2020 Events

January 26, 2021, 7:00pm, on Zoom

Renowned Social Psychologist Prof. James Waller on “Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Murder”

In Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army

With Appalachian State University's Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies along with Queens University’s Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice, our Center for HGHR Studies invites the public to an online program with Prof. Jim Waller, the Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College (New Hampshire).

Prof. Waller will speak on “Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Murder,” also the title of one of his most influential and pathbreaking studies. The presentation will start on Tuesday, January 26, at 7:00 pm EST.  Based on an evolutionary perspective, Prof. Waller offers an intriguing and disturbing psychological view of how (almost) anyone can be induced to participate in genocidal crimes. The event also marks and commemorates the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camps by a division of the Red Army’s First Ukrainian Front in January of 1945.

Dr. James E. Waller is the inaugural Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College, one of the nation’s oldest Holocaust resource centers. A widely-recognized scholar in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies, Prof. Waller widely researches, teaches and consults for memorials, research centers, universities, government, and non-governmental institutions around the world.

Among his many roles and accomplishments is the Directorship of Academic Programs at the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities and lead instructorship for the Raphael Lemkin Seminars for Genocide Prevention. These well-respected seminars held on-site and in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, introduce government officials and security sector personnel from around the globe to pressing questions of genocide warning and prevention.

He is the author of five important books, including Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, on which his talk is based, and Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Waller is also widely recognized for his work on intergroup relations and prejudice. He developed a study program, "Prejudice Across America," which drew national media attention and was named by President Clinton's Initiative on Race as one of America's Promising Practices for Racial Reconciliation. He serves on the board of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, as an editor-in- chief for Genocide Studies and Prevention, and is an honorary member of the International Expert Team of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada.

Important report written by Dr. Waller in late October 2020: "The Escalating Risk of Mass Violence in the United States"

Co-sponsored by Appalachian State University's Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies and Queens University's Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice

More information soon on registration for the event.


Summer 2021 Study Abroad to Rwanda

"Transitioning to Peace after Genocide"

This two-week journey, led by Professor Judith LaPietra, will offer students a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and resilience of Rwanda today. More than 26 years after a horrific genocide, Rwanda has charted its own path toward reconciliation and progress.

Known as the "land of a thousand hills," our journey will begin in the capital city of Kigali and include visits to its Genocide Memorial Centre as well as to the Millennium Village Center. Students will explore additional memorials to the 1994 genocide outside of Kigali including the Murambi and Nyamata Memorials.

We will have the unique opportunity to visit a reconciliation village where genocide survivors and perpetrators live side by side today. Additional excursions will highlight Rwanda’s progress including visits to the MindLeaps center in Kigali and the Gisimba orphanage. 


March or April 2021. On Zoom. More information soon. 

Kurdish Women and the Revolution in Rojava

Panel discussion with Meghan Bodette, Ruken Isik, and Sinam Mohammad


Bodette directs the Missing Afrin Women Project, which "compiles reports of kidnappings and disappearances of women and girls in Afrin, Syria since the region came under the control of Turkey and affiliated Syrian armed groups in January 2018." Bodette is a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Isik is a Kurdish-American researcher and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work focuses on Kurdish Women’s Activism in Turkey, Syria, and in the diaspora.

Mohammad is Representative of the Syrian Democratic Council to the United States and has served as the European representative of the Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava and co-chair of Rojava's Democratic Society Movement.


Kurds are the world’s largest nation without a state to call their own -- some 35 million people spread across parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syrian and Iran. They have suffered severe repression and even genocide in all those countries and have been fighting for independence for generations. Kurdish military units, often led by women, have also led the fight against ISIS in recent years.

Since 2012 Kurds have conducted a radical experiment in self-governance in the northern region of Syria called Rojava, which borders Turkey.  They have created a decentralized economy, known as a Democratic Confederacy, based on radical democracy, social ecology, and feminism. 

With the complicity of the U.S. government, Turkey invaded Rojava and other parts of the region in October 2019.

For more, see a recent article by Sinam Sherkany Mohammad titled "One Year After the Turkish Invasion that Shocked the World, Turkey Still Occupies Our Land" and a September 2020 article, "Women kidnappings spike in lawless Turkey-controlled Afrin," quoting Bodette as well as Mohammad.

An Interview with Ruken Isik: Kurdish Women Struggle for a Next System in Rojava

Sponsored by the Department of Global Studies, its Center for HGHR Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies. This event is made possible by a Mini-Grant from the Chancellor's Diversity Challenge Fund.


2020 Events


Tuesday February 25, 2020

Carl Wilkens

"Why I Stayed in Rwanda"

2:30 - 3:45pm, Halton Reading Room (in Atkins Library)


“So what would you do if, like Carl Wilkens, you were caught in the middle of a genocide?” asked Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times article. “U.S. officials and church leaders ordered Mr. Wilkens to join an emergency evacuation of foreigners from Rwanda, and relatives and friends implored him to go. He refused....

"One evening the militia came to kill Mr. Wilkens and his Tutsi servants, but Hutu neighbors praised his humanitarian work and the militia went away. Death threats piled up, but Mr. Wilkens spent his days talking his way through roadblocks of snarling, drunken soldiers so he could take water and food to orphanages around town. The Raoul Wallenberg of Rwanda, he negotiated, pleaded and bullied his way through the bloodshed, saving lives everywhere he went.

Carl Wilkens was the only American who chose to stay in Kigali, Rwanda throughout the 1994 genocide. Working with Rwandan colleagues, they helped save the lives of hundreds. His harrowing yet hopeful journey weaves together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion in the midst of senseless slaughter.

Photo: "Jean-Francois Gisimba and Carl Wilkens together in London (2011)." From The Guardian: "Rwanda Heroes, 17 Years On: In 1994, against huge odds, two men saved hundreds of Tutsis during the genocide in Rwanda. Finally reunited, they recall the extraordinary story of their first meeting.")

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte's Departments of Religious Studies, Africana Studies, History, and Global Studies and by UNCC's Center for Professional and Applied Ethics

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event

[To be re-scheduled]

Geoffrey Adelsberg

Professor of Philosophy, Edgewood College

Cone room 210, 2:30 - 3:45

His research focuses on the philosophy of race and racism and its contributions to thinking about punishment and responsibility in the aftermath of traumatic harms. In his research, he has evaluated the moral, social, legal, and political claims of persons victimized by crime and sought to construct reparative responses to those claims. His present work takes up the intersections and contentions between Black and Jewish thought on reparation for historical and present injustices.

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event:

The HGHR Center is proud to co-sponsor this event, May 20-23, 2020

[To be re-scheduled]

The Feminist Decolonial Politics Workshop seeks to create a space for junior scholars and graduate students to engage in rigorous discussions of seldom-read figures in feminist decolonial theory. This 4-day intensive workshop provides an opportunity to enrich participant’s research and pedagogy through sustained engagement with the work of a given author. In the past, we have read the works of Audra Simpson, Saidiya Hartman, Sara Ahmed, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Sylvia Wynter. 

Applications are due February 17th, 2020. More information

2019 Events


April 13-14: our first international conference, "Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide"

Scholars, activists, and artists from more than 15 countries participated. In 2020 a book based on the conference will be published by Routledge, along with a special issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention composed of additional papers from the conference.

Keynote speaker Lerna  Ekmekçioğlu, hIstorian of the Modern Middle East at MIT and author of Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey (Stanford University Press, 2016). Her keynote address was titled, "What Can Genocide and its Denial Do to Feminism? The Existential Paradoxes of Armenians in Post-Genocide Turkey." Henry C. Theriault, Ph.D., President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, delivered a closing keynote address, "Is Denial truly the final stage? Consolidation and the Metaphysical Dimensions of Denial."

Photograph of two young Pima Indian school girls, ca.1900. Behind them a wire and wood post fence is visible. An example of forced assimilation and cultural genocide.


Thursday April 11   ¨   2:30 - 3:45   ¨     Fretwell 121 

The Forgotten Murders: Gendercide in the Twenty-First Century and the Destruction of the Transgender Body

Speakers: Haley Marie Brown, Stockton University; Nikolai Mather, UNCC

Haley Marie Brown is a transgender woman and a graduate student of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey.  Currently her research primarily examines the way gender-based violence against transgender women both fits within and challenges current approaches to the study of gender and genocide. Nikolai Mather (he/they) is a transmasculine student majoring in International Studies and Political Science at UNCC. His current projects include co-founding an undergraduate journal of Genocide and Human Rights Studies and researching the alt-right's usage of racist memes. 

From Amnesty International article, “Trump Administration Silent as Chechnya and Azerbaijan Torture Gay Men.

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Women’s & Gender Studies program, Department of Philosophy, and LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus

This event made possible through a grant from the Women’s + Girls Research Alliance of UNC Charlotte.


"Racial & Gender Identities: Confusion and Anti-Blackness"

Monday April 15          2:30 – 3:45          Denny 200

Lecture and discussion with Zoé Samudzi

Rachel Dolezal was invited to speak for Black History Month last month at a college in Washington. Also recently, Philosophy professor Rebecca Tuvel argued in a widely discussed journal piece that if “we should accept transgender individuals' decisions to change sexes, we should also accept transracial individuals' decisions to change races” and thereby embrace “transracialism.”

“Race” is indeed a social construct, but: Are certain identities so easily mutable? Can Elizabeth Warren or Rachel Dolezal claim any heritage they desire? Such assertions employ ad hominem fallacies to re-assert hierarchies of knowledge, discourse, and personhoods.

Zoé Samudzi is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Inquiry, ROAR MagazineVerso, Broadly, and other spaces. She is a doctoral student in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research examines colonialism and technologies of race and gender, focusing particularly on the 1904-1908 German genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples in present-day Namibia.

Samudzi's article "Shifting Objectives: On Methodology and Identity Politics."

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Women’s & Gender Studies program, Department of Philosophy, Department of Africana Studies, and LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus





 the European representative of the Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava. Furthermore she is co-chair of the Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) in Rojava, Syria.