‘Institutionalized arbitrariness’: a conversation with Rebecca Tapscott

Dr. Rebecca Tapscott is a visiting fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Politics and International Relations Department. She is also an Ambizione Research Fellow and lecturer at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (IHEID), as well as a Visiting Fellow at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at the London School of Economics. Her research interests include political violence, security, authoritarian regimes; and gender. Her PhD is from the Fletcher School at Tufts University – where she worked with several of us from WPF. I had the great pleasure in Spring 2017 to co-teach my course on mass atrocities with her

In this interview with me, she discusses her new book, Arbitrary States: Social Control and Modern Authoritarianism in Museveni’s Uganda, that was recently by Oxford University Press.

Rebecca Tapscott (left) and Bridget Conley (right). WPF 2021.

Bridget Conley is an Associate Research Professor at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and leads WPF’s research programs on atrocity response and incarceration. She works closely with the Executive Director on project development, fundraising and strategic vision for WPF. Currently, her primary research focus concerns the implications of American mass incarceration for local, national and international policies.

She also leads our program on mass atrocities and was a researcher on the mass starvation program. The author of Memory from the Margins: Ethiopia’s Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum (Palgrave 2019); co-editor of Accountability for Starvation: Testing the Limits of the Law (Oxford University Press, 2021), and editor of How Mass Atrocities End: Studies from Guatemala, Burundi, Indonesia, the Sudans, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Iraq (Cambridge University Press 2016), she has also published on starvation crimes, the 1992 – 1995 war in Bosnia, mass atrocities and genocide, and how museums can engage on human rights issues.

At Fletcher, Prof. Conley teaches ‘Understanding Mass Atrocities’ and ‘Contemporary Critical Theory and International Issues.’ She also teaches undergraduate courses with Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College (TUPIT).

She previously worked as Research Director for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, where she led the Museum’s research and projects on contemporary threats of genocide, where she produced multimedia public outreach materials, formulated positions on contemporary threats of genocide, and curated exhibitions.

She received a PhD in Comparative Literature from Binghamton University in 2001. When she is not in the office, she is happiest with her family or on a mountain summit.

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