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PEACEST 4M06A Forensic/Arch. Conflict& Peac

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Nancy Doubleday


Office: University Hall 304

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23464

Office Hours: Mondays 11-12, other times by appointment, in TSH 723

Course Objectives:

Learning Outcomes:

This course will give you opportunities to experience archival research and to learn archival research methods and forensic methods of investigation, as applicable to contemporary and historical cases of harm, crisis, and conflict – such as genocide – with a particular view to how records are used in determinations of fact, culpability, criminal responsibility, and redress. You will learn to recognize examples of administrative miscarriages of justice, corporate fraud, and (re-)assignment of liability. You will be able to recognize the reality of structural inequality and violence as manifest in societies’ formal and informal recordkeeping practises. We will also reconstruct and examine power relations in human conduct by investigating examples of justice and redress in decision-making. This will entail a special focus on methods for negotiating and articulating peace agreements and other documentary foundations of reconciliation and accountability. This work will help you develop tools and frameworks of analysis for scoping, analysing, assessing, and implementing agreements made according to theoretical formulations.

Course Objectives:

1. To explore the following course themes and examples:

•    Archival records – what are records? What do they tell us about the past? How and why are they preserved so they can be used in the future – and how and why are they destroyed?
•    The role of records in obtaining justice – when and how do “records” become “evidence?”
•    Archival silences – who and what is missing from “the record?” What voices and narratives do we privilege in the ways we think about and manage information? What voices do we silence? Can people be “omitted from history?”
•    Indigenous lands, colonial records – how do European concepts of “the record” affect indigenous communities?
•    The Disappeared (Argentina, Guatemala, Bosnia) – how can people be erased from history, and what happens when they are?
•    Contemporary Refugee Claims – how does recordkeeping affect the mobility and livelihood of people caught up in the burgeoning crises of the 21st century?

2. To examine concrete examples of the following components of archival research:

•    Repositories and archival records: archives visits and reports (in pairs)
•    What are good research questions? How do we formulate them?
•    The process of archival creation – how do “documents” become “archives?”
•    Why archival research matters – a matter not simply of competence but of justice.
•    Truth, justice, reconciliation, and uncertainty – best intentions, information asymmetry, and understanding what we do not know as a crucial component for achieving justice.

3. To produce individually, and as a class, archival research products of a high standard using primary sources.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Materials:

Textual, video and audio materials and methods of documenting will be examined. No text is required. Instead, relevant materials will be posted in Avenue 2 Learn, placed on course reserve in Mills Library, and made available in class.


Method of Assessment:


1) Site Visit Reports: (3 x 10%=) 30%

Length 1000 words. Font Times New Roman 12 pt.

You are asked to choose three local archival repositories to visit and to make site reports of each visit. Please keep a record of the location, date, time, admission process and cost (if any). Record the names of the staff responsible for supervising your visit. Use the visit as an opportunity to practice your process of analysis, by scoping and describing their records, and their method of exercising control over documents. Think about potential topics for your capstone proposal and project. Length 2 – 5 pages.

Site Visit Report Due Dates:

1.    The first site report is due November 14.

2.    The second site visit report is due January 16.

3.    The third site visit report is due February 13.

2) Written Account of Observations Made in Real Time:  10%   Due: October 17

Length: between 5 and 10 pages, double-spaced, and typed.

You are expected to observe a public event for at least 2 hours, and produce a written report of between 5 and 10 pages describing your observations.
A list of potential events will be provided in class.

3) Capstone Proposal: 25%         Due on November 28

Each individual will develop a proposal for capstone research project on a topic of interest to be approved by the instructor.

The proposal will be 5 -10 pages and will identify the general topic to be investigated; the sites to be visited, and the documents to be studied, and will provide an estimated budget.

Working in groups of 2, you will take turns reviewing your partner’s work and providing suitable verbal and written comments.

4) Capstone Research Project: 35%        Due on March 16, 2018.

The class will collaborate, in groups of 2, to produce a major project focused on a little understood aspect of a case of local importance, based on a comprehensive review of existing documentation. A detailed assignment description will be given to you in class.

5) Optional at discretion of instructors: Bonus marks may be given, in recognition of spectacular achievements, to a maximum of 5% for the course as a whole.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

There is an expectation that students will attend classes and related activities and that work will proceed in a regular and continuing pattern. Best efforts must be made to meet  the deadlines given.

Penalties may include grade reductions of 2% of the assigned grade per day.

MSAF must be used for absences.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule:

Week & Lead    Date    Topic/Activity    
1 NCD & MG    Sept. 5    Introduction and visit to Mills    Records
2 MG
    Sept. 12    Records and evidence    Preservation/destruction
    Sept. 19    Ancaster Spring    Land Titles, Registry Records
4 NCD    Sept. 26    Indigenous Lands & Evidence – film and discussion    Gold Fever
    Oct. 3    Records and justice    Six Nations
MID-TERM RECESS            
6 MG    Oct. 17    Genocides
    Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, Argentina, Chile,
    Oct. 24    Records and identity
-    Passports to safety
    e.g. Einstein, Nansen, Schindler
8 MG
    Oct. 31    Archives of horror
9 MG    Nov. 7    Contemporary Refugee Claims Documentation
    Preparation for Melissa Fleming on Nov. 8-9
10 NCD & MG    Nov. 14
    Remembrance, Memory and Archives  
11 NCD & MG    Nov. 21
    Capstone Proposal Presentations and Critiques     
12 NCD    Nov. 28
Capstone Proposals due    Environmental Archives
Proxies, Correlations, Causality    John Warner on Dec. 1
13 NCD & MG    
Dec. 5    Capstone Proposals returned