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Nobel nominee explains psychology behind genocide

24 May 2005

Nobel nominee to explain psychology behind genocide

Nobel peace prize nominee Professor Vamik Volkan will give a public lecture at AUT’s Akoranga campus this week entitled Killing in the name of identity - large group psychology and massive violence.

The lecture will focus on large group identity, a phenomenon that has been known to impact on individuals’ free will and promote extreme forms of behaviour such as violence and even genocide.

Vamik Volkan MD is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and founder of the Center for the Study of the Mind and Human Interaction at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

His lecture will focus on the psychology of political propaganda in the context of the former Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosevic. Drawing from interviews with those who knew him well, he will explain how Milosevic’s internal wars were intertwined with his external conflicts.

The psychology of political propaganda will be discussed as will an explanation of the deeper meaning of the systematic rapes in Bosnia.

AUT’s Division Head of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies Peter Greener says the lecture is a rare opportunity to hear one of the world’s pre-eminent political psychologists share his knowledge.

“Given the current disharmony in the Middle East and the war on terror, Professor Volkan’s insights into large group behaviour and what drives group members to commit atrocities they would otherwise find abhorrent, promises to be compelling indeed.”


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