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Please join the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia and the Harriman Institute for a book talk with Debra Javeline, author of After Violence: Russia’s Beslan School Massacre and the Peace that Followed, and Russian journalist Elena Milashina. Moderated by Elise Giuliano (Harriman Institute) and Joshua Tucker (Jordan Center).
Starting on September 1, 2004, and ending 53 hours later, Russia experienced its most appalling act of terrorism in history, the seizure of School No. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia. Approximately 1,200 children, parents, and teachers were taken hostage, and over 330 —nearly one of every hundred Beslan residents— were killed, hundreds more seriously wounded, and all severely traumatized. After Violence is the first book to analyze the aftermath of such large-scale violence with evidence from almost all direct victims. It explores the motivations behind individual responses to violence. When does violence fuel greater acceptance of retaliatory violence, and when does violence fuel nonviolent participation in politics? The mass hostage taking was widely predicted to provoke a spiral of retaliatory ethnic violence in the North Caucasus, where the act of terror was embedded in a larger context of ongoing conflict between Ossetians, Ingush, and Chechens. Politicians, journalists, victims, and other local residents asserted that vengeance would come. Instead, the hostage taking triggered unprecedented peaceful political activism on a scale seen nowhere else in Russia. Beslan activists challenged authorities, endured official harassment, and won a historic victory against the Russian state in the European Court of Human Rights. After Violence provides insights into this unexpected but preferable outcome. Using systematic surveys of 1,098 victims (82%) and 2,043 nearby residents, in-depth focus groups, journalistic accounts, investigative reports, NGO reports, and prior scholarly research, After Violence offers novel findings about the influence of anger, prejudice, alienation, efficacy, and other variables on post-violence behavior.
Debra Javeline is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and a fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, Russian and East European Studies Program, and Environmental Change Initiative. Her research interests include mass political behavior, survey research, Russian politics, sustainability, environmental politics, and climate change. She focuses on the decisions of ordinary citizens, whether in response to violence or climate impacts, and she is currently exploring coastal homeowner motivations to take action to reduce their risk from rising seas, hurricanes, and other hazards.
Elena Milashina is an investigative journalist for Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most prominent independent newspaper. Following the killing of her colleague Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, Milashina became the key source of reporting about grave human rights abuses in Chechnya. She investigates and brings to attention accounts of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, torture, persecution of relatives of alleged insurgents, and women’s rights in Chechnya and other republics of Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus. She was the journalist who exposed a major crackdown on gay men in Chechnya in spring 2017. Elena Milashina has investigated the notorious catastrophe on the military submarine Kursk, hostage crises in Moscow (Nord-Ost) and Beslan (2004). She is a recipient of the 2008 Andrey Saharov award, 2009/2010 Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, 2009 Moscow Helsinki Group Award, 2014 International Woman of Courage Award, 2017 Free Media Award, 2018 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, and 2020 Press Freedom/Reporters Without Borders Awards. She has repeatedly received death threats from the Chechen authorities and was attacked in Beslan (2006) and near her home in Moscow’s outskirt Balashikha in April 2012.