Talk by Alex Hinton

The Public Scholar: Transitional Justice Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

In March 2016, Professor Alex Hinton served as an expert witness at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, an international tribunal established to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes committed during the 1975–79 Cambodian genocide. His testimony culminated in a direct exchange with Pol Pot's notorious right-hand man, Nuon Chea, who was engaged in genocide denial. In this talk, Hinton will discuss this experience, which is the focus of his recent book, Anthropological Witness: Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Cornell, 2022), in relationship to his broader research on the transitional justice.

In his public lecture, on Wednesday, February 1st, 2023, Alex Hinton considered questions about the ethical imperatives and epistemological assumptions involved in explanation and the role of the public scholar in addressing issues relating to peace, justice, truth, social repair, and genocide. He asked: Can scholars who serve as expert witnesses effectively contribute to international atrocity crimes tribunals where the focus is on legal guilt as opposed to academic explanation? What does the answer to this question say more generally about academia and the public sphere? And how does this all relate to the peace-related issues of truth, memory, and redress for genocide and atrocity crimes.

Alex Hinton (@AlexLHinton) is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University. He is the author or editor of seventeen books, including, most recently, It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US (NYU, 2021), Anthropological Witness: Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Cornell, 2022), and Perpetrators: Encountering Humanity’s Dark Side (Stanford, 2023). In November, he received the American Anthropological Association’s 2022 Anthropology in the Media Award. Webpage:

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