“Women and Genocide” is Topic of March 17 Virginia Frese Palmer Conference Marking Women’s History Month

–Eight Panelists, Including a Rwanda Survivor, Will Explore War and Its Aftermath, From the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust to Ethnic Cleansing in Srebrenica–

FLUSHING, NY, March 3, 2014—A term coined in reaction to World War II, genocide is gender neutral. But strategic violence against women has long been a common component in campaigns to destroy an entire ethnic group. Women have also played significant roles as either perpetrators or community defenders. This complicated record is the topic of the 2014 Virginia Frese Palmer Conference, “Women and Genocide,” taking place at Queens College on Monday, March 17, from 9 am to 12:30 pm, on the fourth floor of the Student Union.

Collectively, eight panelists will review nearly a hundred years of war and its aftermath. Donna-Lee Frieze, from New York’s Center for Jewish History, will talk about women’s experience in the Armenian genocide of 1915. New York University history professor Marion Kaplan will discuss the Holocaust’s female victims and resisters, while Claremont McKenna College’s Wendy Lower will focus on the German wives, secretaries, and nurses who abetted the Nazis. More recent conflicts resulted in the targeting of Mayan women in Guatemala in the 1980s, to be explored by Lehman College anthropology professor Victoria Sanford, and gender-based violence during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, which will be reported by one of its survivors, human rights activist Jacqueline Murekatete.

Some of the lectures explore women’s efforts to document atrocities and obtain justice. Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, whose six-week hunger strike called attention to Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples, will be discussed by Columbia anthropology professor Audra Simpson. NYU’s Lisa DiCaprio will relate the efforts of female survivors to hold people accountable for mass murder and ethnic cleansing committed in Srebrenica in 1995. Cassandra Atlas, human rights advocacy coordinator at the international human rights organization MADRE, will look at healing and historical memory-building efforts after genocidal drives.

Presented by the Queens College Women and Gender Studies Program in honor of Women’s History Month, “Women and Genocide” will be the thirteenth Frese Palmer conference held at the college. A question-and-answer session will follow the panel discussion. 

Queens College of the City University of New York enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its over 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college was cited this year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 150 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. In 2013, Washington Monthly ranked QC #1 among “Master’s Universities” as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck college and #2 nationwide among only 349 colleges that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.

For more about Queens College visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Pages/default.aspx

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services