Clinic Course in Historical Dialogue (2015-16)
Hist G8***: “The Politics of Historical Dialogue: Civil Society Advocacy”
Prof. Elazar Barkan, Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Full-year course (1/2 credit each semester)
The Clinic Course “Historical Dialogue” will address the memory of extreme historical violence and its impact on contemporary politics and culture.
Plan for the course:
Meet in the fall about 5 times to discuss theory of historical dialogue, look at empirical cases, facilitate contact with the expected 8-12 Historical Dialogue Fellows from around the world in residence for the Fall semester at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR), and plan the students’ projects. Topics for fall meetings include readings on historical accountability; the right to truth and redress; regimes of truths (legal, historical, memory); history and conflict resolution; and trauma and victimization.
During winter break, the students travel to their pertinent projects (to be developed with NGO participants — e.g., in Turkey, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Israel/Palestine, the Balkans, Lebanon, Spain, Japan, Korea, Kenya, Germany, Baltic states, the U.S.. These are all places where vibrant historical civil society activism is ongoing; other regions are also possible.
In spring, the class would meet as a group every two weeks, and students would conduct research, and work on their projects with their NGO, presenting on their progress, and discussing conceptual issues during the class meetings. Depending on the projects, scholar/activists would be brought to class as necessary and available.
Examples of student projects with NGOs include
1) the development of exhibitions that showcase governmental responses to historical violence, such as an exhibition on political apologies now touring in Turkey (opened 2012);
2) mapping, such as that being done at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights on current projects of historical dialogue around the world;
3) Documentation of cases by (limited) research in archives in the relevant countries and write a report for the NGO on available and inaccessible material;
4) identifying potential resources for enhancing the goal of the NGO with which the student is working, e.g., identifying scholars, resource individuals or archives that would enlarge the organization’s network or capacities, or survey potential projects for the organization;
5) writing substantive parts of fundraising proposals for the NGO;
6) historical analysis of history textbooks (it’s already been done in some countries) and their treatment of historical injustices and violence;
7) explore the feasibility of an oral history project and its contribution to the strategy of the NGO.
[potential projects should be designed to 1) be feasible for the students in the space of the year long course, and to 2) actually be of use to the NGO]
Students might work singly or in groups. Each student/group would be connected to a pertinent NGO in the student’s area of study. These connections may emerge from the interaction with the Historical Dialogue Fellows at ISHR in the Fall semester. Alternatively students could work as a single group. In the case of a single group project, a likely NGO partner would be Hafıza Merkezi (Center for Truth, Memory and Justice ), located in Istanbul, .