Joachim J. Savelsberg is a professor of sociology and law and holder of the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair, University of Minnesota. He held visiting professorships or fellowships at various universities and institutes, including Harvard, Humboldt (Berlin), John Hopkins, Karl Franzens (Graz), Ludwig-Maximilian (München), Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study (Bonn), and Rockefeller Bellagio Center. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation. Publications include Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur (University of California Press, 2015); American Memories: Atrocities and the Law (with R.D. King; Russell Sage Foundation, 2011).
Sociology of law and punishment; criminology; human rights violations and responses; sociology of knowledge; collective memory and representations, especially of mass violence, as processed by judicial institutions; comparative sociology and globalization.
Acknowledgment, denial and collective memories of mass atrocities: comparative perspectives
I plan to write a book on the sociology of genocide knowledge. I do so in an era in which institution-building in response to mass atrocities collides with denial. This denial is at times strategically planned in response to acknowledgment and supported by a calculated reluctance to intervene. The project thus explores struggles between acknowledgment and denial, and their impact on how societies and societal groups know about genocides, how they classify, collectively represent and remember them. It attends to social interactions, carrier groups, symbols and rituals, power relations, social fields and institutional contexts in which struggles are carried out. Exploring these themes for the Armenian genocide, I have collected and analyzed law texts, legislative records, media reports, archival data, and documentary films and conducted interviews. I will devote special attention to French legislation pertaining to the memory of the Armenian genocide and to related Swiss and US court cases. I hope to explore options for comparative analysis in communication with colleagues across national and continental divides and across disciplinary boundaries in anthropology, the humanities and the arts (on representations, narratives and memories); history (shaping of historical accounts); political science (political processes); and law (legal texts and contexts).