Tufts Initiative on Mass Atrocities and Genocide

Author: Bridget Conley

This Thursday: Mass Atrocities & Intergenerational Trauma

The Past is Present: Mass Atrocities and Intergenerational Trauma
Thursday, December 3, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Barnum 008

Sponsored by IMAGE

Researchers who study mass atrocities have long understood that the consequences of violence continue to impact communities even as decades pass. New scientific research suggests that not only are there social, political, financial and historical affects, but there are also changes in the DNA of those who experience trauma. What is more, these changes are passed on to subsequent generations. Join Tufts faculty in a multi-disciplinary discussion of the intergenerational effects of trauma. Panelists will reflect on “The Science of Suffering,” a New Republicarticle detailing the new research on DNA and trauma, as it relates to their own research. 

Panelists include: 

Kendra Field, Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies;
Barbara Grossman, Professor of Drama in the Department of Drama and Dance;
Dyan Mazurana, Research Director, Feinstein International Center and Associate Research Professor, The Fletcher School;
Lisa Shin, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology.

IMAGe Intergenerational Trauma

A university-wide approach

As IMAGe launches its new website, we invite our colleagues at Tufts to join the conversation about how we research, study and engage with issues related to mass atrocities and genocide. What is unique about the approach we are leading at Tufts is our commitment to a university-wide approach to the problem of large-scale violence against civilian populations. There are two important reasons for this.

First, when widespread and systematic violence occurs, it impacts an entire society. From the arts, to politics, history, public and international policy, psychology, multi-generational trauma, development, economics, health systems and livelihoods, it is difficult to find a sector of society that remains untouched. What is more, the impact of harm across these sectors is interrelated. Effective prevention of, response to, and recovery from such violence, requires diverse expertise and bodies of knowledge. In short, there is no disciplinary privilege when it comes to understanding the impact of widespread violence. As demonstration, look at this sampling of the range of courses at Tufts that touch on issues related to mass violence.

A second reason why a university-wide approach is valuable is that “genocide,” “mass atrocities,” or “mass violence” are strongly contested terms, whose limits continue to be probed, a process that contributes to the intellectual depth of the field of study and engagement. While remaining deeply concerned with cases that fall within a more traditional understanding of the universe of genocide and mass atrocities, questions that IMAGe engages with include:

  • What are the benefits and limits of studying diverse forms of violence against unarmed groups together?
  • How do some groups become more vulnerable to state or non-state violence than others?
  • Are there ways of protecting, responding to or recovering from violence that can be shared across different experiences?
  • What political and military (or other) factors determine the form that violence takes?

We aim to provoke these questions in discussion with the broader Tufts community.  We have established guidelines for how we work, emphasizing quality, moral audacity, ethical learning, active inclusion, pragmatism, complexity, and intellectual humility. Further, we aim to make a measurable impact. The initiative launched in academic year 2014-2015, and we hope to expand and deepen our ties across the Tufts community. We welcome you to join us.

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