Center for Advanced Genocide Research

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:51am -- webmaster

Dr. Ugur Üngör Lectures on the Kurdish Involvement in the Armenian Genocide

On Wednesday April 8th, Dr. Ugur Üngör of Utrecht University lectured at the Center for Advanced Genocide Research on how the Kurdish people acted as both perpetrators and resistors of mass violence during the Armenian Genocide.

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Research Focus

USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research is dedicated to advancing new areas of interdisciplinary research on the Holocaust and genocide, specifically discussing the origins of genocide and how to intervene in the cycle that leads to mass violence.

Its establishment as the research and scholarship unit of the USC Shoah Foundation in 2014 signified an important milestone for international scholarly research on genocide.

The Center grapples with the most pressing and important questions on the topic: Why do some people choose to resist mass violence targeting entire populations when others stand by or collaborate? How do the repercussions of genocide filter down to succeeding generations? What contemporary conflicts run the risk of escalating into genocidal campaigns, and how can policymakers effectively intervene?

The Center’s mission aligns with USC’s strategic vision of creating scholarship with results by bringing together experts from different fields to tackle grand challenges facing the world today.

USC Professor of History Wolf Gruner directs the Center and sets its research agenda. Gruner also holds the Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies at the university. An internationally recognized expert on genocide, Gruner has published 10 books and numerous articles on the Holocaust in Europe as well as on mass violence against indigenous people in Latin America.

“Los Angeles is home to the largest survivor communities of several genocides – including those that occurred in Armenia, Cambodia and Guatemala,” Gruner said. “USC is a fitting locale for this intellectual hub of international and interdisciplinary scholarship on the topic of Holocaust and genocide studies.”

The Center promotes research and scholarship around three primary themes:

Resistance to Genocide and Mass Violence

Explore conditions and factors – historically and contemporarily – that enable people, groups and societies to slow down or stop the course of mass violence. Focus on acts of resistance that inhibit the impact of genocidal ideology and/or defy its policies.

Violence, Emotion and Behavioral Change

Explore the nature of genocide and mass violence and its emotional, social, psychological, historical and physical impacts on individual behavior. Seek to deepen the understanding of the individual experience as reflected in personal testimonies of survivors, witnesses and perpetrators. Advance the application of such knowledge in fostering behavior and/or behavioral change in resisting mass violence. 

Digital Genocide Studies

Examine how large digital data sets, such as the fully indexed 52,000 video testimonies of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, can be used for a sophisticated quantitative analysis of complex human phenomena. Seek to establish patterns of behavior in the field of mass violence and its resistance.

The Center for Advanced Genocide Research uniquely positions USC as being the only world-renowned private research institution with substantial original material from the Holocaust and other genocides.

USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, a collection of over 52,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, including the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, the Armenian Genocide and Nanjing Massacre.

The Armenian Genocide Insurance Settlement Papers pertain to a historic agreement reached with New York Life in 2004 that resolved more than 2,000 insurance claims against policies issued by New York Life to Armenians in the Turkish Ottoman Empire before 1915.  The Center took possession of these documents in 2015. Contained in 40 boxes, the materials include mostly personal documents from the insurance claimants covered by the class-action lawsuit – birth and death certificates, policy papers, family trees, and photographs – as well as court papers. The settlement papers, donated by Vartkes Yeghiayan, are the Center’s first major donations since its launch in 2014.

Feuchtwanger Memorial Library’s private papers of German and Austrian emigrants who fled the Nazis. Part of the Special Collections of USC Doheny Library, Feuchtwanger Memorial is named after the famous German-Jewish writer Lion Feuchtwanger, a fierce critic of the Nazis in the run-up to World War II, who fled to Los Angeles in 1941.

The Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collection at USC Doheny Library, which contains books on almost every facet of the Holocaust and on various genocides, with a total collection of books reaching 14,000 volumes. Within the collection there are more than 1,000 original Nazi books and pamphlets, Jewish publications, and microfilms with original documents such as Nazi newspapers.  The collection also houses 300 boxes of original transcripts from the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, and the 12 trials of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals held between 1945 and 1949.

The Center organizes annual international workshops and conferences on various topics that fall under the central theme of “Resistance to Genocide.”

The Center co-hosted its first conference in November 2014.  Titled “Media, Memory, and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of Schindler’s List,” the conference was tied to the 20th anniversary of the release of Schindler’s List and the establishment of USC Shoah Foundation. It brought together participants from 20-plus universities and museums around the world from a variety of disciplines to explore the transformative legacy of the film and the Institute. Oral history, testimonies and genocide were the main themes of discussion.

In 2015 the Center will co-organize an international workshop together with the USC Thornton School of Music on “Music as Resistance to Genocide.” In 2016 the Center will host an international conference on “Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala.”

The Center has also established a research fellowship program, which convenes an international community of students, young academics and senior scholars.

Scholars selected by the Center have explored a diverse range of topics, from the little-known Holocaust that unfolded in the Ukraine during World War II to the way in which the Cambodia genocide of the 1970s disrupted a people’s sense of ritualized cosmological beliefs about birth, death, marriage, illness and more.

The Center’s fellowships vary in scope and length. They are awarded to researchers, doctoral candidates, post-doctoral students, undergraduate students or senior scholars who use the Visual History Archive or other genocide-related resources at USC for innovative research projects across academic disciplines. Selected projects advance understanding of the cultural and societal dynamics that precipitate or deter genocide, offering knowledge that has practical application and benefit.