the massive violation of human rights, how do individuals, communities and societies come to terms with these atrocities and reconstruct social relationships and sociability? How do people live together again after suffering and inflicting lethal violence? In the context of state-sponsored terror, how do successor regimes make a break with the past, establish a new set of social norms, and work toward the administration of justice, redress and reconciliation?
In this course we analyze the relationship between memory and social reconciliation, and the role that theories of truth, justice and redress play in this equation. We begin with WWII, or more precisely its aftermath. WWII was a point of historical disjuncture: From the Nazi atrocities and the subsequent trials at Nuremberg and Tokyo emerged a series of conventions and covenants establishing human rights as a set of international laws, institutions, and norms.
We trace the expansion of, and challenges to, the regime of human rights and international law by focusing on case studies that allow us to analyze war crimes tribunals, truth commissions, the burgeoning field of transitional justice, and local level forms of assessing guilt and administering justice. Each class session will begin with the professor situating the assigned readings within the relevant debates and historical context. .
Our case studies this year include Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru. Course readings draw upon critical legal studies, political science, history, anthropology — complemented with human rights documents, truth commission reports, novels and films — in an attempt to understand how atrocities begin and how they may end. We will consider how genocides continued to occur throughout the 20th century — and into the 21st — during an époque characterized by the call for “Never Again” (Nunca Más). Finally, once the fighting subsides, what can and should be done with the victims, the perpetrators, and that sizeable segment of the population that may blur the dichotomy?
Engaging Human Security:
Anthropological Reflections on Security Studies
This course enables students to develop a nuanced understanding of the central issues and debates in human security, and also develop a deeper understanding of various aspects of the predicament facing the people of a crisis-affected, conflict or post-conflict country, and international organizations mandated to help address their problems. Human security privileges the security and well being of humans rather than the state. A field of study in international affairs and international relations, human security focuses on issues at the heart of human rights, humanitarian affairs, conflict studies and mediation, economic development, health and wellbeing. Human security approaches are inter‐disciplinary and problem‐focused, and seek to understand a problem from the perspective of the people most affected, which requires an anthropological sensibility and an appreciation of different social‐cultural framings of problems. Thus, the course itself is problem‐focused. It takes five central fields, which human security has drawn from and influenced – human rights, humanitarian studies, feminist and gender studies, mediation and conflict resolution, and development – and uses foundational theories and applications in those fields to bring a human security lens to better understand and address current problems in Latin America. The course is also inter‐disciplinary and involves readings in anthropology, political science, law, international relations, security studies, humanitarian studies, public health and trauma, conflict resolution, feminist/gender studies, economics, environmental studies, and history.