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Academic Year 2020-2021

De-colonizing “Objects”

October 29, 2020 on Zoom 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

07:00 -9:00 MST | 14:00-16:00 GMT | 15:00-17:00 CET | 16:00-18:00 SAST


This is Session One of a Five Part AY-long series in collaboration with the Jonathon M. Tisch College of Civic Life, In Their Presence: Debates on the dignity, display and ownership of human remains. It will open with an introduction by series organizers, Diane O’Donoghue, Director of the Program for Public Humanities and Senior Fellow for the Humanities at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, and Bridget Conley, Research Director of the World Peace Foundation (WPF) and Associate Research Professor at The Fletcher School.


Ciraj Rassool is Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape and directs its African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies. He is an Associated Member of the Global South Studies Center at the University of Cologne and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Luschan Collection (Berlin). Professor Rassool has published widely in the fields of political biography, museum and heritage studies, memory politics and visual history. He previously chaired the Scientific Committee of the International Council of African Museums, and his publications serves on the High Level Museums Advisory Committee of UNESCO. His include publications include Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917 (2000; republished 2015), Recalling Community in Cape Town: Creating and Curating the District Six Museum (2001), Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations (2006) and The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures (2015).  His presentation is “Rehumanising the Dead of Anthropology: Museums and Society after Colonialism”

Vernelda Grant, is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona. She works primarily on protection and preserving cultural resources in the Apache reservations by building coalitions between tribal communities and neighboring communities outside of the reservations. Her main focus has been grassroots organizing and mobilizing individuals in her community who are passionate about preserving holy grounds and sites that are important not just to the Apache people but also to the history of the United States. In 2004, she was appointed to the Native American Advisory Group for the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. Her presentation is: “On Cultural Heritage and Museum Objects”

Humanitarian Crisis and Response in the Context of the Political Marketplace Framework

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)


This webinar will present findings from recent research on understanding humanitarian crises and responses through the lens of the political marketplace. This research is based several countries across Africa and the Middle East: DRC, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The webinar is hosted by the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics with the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School and Feinstein International Center, Tufts University,

Moderated by World Peace Foundation Executive Director, Alex de Waal.


Daniel Maxwell directs the Food Security and Livelihoods in Complex Emergencies Research Program at the Feinstein International Center. In 2016-2017, he served as the acting director of the Center. His recent research focuses on the re-emergence of famines in the 21st century and the politics of analyzing and declaring famine. Dan also researches humanitarian information systems, food security, and livelihood systems under stress. He teaches courses on food security, humanitarian action, humanitarian policy, and food insecurity in situations of crisis and chronic vulnerability.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Dan worked for two decades for humanitarian agencies and research institutes in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya. His most recent position was Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa for CARE International.

Merry’s research interests span two separate but related fields.  She has had a long-term interest in livelihoods and food security in conflict and post-conflict settings.  The focus of this work is on supporting local strategies that households and communities use to mitigate, cope with, and recover from the effects of conflict.  More recently, she has been studying the etiology of kwashiorkor malnutrition in order to design preventive interventions in extremely low resource settings and biomarkers to indicate the early stages of kwashiorkor.  Although Merry has worked in most regions of the world, her research interests are primarily in central Africa around the Great Lakes, and the Sahel.

Merry has more than 20 years of field experience in humanitarian response. She worked with multiple humanitarian agencies, including the International Rescue Committee, GOAL Ireland, and Food for the Hungry. Most recently, at World Concern she was the Relief Director and then the Senior Director for Technical Support. With Feinstein she conducted research on the Somalia famine, resilience and livelihoods in Darfur, Sudan, and pastoralism. Additionally, she was the international research team leader on the Sudan Humanitarian Assistance and Resilience Program (SHARP) and continues to contribute to the center’s research.

Chris Newton previously worked in South Sudan with several humanitarian organizations, including most recently the United Nations World Food Programme. He is currently enrolled in the Food and Nutrition Policy and Programmes MS at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Aditya Sarkar is an independent researcher. He is currently advising the Federal Government of Somalia on the development of a National Employment Strategy, and has worked with the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, and the Open Society Foundations. He is qualified as a lawyer in India and in England and Wales, and previously worked with Linklaters LLP in London as well as the Ministry of Commerce in India.He holds a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is a graduate of the National Law School of India University in Bangalore, India. His current research interests include the study of highly monetized political systems, and processes of political mobilization by migrant workers and refugees.

War crimes & catastrophe in today’s global crisis: Is anyone responsible?
A Symposium On Law, Rights, and Humanitarianism

American University

Thursday Sept. 24, 2020, 1:00 pm

Keynote Address “Starvation Crimes: Prospects for Political Action in the Current Crises” , WPF Executive Director, Alex de Waal

This event is sponsored by the Historical and International Studies Faculty Research Cluster, the Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace; AU programs in Ethics, Peace and Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability and Global Health and Islamic and Middle East Studies, and additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Click here for more information and to register.

The Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium
Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University

The international symposium is an annual public forum designed and enacted by EPIIC students. It features international practitioners, academics, public intellectuals, activists and journalists who come to Tufts each year for three days of discussion and debate in panels and small-group discussions determined by students in the EPIIC course. Students who conduct research projects also have the opportunity to present alongside the invited experts.

October 9-10, 2020

October 10, 2020 11:00am: Memory, Survival and Genocide, Bridget Conley

Events 2019-2020

Forged in Fire? Rohingya’s Impossible Identity Amidst Mass Violence and Deterritorialization

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
160 Packard Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
Crowe Room

Elliott Prasse-Freeman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology at the National University of Singapore. He received his doctorate in anthropology from Yale University. He is working on a book focusing on Burmese subaltern political thought as adduced from an extended ethnography of activism and contentious politics in the country’s semi-authoritarian setting. Dr Prasse-Freeman is also currently studying Rohingya political subjectivity amidst dislocation and mass violence.

This lecture examines the physical and symbolic violence waged by the Myanmar state on the Rohingya people, exploring in particular the effects of that violence on the (re)production of Rohingya identity. It analyzes the violence as foregrounding the ethnic identity and use of the ethnonym Rohingya, increasing the intensity of some people’s affiliations to it while driving away others, even as the name’s importance makes its content and contours an object of contention and cooptation. I identify internal cleavages in Rohingya identification emerging along four specific axes: First, elites appealing to the narrow, racialized demands of the exclusionary Myanmar state are engaging in a project of strategic essentialism that, when combined with average Rohingyas’ nostalgic imaginaries of life before the military-state’s assaults, constructs a reified Rohingya that does not reflect the various modes of differentiation – particularly along lines of geographic origin, class, and religiosity – that have long existed for Rohingya in Myanmar. Second, the narrowing of Rohingya-ness is absorbed and reproduced by humanitarian institutions’ knowledge machines. Third, variations in Rohingya expression have been accentuated by repeated dispossessions endured by groups of Rohingya over the past four decades, leading to further differentiation in the identity. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, both those expelled from Myanmar and those under assault within the country have faced the challenges of securing their individual/family survival while also preserving their collective ethno-cultural identity; identification with the Rohingya ethnonym varies to the extent that individuals have different perceptions regarding how such identification may either protect or imperil them. Taken together, Rohingya identity hence often becomes an impossible object as the very same violent crucible in which Rohingya have been forged is also that which extrudes them. They are simultaneously interpellated as Rohingya by the violence that denies that name and even compels them to reject it. Through multi-sited ethnography in Cox’s Bazaar, Mae Sot and Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Yangon, as well as on various Rohingya social media spaces, to inquire into the consequences for the Rohingya identity, the political movements around it, and for various individuals – often in radically different class and spatial positions – who may, under certain circumstances, call themselves Rohingya.

Rehumanizing the Dead of Anthropology: Museums and Societies after Colonialism, with Ciraj Rassool

March 25, 2020
Tufts University
Barnum Hall, Room LL008
Packard Ave, Medford, MA 02155

Human Remains from African  Societies are found in a number of museum collections in Europe and South Africa.  Ciraj Rassool, Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, will address what it means for all these societies to do the work of human remains restitution and reburial, and how this contributes to rethinking the museum after colonialism.  A leading voice in museum and heritage studies, and memory politics and visual history, his publications include, Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917 and The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories and Infrastructures.

Click here for additional information.

The Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium, presented by The Institute of Global Leadership

The international symposium is an annual public forum designed and enacted by EPIIC students. It features international practitioners, academics, public intellectuals, activists and journalists who come to Tufts each year for three days of discussion and debate in panels and small-group discussions determined by students in the EPIIC course. Students who conduct research projects also have the opportunity to present alongside the invited experts.

Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities
March 26-28, 2020
March 17, 7:00pm : “Memory, Survival and Genocide”, WPF Research Director, Bridget Conley

Full program details available here.


Past Events 2019-2020
European Conference 2020, hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School

March 6-8, 2020

The Conference will take place at both the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (6 & 7 March) and Harvard Graduate School of Design (8 March).

The European Conference is an annual conference on European and Transatlantic Affairs convened by students from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

March 7, 2020

WPF’s Executive Director, Alex de Waal will join Carmen Csernelhazi, Julien Serre and Raymond Gilpin for the panel “Fostering a Sustainable Africa: The EU-Africa relationship”

Click here for for the full program.


