Home Social Justice STAND spreads genocide awareness through bone-making

STAND spreads genocide awareness through bone-making

7 min read

Ongoing conflicts around the world urged the Ohio University chapter of STAND Against Genocide to meet for the second time this school year Tuesday, in support of the worldwide One-Million Bones project.

STAND’s goal is to educate individuals on world conflict, provide tools to activists and create genocide awareness. One-Million Bones is a project specifically aimed to raise money to help rebuild Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. While doing this, participants are also raising awareness for genocide and taking action upon it.

STAND invited Bruce Hoffman, a professor in the Sociology and Anthropology department at OU, to speak to volunteers making bones out of clay about the importance of their actions. Hoffman teaches courses related to criminological theory, law and society, science studies, social theory and sociology.

Hoffman commenced his presentation with an interactive discussion with participants of what bones symbolize and why they are being used to raise awareness.

“Bones are a universal object, everyone has them. We are united by bones and it forms a common humanity. Bones are thought of as a core of the human body. If you can see bones, you know something went wrong,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman explained mass graves and their purpose to cover up evidence and make it difficult for identification to be made, as well as the importance of DNA technology to survivors and family members of victims of atrocity.

“For surviving family members, having someone who is missing leaves families living in a suspended state, where they cannot move on and therefore prolongs the genocide process. DNA technology provides survivors the right to know about their family members. This helps bring closure to loved ones,” Hoffman said.

Since the beginning of the school year, the OU chapter of STAND has made around 600 bones and hopes to achieve the goal of 1,000 bones before they are sent to Washington D.C in June.

Ellie Hamrick, officer of media and public relations for STAND, explained how they plan on reaching the 1,000 bones goal. “We will be going to Athens Middle School and having art students there make paper mache bones to support genocide awareness. A STAND representative will be going to the middle school to explain what genocide is and tell students that it is very much present today. Some ceramics courses here at OU have also helped out,” said Hamrick.

Participant Alyssa Gisenfeld, a junior at OU, learned about it through poster advertisements throughout campus.

“It feels good to be able to make a statement in the position that we are in. I plan on making maybe two bones. I saw a poster and decided it would be something fun to do,” said Gisenfeld.

STAND earned the money to make the bones out of clay through a grant accepted from the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network. All of the bones will be on display on College Green sometime in April for one day. The organization is making an event out of it and inviting Asma Abdel-Halim, a professor at the University of Toledo who has conducted research focused on the role of women activists in Sudan, to speak.

“Activist groups try to establish historical accounts, testimonies as being an apolitical way of bringing a country together on a conflict.  [There are] all sorts of ways in which you can think about bones in a post-conflict sort of way,” said Hoffman.

STAND and Hoffman urged that there are a lot of ways to take this beyond making bones and to think about their relationships to mass atrocities.

“You are making graves visible to people,” Hoffman said to the participants. “You are trying to jar the conscious of other people. And bring this to the attention of others. As you make your human bone tonight, think about the human life that represents it. Take time later to learn about some conflict genocide.”


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