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.

The Network was active between 2014 and 2017 and its work culminated in the publication of the first multi-disciplinary introduction to the study of war crimes trials and investigations, published in 2018.

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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.


Sign up to stay informed of the Research Network’s activities. We will send you relevant Calls For Papers, Seminar Programmes and news of Publications.


Seminar Series


Trials & Investigations


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


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


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
Ruhr Universität Bochum
Yuna Han
International Relations
University of Oxford
Ozren Jungic
University of Oxford

Jan Lemnitzer
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
University of Oxford
Serena Sharma
Defence Studies
King’s College, London

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


War Crimes Trials and Investigations. A Multi-Disciplinary Introduction

Editors: Jonathan Waterlow, Jacques Schuhmacher

The primary output of the Network is a collected volume of single- and joint-authored pieces which fills the gap which we faced at the start of our own work by providing a concise overview of each field’s key interests, points of debate, evolution over time, or rationale for studying war crimes at all. As such it provides crucial orientation for readers from any discipline concerned with the study of war crimes trials and investigations and, it is hoped, to foster further valuable interactions across scholarship.

This book, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018, represents the first multi-disciplinary introduction to the study of war crimes trials and investigations.

It introduces readers to the numerous disciplines engaged with this complex subject, including: Forensic Anthropology, Economics and Anthropometrics, Legal History, Violence Studies, International Criminal Justice, International Relations, and Moral Philosophy.

The contributors are experts in their respective fields and the chapters highlight each discipline’s major trends, debates, methods and approaches to mass atrocity, genocide, and crimes against humanity, as well as their interactions with adjacent disciplines.

Case studies illustrate how the respective disciplines work in practice, including examples from the Allied Hunger Blockade, WWII, the Guatemalan and Spanish Civil Wars, the Former Yugoslavia, and Uganda.

Including bibliographical essays to offer readers crucial orientation when approaching the specialist literature in each case, this edited collection equips readers with what they need to know in order to navigate a complex, and until now, deeply fragmented field. A diverse and interdisciplinary body of research, this book will be indispensable reading for scholars of war crimes.

Bibliographic Information

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Number of Pages: XII, 338
Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-64071-6
eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-64072-3

Buy it here


Jonathan Waterlow

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

He previously held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

He writes and podcasts for Voices in the Dark.

Jacques Schuhmacher

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

He completed an AHRC-funded DPhil project on the Nazi investigations of Allied war crimes and atrocities. He was 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.


The Network was active between 2014 and 2017 and its work culminated in the publication of the first multi-disciplinary introduction to the study of war crimes trials and investigations, published in 2018.