New Courses in Holocaust MA Program: University of Haifa adds Historiography, International Law and new Genocide Course

IMG_1920In our MA in Holocaust Studies Program we work hard to provide our students with diverse and rich course material.  We use a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the Holocaust, using history, psychology, museum studies, education, anthropology and the arts to foster a comprehensive understanding of our subject material.

This year we were excited to add three new courses to our catalogue:

Historiography of the Holocaust: An Introduction – taught by Professor Dan Michman

The aim of this course is to introduce the field of Holocaust history through a variety of angles: (a) its course of development over the decades as a result of a variety of factors – political interests and pressures, judicial and restitution procedures, archival accessibility, scholarly methodologies, media representations and more; (b) major controversies that dominate(d) the field; (c) coping with the challenge of conceptualization; (d) the Holocaust historian’s workshop: from raw documents to the shaping of historical interpretation.

Thoughts About Genocide – taught by Dr. Shmulik Lederman

Thinkers have always attempted to come to terms with the phenomena of mass violence, evil and the capacity of human beings to cause the most horrific suffering. The twentieth century, however, seems to have challenged our capacity to face these phenomena rationally and thoughtfully. In this course we will discuss several major thinkers who took up this challenge and attempted to think through the root causes, meanings and implications of the phenomenon of genocide in the modern age. We will read and discuss Hannah Arendt’s insights into the banality of evil; Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s analysis of the dialectic of enlightenment Aimé Césaire’s discourse on colonialism; Tzvetan Todorov’s reconstruction of the encounter of the Europeans with the Native American Other; Zygmunt Bauman’s critique of modern forms of rationality; and Catharine MacKinnon’s observations into the meaning of the assaults on women, so common in cases of genocide and other mass atrocities. We will examine their insights, the answers they offered, and the paths they have opened for thinking about human evil and mass atrocities.

International Law and the Holocaust: A Survey – taught by Dr. Rotem Giladi

The course proceeds to examine how the limits of international played out during the Holocaust, and how these limits shaped wartime plans and designs for the postwar world. It looks first at Nuremberg and its legacy. Next, it surveys other postwar developments in international law. Here we look at the advent of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the reform of the laws of war in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the making of the Genocide Convention, and the design for international peace and security contained in the United Nations Charter. In each case, we shall critically assess the extent to which postwar legal reforms can be attributed to the Holocaust rather than other factors and postwar developments (e.g. Cold War, decolonization).

The course then looks at additional types of Holocaust trials: national trials, trials seeking retribution or reparations and trials about historical truth. Through the focus on victims, we will discuss the theories and practice of transitional justice. The course also surveys recent developments in international criminal law–especially the establishment of the International Criminal Court–in the last two decades. By way of conclusion, the course critically reengages the concept of genocide and its utility in contemporary international law.

Knowing more about the Holocaust doesn’t always help one to understand it, but we are confident that these new courses will help to foster a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the field of Holocaust Studies for our new cohort.

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/


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