Conflict and Crisis in the 20th and 21st Century
Independent Reading / Book Groups

List of Book Selections
King Leopold’s Ghost
I Shall Not Hate
The Bite of the Mango
When Broken Glass Floats
The Rape of Nanking
Machete Season

Two groups will do these individual titles. (Personal Accounts)
Tears of the Desert
Smoke Over Birkenau
The Hiding Place
Say You’re one of Them
Sarah’s Key
I Shall Not Hate

You must discuss a minimum of two panels. Panel 1 is compulsory. Choose at least two other panels which connect well with your book. Feel free to choose and discuss more than two. The points below indicate areas you must consider. You are not limited to these and are welcome to discuss other critical analyses which apply to your book.

Panel 1 (Compulsory)

All groups must research and present information on this panel. This provides background information for your topic/book and will enhance your group discussions and class engagement during your presentation. Your book may or may not cover this extensively. It will be up to you to supplement your information with extra research as you see fit.

  • General information (Where and When)
  • Major causes (Structural or Systemic, Proximate, and Trigger factors – see charts)
  • General statistics
  • How was the genocide committed?
Panel 2 : From Harmony to War – The Continuum

  • Outstanding historical forces and trends that led to the conflict, crisis, or genocide
  • Escalation of violence
  • Major events and turning points
  • Significant decisions
  • Statistics

Panel 3: Key Players and Leadership

  • Who were the people of influence?
  • How instrumental were they in the escalation of violence and ultimate crisis?
  • Consider character traits and qualities which are predominant or lacking (conformity, obedience, courage, integrity, martyrdom, cruelty, indifference, dysfunction, charisma)
  • Consider the process in which they use and misuse their power (Dehumanization, Symbolization, Organization, Polarization, Opportunism)
  • Charismatic leadership emerges – attracts masses and appeals to group

Panel 4 : International Community – Report Card

  • Human rights
  • Security Council – UN
  • How much foresight / responding to early warning signs
  • Analysis of the following conditions and action
(Border crisis, disintegrating regimes, refugee flows)
  • Enough or lack of political will
  • Prompt or delayed intervention?
  • Economic sanctions
  • Freezing bank accounts of leaders
  • Military intervention

Panel 5: Victims

  • Statistics
  • Deaths, casualties, brutality, horrifying circumstances
  • Types of victims : Children, soldiers, women, minorities
  • Testimonials, case studies, interviews, stories
  • Long term repercussions / refugee camps
  • Compensation
  • Rehabilitation

Panel 6: LongRange Impact

  • International War Crime Tribunals
  • Questions of accountability and responsibility
  • Current international views, perspectives, opinions
  • Current trials or post-analyses
  • Denials of what occurred

You will be in the library for a presentation about offered book choices.

Divide your book into four parts. You will meet with your group at least 6 times to discuss your book and generate ideas and analysis about what you have read. Individuals within the group are responsible for meeting deadlines and should contribute to the discussions equally and meaningfully.

Meeting Dates: Individual panels will be submitted at the end of each meeting.

Feb. 21 – organizational meeting
March 1:
March 19
March 25
April 3 : Group Panels are due to be submitted April 9
April 9 : Organizational meeting for presentations.
Further meetings: Groups will set up times on their own.

  1. Your final product will be a presentation of your book. You will divide the presentation into four parts and each individual will be responsible for a section. The whole group will present Panel 1 and a conclusion.

  1. Choose a passage from the book to read to the class. This must reflect important and informative content. Explain or analyze what you have chosen and show why/how it reveals critical information. The passage can be emotional, factual, or symbolic.
Themes / Ideas to be discussed. (we will provide list)

Individual Task :
Choose two themes / quotations from the list provided for each meeting and prepare a written account as to how each connects to what you have read (the applicable section for your meeting).
You should make references to how the theme/ quotation is reflected in your reading and how it might further knowledge, inspire discussion topics or debate, suggest new questions and /or areas for reflection. Be specific as you will be discussing your written reflections with your group as well as submitting these to Mme. Leduc.

Group Task:
Your group will meet on the designated dates. After each member has presented his/her two themes and his connections to the reading, your group will discuss all of them and choose one which best defines the events and circumstances that took place in your reading. This will be submitted by the group.

Themes and Discussion Prompts

  1. “Two fundamentally opposed positions hold that a perpetrator kills because he approves of the act, or that he kills despite his disapproval or lack of approval. Various postulates have been put forward to explain how people are brought to kill even though as it sometimes claimed,, all, or most, of them think the killing to be wrong and criminal or at least do not believe it to be right.” (Goldhagen, 148)

  1. War, nation-building conflicts, extreme challenges to the state or national integrity, and intense ethnic strife increase the likelihood that eliminationist sentiment will be inflamed, brought into politics, and turned into policy, including lethal policy. ( Goldhagen, 73)

  1. “In my culture, every story is told with the purpose of either imparting knowledge, repairing a broken bond, or transforming the listener and the teller.” (from forward by Ismael Beah, Bite of the Mango)

  1. Journalism (reporting and writing) is the first draft of history.

  1. “Thou shall not stand idly by the shedding of the blood of thy fellow man.” Leviticus 19:16

  1. "A memoir is not what happens, but the person to whom things happen." (Virginia Woolf)

Discussion topics (you may choose from these)

  • Ethnic Cleansing
  • Prompt or Delayed Intervention
  • Dehumanization
  • Conformity
  • Resilience
  • Choice and decision making is not a luxury for the masses
  • International law under the Geneva Conventions and the Declaration of Human Rights are in violation when governments and regimes continue to ignore the rules that govern warfare.

Reference Sheet
Types of factors contributing to escalation of conflict, mass murder or genocide.

Structural or Systemic Factors
This is related to State Weakness

  • Poverty
  • High population growth
  • Economic Deprivation
  • Political Injustice
  • Resource Scarcity
  • Discrimination
  • Disempowerment of minorities
  • Military threats / internal security threats
  • Ethnic group imbalance
  • Three factors were most strongly associated with failed states and civil wars and crisis – a nation’s infant mortality rate, the extent of a nation’s trade, and extent of democracy

Proximate Factors
This often results from deliberate decisions by determined leaders to make violent responses to contentious issues.

  • Poor leadership exploits insecurity
  • Charismatic leadership
  • Vulnerability of certain groups
  • Leaders not interested in making concessions
  • Government policies
  • Economic reform programs
  • External military aid
  • Arms flows increase
  • Differential treatment occurs for ethnic or other groups / scapegoats are sought
  • Politically active communities are increasingly polarized

Triggering Factors
Immediate and direct causes

  • Found in actions and events
  • Oppressed groups prompt a rebellion
  • Sudden leadership extremism
  • New regime enacts new discriminatory policies such as abuses of human rights
  • Political leaders call openly to overthrow the government or expel certain groups