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Genocide Series Explores Reconciliation

Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Symposium on Genocide and Human Rights will usher in another year of somber reflection with a rich variety of events - combining speakers, workshops and film screenings to explore the theme of reconciliation, justice and witnessing.

"Last year, we heard from those who have worked to prevent genocide," explains Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski, who serves as chair of the symposium's steering committee. "However, this year, we consider a post-genocide world. How do we move on? How can we represent genocide that is not in the present - and how can we truly see it and learn? This year, we will learn from those trying to rebuild, to achieve justice and those seeking reconciliation - whether it is with their enemies or their own demons."

Through the symposium's incredible speakers, Dobkowski hopes that each member of the community can take away something important to use in their own lives. "Many of our speakers describe horrible atrocities - and yet they have no hate, only love," remarks Dobkowski. "How can this be? How can we all learn to do the same?"

The symposium's first speaker of the fall semester is Stephen Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies at Union College. Berk will deliver his talk "The Holocaust Revisited" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Geneva Room. Earlier that day, Berk will also lead a workshop and roundtable discussion at 3 p.m. in the Fisher Center, located in Demarest 212. To reserve a seat contact dobkowski@hws.edu; the workshop is limited to 25 students.

Frequently consulted by the world's top news organizations, Berk has spoken about the Holocaust, Russian and Jewish history and anti-Semitism as a consultant to the Wiesenthal Holocaust Center in Los Angeles and as a renowned lecturer for many years. He is the author of "Year of Crisis, Year of Hope: Russian Jewry and the Pogroms of 1881-1882," and is currently at work on "Our People Are Your People: American Jewry and the Struggle for Civil Rights 1954-1965," which examines the Jewish involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Also joining the campus this fall is Björn Krondorfer, a professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University. On Monday, Oct. 29, Krondorfer will lead a workshop on conflict resolution. Throughout his career, Krondorfer has organized and facilitated intercultural dialogue groups and encounter programs, in many instances working with the children of perpetrators and the children of victims to reconcile. Krondorfer will also give a public lecture on "Dialogue and Reconciliation in a Post-Holocaust World," later in the evening.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, and Wednesday, Nov. 7, award-winning photojournalist Zoriah Miller, commonly known as Zoriah, will join the symposium, presenting a workshop and a public talk on his stunning and captivating work. A documenter of wars, genocides, conflict and crisis, Zoriah has worked to convey the true horrors of human crises in developing countries.  Zoriah's photographs have been published in countless magazines, journals and newspapers including the New York Times, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, NPR, Rolling Stone, The United Nations and Fortune.

During the semester, there will also be a presentation made by students who participated in the most recent The March: Bearing Witness to Hope program. The intensely emotional journey took students across Germany and Poland to significant locations of the Holocaust. The public presentation will feature reflections on the people the students encountered, including community members and survivors, the places they visited, such as Auschwitz and the Wannsee Villa, and what they took away from the life-changing experience.

In addition to the numerous fall events, the spring semester also brings a host of exceptional programming. In February, the symposium will begin a documentary film series featuring works that examine the themes of genocide and human rights.

Among the films being shown is a documentary currently being made about a family of refugees from the Congo. Following the Gatumba Massacre of 2004, sisters Sandra Uwiringiy'Imana, Princesse Nabintu, and Adele Kibasumba settled with their family in Rochester. Using traditional music and original poetry, "A Song for my Sister," is about rebuilding, recovering and struggling for justice.

Also joining the symposium in the spring is Boston radiologist and social activist Dr. Samson Munn. Munn, an associate professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine, will give a talk to the Colleges and community about his work in reconciliation efforts. Separate from his life as a physician, Munn has met with Austrian children of survivors and children of perpetrators to facilitate understanding and resolution.

Initially established and funded largely through the generosity of Dr. Edward Franks '72, the Genocide Symposium is receiving outside support from the Young Memorial Trust, the President's Forum Series, the CCL, Fisher Center, the Human Rights Collective and STAND (Student Anti-genocide Coalition) and the departments of Africana Studies and Religious Studies.

 


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