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War Atrocities, Historical Memory, and Reconciliation in the Asia Pacific: From Nanjing to Abu Ghraib

UC Irvine's Center for Asian Studies And The Department of Sociology host a talk by Mark Selden.

March 25, 2008 12:00pm to 1:30pm

The controversies that continue to swirl around the Nanjing Massacre, the military comfort women, Unit 731 and other Japanese military atrocities rooted in colonialism and the Asia Pacific War are critical not only to understanding the dynamics of war, peace, and terror in the long twentieth century. They are also vital to the prospects for peace and regional accommodation in the Asia Pacific region and to the US Japan relationship. This talk probes a number of high profile war atrocities in an effort to understand the myopia and resistance to recognition and acceptance of their actions on the part of perpetrators. This resistance may be traced above all to nationalism or national pride, but it is also the product of interstate relations. It is not the exclusive property of a single nation. Rather, it is a global phenomenon, albeit one whose consequences are notably acute for certain nations. The issues are examined here with particular attention to Japan and the United States against a back-ground of developments in international law, beginning with atrocities committed during the Asia Pacific War and continuing to the present. What explains the fact that Japanese denial and refusal to provide compensation to victims has long been the subject of sharp domestic and international contention, while the United States has faced relatively little criticism or recrimination for its denial of atrocities?

Selden considers the circumstances under which nations, their leaders and their people, engage or deny war atrocities, and the consequences of the resultant national and international discourses for inter-state, regional and global relations.

Light Lunch Provided - Please RSVP by March 21, 2008 to Sandy Cushman  949 824-3344 or