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In following the policy of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this event has been cancelled due to recent measures being implemented to prevent the further spreading of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Event details of [CANCELLED] Who is ‘the perpetrator’?
Date 19 March 2020
Time 18:00 -21:00

The UvA (and by extension AUC) is following the measures and recommendations of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD). Based on these recommendations, the UvA has implemented a number of policies in order to better protect the health and safety of students and staff. Among these policies is that all events at the University of Amsterdam (and therefore AUC) have been cancelled until at least 6 April. 

AUC is a joint programme of VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam. In the case of additional measures related to the new Coronavirus, AUC will operationally function under the UvA. For more information about how these new measures may impact teaching, events or other procedures at AUC, please visit


This second seminar in the "Making sense of mass violence" series will focus on the perpetrator. Is the perpetrator a common man? A specialist in the use of violence? A fanatic? A man with a psychological predisposition to violence? A soldier committed to its country? What is the role of the youth (indoctrination, idealism, lack of knowledge of real-life?) What is the role of ideology (e.g. (ethnic) nationalism, white supremacy)? What is the role of agency? Why do people willingly decide to join the SS, militias, paramilitaries or the Sonderkommanado instead of the regular army?

What is the role of the political/mediatic discourse of the time? What is the role of peer pressure? What role do the potential perpetrators’ feelings of “injustice” and “undeservedness” of the target group’s access to certain valued resources play in their willingness to participate in violence towards this group? What is the role of feelings such as civic duty, need to belong, need for certainty in uncertain times, as well as shame, resentment and rage? How should we account for the often genuine sense of anger and indignation towards (potential) victims that is reported by some perpetrators?

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Abram de Swaan is an essayist, sociologist and professor emeritus at the University of Amsterdam. In 1996, he became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most important recent book is The Killing Compartments: The Mentality of Mass Murder (Yale University Press, 2015). His full bio can be found at 
Location: Room 1.02
Amsterdam University College
Science Park 113
Amsterdam 1098XG
Convenors: Dr. Erica Pasini & Dr. Maxim Kupovykh