SPEAKERS SYMPOSIUM ‘IDENTIFYING AND COUNTERING HOLOCAUST DISTORTION: LESSONS FOR AND FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA’ 23-26 NOVEMBER 2021

Keynote Speakers

Prof Yehuda Bauer, Professor Emeritus of History and Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem. He is the Honorary Chairman of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. He was the founding editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and served on the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust, published by Yad Vashem in 1990. Bauer is fluent in Czech, Slovak, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, and Polish.  He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1926. His family migrated to Israel in 1939.  After completing high school in Haifa, he attended Cardiff University in Wales on a British scholarship.

Prof Ben Kierman, Whitney Griswold Professor of History; Professor of International & Area Studies, MacMillan Center; Founding Director of the Genocide Studies Program (1994-2015); Chair, Council on Southeast Asia Studies (2010-15). He is the author of ‘Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur’ (2007), which won the 2008 gold medal for the best book in the History category awarded by the Independent Publishers association, and the U.S. German Studies Association’s 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for the best book published in 2007-2008 dealing with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in its broadest context, covering the fields of history, political science, and other social sciences, literature, art, and photography. He is a member of the editorial board of ‘Critical Asian Studies’. 

SPEAKERS AND MODERATORS

(in alphabetical order)

Drawing on two decades of teaching, research, and practice within government, the United Nations and academia, Theresa de Langis, PhD is the Director of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies and Professor in Global Affairs and Humanities at American University of Phnom Penh. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Literature and Gender Studies (2001) with highest distinction, and her teaching specializes in genocide and gender, especially in cross-disciplinary conversation with literature, film and the humanities. Her research focuses on women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict, and she is one of 125 individuals worldwide honored by the Gender Justice Initiative for its Legacy Wall at the International Criminal Court.

Published in a variety of international scholarly journals and anthologies, she is currently writing a book on sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime in Cambodia (1975-1979) based on original oral histories with survivors, now deposited for public access and historical preservation at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Dr Ronan Lee, Irish-Australian Visiting Scholar at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Law and the International State Crime Initiative. From 2022, he will be taking up a Doctoral Prize Fellowship at Loughborough University London. He researches Asian politics, genocide, hate speech and migration. Ronan’s book Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide: Identity, History and Hate Speech was published by Bloomsbury/IB Tauris in February 2021. He was formerly a Queensland State Member of Parliament and served on the front bench as a Parliamentary Secretary in portfolios including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Justice and Youth.

Ronan’s doctoral research involved in-depth interviews with Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in Yangon, in the Bangladesh camps, and among the Rohingya diaspora. Ronan was awarded the 2021 Early Career Emerging Scholar Prize by theInternational Association of Genocide Scholars, and won Deakin University’s 2015 Neil Archbold Memorial Medal for his journal article ‘A Politician, Not an Icon: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Silence on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya’.

Prof Raymond Leos, U.S. native, and a resident of Cambodia, where he has lived and worked for nearly 20 years. He is currently the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the American University of Phnom Penh. Previously he was a lecturer in the International Public Law and International Business Law graduate programs, as well as a lecturer in the International Relations undergraduate program at the Royal University of the Law and Economics (RULE). He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Communications and Media Arts at Pannasastra University of Cambodia and a Senior Advisor to the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Recently, Prof. Leos served as a legal advisor to the Access to Information Technical Working Group (TWG), which worked with the Ministry of Information of the Royal Government of Cambodia in the drafting of Cambodia’s first freedom of information law. He is currently at work on two book projects—one examining the history and the social, political and economic underpinnings of propaganda, and another focusing on Cambodia U.S. relations and the role of the international media during the Indochina War of the 1960s and 1970s.

Dr David M. Malitz, Senior Research Fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo. He obtained a dual master’s degree in Business Administration and Japanese Studies from the Universities of Mannheim and Heidelberg and a doctoral degree in Japanese Studies from Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich. He conducted his doctoral research on the history of Japanese-Thai relations at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies with a JSPS fellowship and at Thammasat and Chulalongkorn Universities in Bangkok. In between he briefly worked in finance in London and Düsseldorf. From January 2015 to July 2021 David held teaching positions in Bangkok, first in Business Administration at Assumption University, since 2017 in Global Studies at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Arts. In Bangkok, David pursued research on Japanese-Thai relations and the modern history of Thailand.

Dr Michał Lubina, Associate Professor at the Jagiellonian University, Poland. He is the author of six books on Myanmar, including A Political Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi: A Hybrid Politician (Routledge, 2020) and The Moral Democracy (2019), translated into Burmese and published in Myanmar just before the coup.

