Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies /University of Sarajevo
ERMA - European Regional Master in Human Rights and Democracy in Southeast Europe
Universities of Sarajevo and Bologna, 2002-2007
University of Sarajevo, Institute for the Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law, 2008

M.A.COURSE: "War Crimes, Genocide and Memories /
The Roots of Evil: I Want to Understand"
The course was established in 2002 by Janja Bec-Neumann
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University of Sarajevo, Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies, The European Regional Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democracy in Southeast Europe/ERMA

How to teach about war crimes and genocide in this region after the wars 1991-1999? How to work through pain generations of our ancestors did not know for centuries? How to talk about it to children of these wars? Do we have the right to teach about it? Maybe it is really better to keep silent like so many generations before us?

Course “War Crimes, Genocide and Memories: The Roots of Evil I want to Understand” is the first MA course with this topic in the region of Southeast Europe after the wars 1991-1999. For four years, since November, 2002, we have been teaching this topic at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies, University of Sarajevo within the European Regional Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democracy in Southeast Europe/ERMA program. ERMA program is an intensive one-year course established through the joint effort of the participating universities: University of Tirana, Albania, University of Graz, Austria, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria, University of Zagreb, Croatia, University of Bologna, Italy, University of Skopje, Macedonia, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom, University of Belgrade, Serbia, University of Pristina, UN administered Kosovo. ERMA program is coordinated by the Universities of Sarajevo and Bologna; co-directors are Professor Zdravko Grebo, University of Sarajevo and Professor Stefano Bianchini, University of Bologna. The program is in its seventh year of implementation. Each academic year ERMA program enrolls 35 students from the countries of Southeast Europe and the European Union. ERMA program is funded jointly by the European Commission and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Applying interdisciplinary approach (sociology, history, psychology, international criminal law, war photography, literature, poetry, war journalism, human rights, music, film, war crimes and genocide survivors testimonies, war trauma healings, etc.) and using comparative methodology (Israel Charny; Armenian genocide, Holocaust, Cambodia, Guatemala, Argentina, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Sudan, Rwanda, Congo, Uganda), our aims are “to try to understand the roots of evil” (Hannah Arendt & Ervin Staub) ”to open the windows in double wall of silencing”, “to reflect, to trust”, “to work through suffering and pain, to escape internalized aggression and backyard psychology of previous generations that has not been worked through” (Dan Bar-On); to escape “banality of indifference”, “to listen, to talk” and to “teach our students to recognize signals of evil and to speak out when the evil happens, when books start to be burned.” (Janja Beč-Neumann). We have been teaching about genocide as a “primarily a  crime of state” (Helen Fein), as a form of extreme destructiveness which is usually the last of many steps along the continuum of destruction and cruelty.

Janja Beč-Neumann, Course Author

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AUTHOR: Janja Bec-Neumann, Sociologist Ph.D. //COURSE DIRECTORS: Richard Goldstone, South Africa, Estella Carlotto, Mothers of disappeared in the Plaza dell Mayo, Argentina, Dan Bar-On, Israel, Rosallina Tuyuc, Coordinatora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala, Guatemala, Irae Baptista Lundin, University of Maputo, Mozambique, Aernout van Lynden, American University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, Peter Riedesser, University of Hamburg, Germany, Nanci Adler, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Holland, Zdravko Grebo, Centre for Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Mario Lopez Martinez, University of Granada, Spain, Leonardo Franko, University of Lanas, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Janja Bec-Neumann This web site was donated to the 2005 and 2006 MA Course by the Goethe Institute, Office Sarajevo and to the 2006 MA Course by the Open Society Institute, New York, NY, USA