On the Social History of Persecution

On the Social History of Persecution

Christoph Dieckmann, Christian Gerlach, Nikita Hock, Janina Wurbs
UniS, Schanzeneckstrasse 1, room B-102
Vom - Bis
19.03.2020 - 20.03.2020
Nikita Hock

Research about mass violence and persecution has been dominated by inquiries into political history, political actors, ideas, events, structures and systems. Scholarship dealing with people under persecution has provided more in the way of social history, but often lacks a comprehensive or systematic social analysis. Based on an understanding of violence as being constituted by social relations and interaction, this conference aims at a fuller understanding of the process of persecution(s), of its complex effects and of the social conditions of life under persecution. We conceive of social history in a broad sense, including phenomena reaching from economic activities to experiences of uprootedness to the emotional side of interaction or isolation (see the list of themes below). Quantitative and qualitative approaches are welcome.

The primary objective of this event is to generate research and discussion concerning the experience of those exposed to mass violence (the so-called victims‘ side). While the conference concentrates on the persecution of European Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, it does include studies of other persecutions in the 20th century and comparative perspectives.

The organizers are participants of a research project with the title „Sounds of anti-Jewish persecution“, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project examines interactions involving persecuted Jews and their experience through the gateway of noises mentioned in their diaries, contemporary reports and early postwar accounts.

The conference will give much room for discussion since it will be based on written, pre-circulated papers (max. 20 pages/6000 words). During the conference, speakers will have 10 minutes to present the main points of their papers, followed by discussion.


19 March 2020

9:30 Welcome and introduction

10:00 Violence as a social process
Tomasz Frydel, University of Toronto/USHMM:
Violence as a Social Process: Two or Three Things That I Know about It
Hélène Dumas, CNRS Paris:
Surviving among neighborhood hostility: narratives of killers’ micro-local organization through the eyes of children survivors during the genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda (1994-2006)
Chair: Christian Gerlach, University of Bern

Lunch break

1:10 Labor
Lukasz Krzyzanowski, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw:
Outsourcing the Occupation: Power and Labor in Local Communities of German-occupied Provincial Poland
Hilmar Kaiser, Yerevan State University:
Strategies and Parameters of Survival: Deportees during the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1918
Christian Gerlach, University of Bern:
Comparing Jewish labor in Poland 1942-1945 and Armenian labor in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1918 (discussion paper; no presentation)
Chair: Carmen Scheide, University of Bern

2:40 Break

3:00 Families
Anna Hájková, University of Warwick:
Queer kinship and Holocaust victims
Dalia Ofer, Hebrew University, Jerusalem:
Diverse Voices: Family members and their struggle in the ghetto
Natalia Aleksiun, University of Jena:
Uneasy Bonds: Jews in Hiding and the Making of Surrogate Families (discussion paper, no presentation)
Chair: Natalia Aleksiun, University of Jena

4:30 Break

4:50 Collective action/Affects and emotions
Janina Wurbs, University of Bern:
Auditory quarrels, rage and collective action: A street singer and his audience within the web of the Ghetto society
Anna Shternshis, University of Toronto:
People Fall Down Like Flies: Soviet Yiddish Songs Documenting the Holocaust 
Chair: Nikolaus Wachsmann, Birkbeck College, London

20 March 2020

9:00 Migration/mobility
Claire Zalc, CNRS/EHESS Paris:
How to describe and understand of the dynamics driving the persecuted to migrate? Assets of a case study: the Lubartworld project
Christoph Dieckmann, University of Bern:
Forced migration and sound in early postwar accounts of Jews
Chair: Francesca Falk, University of Bern

10:30 Break

10:50 Clandestinity/refugee life
Andreas Zeman, University of Bern:
Caught between the ‘guerilla’ and the colonial state: refugee life in Northern Mozambique during the independence war (1964-1974)
Masha Cerovic, EHESS Paris:
Refugees without refuge: fleeing in and from Belarus, 1939-1945
Chair: Julia Richers, University of Bern

12:20 Lunch break

1:50 Space
Tim Cole, University of Bristol:
From Space to Place: Integrated geographies of the Holocaust
Nikita Hock, University of Bern:
Noting footsteps: Sounds of mobility in Jewish ghetto and camp diaries
Chair: Silvia Berger Ziauddin, University of Bern

3:20 Break

3:50 Final discussion