Conference examines the cost of civil wars

Mar 27, 2014

A wide range of speakers will offer their expertise during "Civil Wars: Narrating Horror and Hope." Sponsored by the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo, the two-day conference begins Friday morning at the Center for Tomorrow.

"These are all very well-known, renowned scholars. I also know because I've seen several in various forums before, they're wonderful speakers and they tell great stories," said UB associate professor Carole Emberton, who is organizing the conference.

Emberton discussed the conference on a recent visit to the WBFO studios where she was joined by one of the conference's featured speakers, sociologist Nicole Fox.  The focus of Fox's has been on the genocide in Rwanda which claimed an estimated 800,000 lives over a 100-day period in 1994.

"What happened in Rwanda, I think that there was some, I don't think neglect is a powerful enough word on the part of the international community, that's what marks Rwanda as unique. The U.N. and the U.S. could have stepped in for relatively low cost and could have saved thousands and thousands of lives," Fox told WBFO News.

Much her focus has been on how the country has memorialized the genocide.

"I think it's really hard to hear these stories. And it's hard for me to hear them. But I think that it's important sometimes to hear, to bear witness to some of these atrocities even if they are so difficult to digest," Fox said.

"I think people are also really curious about what Rwanda is like now. Then I tell them that I feel completely safe doing my research there."

Other speakers include Yale political scientist Stathis Kalyvas, Duke historian Thavolia Glymph, Johns Hopkins anthropologist Veena Das and author Chris Abani.

According to Emberton, all sessions of the conference are free and open to the general public.

"I think what the Humanities Institute at UB has been able to do over the past few years is really create a space, an intellectual space for scholars across the disciplines to come together and share their work and interact with a broader audience, a broader public who are interested in these kinds of conferences and topics. I think it's a unique opportunity," Emberton said.