Laying the past to rest: Challenges of the TPLF/EPRDF state building project

Monday, March 9, 2020
Cabot Room 702
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
160 Packard Avenue
Medford, MA 02155

Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe, Senior Fellow at the World Peace Foundation will discuss his recently released book, ‘Laying the past to rest: Challenges of the TPLF/EPRDF state building project’, Hurst publishers, London.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), founded as a small guerrilla movement in 1974, became the leading party in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). After decades of civil war, the EPRDF defeated the government in 1991, and has been the dominant party in Ethiopia ever since. Its political agenda of federalism, revolutionary democracy and a developmental state has been unique and controversial.

Drawing on his own experience as a senior member of the TPLF/EPRDF leadership, and his unparalleled access to internal documentation, Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe identifies the organisational, political and sociocultural factors that contributed to victory in the revolutionary war, particularly the Front’s capacity for intellectual leadership. Charting its challenges and limitations, he analyses how the EPRDF managed the complex transition from a liberation movement into an established government. Finally, he evaluates the fate of the organisation’s revolutionary goals over its subsequent quarter-century in power, assessing the strengths and weaknesses the party has bequeathed to the country.

Laying the Past to Rest is a comprehensive and balanced analysis of the genesis, successes and failings of the EPRDF’s state-building project in contemporary Ethiopia, from a uniquely authoritative observer.


Transnational Conflict

Monday, March 2, 2020
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
160 Packard Avenue, Cabot Room 702
Medford, MA 02155


Noel Twagiramungu, World Peace Foundation Fellow
Alex de Waal, Executive Director, World Peace Foundation
Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe, Senior Fellow at the World Peace Foundation

The panel will examine new data that show that most conflict in Africa is internationalized and not solely internal. This establishes a new paradigm that places the inter-state and transnational elements of African conflict firmly at the center of explanations. The paradigm shift has far-reaching implications for how we study African conflicts, and the kinds of interventions necessary to reduce them.

Read the occasional paper, “Introducing the Transnational Conflict in Africa Dataset”.  

This research was conducted as part of the World Peace Foundation project on African peace missions, funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as part of the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics, funded by the UK Department for International Development. Their support is gratefully acknowledged.

OxFID 2020: Beyond Pledges in partnership with UNDP & NYT
Hosted by Oxford Forum for International Development

February 8-9, 2020
Blavatnik School of Government
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter OX2 6GG

Executive Director Alex de Waal will be speaking on the panel, “Global Responses to Genocide”.

The need to protect people from acts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing is a global responsibility. This panel will look at what can be done before such atrocities are carried out so that states can focus on prevention rather than response, examining international inactivity, proactivity and reactivity in response to atrocities. Where the principle of ‘responsibility to protect’ confers no legal obligation, it has succeeded in creating an emerging norm that acknowledges a political commitment to a collective approach to preventing atrocities.

The effectiveness of the ‘responsibility to protect’ principle risks being undermined by apathy and the controversy of its perception as effectively enabling state intervention ‘by the back door’. Could an alternative approach, focused on and wider stakeholder engagement, garner international support and re-energize a failing norm? How can world powers be proactive, rather than reactive, in the fight against ethnic cleansing? How can we balance a proactive approach alongside state autonomy?

Program details available here.


Starvation as a Crime in Armed Conflict

Utrecht University
Hosted by the Center for Conflict Studies
February 13, 2020
Drift 21, Room 0.32, Utrecht University
12:45 to 5:00pm

Starvation is a time-tested method of war and genocide throughout history. The current scale of suffering and death as a result of the use of starvation is unprecedented in modern history, with a number of present conflicts embroiled in acute food insecurity that has threatened famine. Yet recognition of the deliberate nature of famine, attribution of fault and accountability has remained, until recently, elusive.

Keynote speech by Prof. Alex De Waal,  Famine: How it can still be Eliminated through Political Action

Mrs. Catriona Murdoch, Starvation and the Pursuit of Accountability

Prof. Uğur Ümit Üngör, Syria and the Global History of Famine Crimes

Why Judgments Are Not History: the limitations of courtroom contributions to the historical record in Africa

Monday, November 4, 2019
5 p.m.
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
160 Packard Ave.  Cabot 703
Medford, MA

A central claim of international criminal prosecutions is that they contribute to fact-finding and establishing a historical record. But do they? In this presentation Dr. Thijs Bouwknegt addresses the process of legal-historical truth finding, the use of witness testimonies as historical sources, and the legacies of international trials in the wake of the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), the genocide in Rwanda (1994), and contested leadership change in Côte d’Ivoire (2010 -2011). He raises important questions about the discrepancies between prosecutorial and historical endeavors.

Thijs Bouwknegt is a researcher and lecturer at the Netherlands Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). He specialises in transitional justice, international criminal justice, mass violence in Africa and comparative genocide studies.


