The Founders

AUP’s newest Center has been established thanks to the vision and generosity of AUP parents, George and Irina Schaeffer, who dreamed of bringing the Visual History Archive of USC Shoah Foundation to France, and providing faculty and students at AUP, as well as researchers the world over, an opportunity to work with these remarkable audio-visual materials. George Schaeffer was the founder, president and CEO of OPI, a world-renowned nail polish company. He and his wife Irina are devoted philanthropists who have, through their family foundation, supported universities, Jewish cultural organizations, music conservatories and hospitals, with special interests in medical research, humanitarian projects, and education. Dr. Stephen D. Smith is Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation. 

The Community at AUP

 
Professor Brian Schiff

Director of the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention 

Professor Schiff works with AUP faculty, students and the broader research community to provide cross-disciplinary scholarship on the contribution of the archives to the possibility of enduring peace and understanding. Read Brian's full bio here

 

Constance Pâris de Bollardière 

Assistant Director of the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention 

As a historian, Constance contributes to the scientific agenda of the Center. She defended her Ph.D. in History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 2017. Her research, entitled “The Everlastingness of our People": An American Jewish Socialist Aid in the Yiddish Diaspora, the Jewish Labor Committee in Postwar France (1944-1948)", focuses on the transnational relation between Yiddish speaking Socialists -mainly Bundists and left wing Zionists- in America and France in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust and deals with social work, displacement and migration of Holocaust survivors, Yiddish culture, identity reconstruction, Holocaust memory, French politics and labor movements during the early Cold War.

Her current research concerns are Holocaust memory in Yiddish and the use of testimonies in historical research on mass violence.

Constance Pâris de Bollardière supervises the viewing and the showcasing of the Visual History Archive at AUP and advises researchers, teachers, students and anyone interested in these video testimonies. Read Constance's full bio here.

 

Ariella Afzal 

Administrator and Communications Coordinator of the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention 

Ariella also supervises the viewing of the Archives at AUP. She completed her MA in Global Communications at AUP in 2020 and has previously worked as a marketing specialist and a digital learning trainer in software and IT companies.

 

Scientific Committee

Jessica Feldman

Professor Feldman joined the Global Communications faculty at AUP in 2018. Before that, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University, after earning a Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University in 2017. Her dissertation considered how advances in the surveillance of cell phone data, decentralized mobile networks, and vocal affective monitoring software are changing the ways in which listening exerts power and frames social and political possibilities. This research was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation to support interdisciplinary research on privacy and democracy across the social sciences and engineering. She is also an artist whose work has been exhibited and performed internationally. She received an MFA from Bard in 2007 and taught media and sound art at Temple University and The New School from 2009-2012. She often collaborates with designers, and combines theory and practice in her teaching and her research. Read Jessica’s full bio here.

Caroline Laurent

Caroline D. Laurent is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies whose interdisciplinary research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century French and Francophone literatures and cultures, with special emphasis on Metropolitan France, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. Professor Laurent notably specializes in comparative genocide studies in relation to literature and art. Her book manuscript, The Words of Others: Remembering and Writing Genocide as an Indirect Witness, examines literary and graphic representations of genocidal violence (the Holocaust, the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the Khmers rouges’ violence and genocide in Cambodia). She is particularly interested in the perspectives of indirect witnesses and in issues related to transgenerational transmission of trauma. She has published several articles on these questions in Nouvelles études francophones, French Cultural Studies, and Journal of Graphic Novels and ComicsRead Caroline’s full bio here.

Miranda Spieler, AUP Faculty Fellow

Miranda Spieler is an historian of the French colonial empire whose work focuses on the relationship between law and violence. She is the author of Empire and Underworld (Harvard, 2012), which was awarded the George L. Mosse Prize and the J. Russell Major Prize from the American Historical Association in 2013. As Faculty Fellow, she is researching the prosecution of masters for atrocities in nineteenth-century French colonies with a focus on the problem of slave testimony. She is also completing a book project entitled Slaves in Paris: Scenes from an Imperial Capital, which examines the history of slaves in France during the long eighteenth century. 

She spent the academic year 2017-2018 as an external fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center working on her book, Slaves in Paris, which is under contract with Harvard University Press. Read Miranda’s full bio here.