Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies


28 March 2023
16:00 - 17:30
Janskerkhof 2-3, Room 013

Perpetrators: Encountering Humanity’s Dark Side – A Conversation with Antonius Robben and Alexander Hinton

Discussants: Iva Vukusic and Abram de Swaan

In a groundbreaking book, Perpetrators: Encountering Humanity’s Dark Side (Stanford University Press 2023), Ton Robben and Alexander Hinton discuss what it means to study perpetrators of genocide and mass violence. Drawing on decades of fieldwork in Argentina and Cambodia, Robben and Hinton reflect not only on how researchers deal with the challenges of interviewing and writing about perpetrators, but also address how they cope with the emotional impact of this work. Through a series of ethnographic essays, as well as methodological and theoretical reflections and conversations, Robben and Hinton provide insightful lessons for how to face the epistemological, ethical, and emotional challenges of ethnographic fieldwork in the wake of atrocity.

Antonius C.G.M. Robben is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Utrecht University. Among other works, he is the author of Political Violence and Trauma in Argentina(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005) and Argentina Betrayed: Memory, Mourning, and Accountability (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

Alexander Laban Hinton is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University and UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention. Among other works, he wrote Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer (Duke University Press, 2016), The Justice Facade: Trials of Transition in Cambodia (Oxford University Press, 2018), and Anthropological Witness: Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Cornell University Press, 2021).

Iva Vukusic is Assistant Professor in International History at Utrecht University, and previously analyst and researcher at the Special War Crimes Department of the State Prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo. She is the author of Serbian Paramilitaries and the Breakup of Yugoslavia: State Connections and Patterns of Violence (Routledge, 2022).

Abram de Swaan is Emeritus University Professor of Social Science at the University of Amsterdam. Among his many and various activities, both as an academic, practicing psychoanalyst, documentary producer, and as prolific author for a wider audience (awarded with the P.C. Hooft Prize 2008), of particular interest for this occasion is his book The Killing Compartments. The Mentality of Mass Murder (Yale University Press, 2014).

All are welcome, no registration necessary!

This event is organized by the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies and the Perpetrator Studies Network