In February 2009, the Museum convened a two-day seminar to examine the role speech acts play in genocide and related crimes against humanity. Academics, journalists, political analysts, policy professionals, and conflict analysts brought their experience and insight to bear on complex questions like:
- What roles do hate speech and propaganda play in violent conflicts where genocide and crimes against humanity occur?
- Do hate speech and propaganda direct violence? Do they influence people who are typically non-violent to commit acts of violence, or are they just one factor helping to create a permissive environment for violence?
- What is the difference between certain forms of hate speech and propaganda and actual incitement to genocide? How does the law help clarify situations? What does it leave unaddressed?
The Executive Summary (PDF) outlines key findings from the seminar. Additionally, participant papers are available for each of the five case studies explored:
Bosnia: 1992–95 genocide
Rwanda: 1994 genocide
Guatemala: 1981–83; more than 200,000 people, mainly Mayan, were killed, largely by the Guatemalan military and 1.5 million were displaced
Kenya: Ethnic and political violence following December 2007 elections
The seminar was made possible by the generous support of the Sudikoff Family Foundation, which funds the Sudikoff Annual Interdisciplinary Seminar on Genocide Prevention, and is related to the Museum's initiative and special exhibition on propaganda.