CFP: Panel on “Genocidal Symbolic Violence” (Deadline: October 1, 2016)

CFP: Panel on “Genocidal Symbolic Violence”
Deadline: October 1, 2016

Call for Papers: Panel on “Genocidal Symbolic Violence”

For submission to the IAGS Biennial Meeting, ‘Justice and the Prevention of Genocide’, 9 – 13 July 2017, Brisbane, Australia

Organizers: Dr Erin Jessee (Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde) and Dr. Annie Pohlman (The University of Queensland)

Since the 1990s, a growing range of scholarship within comparative genocide studies has analysed the role and function of various forms of excessive and often spectacular torture, mutilation and execution that have been observed during genocides around the world. Some of the earliest studies examined acts of ‘excessive’ violence (Feldman 1991; Malkki 1995; Sutton 1995; Taylor 1999; Boose, 2002) to consider how and why such acts were perceived to be necessary during genocide. These early studies gave rise to analyses of the culturally-specific ‘vivisectionist’ logic that is actively communicated through the extreme forms of violence inflicted upon the bodies of perceived enemies (Appadurai 1998), prompting scholars such as Jacques Semelin (2007) to question whether understanding the symbolic meaning inherent in ‘orgiastic violence’ is potentially ‘the key’ to understanding genocide and related mass atrocities in different settings.

To this end, we welcome papers that go beyond voyeuristic or sensationalised descriptions of genocidal symbolic violence to consider the deeper meaning and effect of such spectacular violence in different contexts as a lens for better understanding genocides and their aftermaths. Authors are encouraged to examine any topic that engages with genocidal symbolic violence, including but not limited to the following questions:

  • What are some of the ethical, methodological, and theoretical challenges inherent in research on genocidal symbolic violence?
  • What purpose do particular forms of genocidal symbolic violence serve from the perspectives of survivors, bystanders, and/or perpetrators?
  • Is there a relationship between symbolic violence and genocidal intent?
  • How might genocidal symbolic violence impact victims’ identities in terms of ethnicity, sex, gender, class, and so on?
  • How does the performance of genocidal symbolic violence impact those who are perpetrators or bystanders?
  • To what extent does genocidal symbolic violence interfere with post-conflict transitional justice mechanisms aimed at promoting social vitality and social repair?
  • What role does desecration play the production of ‘bad deaths’, including the interruption of social mourning or remembrance?

As per the IAGS submission guidelines, please include in your submission: a 250word abstract; 4 keywords; your name, title, position, contact details and institutional affiliation; as well as a short biography of no more than 150 words (no CVs, please).

Please send submissions to: and by 1 October 2016.