Call for Papers

International Workshop "Colonial Paradigms of Violence: Comparative Analysis of the Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Killing"

Munich, 11-13 November 2020

In recent years, scholars have rediscovered Hannah Arendt’s ‘boomerang thesis’, as well as Raphael Lemkin’s work around his definition of genocide, notably its colonial dimensions. These developments have led to a burgeoning literature on the colonial aspects of the Holocaust, as well as the genocidal nature of European colonialism. This workshop aims to bring together some of the key concepts and themes of recent work and to assess the analytical strengths and weaknesses of the debate. The workshop will address significant questions such as: what was the extent of the relationship between Nazi genocide and colonialism? What were potential ways in which European colonialism could have fed back into Europe throughout World War II? How does the Holocaust relate to the colonial aspects of the Nazi treatment of non-Jewish population groups? Was the Holocaust a divergence or a continuation of previous patterns of violence perpetrated by European powers?

We feel that now is a good time to reflect on both what we have learnt and what we can learn about the Holocaust from the analysis of colonial expansion, exploitation and violence; the current status of the debate on the similarities between the Holocaust and colonial violence and how we best integrate the debate into more general narratives regarding Holocaust history. This topic can significantly contribute to our knowledge of the Holocaust, but also requires former colonial metropoles to confront their own violent imperial pasts.

To this end, we invite paper proposals from Holocaust scholars, genocide scholars and scholars of colonial and imperial history. We would be particularly interested in proposals related, but not limited to:

  • Comparative investigations of methods of population control, violence and murder with colonial dimensions
  • The role and motivations of perpetrators related particularly to colonisation projects
  • The role of the state in invading and occupying regions as part of genocidal and colonial projects
  • Links between settler colonial projects and displacement and murder
  • Comparative victim/indigenous perspectives
  • The use of colonial fantasies, ideologies and discourses for the legitimisation of expansion and the treatment of indigenous populations
  • The problems or limitations of comparative analysis relating to the Holocaust and colonial violence
  • Disparities between approaches to Holocaust education and approaches to education related to colonial/imperial violence

To Apply:
Applicants should send a short biography (max. 200 words), as well as the title and abstract (max. 350 words) of their paper to Katarina Kezeric (kezeric[at] by 31st March 2020.

Invited participants will be notified of their acceptance by the end of April 2020.

Further Information:
Presentations should be no longer than twenty minutes long. The language of the conference is English. The conference will take place in Munich, Germany. Travel and accommodation costs for invited participants will be paid for by the Center for Holocaust Studies.

Dr. Rachel O’Sullivan ( Center for Holocaust Studies, Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ)

Dr. Michelle Gordon ( The Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University


CfP also available as PDF

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