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Seminars Archive

Dr. Andrew Papachristos
Andrew Papachristos

The Corner and The Crew:

The Role of Inter-Group Conflict and Geographic Turf on Gang Violence

October 22, 2009

Dr. Andrew Papachristos is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Visiting Scholar, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Andrew Papachristos’ research uses social network analysis to examine: the social structures and group processes at the heart of interpersonal violence and delinquency; issues of group dominance and reciprocity; and the use of violence and honor as measures of social control. In this presentation he uses a social network approach to examine the influence of two dimensions of street gangs on violent behavior: inter-group conflict and the overlap of geographic turf. Inter-group conflict and gang turf are essential aspects of gang formation, group identity, and the collective processes at the foundation of many gang behaviors, including violence.

Using incident level police records and detailed maps of turf boundaries, this paper recreates and analyzes gang violence by examining the social networks of action and reaction that create them. The findings suggest that individual violent interactions between gangs create an institutionalized network of group conflict, net of any gang’s size, racial composition, group specific effects, and turf overlap. Violence moves through these networks through an epidemic-like process of social contagion that is fueled by dominance considerations of gangs jockeying for social status.

Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Working Through the Past:

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness in Cultural Context

September 17, 2009

Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor of Psychology University of Cape Town, South Africa, and award winning author of the book, A Human Being Died That Night. In this presentation, Dr. Gobodo-Madikizela will explore forgiveness of perpetrators as a unique outcome of the truth commission method in the aftermath of mass violence and political conflict. She will briefly identify some developmental trends in the debates on forgiveness in the context of mass atrocity.

Using a case example from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, she will explore the development of empathy in an encounter between victims and a perpetrator in the context of the perpetrator’s remorseful apology on the one hand, and the victims’ forgiveness on the other. She will consider the subtleties of cultural language in the dialogical exchange between victims and perpetrators when both victims and perpetrators are black Africans, and argue that apology and forgiveness provide impetus for transformation. The apology and forgiveness response in politics should be viewed as an essential feature of human connectedness, and a moral imperative necessary to restore hope before the work of reconciliation can start.

Dr. Jorge Manzi
Jorge Manzi

Political Reconciliation in Post Pinochet Chile:

Political and Psychosocial Processes.

March 26, 2009

Dr. Jorge Manzi is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Measurement in the School of Psychology at Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile. Dr. Manzi's research in social psychology concentrates on political phenomena, including such diverse themes as the development of political ideas and affiliations among youth, collective memory for political events, and the role of emotions in processes of reconciliation. Currently, he is conducting a large-scale panel study to examine aspects of political culture among three generations of Chileans.

Dr. Elizabeth Levy Paluck
Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Deference, Dissent and Dispute Resolution:

An Experimental Intervention using Mass Media to Change Norms and Behavior in Rwanda

March 5, 2009

Dr. Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is also an Academy Scholar at Harvard Academy for International Affairs, Harvard University.

Deference and dissent strike a delicate balance in any polity. Insufficient deference to authority may incapacitate government; too much may allow leaders to orchestrate mass violence. Although cross-national and cross-temporal variation in deference to authority and willingness to express dissent has long been studied in the social sciences, rarely have scholars studied programs designed to change these aspects of political culture.

The present study, situated in post-genocide Rwanda, reports a qualitative and quantitative assessment of one such attempt, a radio program aimed at discouraging blind obedience and reliance on direction from authorities, and at promoting independent thought and local initiative in problem solving. This radio program or a control program dealing with HIV were randomly presented over the course of one year to pairs of communities, including communities of genocide survivors, Twa people, and imprisoned génocidaires. Changes in individual attitudes, community norms, and deliberative behaviors were assessed using closed-ended interviews, focus group discussions, role-play exercises, and unobtrusive measures of collective decision-making.

Although the radio program had little effect on many kinds of beliefs and attitudes, it did have a substantial impact on listeners' willingness to express dissent and the way they resolved communal problems. Consistent with some arguments regarding the origins of political culture, these results suggest that certain aspects of political culture are changeable, at least in the short run.

Dr. Joanne Corbin
Joanne Corbin

Returning to Normal in Northern Uganda:

A Qualitative Study of Individuals' Experiences to Return Home After Armed Conflict

February 12, 2009

Dr. Joanne Corbin is an Associate Professor of Social Work, Smith College School of Social Work. The 20 year armed conflict in Northern Uganda involving the LRA diminished in intensity by 2006-2007. Residents of Internally Displaced Persons' (IDP) camps were being encouraged to return to their former home areas. This qualitative study examines the experiences of residents that were settled in one IDP camp. Some have return to resettlement villages or their former villages; others have decided to remain in the camp.

Responses from those interviewed help us to understand the decisions around remaining in the camp or returning home. Whether individuals decided to remain or return, all had to make choices about resuming livelihoods, re-establishing cultural practices and values, and recreating community. This study is an extension of Dr. Corbin's 2005 study on resettlement experiences of formerly abducted children in Northern Uganda.

