Faculty Biography

Robert Melson  

Robert Melson, Ph.D.

Cathy Cohen-Lasry Distinguished Professor
Department of Political Science
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

email: mailto:rmelson@clarku.edu


Robert Melson is the Cathy Cohen-Lasry  Distinguished Professor in the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. He is Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, where he taught political science and was a charter member of the Jewish Studies Program.  In 2003-2005, he was the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS).

He completed his B.S. in Mathematics and Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after graduate work in Anthropology at Yale University, he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT.   

His major area of teaching and research has been ethnic conflict and genocide. His interest in the topic derives from his family's experience in Europe, as well as from his field work in Nigeria in 1964-65, a year before the onset of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war.  The story of his and his family's survival during the Holocaust is told in False Papers, (University of Illinois Press, 2000), which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for 2001.  

Among his other books,  Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust (University of Chicago Press, 1992/6), won the international PIOOM Award in Human Rights for 1993. (PIOOM is a Dutch affiliate of Amnesty International. The acronym in Dutch stands for "Interdisciplinary Program of Research on the Root Causes of Human Rights Violations.")  

He has published (with Howard Wolpe, eds.), Nigeria: Modernization and the Politics of Communalism (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1971) and articles in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and elsewhere.  

Professor Melson has been a Foreign Area Fellow of the Ford Foundation (for research in Nigeria 1964-66), a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Illinois (1969-70), Fellow of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (1983), and a Fellow of  the Center for Humanistic Studies at Purdue University (1987,2001). 

On September 14, 2000 he testified before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights concerning the Armenian Genocide.  

He has held positions as Research Associate at the Harry S. Truman Institute of the Hebrew University, as Research Fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and at the Center for International Studies at MIT.  

He has lectured on problems of ethnic conflict and genocide at universities around the world.