Education PYPA 2010 Courses Understanding elements of collective violence and mass crimes


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Before the Rain or Before the War

Daniela Antonovska (Skopje, Macedonia)Course; Gender, sexuality and violent conflict Before the Rain or Before the War  Introduction The films’ script was written by Milcho Manchevski in 1991 after a visit to his birth...

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The Role of Justice in Reconciliation in Bosnia…

Maruša Rosulnik Ljubljana, August 2008 Introduction An end of a conflict is a beginning of a new path leading to peace and reconciliation. One of the means employed on the road...

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Understanding elements of collective violence and mass crimes

Understanding elements of collective violence and mass crimes

(with the Yugoslav and Rwandan case - in the context of the Great Lakes Region)

Vlasta Jalusic
Tonci Kuzmanic

Course description:

The course aims at a deeper understanding of conflict escalation in the transitional periods, how they eventually cumulate in massive violent events and what consequences do these events have for the later forms of citizenship and political responsibility. It is focusing on the massive collective violence accompanied by mass atrocities, their preparation and acting out, and the post-conflict de-escalation periods in cases such as former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - the latter in the context of the Great Lakes region. It is based on the premise that discourses of collective identity and the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity and religion are key to understand the legitimizing ideologies of violence. The course pays a special attention to the ways of coming to terms with the past massive collective crime, the issues of collective guilt and responsibility, and their framing of the present and the future.

The empirical base of the course - cases former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - are selected by virtue of them having seen violent, "community" conflict (within a state or in the process of state dissolution and reformation) with the strong gender and ethnic/race dimension in the process of preparation. They both symbolically reflect the ideological claim that certain groups, constructed as essentially different cannot live together, each thus denying the "others" citizenship and the fundamental "right to have rights" (Arendt).

Course objectives:

  • To understand the links between different levels of conflict and of violence and to discuss the theoretical framework for understanding the contemporary collective violence;
  • To explore the intersectional dimensions of gender, ethnicity and religion in order to better understand the dynamics and conditions under which ethnic, gender or religious identity constructs are used (singly or in combination) to legitimate violence making it an acceptable or even necessary response to conflicts;
  • To develop an empirically based understanding of these links through the study of the two cases - former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - in the context of the Great Lakes Region;
  • To discuss the various post-conflict steps, policies and measures to come to terms with the past, conflict settlement, and conflict transformation.
  • To reflect on the implications of the inclusion of intersections of ethnicity/race, religion and gender into understanding of collective violence and to reflect about their importance for intervention and policy - both in the selected case studies, and wider.

Reading list:

  • Hannah Arendt, On Violence (O nasilju. U Hannah Arendt, Politicki eseji, Antibarbarus Zagreb, 1996 176-190) - a selection.
  • Tonci Kuzmanic, "Raspad SFR Jugoslavije in nasljedstvo: narodnjaštvo - a ne nacionalizam". U: Miroslav Hadžic, Nasilno rasturanje Jugoslavije. Uzroci, dinamika i posledice. Centar za civilno-vojne odnose, Beograd 2004, 81-102.
  • Roy Gutman, Svjedok genocida. Durieux, Zagreb, 1994. 18-50 and 205-214.
  • Julie Mertus, The Role of Racism as a Cause of Factor in wars and Civil Conflict, International Council on Human Rights Policy: Consultation on Racism and Human Rights Geneva, (December 3-4), 1999, (, 14p.
  • Jalušic Vlasta, "Rod i viktimizacija nacije - predratni i posleratni diskurz identiteta". U Miroslav Hadžic, Nasilno rasturanje Jugoslavije. Uzroci, dinamika i posledice. Centar za civilno-vojne odnose, Beograd 2004. 145-165.
  • Erin K. Baines, Body Politics and the Rwandan Crisis, Third World Quarterly, Vol 24, No 3, 2003, 479-493.
  • Seada Vranic. Pred zidom šutnje. Antibarbarus, Zagreb 1996, 179-215
  • Nenad Dimitrijevic: Moralna odgovornost za kolektivni zlocin. In: Ustavna demokratija shvacena kontekstualno. Edicija Rec, Beograd, 2007: 275-309.
  • Phil Clark. The Rules (and Politics) of Engagement: the Gacaca and Post-genocide Justice, Healing and Reconcilitation in Rwanda, U: Phil Clark and Zachary D. Kaufman (izd.). Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Recosnstruction and Reconcilition in Rwanda and Beyond. Hurst & Company, London. 297-319.
  • Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (Eichmann u Jeruzalemu: izvještaj o banalnosti zla, Zagreb: Politicka kultura), a selection, last chapter.

Documentary and other movies:

  • The Death of Yugoslavia (Smrt Jugoslavije)
  • A Cry from the Grave (Krik iz groba)
  • Scorpions (Škorpijoni)
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • King Leopold's Gost (Duh kralja Leopolda )
  • My Neighbor My Killer (Moj susjed moj ubica)