Prof Rafal Pankowski, Professor at the Institute of Sociology of Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. Pankowski received his MA in Political Science from the University of Warsaw. He also studied at the University of Oxford as an undergraduate. Prof Pankowski received his PhD and Habilitation in Sociology of Culture from the University of Warsaw, Institute of Applied Social Sciences. He has published widely on racism, nationalism, populism, xenophobia and other issues including the books Neo-Fascism in Western Europe: A Study in Ideology (Polish Academy of Sciences, 1998), Racism and Popular Culture (Trio, 2006), and The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots (Routledge, 2010). Prof. Pankowski was a visiting professor at the Centre for European Studies of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and at the International Buddhist Studies College of Mahachulalongkonrajavidyalaya University, Ayutthaya, Thailand. He is a cofounder of the NEVER AGAIN Association.
He is also a member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Patporn (Aor) Phoothong, Researcher who is focused on museums and archives of past political violence and ongoing violent conflicts. Her current research is a feasibility study for the establishment of a peace museum connected to the deep south of Thailand. She is a co-founder of the October 1976 Massacre Museum which communicates the 6 October 1976 Massacre at Thammasat University. Aor is also a working team member for the Documentation of October 6, archives on the Thammasat University massacre on October 6, 1976 (https://doct6.com/). In addition, Aor is a team member of the Deep South Thailand Museum and Archives Project. This project aims to use archives and museum as a socio-political space to confront human rights violations, injustice, inequality, and culture of impunity.

Prof Dina Porat, Founding Head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, served as head of the Department of Jewish History, of the Rosenberg School for Jewish Studies, and as incumbent of the Alfred P. Slaner Chair in Antisemitism and Racism,  all in Tel Aviv University. Serves as the Yad Vashem chief historian since 2010. She was awarded prizes for some of her publications including the National Jewish Book Award for her biography of Abba Kovner, published by Stanford UP, and the Bahat prize for her new book on Jewish revenge after World War II.

She was also TAU’s Faculty of Humanities best teacher for 2004, got the Raoul Wallenberg Medal for 2012, is on the 50 leading Israeli scholars the Marker Magazine list of 2013 and on the 50 leading women in Israel list of the Forbes in 2018. She was a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, New York, Venice, and the Hebrew universities.

Foysal Shahriar Ratul, Law student (4th Year) at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has been working as a volunteer Researcher at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Justice (CSGJ), the Liberation War Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh. His academic and research interests are in International Criminal Law, Genocide/Holocaust Denial Laws, Memory Laws and Post-Colonial Approach to Criminal Law.

Sammy Samuels, Managing Director of Myanmar Shalom. Graduate of Yeshiva University in New York City, Sammy Samuels has promoted his country, Myanmar and small Jewish community to all who know him. That’s why some of his friends and colleagues call him
the “Ambassador of Myanmar.” Through Myanmar Shalom, Samuels creates travel programs, products and services that include local communities of all religions and ethnicities to improve the lives of those in the remote areas of Myanmar. In 2017 he was selected as a President Eisenhower Fellow from Myanmar for his work in tourism industry. His goal is to provide a program called “Peace through Tourism,” which involves bringing tourists to areas once affected by conflict in order to revitalize the local community. In addition, as leader of the smallest religious minority in the country – Samuels is dedicated to advancing religious freedom and tolerance. Sammy’s unique role in the Jewish community of Myanmar & his company has been chronicled in articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Jerusalem Post, Travel + Leisure, and other newspapers.

Visal Sorn, Project Officer for the Forum, Civil Peace Service/forumZFD International in Cambodia. She is currently working to detect key people within rural communities and to collect their personal narratives. By critically reflecting on individual and collective stories, people are motivated to share their life histories within and outside their local communities. The goal of the project is to empower people and let their voices be heard to increase multicultural understanding and help prevent prejudice. From 2017 to 2019, Visal volunteered with the United Nations Development Programme to assist with the equitable development of Cambodia. Between 2009 and 2016, Visal worked as a research assistant and translator for Dr Matthew J. Trew, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In this role, Visal organised events with local governments, conducted interviews, and helped with Dr Trew’s ethnographic research. She has also assisted with a year-long statistical analysis of tourist sites in Battambang, Cambodia, and performed archival research. Visal has worked for both national and international organisations in Cambodia and Bangladesh. She advocates for the rights of vulnerable populations, such as women, children, LGBTQI+ communities, and the elderly.

