Emerging Expertise: Holding Accountability Accountable

Ken MacLean's picture
Call for Papers
April 6, 2017 to April 9, 2017
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
Diplomacy and International Relations, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Human Rights, Law and Legal History, Psychology

Emerging Expertise: Holding Accountability Accountable

The Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Clark University)

6-9 April 2017

Successful innovation brings together novel ideas and methods in ways that generate new forms of expertise. The Strassler Center’s conference on Emerging Expertise will put a diverse array of scholars, lawyers, policymakers, and practitioners working on issues germane to Holocaust and Genocide Studies (broadly defined) into conversation with one another with this goal in mind. The central focus will be on “accountability” as a theoretical concept, methodological concern, moral principle, legal demand, and form of ethical engagement.

First, “accountability” is not a thing; rather, it is a dynamic relationship among (groups of) persons that varies across time and space. What research methods best capture this dynamism and diversity? And how can we more effectively convey these relational aspects of “accountability” to multiple audiences (e.g. affected populations, policy makers, lawyers, NGOs, and the general public,)? Second, a similar question can be posed about agency in contexts of mass violence where definitions of moral action not only conflict, but configure, what “accountability” means and what is needed for it be realized in competing ways. Do we need to develop different genres of “accountability” to avoid collapsing these differences? Third, (trans-) national legal mechanisms and localized efforts to promote justice can make it possible to hold some actors accountable for their involvement in human rights violations. However, many obstacles continue to limit the effectiveness of such approaches. To what extent do lessons learned and current best practices offer innovative ways to overcome or bypass these obstacles? Fourth, how does new scholarship in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, when combined with experience drawn from people implementing programs in the field, affect how we understand “accountability” historically and comparatively? Finally, how does a focus on “accountability” as an object of historical analysis and/or a practical goal to be achieved call on us to reexamine critically the ethics of our own professional practices? Answers to these questions will provide much needed insights into “accountability” in all its varied forms.

Potential panels include, but are not limited to, historical and contemporary analyses of: Gendered Violence; Regional Mass Violence (Religious or Ethnic); Corporate Accountability; Redistributive Justice; New Tactics in Prevention; Human Rights Norm Entrepreneurs; Ecologies of Reconciliation; Collective Healing Practices; Memory Projects; and Pedagogy.

Participation is open to early career academics and professionals with no more than seven years of experience: advanced doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and assistant professors, in the case of the former, and professionals (including practitioners) in any field engaged with Holocaust and Genocide Studies, in the case of the latter. The Strassler Center will cover approved transportation, food, and lodging costs for people selected to participate in the conference.

Interested parties should submit an abstract (250 words) to Dr. Sarah Cushman (scushman@clarku.edu) by 30 June 2016. Notification of acceptance will be sent in October.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Sarah Cushman

Head of Educational Programming

Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Clark University

950 Main Street

Worcester, MA 01610

Contact Email: