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Conference "Sexual Violence from the Holocaust to the Contemporary Security Agenda"


On 29 January the Danish Institute for International Studies will hold a conference entitled "Sexual Violence from the Holocaust to the Contemporary Security Agenda".

Each decade since the liberation of Auschwitz has seen new paths for research; One feature of recent scholarship on WWII and the Holocaust is a new attention to issues of sexual violence, which resonate with an increased awareness of sexual violence in conflict on the contemporary international security agenda.

This seminar sheds light on these debates by presenting new historical scholarship on sexual violence committed by Wehrmacht soldiers and SS-men against Jewish women during the War of Annihilation in the Soviet Union, as well as on sexual violence committed by the Red Army in Eastern Europe.

In addition to this historical material, the seminar will address a number of interpretative questions: How does one “unsilence” the historical record when documents do not exist or are produced with explicit political agendas? In which ways can researchers understand and situate the narratives and silences of perpetrators in different social and cultural contexts? What methodological and ethical issues do researchers face when they interview victims of sexual violence decades after the event? What price do victims pay for recovering memory? Can or should rape be understood as a weapon of war or genocide? How do new debates about sexual violence in Holocaust and genocide research relate to feminist debates about rape?

The seminar will be followed by a screening of the recent Danish documentary, “Mission Rape – A Tool of War”. The film focuses on the systematic rape of women during the Balkan War in 1992-95, and the expectations on and limitations of the legal justice sought at the International Criminal Court of Justice in The Hague. The filmmakers will be present for discussion.

The full programme and details on registration can be viewed here.