What can we learn from perpetrators?

In this new podcast our partners from Asymmetrical Haircuts invite Kjell Anderson, one of the world’s rare ‘perpetrator experts’ and author of "Perpetrating Genocide: A Criminological Account". He talks with Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg about the Ongwen trial, the Rwandan genocide and the former Yugoslavia’s experiences. Stressing that "the conflicting perspective is actually the correct perspective" and that "a lot of perpetrators' stories reflect all the complexities that people have", this professor at the University of Manitoba (Canada) this week pushes our reflection beyond the normal boundaries.

What can we learn from perpetrators?
Dominic Ongwen, the ICC’s Poster and Problem Child, one of the most emblematic exemple of the impossibility of thinking about individual responsibility in a simple and narrow way.
1 min 31Approximate reading time

To listen to the podcast, click on the "play" button below:

Kjell Anderson
Kjell Anderson © Asymmetrical Haircuts

Just before the Netherland’s intelligent lock down Janet sat down with Kjell Anderson, with Stephanie calling in remotely, to talk about perpetrators and genocide and the myths that surround them both.

Kjell was in town to follow the closing arguments in the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen which is ongoing at the International Criminal Court. Ongwen is a interesting case because he is a former child soldier who made it to the top of the militia that took him as a child and in turn , according to prosecutors, became a perpetrator.

As someone who has interviewed many perpetrators we also asked Kjell about his experiences and what commonalities he saw. Stephanie of course had to bring up that Jessica Stern‘s controversial New York Times article about her book of interviews with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic which set Balkan twitter alight.

We also spoke about Kjell’s book, Perpetrating Genocide, and how genocides and other acts of mass violence are both organised and spontaneous.

His recommendations include the New York Times podcast Califate by Rukimini Callimachi who reports on Islamic State and Joshua Oppenheimer’s stunning films The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence which both take an unusual look at Indonesia’s brutal anti-communist purge in the 1960s.

For books he praises the work of two researchers on Rwanda who really deepened the research into the 1994 genocide there : Lee Anne Fujii and Omar MacDoom.

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.