By Diana Freeberg, guest writer. Photo credit: “Anguish” by Krikor Khandjian.
When I was in high school, I remember reading a book called Where the Birds Never Sing. The book, written by Jack Sacco, was based off of the stories of his father, one of many soldiers to participate in the liberation of Dachau in 1945.
When I read this book, I had no concept of the term “genocide,” and I had no knowledge of its modern-day history.
Basically, I didn’t know it was still happening.
At the beginning of this month, I caught a news article circulating around CNN and BBC. The article detailed the newest attack by the group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria. The attack left 65 dead, 136 injured, and many more kidnapped.
In the beginning of January, this same group claimed responsibility for a violent attack that left 2,000 dead.
This group was also responsible for the kidnapping of 276 girls from their dormitory in Chibok in 2014.
The BBC reports that in 2014, fighting associated with Boko Haram resulted in the deaths of 6,347 civilians. The BBC also reports that this number was part of a much larger one – 13,508. That’s the number of civilian deaths due to violent conflict in Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan in 2014.
There’s no social media campaign to change your Facebook photo.
There’s no publicized number to text with a code to donate.
We are not trained military officials, and we are thousands of miles away.
So what can we do?
We can work tirelessly to end global genocide in the only ways we know how:
We can collect. We can dance. We can move. We can sing. We can write. We can speak. And we can listen.
With that in mind, join me at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on March 6th to sit in on a panel that I’m really looking forward to. Below you’ll more find more details on A Response to Genocide: Exploring Collective Memory through Participatory Arts.
Amy Fagin, Panelist
Amy Fagin is a U.S. based visual artist specializing in the traditional art form of manuscript illumination. Her body of work represents a meta-modernist approach to the materials, techniques and theoretical principals used in manuscript illumination for contemporary consideration. She is author of Beyond Genocide; an emerging series of illuminations narrating a visual documentary arts perspective on global incidents of genocide and mass violence. Ms. Fagin is also an independent scholar in genocide studies and conducts research/seminars, lectures, workshops and advisory work on global initiatives of memory and memorialization through individual and collective arts expression and the museum experience. She has contributed expertise in international consultative events such as the African Union Human Rights Memorial Project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the 5th International Symposium on Genocide and the Pursuit of Justice in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ms. Fagin serves on the advisory board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and regularly publishes editorials, reviews and essays on genocide, art and 21st century expression and education.
Pete Pin, Panelist
Pete Pin is a Cambodian American Brooklyn-based photographer and teaching artist. Born in the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp on the border of Cambodia and Thailand following the Cambodian Killing Fields and raised in California, his photography explores themes of memory, generational trauma, and identity in the Cambodian American diaspora community. A High School drop-out, Pin received his BA in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley where he graduated with high honors and was awarded the Outstanding Honors Thesis Award and studied documentary photography at the International Center of Photography. His work has been published and featured in the New York Times, TIME, VICE, Anthro Now, and Creative Time Reports, among others.
Dr. Margaret Polizos Peterson, Panelist
Maggie Peterson is Assistant Clinical Professor in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at The University of Maryland, College Park. She has been the facilitator for The Memory Project, a writing workshop for Holocaust survivors at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since its inception in 2001. A 2000 graduate of The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, her work focuses on the meaning-making processes of writing, the experience of the writer of memoir and the intersections these experiences have with teaching and learning. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two children.
Marisa Beahm Klein, Moderator
Journalist turned marketer, Marisa Beahm Klein champions the arts through engaging content and storytelling. As writer/editor for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Marisa manages editorial creative for campaigns focused on donor cultivation and new audience growth. Marisa worked in a similar capacity for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, where she promoted more than 200 annual performances through print and digital channels. Prior to receiving her master’s degree in Arts Management at American University, Marisa specialized in arts and business coverage as a journalist for publications in Colorado and Hungary, including as the managing editor of Where Budapest magazine.
Diana L. Freeberg is an arts leader in her final semester of the Arts Management master’s program at American University. With a background in theater, public art and social justice, Diana spends most of her days thinking (and writing) about how art can further public healing. Her thesis, Reclaim the Space: How the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is Transforming the Relationship Between Public Art and Sites of Historic Mass Trauma, examines how modern-day sites impacted by mass trauma can be authentically preserved and artistically reclaimed. When not editing her next post for unpackdblog.com, Diana can be found dreaming about Tahitian real estate or hanging out with her amazing wife and three fur children.