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Judicializing history: Mass crimes trials and the historian as expert witness in West Germany, Cambodia, and Bangladesh

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by Rebecca Gidley, Mathew TurnerMathew Turner
Henry Rousso warned that the engagement of historians as expert witnesses in trials, particularly highly politicized proceedings of mass crimes, risks a judicialization of history. This article tests Rousso’s argument through analysis of three quite different case studies: the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial; the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; and the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh. It argues that Rousso’s objections misrepresent the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, while failing to account for the engagement of historical expertise in mass atrocity trials beyond Europe. Paradoxically, Rousso’s criticisms are less suited to the European context that represents his purview, and apply more readily to the highly-politicized crimes tribunals outside the continent. Finally, it contends that the importance of the proceedings themselves should be measured in full against the hypothetically corrupting effects of historians’ engagement as experts in court.

History

Journal

Genocide Studies and Prevention

Volume

12

Pagination

52-67

Location

Tampa, Fl.

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1911-0359

eISSN

1911-9933

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Genocide Studies and Prevention

Issue

3

Publisher

University of South Florida Libraries

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