Dr. Irujo taught the workshop “Genocide Studies: An Introduction to the Holocaust” at BSU on April 2 and 3, Saturday and Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm. 49 students were enrolled.
This course offered students an introduction to genocide studies and the Holocaust offers an excellent case study. The workshop provided students with a global view of how terror has been generated and how it has been managed with political aims in the twentieth century in Europe and other parts in the world.
Dr. Irujo focused on the study of the theoretical and technical development of tools and strategies to generate and manage terror during the twentieth century, with special attention to the Holocaust. The analysis of the atrocities perpetrated by the German regime from 1933 to 1939 and, after that, in the occupied territories between 1939 and 1945 in the light of international law gave the opportunity to students to discuss and understand concepts such as atrocity, crime, aggression, terror, and genocide.
By the end of this course successful students will be able to demonstrate knowledge on the Holocaust (causes, development, denial, and recognition); discuss the interaction of psychological, sociological, and cultural factors that cause genocide; articulate characteristics unique to the Holocaust in the context of genocide in the 20th century and discuss major historical, legal, and political problems regarding genocide.
The United States constitution does not clearly stipulate the official language of the country, although English is the most spoken language in governmental, educational, and business circles. Maybe the reason for this is because the founding fathers of this nation tried to preserve the values of diversity rooted in early American society by eliminating any official language clause from the constitution. Being the land of the free and the home of the brave, freedom to choose what language you like to speak is unquestionable. However, there are growing concerns among the established English-speaking elites of this country that the expanding immigrant population in America will soon affect what is understood to be the common language in the United States. It is possible that, several decades from now, Spanish will be the major spoken language in America (with the Hispanic population growing so fast). Will this language shift eradicate the established culture in America? Or is it just a part of the phobia of a handful of Americans, derived from a centuries old racism and white supremacy ideas?
One of the Super Bowl commercials last year resulted in controversial reactions among conservative Americans. In the commercial, several American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds sing “America the Beautiful” in many different languages. The subliminal message within the commercial is aimed at provoking the audience’s perspective regarding pluralism in America, which can be manifested in multilingualism and a multicultural tradition. The commercial depicts an ideal interpretation of American society in which people live hand-in-hand in diversity. Yet this has not been the reality, as racial discrimination has been a part of the American History since the inception of the nation. Slavery existed in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, nativism is a growing political perspective in the America. Nativist worldviews demand a favored status for the established inhabitants of a nation and, hence, a lower political or legal status for certain group or ethnicities. One of the items on the political agenda of nativism is maintaining the spirit of mass nationalism, including promoting the use of a national language. Nevertheless, over-enforcement of a national language can potentially lead to language repression and cultural genocide, a centuries old primordial tyranny that has resulted in to the extinction of ancient language and cultures.
The book Language and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, includes case studies that amplify the loss of the linguistic and cultural richness of Basques, Native-Americans, and French-Canadians. Irujo and Miglio maintain that the lack of political, cultural, and legal support has contributed to linguistic and cultural degradation. Woven throughout the book is a belief in the power of discourse and research to protect and even enhance linguistic diversity. Nevertheless, language preservation is only possible if there is an adequate acceptance of cultural diversity and multilingualism as positive outcomes for the whole nationwide population, not just for a minority. It is also recommended that the concept of a monolingual, monocultural nation-state must be abandoned and instead, the concept of a multicultural state should be adopted. Nevertheless, how a multicultural state can be maintained remains open to question. The fact that there has been significant resistance from some American citizens to embrace the multicultural idea shows that the struggle against cultural genocide is an ongoing fight.
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