Alina Scheitza, Scientific Coordinator of the Research Center RISK at the Universität der Bundeswehr München in Neubiberg. The RISK Research Center focuses its research on the connection between risk, infrastructure, security, and conflict using a multidisciplinary and multi-method approach. Her dissertation project investigated the processes of dealing with the past after 1989 in Eastern Europe.  She has been studying and majored in political sciences at Silesian University in Katowice, Poland, and at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany. Currently, her research focuses on Transitional Justice, Transformation, and Memory Studies.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland/Nozyk Synagogue, has a long and rich history of involvement in the Jewish communities of both Eastern Europe and Asia. As a student in the 1970’s, Schudrich began his travels to Eastern Europe by leading Jewish groups to those countries and meeting with members of what remained of the Jewish communities there. After receiving smicha (rabbinic ordination) through Yeshiva University, Schudrich served as rabbi of Japan’s Jewish community from 1983-1989. From 1992-1998, he resided in Warsaw, Poland. In June 2000, Rabbi Schudrich returned to Poland as the Rabbi of Warsaw and Lodz, and in December 2004, he was appointed to the position of Chief Rabbi of Poland.https://www.taubephilanthropies.org/node/63

Born in Phnom Penh to parents of Javanese and Cham descents, Sayana Ser grew up listening to her family’s stories of the suffering inflicted on them and other Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. She lost three of her grandparents and many other relatives during the regime. Sayana started working for the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) in 1997 as a volunteer and has compiled an extensive collection of poems, songs, and slogans of the Khmer Rouge. She has also assisted in the production of DC-Cam’s magazine Searching for the truth, which has been distributed to villages around the country. She obtained a master degree from Wageningen University, the Netherlands in 2006. She has worked on museum exhibitions and in history classrooms at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, on performing arts projects with survivor artists and students, on documentary films and radio programmes, on teacher training on the history of Democratic Kampuchea, and on genocide educational tour programmes. She also translated The Diary of Anne Frank into Khmer language.

Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, Holocaust and genocide scholar and educator. Her forthcoming PhD dissertation deals with genocide distortion and identity in Moldova and Eastern Europe. She has extensive experience in the field of memorialisation and dealing with the past both in Europe and Asia. Her recent experience includes work at the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, as well as cooperation with the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and other museums and sites of memory in Europe and Asia. She has also worked with organisations monitoring racism and xenophobia such as the NEVER AGAIN Association. In 2018, she acted as a European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellow at the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Bucharest, Romania and Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr Verita Sriratana, Associate Professor of Literary Studies at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. She is currently Visiting Research Fellow in Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI), Lund University, Sweden, where she researches on the topic of offline and online gender-based violence against female activists in Thailand’s current pro-democracy movement as well as the movement’s feminist and intersectional retaliation against patriarchal epistemic violence. Her publications span modernist literature, gender studies, necropolitics, postcolonialism and Central & Eastern European Studies.

Barbara Thimm, Museum practitioner who has been working as an advisor for the Civil Peace Service (GIZ) at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) since 2015. Barbara studied cultural pedagogy, engaged in civic education and worked in different roles within the memorial sites Buchenwald and Dachau, two major former Nazi concentration camps. In a joint project, professionals from Polish, Austrian and German memorial sites developed a training named ‘Disconcerting Past. Education at Memorial Sites’  which was inspired by the Israeli BEZAVTA democracy concept. In the following years Barbara offered this training in Germany, Belarus, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, which brought her to Phnom Penh. As she believes in memorial site Buchenwald’s motto ‘memory needs knowledge’, her work at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum focuses on supporting preservation of the site and documentation, fact-based research/ exhibitions/ publications, developing the archive, and supporting long-term planning.

Dr Robert Williams, Deputy Director for International Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, on the steering committee of the Global Task Force on Holocaust Distortion, and served for four years as chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. He regularly advises international organizations and governments on antisemitism and Holocaust issues, and is currently overseeing a major initiative that assesses European Holocaust and genocide denial laws. Robert’s research specialties include German history, US and Russian foreign policy, propaganda and disinformation, and contemporary antisemitism. He is currently co-editing a volume for Routledge on the history of antisemitism and preparing a separate monograph on antisemitism
and politics.

Dr Kunnaya Wimooktanon, Director of the Bachelor of Arts in Language and Culture program at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester. His current research focus are technology & social change, and social distinction within Thai society.

Dr Maung Zarni, Research fellow at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM), cofounder of FORSEA, a progressive, activist, and intellectual platform for Southeast Asian activists, and Burmese coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition. He has thirty years of engagement in activism, scholarship, politics, and media. As a cofounder of the Free Burma Coalition in 1995, he was widely recognized as a pioneering activist in the use of the then emerging Internet for human rights activism. An adviser to the Genocide Watch, Zarni served as a member of the Panel of Judges in the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka, and was the initiator of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Myanmar (2017). Zarni blew the whistle on Myanmar’s genocide with a three-year study (with Natalie Brinham) entitled The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya (The Washington International Law Journal (WILJ) in 2014 and a historical study entitled Reworking The Colonial-Era Indian Peril: Myanmar’s State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims (Brown Journal of World Affairs, 2017). His most recent monographs are The Enemy of the State speaks: Irreverent Essays and Interviews (2019) and Essays on Myanmar’s Genocide of Rohingyas (2019). Initially educated at Mandalay University, Burma, Zarni earned his MA in Education from the University of California at Davis (1991) and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with the thesis (1998) on the politics of knowledge and control in Burma under
the military rule.