Co-sponsored and organized by the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies; the Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair in Modern Armenian History and Genocide Studies, Clark University; Worcester State University; Armenian Genocide Program, CGHR, Rutgers University-Newark; National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR); and Worcester State University, WSU Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity, and other departments and offices

Since the 1980s, genocide denial, particularly of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, has generated a substantial body of literature analyzing and documenting the methods and rhetoric of those who seek to negate or obscure documented cases of mass violence. More recently, an impressive amount of literature has explored the ways in which various industries and political operatives have used the strategy of “manufacturing doubt” to undermine the scientific consensus on smoking, pollution, evolution, and global warming. Historian of science Robert N. Proctor has coined the term “agnotology” to describe this production of ignorance—since ignorance is often not merely the absence of knowledge but the outcome of a deliberate effort to obscure knowledge.

Although these efforts stretch from governments to corporations to grass roots organizations, the focus of this conference will be on the ways in which scholarship and the academy function as a primary battleground in a struggle that resonates far beyond academia. Until now, social scientists and natural scientists have not converged to discuss the analogous and interrelated (though not always identical) phenomena of genocide denial and the denial of scientific truth. Presentations offering specific parallels will be welcome but the overall hope is to stimulate comparative discourse and to encourage further work on the subject.

Schedule

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2014
Friday, October 24th
7:00 PM

Keynote Address: The Challenge of Denial: Why People Refuse to Accept Unwelcome Facts

Clark University

Worcester State University, Ghosh Auditorium

7:00 PM

Introductory Remarks - Khatchig Mouradian

Keynote address - Brendan Nyhan The Challenge of Denial: Why People Refuse to Accept Unwelcome Facts

Response - Henry Theriault; Discussion and Q&A

Saturday, October 25th
8:00 AM

Check-in and Coffee

Clark University

Clark University, Strassler Center

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

8:30 AM

Session 1: Modern Strategies and Rhetoric of Denial

Clark University

8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Session 1: Modern Strategies and Rhetoric of Denial
Session Chair/Respondent: Lou Ann Matossian

Participants:
Marc Mamigonian [Armenian Genocide]
Sara Brown [Rwanda]
Shawn Olson [Climate Change]

11:00 AM

Session 2: Political Uses of Denial

Clark University

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Session 2: Political Uses of Denial
Session Chair/Respondent: Taner Akçam

Participants:
Jennifer Dixon [Armenian Genocide]
Alex Hinton [Cambodia]
Mark Gottlieb [tobacco]

1:15 PM

Lunch

Clark University

Cohen-Lasry House

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM

2:30 PM

Session 3: Countering Denial: How and When?

Clark University

2:30 PM - 4:30 AM

Session 3: Countering Denial: How and When?
Session Chair/Respondent: Dikran Kaligian

Participants:
Keith Watenpaugh [Armenian Genocide]
Ken Maclean [Burma]
Emma Frances Bloomfield [climate change/evolution]

4:30 PM

Session 4: Summing Up and Open Discussion

Clark University

4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Johanna Vollhardt, Richard Hovannisian, Massimo Pigliucci

Acknowledgment after mass violence: Effects on psychological well-being and intergroup relations Johanna Ray Vollhardt, Lucas B. Mazur, and Magali Lemahieu

Download paper (login required)

7:00 PM

Dinner

Clark University

Cohen-Lasry House

7:00 PM