Selma Leydesdorff will speak on the results of her interviews with the women who survived the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. She will discuss these women as individuals and as a group, explain why they are today labelled 'difficult' and what such a label means, and will take a closer look at the memory of the trauma of the genocide and the years of the violent siege of Srebrenica.
Professor Leydesdorff received a MA (1972) and Ph.D. (1987) in modern history from the University of Amsterdam. She has served as a member of the Women’s Studies Research Council at the University of Amsterdam (1985-88), a member of the National Science Committee (1985-91), Chair of the National Oral History Association (1986-96), Secretary of the International Oral History Association (1990-96), Secretary of l’Association de Development de l’Approche Biographique (1990-97), and she currently chairs the Commission on the History of Culture of Jews of the Dutch Royal Academy. She is also the principle editor of Memory and Narrative (Transaction Publishers Inc, 2005). She has been a visiting scholar at European University in Florence and at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and has held visiting professorships at Dickinson College, Anton de Kom University in Suriname, Sabanci University in Istanbul, Xiamen University in China, and most recently at New York University. Professor Leydesdorff is currently a fellow at the Remarque Institute at NYU.
Dr. Leydesdorff recounts the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica in which 7,749 Muslims were killed by Bosnian Serb troops as Dutch peacekeeping forces stood by. Leydesdorff asserts that official inquiries ignored voices of the survivors - many of them women who had lost sons and husbands. Today, the survivors continue their campaign to have their stories heard, to find out what happened and why, to uncover information on victims yet to be identified, and to improve their economic conditions. They also believe the Dutch should apologize for failing to prevent the genocide.
Dr. Leydesdorff describes her own research project in which she interviewed women survivors. She conveys the chaos and despair resulting not just from the genocide of men and boys but of the simultaneous rape of women and girls by the Serbian soldiers. She explains why so many survivors have remained silent, and discusses the complexity of relationships between neighbors who once lived in peaceful coexistence but who now live with memories of betrayal and grief.
Finally, Leydesdorff described ongoing efforts of the group, including monthly marches on Sarajevo and a funeral for hundreds of newly identified victims that was attended by 60,000 people.