Overcoming Extreme Inequality and its Evils

Presented by Yale Global Justice program and Quinnipiac Albert Schweitzer Institute
November 1-November 3, 2019
‘Inequality’s Evils’
November 1, 2019

Faculty Room, Connecticut Hall, Yale University
New Haven, CT


Alex de Waal, Executive Director, World Peace Foundation : Famine
Bridget Conley, Research Director, World Peace Foundation : Mass Atrocities
Michal Apollo, Pedagogical University of Cracow
Chair: Anat Biletzki, Albert Schweitzer Institute / Quinnipiac University)•

Full program available at Yale Global Justice.


Agency of Bones Marginal Memory
a talk with Bridget Conley

October 28, 2019
Bard College
30 Campus Rd.
Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504
The Hannah Arendt Center

Contemporary efforts to answer the question, ‘Why memorialize Atrocities’, usually begins with the question, ‘For whom is memory?’


Prospects for Democracy in Sudan

Friday, October 11, 2019
6:30pm to 8:00pm



Hosted by the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit
London School of Economics
Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE
Houghton Street, London

The panel will discuss the dynamics of the 2019 Sudanese revolution, characterised by both non-violent civic mobilisation and the fast-evolving transnational and mercenarised political marketplace.

Alex de Waal, Executive Director, World Peace Foundation,  Research Programme Director, Conflict Research Programme
Raga Makawi, Sudanese Activist and Editor at Zed Books & African Arguments
Dr Rim Turkmani, Research Director, Conflict Research Programme – Syria


Law, Justice and Civicness: lessons from South Sudan

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
6:30pm to 8:00pm


Hosted by the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit
London School of Economics
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

The panel will discuss the efforts of civil society actors campaigning for systematic change despite being a part of a system that profits from their oppression.

Alex de Waal, Executive Director, World Peace Foundation,  Research Programme Director, Conflict Research Programme
Rachel Ibreck, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Goldsmiths University
David Deng, Human Rights Lawyer

Red Flags and Red Diamonds: the warning signs and political drivers of arms trade corruption

Thursday, September 19, 2019
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
160 Packard Ave., Mugar Room 231
Medford, MA 02155

Why is corruption so prevalent in the international arms trade? And what are the key warning signs or “Red Flags” that an arms deal might be corrupt? Dr. Samuel Perlo-Freeman, Program Director of the World Peace Foundation program on Global Arms Business and Corruption presents his latest report for World Peace Foundation, “Red flags and Red Diamonds – the warning signs and political drivers of arms trade corruption”, which discusses some of the key red flags relating to the buyer, the seller, and the details of the deal itself; but also challenges the discourse of corruption “risk” or “vulnerability”, which often seems to present corruption as a pitfall into which companies and governments may accidentally stumble. On the contrary, it is often an active choice by both arms companies and recipient governments, and in “Red Flags and Red Diamonds”, Perlo-Freeman analyses the political and economic drivers that make this a choice they are all too often willing to make.


Memory from the Margins:
Ethiopia’s Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum

This book asks the question: what is the role of memory during a political transition? Drawing on Ethiopian history, transitional justice, and scholarly fields concerned with memory, museums and trauma, the author reveals a complex picture of global, transnational, national and local forces as they converge in the story of the creation and continued life of one modest museum in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa—the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum. It is a study from multiple margins: neither the case of Ethiopia nor memorialization is central to transitional justice discourse, and within Ethiopia, the history of the Red Terror is sidelined in contemporary politics. From these nested margins, traumatic memory emerges as an ambiguous social and political force. The contributions, meaning and limitations of memory emerge at the point of discrete interactions between memory advocates, survivor-docents and visitors. Memory from the margins is revealed as powerful for how it disrupts, not builds, new forms of community.


Book events:

August 21, 2019
Hilton Addis Ababa
Menelik II Ave, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

August 23, 2019
Mekelle University
Adihaki Campus

‘The Missing Picture’: Rethinking Genocide Studies & Prevention

14th Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars

July 14 – 19, 2019 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

July 16, 2019  15:30 – 17:00
Panel: Missing Pictures: Critical Genocide Studies and Prevention, ‘Missing the Point: Deconstructing Genocide Memory’
Bridget Conley, World Peace Foundation, Tufts University

July 17, 2019  9 – 10:30
Panel: Representing Violence and Suffering: Linguistic, Artistic and Conceptual Frameworks as Limits and Opportunities
Chair: Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation; Tufts University

July 18, 2019  11:00 – 12:30
Panel: Starvation Crimes as Part of the Missing Picture in Genocide Studies and International Criminal Justice
The Fear of Famine: Why do International Criminal Justice Actors Avoid Addressing Starvation Crimes Randle DeFalco, University of Liverpool
The Seven Uses of Mass Starvation Bridget Conley, World Peace Foundation, Tufts University
Starvation Crimes Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation; Tufts University

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