Professor Lee Ann Fujii to speak on political violence at Newman University Oct. 28

Oct 17, 2013

Dr. Lee Ann Fujii, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, will give a speech at 7 p.m., Oct. 28, at Newman University. The presentation, to be held in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center, is the first of the 2013-2014 History Speaker Series at Newman hosted by the university’s History Department. The event is free and open to the public.

“I will be talking about my current book project, which looks at local involvement in violence in three very different contexts: the Bosnian war, the Rwandan genocide, and Jim Crow Maryland,” Fujii said.

Jim Crow Maryland is referring to the period of time in the American South when state and local laws mandated segregation, which led to violence, brutality, and lynching often experienced by black families.

Fujii is the author of Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda, in which she investigates the process that makes people join brutal forms of violence against neighbors in their communities. She researches the public display of violence in each of the three locations.

“This project builds on ideas I began to develop in my first book on Rwanda. But this time, I am interested in not only who participated but also how people participated and what kind of violence people enacted,” Fujii said.

Fujii started to build her interest for political violence before graduate school.

“I read a lot memoirs or journalistic accounts about the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, Cambodia, etc,” Fujii said. “When I started grad school, I started to get interested in the question of how ‘ordinary’ people respond to violence and even join in at times. By ordinary, I mean people who are not soldiers or police or paramilitaries, but just regular people like you and me.”

Fujii received a fellowship at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City. The Russell Sage Foundation is a research center devoted to research in the social sciences.

“It [My goal] would be to get people interested in the general themes and questions I’m grappling with and get people thinking about these themes and questions in more depth than when we are just reading a newspaper, for example,” Fujii said.