CFP: Perpetrators. Dynamics, motivations and concepts for participating in mass violence

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Content-Author: Ingolf Seidel

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In recent years, the analysis of genocide, massacres, ethnic cleansing, wartime rape or other forms of mass violence is increasingly focusing on the people who actually committed these acts. Since Christopher Browning's ground-breaking book Ordinary Men and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's controversial replique in Hitler's Willing Executioners in the early 1990s, perpetrators have become an important focus of academic research. This is an important, productive development as it is only possible to fully understand the occurrence and dynamics of mass violence in all its forms by focussing on the people who implement genocidal policies, use spaces of opportunity to act within and respond to manipulations and instigations at the macro level. These are the people who endow violence with its physical embodiment and to understand violence, we must understand these men and women. Perpetrators are thus the focus of this edited volume.

In spite of the growing attention to these issues, the majority of previous edited publications focuses on only one case (often the Holocaust for perpetrators of genocide), one disciplinary approach (often social psychology) or one form of violence. The objective of this edited volume is to systematically bring together various disciplinary approaches, theoretical schools, empirical examples and diverse forms of
mass violence. By relating these different issues to each other it brings together the wealth of insights available in research on perpetrators in a  truly comparative study.

Against this backdrop, we are looking for contributions which draw on political science, sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, criminology, law or other disciplines to theoretically and empirically discuss the issue of perpetrators. This may include, but must not be limited to, following questions:

  • Who are perpetrators? What constitutes the concept(s) of perpetration?
  • Why do perpetrators perpetrate?
  • What patterns of perpetration can be observed across different forms of violence?
  • How can the role of agency of perpetrators of mass violence be conceptualised
  • How is it conceptualised by the perpetrators themselves, legal bodies of transitional justice and other actors during and after conflict? 
  • What narratives do perpetrators give of mass violence? How do these differ from 'official' narratives?
  • What role does gender play for individual perpetrators?
  • How do state-level policies, processes and/or ideas resonate for the actual perpetrators at the individual level?

We invite contributions which address the topic from a theoretical as well as from an empirically sustained perspectives in order to compile an original and innovative edited volume. Empirically, we welcome contributions on single cases, comparative studies of few cases, or contributions which use set-theoretic or statistical methods. 

Please send your abstract of no longer than 500 words and a biographic
note of 100 words to 

Timothy Williams
E-Mail: timothy [dot] williams [at] staff [dot] uni-marburg [dot] de

by no later than 31st January 2015.


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