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Contested Visions of Justice: Allied War Crimes Trials in a Global Context, 1943-1958

Boston College - Ireland
42 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, IRL

September 25-27, 2015



Dr. Franziska Seraphim, Boston

Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, Heidelberg
Dr. Wolfgang Form, ICWC Marburg
Dr. Barak Kushner, Cambridge

This conference has largely been funded by the German Historical Institute in Washington and Boston College

Despite important differences in the war aims and conduct of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, war crimes trial policies emerged as globally connected domains of meting out justice that cut across the borders of nations, cultures, and continents. The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to analyze and compare the transnational interconnections among the political, administrative, legal and social mechanisms of Allied transitional justice in the reshaping of the post-World War II world.

Far from a unidirectional imposition of “Western norms” on global conceptions of justice, experiences in Asia turn out to also have shaped legal perceptions in Europe, the United States, and the Soviet Union. The emerging geopolitics of the Cold War met with those of civil wars and decolonization in Asia, with huge implications not only for former colonies but for the European metropoles as well, including the former Axis powers themselves.

This conference is jointly organized by: Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, a historian leading the research group “Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice in East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1946-53” at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in Global Context” at Heidelberg University, Germany; Dr. Wolfgang Form, political scientist and coordinator of the International Center for the Research and Documentation of War Crimes Trials at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany; Dr. Franziska Seraphim, Boston College, a Japanese historian working on the spatial architecture of the Allied war crimes program comparatively; and Dr. Barak Kushner, Cambridge University, a Japanese historian and reader, leading an ERC funded research project on “War Crimes and Empire. The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East-Asia.”

Read the conference report here...


Panel I: International Collaboration in Administering War Crimes Trials

Fri 3pm   Moderator: Franziska Seraphim

The London/Chongqing Hub: UNWCC as Global Coordinating Agency
Narrelle MORRIS, Curtin U. AU

The Southeast Asia Hub: SEAC in Singapor
Robert CRIBB, Australian National U. AU

The Pacific Hub: SCAP” in Tokyo/Shanghai/Manila
Hirofumi HAYASHI, Kanto Gakuin U. JP

Western Europe: From Allied to National Administration
Devin PENDAS, Boston College, US

A Moscow Hub? The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission
Tanja PENTER, Heidelberg U. GER

Keynote Address by William SCHABAS, Middlesex U. London, UK:
London 1941-1944: Conceiving the Permanent International Criminal Court


Panel II: Competing Notions of Criminality in Comparison

Sat 9am    Moderator: Barak Kushner

The Problem of State Crime in Axis Regimes
Wolfgang FORM, Marburg U. GER
Response: Matthias ZACHMANN, U. of Edinburgh, UK

Soviet Justice betw. International & Domestic Law
Franziska EXELER, Free University Berlin / Cambridge University   
Response: Tanja PENTER, Heidelberg U. GER

Comparing National War Crimes Jurisdictions
Discussants: Henning RADTKE, FRG Supreme Court, GER
Wui Ling CHEAH, National U. of Singapore, SIN


Panel III: Cold War and Civil Wars as Contexts for Defining “Justice”

Sat 2pm Moderator: Kerstin von Lingen

German-German Competition in Adjudicating Crimes of War
Annette WEINKE, U. of Jena, GER

Chinese-Chinese Competition in Adjudicating Crimes of War
Barak KUSHNER, Cambridge U. UK

Geopolitics & Justice: United States as Ascending Global Power
Elizabeth BORGWARDT, Washington U. US

Geopolitics & Justice: Soviet Trials as Cold War Missiles
Andreas HILGER, Hamburg U. GER


Panel IV: Post-trial Negotiations for Clemency and Release

Sun 9am     Moderator: Wolfgang Form

Topics of short provocation by the participants followed by a roundtable discussion

Review Boards, Clemency, and Parole
Sandra WILSON, Murdoch U. AU

Reparations and the Economics of Release
Hitoshi NAGAI, Hiroshima Peace Institute, JP

Rearmament and the Politics of Release
Kerstin von LINGEN, Heidelberg U, GER

Prisons and the Social Justice of Release
Franziska SERAPHIM, Boston College, US



Boston College - Ireland
42 St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin, IRL


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