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USC Shoah Foundation’s research arm announces upcoming conference on genocide and mass violence against Indigenous peoples

USC Shoah Foundation’s research arm this month announced that it is hosting a three-day conference in 2020 about mass violence and genocide committed against Indigenous peoples in the United States and beyond.

On Oct. 12, 2020 -- Indigenous Peoples' Day (formerly known as Columbus Day) – the Center for Advanced Genocide Research will host “Mass Violence and Its Lasting Impact on Indigenous Peoples -- The Case of the Americas and Australia/Pacific Region.” The conference is cosponsored by the Indigenous Knowledge Institute of the University of Melbourne (Australia). 

The Center is looking for leading and emerging scholars and knowledge holders from around the world and from various disciplines to present research on the topics of genocide against Indigenous peoples; the long-lasting effects of mass violence on those communities; the resistance and agency exhibited by Indigenous peoples; and initiatives to effect change.

While a small number of academic conferences have addressed the topic of genocide of Indigenous peoples in the past, these conferences have generally focused on a single case or a single targeted population.

The Center’s 2020 conference will be the first international conference to gather scholars and knowledge holders working on this topic across a variety of historical, cultural and geographic contexts. Given the breadth of the topic and its relevance worldwide, the conference could include cases as diverse as genocide or mass violence against the Native Americans in the United States, Maya in Guatemala,  Indigenous peoples in Canada, Aboriginal peoples in Australia, the Maori in New Zealand, and many other cases of mass violence against Indigenous peoples in the Americas and Australia and the Pacific Region.

The conference will stimulate new questions and challenge traditional views about the concept and definition of genocide; distinctions between genocide, war, mass violence and colonial expansion; and relations between mass violence, gender and race.

The organizers encourage contributions taking comparative approaches between genocides of various Indigenous communities and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cases. Of special interest are the many dimensions of cultural genocide, such as prohibiting languages and cultural and religious practices, forced assimilation of children into non-Indigenous communities, forced relocations of communities, and the forced transfer of human remains, sacred cultural objects and artifacts to museums, research institutions and universities.

In its attention to the long-lasting impacts of mass violence against Indigenous peoples -- such as collective emotional trauma, restricted access to resources, environmental disasters, and mass incarceration – the conference will deepen our understanding of the intergenerational effects of mass violence and raise challenging questions.

The conference will be organized according to the recommendations of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The organizers especially encourage and support the participation of Indigenous scholars and members of affected communities. The conference is being co-organized by Lorena Fontaine (University of Winnipeg, Canada), Dorota Glowacka (University of Kings College, Halifax, Canada), Wolf Gruner (USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, Los Angeles, United States), Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj (Guatemala/Stanford University), and Lyndon Ormond-Parker (University of Melbourne, Australia), who will serve as head of the conference’s subcommittee on repatriation. Conference organizers will be assisted by an advisory committee to be composed of Indigenous experts in the field. 
The conference will be livestreamed so that scholars and community members around the world can watch and participate via social media. Videos of the conference will be available to watch online afterwards. 
In addition to the scholarly panels, the conference schedule will include cultural programming, such as musical and dance performances and film screenings. 

The conference's organizing committee is currently identifying strategic partners to contribute to funding, supporting and promoting the conference. Interested parties are invited to contact the Center at

To receive email updates about the 2020 conference, click here.

To read the Call for Proposals, click here.

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