Researcher discusses massacre of indigenous peoples at Cape Town conference

February 14, 2013 | Research, UToday, Honors
By Casey Cheap

Genocide and massacres of a region’s indigenous peoples were the focus of a recent conference in Cape Town, South Africa, that included representation from The University of Toledo.

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann posed for a photo in South Africa with the city of Cape Town in the distance.

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann posed for a photo in South Africa with the city of Cape Town in the distance.

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann, assistant professor in UT’s Jesup Scott Honors College, spent some time over winter break at the conference.

Titled “Violence and Honour in Settler Societies,” the conference focused on massacres perpetrated by colonial societies worldwide. Although the main conference occurred in early December, Mann’s extended stay was due to the fact that she was a part of an international group presenting on the subject of such massacres.

Mann’s group exists to examine colonial massacres perpetrated against indigenous peoples by European explorers in North America, Tasmania, South Africa and Eastern Europe from 1780 to 1820. She is working with Dr. Philip Dwyer and Dr. Lyndall Ryan, both professors in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle in Australia, and Dr. Nigel Penn, professor of historical studies at the University of Cape Town.

Mann focused on North America, while Ryan’s research covered Tasmania, Penn looked at South Africa, and Dwyer examined Eastern Europe.

“We have, so far, prepared a dedicated issue of the international Journal of Genocide Research to come out this spring,” Mann said. “For that journal, I wrote ‘Fractal Massacres in the Old Northwest: Destruction of the Miami Peoples,’ which looks closely at the methodology of the destruction of the Miami peoples of Indiana from 1788 to 1791.”

Noted scholars with international reputations for researching and publishing in their respective disciplines, Mann and her colleagues are working together to see what overarching patterns they can find in the way massacres are perpetrated and rationalized. They are planning one collective work to be published in 2014 or 2015 in which each member of the group is writing three or four chapters.

Mann’s chapters for the book will cover the destruction of 4,800 Native American Creek “Red Sticks” during the Creek War of 1813-1814. Ryan’s chapters of the book will include the massacres of the Tasmanian people; Penn will focus on the massacre of the Khoi, San and Khosa people of South Africa; and Dwyer will look at the massacre of Eastern Europeans under Napoleon’s invasion of Poland, Russia and eastern European countries.

Mann said that a part of the project has so far included going to the locations of each of the international scholars involved. The group traveled to the University of Newcastle in 2009 and to The University of Toledo in 2011. The most recent meeting congregated at the University of Cape Town.

“We still do not know where we will meet in 2013 to pull together our work in the continuous flow of a book,” Mann said. “We may well go back to Australia, as being very close to Tasmania, or to Eastern Europe.”

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