CFP: Emerging Expertise Conference: Holding Accountability Accountable

Michael J. Geheran's picture
Call for Papers
April 6, 2017 to April 9, 2017
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
Diplomacy and International Relations, Government and Public Service, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Law and Legal History, Social Work

Emerging Expertise Conference: Holding Accountability Accountable

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

6-9 April 2017

The Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies invites early career academics (advanced doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, assistant professors) and practitioners with no more than seven years of professional experience to submit abstracts in application to participate in our conference for emerging experts, “Holding Accountability Accountable.” Andrea Gualde, the former National Director of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Ministry of Justice (Argentina), will be the keynote speaker. David Rieff, the author of In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies, will give a talk based on his book and facilitate a discussion afterwards.

The Conference will be held at Clark University in Worcester, MA (USA), 6-9 April 2017.  The Strassler Center will cover transportation, food, and lodging costs for people selected to participate in the conference.

Please submit an abstract (250 words) to Jean Hearns ( by 30 September 2016. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 31 October 2017.

The Strassler Center’s conference, “Emerging Expertise: Holding Accountability Accountable,” will put a diverse array of scholars (e.g. historians, political scientists, and anthropologists), lawyers, policymakers, and NGO staff working on issues germane to the aftermath of mass violence into conversation with one another in order to generate novel ideas about past cases and contemporary ones. Analytically-focused reports “from the field” are welcome.

We will variously explore “accountability” as a theoretical concept, methodological concern, moral principle, legal demand, and form of ethical engagement. Such exploration is needed, as “accountability” is an empty signifier, which permits a wide array of actors to define the term in ways that advance their competing agendas. The conference thus offers a platform for us to tease apart how this process of instrumentalization unfolded/unfolds in different settings, and how our own analyses of this process are shaped by the intellectual traditions in which we were trained.

What research methods, for example, capture the dynamism and diversity of these different facets of “accountability”? How can we more effectively convey these facets to multiple audiences (e.g. affected populations, policy makers, academics, lawyers, civil society organizations, and the general public)? How did/does agency function in contexts of mass violence where definitions of moral action not only conflict with, but also configure, what “accountability” means? Do we need to develop different genres of “accountability” to avoid collapsing these distinctions? (Trans-) national legal mechanisms and localized efforts to promote justice, past and present, make it possible to hold some actors accountable for their involvement in human rights violations. However, many obstacles limit the effectiveness of such approaches. To what extent do historical lessons learned and current best practices offer innovative ways to overcome or bypass these obstacles?

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.

Contact Info: 

Ken MacLean, PhD

Associate Professor - International Development and Social Change (IDSC)

Director - Asian Studies Program

Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610-1477, USA

Tel:  508-793-8817

Fax: 508-793-8820

Contact Email: