For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

In following the policy of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this series of events have been postponed until further notice due to recent measures being implemented to prevent the further spreading of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Making sense of mass violence

The UvA (and by extension AUC) is currently 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 1 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

There are plans to reschedule the "Making sense of mass violence" seminar series and the new dates, along with more information, will be announced in due time.


Over the course of March and April 2020, Amsterdam University College will serve as the host venue for a special seminar series titled "Making sense of mass violence" featuring leading Dutch sociologist Professor Abram De Swaan. Through an initial lecture and three follow-up seminars, the series will deal with various facets of mass violence by looking at the themes of the 'perpetrator', the 'victim' and the 'bystander'.

Organised by AUC lecturers Dr. Erica Pasini and Dr. Maxim Kupovykh, Professor Abram de Swaan will lead each of the sessions in order to allow participants to better understand how social groups come into conflict and how such conflict can translate into violence. 

From low-intensity conflict to mass violence

As recently discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, low-intensity violent disorders and social unrest are on the rise across the globe. Most often, social conflicts between groups are the drivers of this low-intensity violence and unrest. While a peaceful resolution of such conflicts can be achieved at times, the escalation into mass violence cannot always be prevented. While rare compared to low-intensity conflict, when it does occur, mass violence is unpredictable and has devastating effects on the victims, the bystanders and the perpetrators.

Understanding the actors and mechanisms in mass violence

In order to design strategies aimed at preventing conflict and addressing the realities of mass violence after a conflict has ended, it is important to thoroughly understand the mechanisms and the actors behind mass violence.

Throughout this seminar series, we will look for answers to the following questions:

  • How do social conflicts become violent?
  • How does generalised violence escalate into mass violence?

In particular, we will focus on dissecting the ways and reasons by which different people become 'perpetrators’, ‘victims’ and ‘bystanders’.

Dates, location, time and event descriptions

Most events listed below will take place in the Common Room of the AUC building (Science Park 113, 1098 XG Amsterdam). Each event page will contain more up-to-date information on the topic. All events will take place in Room 1.02 from 18.00-21.00.

  • 12 March 2020

    • Seminar theme: Social groups in conflict
    • Format: Introductory lecture followed by a debate
    • Event description.
  • 19 March 2020

    • Seminar theme: Who is ‘the perpetrator’? Who becomes a perpetrator and how/ why?
    • Format: Multimedia clips and readings leading to an academic lecture.
    • Event description.
  • 24 March 2020

    • Seminar theme: Who becomes a victim and how?
    • Format: Multimedia clips chosen by Dr. Maxim Kupovykh followed by an academic lecture
    • Event description.
  • 2 April 2020

    • Seminar theme: Who becomes a bystander?
    • Format: Chosen clips and readings followed by an academic lecture
    • Event description.


For any questions related to the lecture series, please send an email to Dr. Erica Pasini.