Human Rights in the Postwar World

Project Summary

The aim of this project was to explore how U.S. mass media—particularly newspapers—enlists text and imagery to portray human rights, genocide, and crimes against humanity from World War II until the present. From the Holocaust to Cambodia, from Rwanda to Myanmar, such representation has political consequences. Coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer who fled Hitler’s antisemitism, the term “genocide” was first introduced to the American public in a Washington Post op-ed in 1944. Since its legal codification by the United Nations Convention for the Prevention of Genocide in 1948, the term has circulated, been debated, used to describes events that pre-date it (such as the displacement and genocide of Native People in the Americas), and been shaped by numerous forces—especially the words and images published in newspapers. Alongside the definition of “genocide,” other key concepts, specifically “crimes against humanity,” have attempted to label, and thus name the story, of targeted mass violence. Conversely, the concept of “human rights,” enshrined in the 1948 UN Declaration, seeks to name a presence of rights instead of their absence.

 

During the summer, the team focused their work on evaluating the language used in Western media to represent instances of genocide and how such language varied based on the location and time period of the conflict. In particular, the team’s efforts centered on Rwanda and Bosnia as important case studies, affording them the chance to compare nearly simultaneous reporting on two well-known genocides. The language used by reporters in these two cases showed distinct polarizations of terminology (for instance, while “slaughter” was much more common than “murder” in discussions of the Rwanda genocide, the inverse was true for Bosnia).

 

Click here to read the Executive Summary

 

Faculty Leads: Nora Nunn, Astrid Giugni

Themes and Categories
Year
2019
Contact
Paul Bendich
Mathematics
bendich@math.duke.edu

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Stress proliferation is a concept within the stress process paradigm that explains how one person’s stressors can influence others (Thoits 2010). Combining this with the life course principle of linked lives explains that because people are embedded in social networks, stress not only can impact the individual but can also proliferate to people close to them (Elder Jr, Shanahan and Jennings 2015). For example, one spouse’s chronic health condition may lead to stress-provoking strain in the marital relationship, eventually spilling over to affect the other spouse’s mental health. Additionally, because partners share an environment, experiences, and resources (e.g., money and information), as well as exert social control over each other, they can monitor and influence each other’s health and health behaviors. This often leads to health concordance within couples; in other words, because individuals within the couple influence each other’s health and well-being, their health tends to become more similar or more alike (Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson 2017, Polenick, Renn and Birditt 2018). Thus, a spouse’s current health condition may influence their partner’s future health and spouses may contemporaneously exhibit similar health conditions or behaviors.

However, how spouses influence each other may be patterned by the gender of the spouse with the health condition or exhibiting the health behaviors. Recent evidence suggests that a wife’s health condition may have little influence on her husband’s future health conditions, but that a husband’s health condition will most likely influence his wife’s future health (Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson 2017).

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