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Perpetrator Studies Network


11 March 2021

New Books in Perpetrator Studies – Book Launch Series

The Perpetrator Studies Network is happy to announce a series of online book launches that will introduce recent publications in the field and bring authors into conversation with researchers from other disciplines. The aim is to foster dialogue, across disciplines, on key issues currently discussed in perpetrator studies (issues concerning, for example, methodology, theory, ethics, representation, etc.), to explore the conditions which enable acts of collective (and) political violence, as well as to engage critically with the very concept of “perpetrator” or “perpetration”.

Why do people participate in genocide and what motivates them? What are the specific methodological and ethical challenges that pertain to the study of perpetrators and perpetration of mass violence? How do veterans navigate unstable and sometimes dangerous social and political environments during and after war? How do individuals standing trial for mass atrocities think about the question of justice? In how far do (documentary) films about perpetrators or about encounters between survivors and perpetrators expand the ‘testimony model’ and suggest a new documentary ethics? How do fictional and non-fictional texts portray the inner worlds of perpetrators and how does this portrayal open up new modes of engagement with ethically fraught questions such as empathy and identification?

These and other questions will be central to the series this spring. The first book launch on February 11 presented The Complexity of Evil. Perpetration and Genocide by Timothy Williams (Rutgers UP, 2021), which focuses on perpetrators’ motivations for participation in genocide and includes original data from fieldwork with Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The event was moderated by Carse Ramos and the discussants were Scott Straus and Alette Smeulers.

The second launch will take place on March 11 at 16.00 (CET; 10.00 EST). We will welcome Erin Jessee and Kjell Anderson to discuss their edited volume Researching Perpetrators of Genocide (Wisconsin UP, 2020), which deals with methodological and ethical issues surrounding perpetrator research. The event also features three of the contributors to the volume, Eva van Roekel, Ivana Macek, and Andrea Pető. The discussion will be moderated by Damien van Puyvelde. The discussant will be James Waller.

The series continues on April 8 at 15.30 (CET) with the joint launch of Nikkie Wiegink’s Former Guerrillas in Mozambique (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020) and Eva van Roekel’s Phenomenal Justice. Violence and Morality in Argentina (Rutgers UP, 2020). Former Guerrillas in Mozambique describes the trajectories of former RENAMO combatants, focusing on the ways in which they find their ways as civilians in the unstable and sometimes dangerous social and political environments after the war. Phenomenal Justice examines the reopened trials for crimes against humanity committed during the military dictatorship in Argentina and explores how victims and perpetrators of political violence experience justice on their own terms. The discussants are Erella Grassiani and Susanne Knittel.

On May 13 at 16.00 (CET) we will welcome Raya Morag who will present her book Perpetrator Cinema: Confronting Genocide in Cambodian Documentary (Columbia UP, 2020).

On June 10 at 17.00 (CET) Erin McGlothlin will be our guest with her new book on The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Nonfiction (Wayne State UP, 2021). Discussants are Gary Weissman and Katharina von Kellenbach. The event will be moderated by Susanne Knittel.

Registration link for the launch of Researching Perpetrators of Genocide, edited by Kjell Anderson and Erin Jessee (11 March 2021):

Registration link for the launch of Former Guerrillas in Mozambique by Nikkie Wiegink and Phenomenal Justice. Violence and Morality in Argentina by Eva van Roekel (8 April 15:30 – 17:00):


Registration link for the launch of The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator (10 June 17:00):



This series is organized by Timothy Williams and Susanne Knittel.