Successful Conference on Holocaust and Genocide Denial
The Leicester Project on Genocide and the Holocaust is an interdisciplinary research initiative established by Dr Olaf Jensen from the University’s Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies and Dr Paul Behrens from our School of Law. They recently celebrated a major success with the hosting of a conference on genocide and Holocaust denial on the 23 and 24 September 2010.
Part of the project is the maintenance of a network of interested scholars from all academic disciplines who have the opportunity to contribute as authors or as expert commentators. The project is currently funded by a grant from the Interdisciplinary Research Fund of the School of Historical Studies.
Holocaust denial has been making headlines through the widely publicised views of David Irving, Bishop Richard Williamson and other deniers, and it is often accompanied by a distinctive political agenda. Genocide denial has gained particular prominence through recent legislative initiatives to ban the denial of the Armenian genocide.
The Leicester conference brought together more than twenty scholars from eight different countries who discussed denialism from the perspectives of law, history, anthropology, psychology and criminology. The debates covered topics such as the intentions and development of denial; denial laws in Germany, Rwanda, France and the European Union; denial in Bosnia and Russia; and the evaluation of the phenomenon and possible responses.
Particularly passionate debates were kindled by the question of whether laws against denial should be established only in some selected countries, and the underlying topic of whether the legal approach is appropriate at all.
Conference participants included Dr Sejal Parmar (ARTICLE 19 and Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Sévane Garibian (University of Neuchâtel) Dr Caroline Fournet (University of Exeter), Professor Michael Salter (University of Central Lancashire) and Dr Nicholas Terry (University of Exeter).
The examination of denial is just the starting point for the Leicester Project, which intends to investigate a wide range of issues relating to genocide and the Holocaust. The project directors intend to host a second conference, in 2011, on Genocidal Intent.