In our regular faculty spotlight, we highlight the diverse array of multidisciplinary Tufts faculty whose research, teaching, and external work engages with the theme of organized violence.  This week:


Laura Graham
Peace and Justice Studies
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen, 2013


Can you tell us about how your research, teaching, or other work intersects with organized violence and its impacts?

My research examines the causes and consequences of conflict in divided societies such as Northern Ireland and South Africa, as well as the mechanisms which aim to resolve conflict and promote peace after conflict and mass violence.  In particular, my recently published book, Beyond Social Capital, examines the role of leadership, trust and government policy in Northern Ireland’s victim support groups.  My teaching directly addresses the causes, consequences, prevention, and resolution of mass violence through the five courses I teach within the Peace and Justice Studies Program: 1) Genocide; 2) Human Rights; 3) Social Justice; 4) Conflict Resolution; and 5) Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies. Each of these courses examines case studies such as the Holocaust, Herero genocide, Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa and Northern Ireland, where genocide and mass violence have had different causes, consequences and resolutions.

Do you have any current projects, research or otherwise, on this topic?

I started a project in August 2015 on policing and justice in Ferguson, MO. I am currently looking at the causes of structural violence and institutional racism through policing and justice in Ferguson, Mo. The project, “Voices of Ferguson” addresses six themes: Violence, Loss, Truth, Justice, Rights, Forgiveness-Reconciliation.

Why did you first become interested in studying organized violence and its impacts?

I became interested in the impact of mass violence on victims/survivors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland when I moved to Northern Ireland in 2007 to complete an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Does the work of a particular organization or individual inspire you?

I have been inspired by the work of the International Center for Transitional Justice in seeking to promote restorative justice processes in societies emerging from conflict.

Do you think there are any personal or professional challenges unique to teaching, researching, and working in the field of organized violence?

Working in the field of organized violence is especially challenging for researchers. It comes with a great deal of risk for both the researcher and participants in studies. It can be very difficult to justify “studying” a group of victimized people for the sake of scholarship. Ideally, researchers will be well-practiced in sensitive research in conflict zones. It also can be very challenging to teach. In both teaching and research, secondary or indirect traumatization is a real risk for those working in the study of organized violence. I try to approach teaching organized violence in a way that is sensitive to the needs of my students, to my own needs, and to those who are being studied.