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Heroic Helpers’ examples in post-genocidal reconciliation: evidence from Poland and Turkey

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Abstract:

Reconciliation after genocide faces severe psychological obstacles: tragic history frustrates emotional needs of victimized groups, bystander groups and former perpetrators. Groups that are historically blamed for their active participation in genocide or passive bystandership face substantial threat to their moral image, and collective self-esteem in general. This limits potential reconciliation in post-genocidal areas. The 2012 assassination of an Armenian journalist and attacks on an Armenian woman in Istambul in 2013 are probably the most recent examples of such failed reconciliation.
In order to overcome these problems a new approach is proposed: based on examples of historical heroic helpers. Two studies, conducted in post-genocidal contexts (Poland after the Holocaust and Turkey after the Armenian Genocide), are presented in which the role of heroic helpers in post-genocidal reconciliation is illustrated. It is hypothesized that heroic helpers, who act against the group norms of their own ethnic groups, could become potential ingroup role models and allow restoring a threatened moral image of the ingroup. Study 1 showed that narratives about heroic helpers improved Polish-Jewish relations because it met threatened needs of moral group acknowledgement. Heroic helpers narratives catalyzed positive effects of Polish-Jewish intergroup contact. Study 2 showed that the role of heroic helpers cannot be merely explained by priming positive intergroup behavior. The study showed that just by presenting narratives about historical Turkish heroic helpers, it was possible to significantly improve Turkish attitudes toward Armenians by reducing social distance toward historical victims.
These results are discussed in the context of the needs-based model of reconciliation and a collective affirmation approach. At the same time we discuss the most important limitations of this approach for post-genocidal reconciliation – most notably its potential of becoming an alibi for harmdoing.
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Name: ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting
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http://ispp.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p658230_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Bilewicz, Michal. and Gawinkowska, Marta. "Heroic Helpers’ examples in post-genocidal reconciliation: evidence from Poland and Turkey" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC–Herzliya, Herzliya, Israel, <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p658230_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bilewicz, M. and Gawinkowska, M. "Heroic Helpers’ examples in post-genocidal reconciliation: evidence from Poland and Turkey" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC–Herzliya, Herzliya, Israel <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p658230_index.html

Publication Type: Paper (prepared oral presentation)
Abstract: Reconciliation after genocide faces severe psychological obstacles: tragic history frustrates emotional needs of victimized groups, bystander groups and former perpetrators. Groups that are historically blamed for their active participation in genocide or passive bystandership face substantial threat to their moral image, and collective self-esteem in general. This limits potential reconciliation in post-genocidal areas. The 2012 assassination of an Armenian journalist and attacks on an Armenian woman in Istambul in 2013 are probably the most recent examples of such failed reconciliation.
In order to overcome these problems a new approach is proposed: based on examples of historical heroic helpers. Two studies, conducted in post-genocidal contexts (Poland after the Holocaust and Turkey after the Armenian Genocide), are presented in which the role of heroic helpers in post-genocidal reconciliation is illustrated. It is hypothesized that heroic helpers, who act against the group norms of their own ethnic groups, could become potential ingroup role models and allow restoring a threatened moral image of the ingroup. Study 1 showed that narratives about heroic helpers improved Polish-Jewish relations because it met threatened needs of moral group acknowledgement. Heroic helpers narratives catalyzed positive effects of Polish-Jewish intergroup contact. Study 2 showed that the role of heroic helpers cannot be merely explained by priming positive intergroup behavior. The study showed that just by presenting narratives about historical Turkish heroic helpers, it was possible to significantly improve Turkish attitudes toward Armenians by reducing social distance toward historical victims.
These results are discussed in the context of the needs-based model of reconciliation and a collective affirmation approach. At the same time we discuss the most important limitations of this approach for post-genocidal reconciliation – most notably its potential of becoming an alibi for harmdoing.


Similar Titles:
Personal and Political Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Personal and Political Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda

?The Truth Heals? - ? Gacaca Tribunals, Reconciliation and Social Reconstruction in Post-Genocide Rwanda


 
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