TRIALS AND INVESTIGATIONS

AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF WAR CRIMES PROSECUTIONS

Research Network

This is the official website of Oxford University’s War Crimes Trials & Investigations interdisciplinary Research Network, supported by TORCH and the John Fell Fund. The Network brings into dialogue experts from numerous disciplinary backgrounds all working on the complex issues surrounding the study of war crimes prosecutions in a global context.

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Objectives

War crimes investigations and trials are fundamentally important processes: they legitimise international action against perpetrators; they determine how a post-conflict society is structured; and they inform the development of the international laws of war concerning prevention and intervention. They have been studied from various disciplinary perspectives, each of which has its drawbacks and limitations, as well as its specific points of focus.

The subject is so complex that it leads inevitably to the crossing of disciplinary boundaries – from History into Law, from Social Psychology into International Relations – but as yet there is little systematic dialogue between these approaches.

In short, numerous disciplines build upon each other’s works, but with little interaction and hence very limited understanding of their respective foundations.

Our research network is specifically intended to address this shortcoming and will, over the course of two conferences and an eight-week seminar series, bring together researchers from numerous backgrounds to discuss these issues, focusing on, rather than side-stepping, the crucial points of confluence between disciplines.

From these events we will produce an edited collection of articles, which will showcase different approaches as well as the illuminating potential of collaborative exchange.


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Seminar Series

WAR CRIMES

Trials & Investigations

Location:

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH)
Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road
Seminar Room

Hilary Term 2015
Wednesdays, 5pm

Week 1 (Wed 21 January)
Leila Ullrich (U of Oxford)
Challenging the Global-Local Divide: Local Intermediaries, Victims and the Justice Politics of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Week 2 (Wed 28 January)
Jan Lemnitzer (U of Oxford)
From ‘Atrocity’ to ‘War Crimes’: The 19th Century Origins of Modern War Crime Tribunals

Week 3 (Wed 4 February)
Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg U, Germany)
Legal Flows and Travelling Lawyers: Debating a Global War Crimes Trials Policy in Europe and Asia during the Second World War

Week 4 (Wed 11 February)
Brian Orend (U of Waterloo, Canada)
The Next Geneva Convention: Morality, Law, and The Limits of Post-War Rehabilitation

Week 5 (Wed 18 February)
Annette Weinke (Friedrich Schiller U, Jena, Germany)
Theoretical and Ideological Underpinnings of War Crimes Investigations in Postwar Germany.

Week 6 (Wed 25 February)
Andreas Hilger (Independent Commission on the History of the German Intelligence Service)
Crime and Punishment? German crimes and Stalin’s justice during and after World War II

Week 7 (Wed 4 March)
Nikita Petrov (Memorial, Russia)
A Matter of Justice or a Political Show? Soviet Show Trials Against German POWs in 1943

Week 8 (Wed 11 March)
Tim Thompson (Teesside U)
Do Anthropologists Give the Dead a Voice, Or Are They Just Ventriloquists…?

Download Seminar Programme PDF

Workshops

We held two specialist workshops in order to, in the first, establish the key areas of interest, crossover, confusion and places where different approaches can be productively integrated; and, in the second, to build on the first by going into more in-depth case studies, producing drafts of pieces which will ultimately be published in an edited volume that will serve as an introductory handbook to scholars of numerous fields interested in and working on the subject of war crimes.

These workshops were attended by scholars from the UK, Europe, the USA and South America, and included representatives of fields ranging from International Law to Forensics.

At the first workshop (which was held on 6 June 2014), participants were asked to present an overview of the manner in which they and their discipline have approached the subject, what the central debates continue to be, and how scholarship has developed over time. This allowed us to untangle these differences, establishing common ground and analytical clarity.

In the second workshop (which was held on 5-6 September 2014) we turned to the specific. Equipped with the knowledge generated in the first workshop, we examined particular examples of war crimes prosecutions from newly-integrated perspectives, as well as the broader implications these analyses will have for respective fields.

Download Workshop Programmes PDF

Participants

Mary Cox
Economic History
University of Oxford
Katie Engelhart
Europe Correspondent
MacLean’s Magazine
Daniel Jiménez Gaytan
Social and Forensic Anthropology
Guatemalan Foundation of Forensic Anthropologists

Christian Gudehus
Kilian-Köhler-Centrum
Ruhr Universität Bochum
Yuna Han
International Relations
University of Oxford
Ozren Jungic
History
University of Oxford

Jan Lemnitzer
History
University of Oxford
Devin Pendas
Legal History
Boston College
Ruben Reike
International Relations
European University Institute, Florence

Kevin Reynolds
Film Studies
University of Sussex
Harry Rhea
Criminal Justice
Florida International University
Peter Romijn
Research Director at NIOD – Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies; University of Amsterdam.

Shakira Bedoya Sánchez
Social Anthropology
Humboldt Law School
Max Planck Institute Berlin
Jacques Schuhmacher
History
University of Oxford
Serena Sharma
Defence Studies
King’s College, London

Tim Thompson
Biological & Forensic Anthropology
Teesside University
Jonathan Waterlow
History
University of Oxford
Alex Bellamy
Peace and Conflict Studies
University of Queensland

Publication

The primary output of these two workshops is a collected volume of single- and joint-authored pieces which either apply interdisciplinary methodologies to particular case studies, or which reflect critically on the possibilities for the study of war crimes trials and investigations of integrating different disciplinary approaches.

This volume will fill the gap which we faced at the start of our own work by providing detail on particular disciplines’ approaches, shortcomings, and how greater interdisciplinary awareness and interaction can develop and strengthen each field. It will therefore offer an invaluable point of orientation for scholars of all disciplines approaching the complex subject of war crimes trials and investigations.

Directors

Jonathan Waterlow

Dr Jonathan Waterlow is co-director of the ‘War Crimes Trials and Investigations’ Research Network; he also convenes Oxford University’s ‘Soviet and Russian Cultural and Social History Seminar’, and co-convenes the Russian History Seminar at St Antony’s College.

He is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in History, working on a research project concerning the Soviet Union’s prosecution and portrayal of German war crimes in the post-Second World War period. He is particularly interested in how the narratives generated by war crimes prosecutions are developed and propagated to the affected societies, and thereafter how those narratives are received, interpreted and altered by ordinary citizens.

Jonathan’s doctoral work focused on ordinary Soviet citizens’ use of critical humour to engage with, challenge, but ultimately adapt to the challenges of the 1930s and the rifts between official rhetoric and everyday realities. He is revising the thesis for publication in the Oxford Historical Monographs series.

Jacques Schuhmacher

Jacques Schuhmacher is co-organiser of the ‘War Crimes Trials and Investigations’ research network.

He is working on an AHRC-funded DPhil project on the Nazi investigations of Allied war crimes and atrocities. He is Vanessa Brand scholar at Somerville College, Oxford.

Jacques is particularly interested in how illiberal regimes attempt to appropriate the language of human rights and international law in order to legitimise war crimes and atrocities. His research aims to develop our understanding of the motivations of the perpetrators, as well as their personal and official mechanisms of rationalisation, combined with an analysis of the international community’s responses to these acts.

Contact

contact@warcrimesresearch.net