Clark, Worcester State to Host ‘Manufacturing Denial’ Conference

WORCESTER, Mass.—From Oct. 24-25, a conference on “Manufacturing Denial and the Assault on Scholarship and Truth” will take place at Worcester State University and Clark University in Worcester. The conference is co-sponsored and organized by the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University; the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marion Mugar Chair at the Strassler Center; the Armenian Genocide Program at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University; the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR); and Worcester State University (Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity, and other departments and offices).

The poster of the conference
The poster of the conference

The academic conference represents the first time that social scientists and natural scientists will meet to analyze the analogous and interrelated, though not always identical, phenomena of genocide denial—of the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust, Rwandan, and other cases—and the denial of scientific truth—from evolution to climate change.

Since the 1980’s, genocide denial, particularly of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, has generated a substantial body of literature analyzing and documenting the methods and rhetoric of those who seek to negate or obscure documented cases of mass violence. More recently, an impressive amount of literature has explored the ways in which various industries and political operatives have used the strategy of “manufacturing doubt” to undermine the scientific consensus on smoking, pollution, evolution, and global warming. Nonetheless, the corruption and co-opting of scholarship for the purposes of fomenting denial continues.

The conference will open at Worcester State University’s Ghosh Auditorium on Fri., Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., with a keynote address by Prof. Brendan J. Nyhan, professor in the department of government at Dartmouth College, titled, “The Challenge of Denial: Why People Refuse to Accept Unwelcome Facts,” and a response by Prof. Henry Theriault, chairman of the department of philosophy at Worcester State University. Khatchig Mouradian, Ph.D. candidate at Clark’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and coordinator of the Armenian Genocide Program at the CGHR at Rutgers, will offer welcoming remarks. This event is open to the general public.

On Sat., Oct. 25, beginning at 8:30 a.m., there will be four two-hour sessions held at Clark University. These sessions are primarily for conference participants, but a limited number of seats are available to the public by reservation only.

Session 1, “Modern Strategies and Rhetoric of Denial,” will be chaired by Dr. Lou Ann Matossian (independent scholar) and will include presentations by Marc A. Mamigonian (NAASR), Sara Brown (Clark University), and Shawn Olson (Utah State University).

Session 2, chaired by Dr. Taner Akcam (Clark University), will examine “The Political Uses of Denial.” Participating in the session will be Dr. Jennifer Dixon (Villanova University), Dr. Alex Hinton (Rutgers University), and Dr. Mark Gottleib (Northeastern University).

Session 3 will take up the question, “Countering Denial: How and When?”, with Dr. Dikran Kaligian (Worcester State University) as chairman. The panelists will be Dr. Keith Watenpaugh (University of California, Davis), Dr. Ken Maclean (Clark University), and Emma Bloomfield (University of Southern California).

The conference will conclude with a summing-up panel featuring Dr. Debórah Dwork (Clark University), Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian (University of California, Los Angeles), and Dr. Massimo Pigliucci (City University of New York-Lehman College), followed by an open discussion.

For more information, contact Sarah Cushman, the academic program liaison officer at the Strassler Center, by calling (508) 793-7764 or e-mailing


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