International Association of Genocide Scholars
The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) is an international non-partisan organization that seeks to further research and teaching about the nature, causes, and consequences of genocide, including the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Bangladesh, Sudan, and other nations. The IAGS also advances policy studies on the prevention of genocide. The association's members consider comparative research, case studies, links between genocide and other human rights violations, predictive models for prevention of genocide, and tribunals and courts for the punishment of genocide. The organization's membership includes academics, anti-genocide activists, artists, genocide survivors, journalists, jurists, and public policy makers. Membership is open to interested persons worldwide.
The association has passed formal resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Greek and Assyrian Genocides, and genocides in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Iran, by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and in Myanmar against the Rohingya.
The origins of the IAGS go back to the early 1980s. At this time, a small group of scholars and teachers were using a comparative framework to study genocide. Leo Kuper published his seminal book Genocide in 1980 and Helen Fein published Accounting for Genocide in 1979.
Israel Charny organized the first conference on the comparative analysis of genocide in Jerusalem in 1982. The Institute for the Study of Genocide was founded in New York in 1982 by Helen Fein. Prof. Gregory Stanton founded The Cambodian Genocide Project in 1982 to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. It became part of Genocide Watch in 1999.
These early genocide scholars, a number of whom began with study of the Holocaust, were attacked by other scholars who insisted on the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust.
The pioneers in genocide studies also confronted institutional pressures. For example, it was a challenge to get platforms in traditional conferences such as the American Historical Association, the International Studies Association, the American Sociological Association, etc.
Traditional academic disciplines did not find room for the interdisciplinary nature of genocide studies, so universities seldom had faculty positions for genocide scholars.
However, what had been a marginalized area of study became one of urgent interest and scholarship as a response to the genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans in 1994 and 1995.
The Association of Genocide Scholars
The idea for an organization of genocide scholars grew out of a meeting between Israel Charny, Helen Fein, Robert Melson and Roger Smith at the Remembering for the Future Two conference, held at Humboldt University in Berlin in 1994. With over 500 persons in attendance and numerous panels and presentations, there was only one three-hour session on the comparative study of genocide. Hence, there was discussion of the need to create an organization that focused on the study and prevention of genocide.
The Association of Genocide Scholars (AGS) was established in 1994. During this initial period, the AGS shared a website and affiliation with the Institute for the Study of Genocide.
The organization’s first conference was held in 1995 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA, with about 45 persons attending. Helen Fein served as the association’s first President.
Subsequent biennial conferences were held at Concordia University (Montreal) in 1997, the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1999, and the University of Minnesota in 2001.
With the rapid growth and global interest in genocide studies, a number of scholars pushed for a more international perspective and argued that conferences should held outside North America. The organization revised its by-laws in 2001 and was renamed the International Association of Genocide Scholars. The revised bylaws provided that at least one officer be from outside North America, and that biennial conferences regularly be held outside North America.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars
The IAGS conference at the University of Galway, Ireland in 2003 was the first held outside North America. There were over 200 participants, with a significant increase in participation by European scholars. The increase also reflected growing scholarship in comparative genocide studies.
In 2005, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, hosted the IAGS conference. Israel Charny was elected president.
In 2006, the IAGS, in partnership with the Zoryan Institute, an Armenian organization in Toronto, Canada, began publication of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. It became an on-line publication, free to all, in 2012. At that time, the Zoryan Institute withdrew its co-sponsorship of the IAGS Journal in favor of publishing its own journal.
In 2007, Gregory Stanton became President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Stanton incorporated the IAGS and obtained its non-profit status. The IAGS launched the organization’s listserv and website: www.genocidescholars.org. The IAGS revised its bylaws. Its financial practices were reformed.
The 2007 IAGS biennial conference was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia. It was the first IAGS conference to be held in a country that had recently experienced genocide, with major participation from genocide survivors in their own language. Over 500 people attended the conference, including many participants from Bosnia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
The 2009 IAGS conference was held at George Mason University, Virginia, USA.
The association held its first conference in South America in 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It included over 300 participants, a significant number of whom were from Argentina and other Latin American countries.
The 2013 IAGS conference was held in Siena, Italy. The IAGS’s European membership grew substantially.
In 2014 the IAGS held a mid-term conference at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was the first conference to focus on the genocide of Native Americans. It included sessions with these First Peoples on their own land.
The 2015 IAGS Biennial Meeting held in Yerevan, Armenia focused on the Armenian Genocide.
The 2017 conference in Brisbane, Australia focused on the genocide of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
The 2019 IAGS conference was held in Cambodia. It focused on the Cambodian Genocide and other Asian genocides and included significant participation from Cambodians. It was the first IAGS conference held in Asia.
The 2021 IAGS conference will be held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It will focus on the risks of conflicts and genocide that may be related to environmental destruction, climate change, and the world’s population explosion.
The following persons are or have been president of the association::
- Henry Theriault (2017–Present)
- Andrew Woolford (2015-2017)
- Daniel Feierstein (2013-2015)
- Alexander Hinton (2011-2013)
- William Schabas (2009-2011)
- Gregory H. Stanton (2007-2009)
- Israel W. Charny (2005-2007)
- Robert Melson (2003-2005)
- Joyce Apsel (2001-2003)
- Frank Chalk (1999-2001)
- Roger Smith (1997-1999)
- Helen Fein (1995-1997)
- "IAGS". Homepage. International Association of Genocide Scholars: History. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- Forsythe, David P. (2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-0-19-533402-9.
- Totten, Samuel (2007). The Prevention and Intervention of Genocide: An Annotated Bibliography. Routledge. pp. 1097–. ISBN 978-0-415-95358-0.
- Totten, Samuel; Pedersen, Jon E. (January 2012). Educating about Social Issues in the 20th and 21st Centuries: A Critical Annotated Bibliography. IAP. pp. 422–. ISBN 978-1-61735-572-1.
- Bartrop, Paul R. (30 July 2012). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide. ABC-CLIO. p. 389. ISBN 978-0-313-38679-4.
- Ball, Howard (2011). Genocide: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 271. ISBN 978-1-59884-488-7.
- Lewy, Guenter (15 April 2012). Essays on Genocide and Humanitarian Intervention. University of Utah Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-60781-187-9.
- MacDonald, David B. (2008). Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-415-43061-6.
- International Association of Genocide Scholars Archived 2008-02-27 at the Wayback Machine
- Isenberg, Alexandra Suhner (2020-10-26). "Resolutions". International Association of Genocide Scholars. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
- "IAGS Journal". Homepage. International Association of Genocide Scholars. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- Kuper, Leo. (1982). Genocide : its political use in the twentieth century. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-02795-8. OCLC 7925237.
- Fein, Helen (1979). Accounting for Genocide. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-24034-7.