Second year Liberal Arts student Nikki Dutro won the Undergraduate Student Paper Award at the Hawai‘i Sociological Association (HSA) Annual Meeting held on February 14, 2015. Her paper, titled, “Silence and Social Constructionism: The Socialization of the Holocaust” was also presented at a session at the conference. Nikki presented at the HSA last year, but this was the first time she submitted to the award.
“I selected my topic because I was inspired by the film Schindler’s List. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was just on January 27th, so there was this opportunity for resurgence of the conversation about the Holocaust. It’s extremely important to have discourse about the Holocaust as more than just facts, which is why I wanted to view it through a sociological lens,” shares Dutro.
She continues, “It was interesting to be involved in this very controversial debate about moral culpability with regards to how civilians, both Jewish and German, reacted to the events and were involved in this systematic extermination. I really wanted to research and get as close to understanding the social environment in these Nazi-occupied countries, and how the various social institutions worked together to create a sort of noxious atmosphere, morally.”
Dutro learned a lot in the process of researching her paper, and how it impacts views of the Holocaust in today’s society. “In conversation about the Holocaust, we focus on “never again” and the moral commitment we have to ensuring events can’t escalate like that again. Unfortunately, we neglect the sort of environments we foster in the process, such that anti-Semitism, according to data from the Guardian, is actually on the rise with reports of such incidences doubling last year. “
“I thought it was, therefore, very important to bring this conversation into the spotlight and emphasize that whilst we can say “Never again,” it’s actions that speak the loudest. We have a moral commitment to never allowing such an event to happen again because people did allow those events to unfold, because they turned a blind eye or deaf ear.”
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Fumiko Takasugi describes Dutro as being compassionate, analytical and disciplined. “She is one of the brightest students to come through my classes. Her work is always exceptional. It is clear to me that Nikki is very intelligent, but what struck me the most in this Hawai‘i Sociological Association presentation of her paper was her compassion and her willingness to speak out on issues of social justice. She has a good combination of an understanding of the objectivity required in the scientific method, and at the same time, can contribute as an educated individual to the wellbeing of society.”
Dutro is currently applying to transfer to a 4-year university, including UH Mānoa, but also other schools on the mainland. Although she is a humanities/social science major, her long-term goal is to attend Law School.
The mission of the Hawai‘i Sociological Association is to advance scholarly research pertaining to all aspects of social life, to create and maintain cooperative relationships among scholars studying society, especially those who are in Hawai‘i and those who address sociological issues relevant to Hawai‘i society and culture, to encourage scholars of all levels (undergraduate, graduate, professional) to engage in discussion about sociologically relevant topics, and to help mentor the next generation of sociologists.