Dr. Wenona Rymond-Richmond
Wenona Rymond-Richmond

Dehumanization and Racial Epithets in The Darfur Genocide

December 4, 2008

Dr. Wenona Rymond-Richmond is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sociologists empirically and theoretically neglect genocide. Our critical collective framing perspective begins by focusing on state origins of race based ideology in the mobilization and dehumanization leading to genocide. We elaborate this transformative dynamic by identifying racially driven macro-micro-macro level processes which are theoretically underdeveloped and contested in many settings.

We investigate generic processes by exploiting an unprecedented survey of refugees from the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Our focus is on the Sudanese government’s crisis framing of a dehumanizing collective process. Sudanese forces joined with Janjaweed militia to attack black African settlements. They aggregated and concentrated racial epithets in a collective process of dehumanization and organized terror which amplified the severity of genocidal victimization, the lethal and lasting scar of the genocidal state. Our findings question primordial and counter-insurgency explanations, while supporting aspects of the instrumental, population-resource, constructionist and cognitive perspectives that form the foundation of our critical collective framing perspective.

Nurit Shnabel
Nurit Shnabel

The Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation

November 13, 2008

Dr. Nurit Shnabel is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Yale University, Department of Psychology; Department of Education and Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel. In recent years there has been a growing understanding that agreements that aim to end conflicts between adversaries should address emotional issues such as mutual respect, acceptance, compassion, and justice, and that failing to do so will leave these agreements particularly fragile. This understanding is reflected in the growing interest in the concept of reconciliation, the process of removing the emotional barriers that block the path to harmonious relations.

In particular, the Needs-Based Model suggests that following a victimization episode both victims and perpetrators experience a threat to differential dimensions of their identities, and that the reciprocal removal of these threats through symbolic gestures may promote reconciliation between former adversaries. The applicability of this model to various conflicts, such as the ones between Israelis and Arabs, Jews and Germans, or between majority and minority groups within the same society (e.g., Blacks and Whites in the USA) was examined. Policy implications drawn from the model was discussed.

Dr. Ed Cairns
Ed Cairns

The Contact Hypothesis in Northern Ireland:

Research, Policy, and Practice

April 1, 2008

Dr. Ed Cairns is Professor of Psychology, University of Ulster, UK. Dr. Cairns teaches Psychology at the University of Ulster and has been a visiting scholar at the universities of Florida, Cape Town, and Melbourne. Most of his work has investigated the psychological aspects of political violence in relation to conflict in Northern Ireland. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a past President of the Division of Peace Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

Dr.Jacqueline Urla
Jacqueline Urla

Basque Social Movements on Trial

February 28, 2008

BASQUE SOCIAL MOVEMENTS ON TRIAL. (February 28, 2008) Dr. Jacqueline Urla is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Urla reflects on how research on language and cultural activism has changed in light of new anti terrorist strategies in the Basque Country of Spain.

In 1996, the special anti-terrorist court of Spain, the Audiencia Nacional, began a new strategy for eliminating nationalist political violence that targeted what they call the social and economic “infrastructure” of ETA. The activities she had been documenting as an ethnographer -- language revitalization and civil disobedience -- once considered quite distinct from political violence, came under suspicion and their authors have been arrested and imprisoned.

As the line between legitimate forms of dissent and political violence were blurred, she found herself confronted with new ethical challenges. She used the case of the virtually unreported trial of civic dissenters concluded in December 2007 as an example of the new climate of fear and intimidation and the questions it has posed for her as an anthropologist with long-term ties to individuals who now find themselves in prison.

Dr. Nida Bikman
Nida Bikmen

History, Memory and Identity:

Remembering the Homeland in Exile

November 2, 2007

Dr. Nida Bikmen is Assistant Professor of Psychology, Denison University. Dr. Bikmen's research explored the effects of collective memory on intergroup relations among refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. After receiving a master’s degree in psychology from Bogazici University in her native Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Bikmen began her doctoral studies at the Graduate Center of City University of New York. She received her degree in social psychology in 2007 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Denison University in Ohio.

In her research, Dr. Bikmen has examined various aspects of group identities and relations using methodologies ranging from experimental manipulations to in-depth interviews and focus groups. Much of her current work investigates issues associated with immigration, ethnic and national identification, perceived disadvantage, and attitudes toward collective action.

In addition, Dr. Bikmen and Dr. Jacqueline Mosselson (SEE BELOW) co-facilitated an open discussion on conducting research with immigrant and refugee populations.


Jacqueline Mosselson

Dr. Jacqueline Mosselson is an assistant professor at the Center for International Education at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in comparative education and developmental psychopathology (2002) and a Master’s of International Affairs in economic and political development (1997) from Columbia University.

Her doctoral dissertation, Roots and Routes: Re-imagining the Reactive Identities of Bosnian Adolescent Female Refugees, explored the ways adolescent refugees understand and self-identities in the context of flight and relocation and the impact of education on the refugee condition. Dr. Mosselson has worked as a consultant for the International Rescue Committee, examining health-related issues in the Republic of Georgia, psychosocial functioning among escapees from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and as part of an evaluation team examining Afghan refugee school programs in Pakistan. She has also worked as a consultant for Unicef in Mongolia.

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