Mass Violence, Representation, and Justice
General Catalog Course Title:
Special Topics in Social/Cultural Anthropology
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2016
Spring 2013
Spring 2012
Course Thread: 
Law & Humanities
Ferme, Mariane

It explores ethnographies of war or authoritarian regimes and their aftermath, including the question of historical practices of remembrance and working through trauma.  Among the topics to be raised in class are: How are catastrophic events productive of new forms of expression - oral, written, and visual - as well as destructive of familiar ones?  How is the sort of hatred that fans massacres produced and reproduced in collective imaginations?  And how do different societies approach issues of justice and reparation raised by widespread violence, in the age of international war crimes tribunals and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions?  The first half of the course will be spent focusing on case studies of mass violence and cultural responses to them.  Cases will include the Nazi genocide and the nuclear bombing of Japan in WWII, the Rwandan genocide and South African Apartheid state.  During the second half, the class will be divided into groups, each of which will conduct research into primary source materials documenting various historical instances of mass violence (court transcripts, photographs and films from the Shoah, and so on).  Among research projects produced in past classes are studies of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials at the end of WWII, the 1981 state-abetted massacre at El Mozote, in El Savador, studies of the Sierra Leone, Rwandan war crimes tribunals, and of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa and elsewhere. 

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.