University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Seminars Archive

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.

Dr. Ulrich Wagner
Ulrich Wagner

Prejudice in Germany

October 9, 2007

Dr. Ulrich Wagner is Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany. Although Germany has always been a country with immigrants, until recently, German politics had officially considered the country as “non-immigrant.”

This paper described current relations between Germans and immigrants, with a special focus on German majorities’ prejudice toward immigrant minorities in their country. Data from large scale surveys demonstrate how many processes and theories used to explain ethnic prejudice can be applied to understanding Germans’ prejudice against immigrants. In particular, data show that an increase in the immigrant population at the district level (county) corresponds with reduced prejudice, as predicted by intergroup contact theory.

Dr. M. Brinton Lykes
M. Brinton Lykes

Feminist-Infused Participatory Action Research and Universal Human Rights:

Challenges from field work in rural Guatemala and urban USA

March 26, 2007

Dr. M. Brinton Lykes, is Professor and Associate Director, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College. Dr. Lykes has collaborated with women and their families in community-based participatory action research exploring the interface of indigenous cultural beliefs and practices and those of Western psychology and in the development of programs that respond to the effects of violence in war and post-war contexts of transition and transformation.

She has worked for many years with mental health and human rights and women’s groups in Guatemala and, more recently, in South Africa and Northern Ireland.In each of these contexts she has also collaborated in the design and facilitation of training programs using participatory methodologies that draw heavily on the creative arts (drama, creative storytelling, art, etc.) and in direct service with women and child survivors of sexual and other forms of violence in war and in urban contexts in the USA.

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