Southeast Professor Awarded Research Fellowship

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 27, 2007 – Dr. Mitchel Gerber, professor of political science at Southeast Missouri State University, has been awarded The Starkoff Fellowship for the 2006-2007 academic year.

The Starkoff Fellowship is presented by the Fellowship Committee of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since its inception in 1976, the Marcus Center’s Fellowship Program has brought nearly 400 scholars from more than 20 countries to the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to research in their chosen fields of study.

Founded in 1875, the Hebrew Union College is the largest and oldest institution of higher Jewish learning in the western hemisphere. Its library contains more than 500,000 volumes and 6,000 rare manuscripts.

Gerber’s scholarly research project is titled “The Reconstruction of Political Ethics and Political Philosophy Post-Holocaust through a Theory of Moral Agency, Human Rights, and Genocide.” He will conduct his research during a four-week stay at the Marcus Center next summer.

Gerber says his study will focus on disparate interpretations of genocide and human rights by notable Holocaust scholars Raphael Lemkin and Richard Rubenstein , among others. He also plans to study the testimonies of numerous other Holocaust scholars and survivors. In particular, Gerber’s project will enable him to investigate a wide-range of political ethical issues including an identification of the western normative political philosophical principles shredded and debunked by the Holocaust; an articulation of those core normative principles worth salvaging in the context of genocide; the specific processes perpetrated by the Nazis and their accomplices that corrupted the moral agency of victims of the Holocaust; and the horrific, dehumanizing situations framing the ethical ambiguities and paradoxes impacting the moral agency of victims.

He says the fellowship will critically enhance major sections of an interdisciplinary upper-level undergraduate course he teaches on the Holocaust, enable him to write a scholarly paper to be presented at a Holocaust conference, and, in the long-term, subsequently revise for potential publication in a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the Holocaust, genocide studies and human rights.

“In essence, my research project at the American Jewish Archives will investigate the impact of the writings of Lemkin, Rubenstein and various other thinkers in the context of the Holocaust on the discipline of political philosophy post-Holocaust; the suspension, collapse and corruption of moral agency for many Holocaust victims; and a salvaged political philosophy recovered through an examination of the moral agency of Holocaust survivors, examined through videotaped testimonies.”

In pursuit of his objectives, Gerber hopes to be able to articulate the potential for   reconfiguring the discipline of political philosophy so it is capable of critically examining cases of contemporary genocide.