War crimes investigations and trials are fundamentally important processes: they legitimise international action against perpetrators; they determine how a post-conflict society is structured; and they inform the development of the international laws of war concerning prevention and intervention. They have been studied from various disciplinary perspectives, each of which has its drawbacks and limitations, as well as its specific points of focus. The subject is so complex that it leads inevitably to the crossing of disciplinary boundaries – from History into Law, from Social Psychology into International Relations – but as yet there is little systematic dialogue between these approaches. In short, numerous disciplines build upon each other’s works, but with little interaction and hence very limited understanding of their respective foundations.
Our research network is specifically intended to address this shortcoming and will, over the course of two conferences, bring together researchers from numerous backgrounds to discuss these issues, focusing on, rather than side-stepping, the crucial points of confluence between disciplines. From these sessions we will produce an edited collection of articles, which aims to showcase different approaches as well as the illuminating potential of collaborative exchange.
Image: Katyń, 1943: Nazi investigators demonstrate their evidence to international observers.