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Through a Lens Darkly

Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

Edited By John J. Michalczyk and SJ Raymond G. Helmick

While the ashes of the Holocaust were still fresh, Polish Jewish attorney Raphael Lemkin put a name to the tragedy that had decimated his family – genocide. The twentieth century was brutally scarred by the massive scale of genocide and its manifest forms of ethnic cleansing, massacres, and atrocities. We ask how these horrors can be visually translated to the screen while both maintaining their authenticity and serving as commercial «entertainment». Through an analysis of a series of poignant films on the plight of the Native Americans, the controversial Armenian genocide, the Holocaust and its legacy, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the Hutu-sponsored massacres in Rwanda, the reader can grasp the driving mechanisms of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The oft-repeated, «Never again» rings hollow to our ears in the wake of these tragedies in a post-Holocaust era. The films discussed here, both features and documentaries, are set in an historical context that sheds light on the dark side of humanity and are then discussed with the hope of better understanding our frailty. In the end, however, we ask can the «unrepresentable» ever be represented?
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Making Sense of Sudan’s Conflicts: Nada Mustafa Ali

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Nada Mustafa Ali

Until July 2011, Sudan was the largest country in Africa. Currently with an area of 1,861,484 square kilometers; the country continues to be home to multiple conflicts as well as political and economic crises. The UN estimates that during the first quarter of 2012, 4.2 million of the country’s population of just over 30 million were facing food insecurity, including famine. The country is home to one of the largest internally displaced populations (IDPs) worldwide. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that there were 1,900,000 displaced by the Darfur conflict, 60,000 displaced by the conflict in the Blue Nile State, and 20,000 displaced by the conflict in South Kordofan States. Moreover, in May 2011, about 110,000 were displaced from Abyei1 when Sudan’s army controlled the area following clashes between the Army and units of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The majority of the IDPs are women and young children.

Increasing numbers of Sudanese have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including about 103,000 refugees in newly independent South Sudan.2 Numerous humanitarian and human rights organizations have reported bombings and killings of civilians, burning of villages, and gender-based violence, including sexual violence against women and girls. These reports reveal that in Sudan, history repeats itself.

Sudan’s conflicts are often represented as taking place between “Arabs and Muslims” on one hand and “Africans, Blacks, Christians or animists” on the other....

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