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USC Shoah Foundation announces center for genocide research

by Tom Tugend

April 25, 2014 | 1:01 pm

Steven Spielberg. Photo by Romain Dubois

Steven Spielberg. Photo by Romain Dubois

Establishment of a Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California (USC) was announced on April 25 by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, founder of the USC Shoah Foundation, and USC President C.L. Max Nikias, according to a press release.

The center’s primary goals will be to investigate the conditions leading to genocides and how to intervene in time to prevent such mass violence and slaughter.

Spielberg established the Shoah Foundation 20 years ago following release of his Oscar-winning movie, “Schindler’s List.”

The center’s three research areas will be resistance to genocide and mass violence; violence, emotion and behavioral change; and digital genocide studies.

“The USC Shoah Foundation has made tremendous progress during its first 20 years, but its work is far from finished,” Spielberg said in a press release prior to the announcement. “The Institute has collected and indexed nearly 52,000 testimonies and established educational programs, such as iWitness and Teaching with Testimony that bring people who experienced history into classrooms around the world.

“Now comes the next significant chapter, one that establishes the Institute as one of the leading academic centers of excellence for the study of the Holocaust and genocides. The potential is there for groundbreaking research.”

The trove of 52,000 testimonies deal primarily with the Holocaust, but also contains eyewitness accounts of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide and the 1937 Nanjing massacre, committed by Japanese forces in China. Material on the Armenian and Cambodian genocides will be added to the archives next year.

USC history professor Wolf Gruner will serve as director of the new center. Its first major conference, “Media, Memory and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of ‘Schindler’s List’” will be held in November 2014 and co-sponsored with the USC Shoah Foundation.

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