RESEARCH Timothy Williams


By training Timothy Williams is a comparative political scientist with a focus on violence and conflict. His work is comparative and is rooted in political sociology, but also touches other fields of sociology, social psychology, history and even some anthropology and criminology. His research focuses on:

  • Genocide and mass atrocity
  • Memory of past mass atrocities
  • Transitional Justice
  • Micro-level analysis of actors such as perpetrators, victims, etc.


Methodologically I primarily work with

  • Qualitative research methodologies, primarily also drawing on in-depth interviews in field research
  • Multi-method research (MMR) frameworks
  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)


My regional expertise is primarily located in Southeast Asia, specifically Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand, although I am also very interested in conflict processes in other parts of the world, especially Rwanda and the Balkans. Also the historical cases of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide have received some attention in my work.


The Cultural Heritage of Conflict and Politics of Memory
In an international collaborative project together with colleagues in Germany, Sweden and the UK, this project (funded by the Swedish Research Council) studies post-conflict cultural heritage in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, South Africa and Cyprus. I am focussing on the cases of Cambodia and Rwanda and will be investigating how post-conflict cultural heritage sites and events are used by various actors in the politics of memory.


Victimhood, Transitional Justice and Perceptions of Justice and Reconciliation
In this project “Victimhood after mass violence. How victim participation at the ECCC and other dealing with the past projects effect justice” (funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), I was the principal investigator and am leading a team of researchers and assistants for one year to study how various transitional justice interventions (particularly the hybrid tribunal ECCC) and victim participation in them have influenced civil parties’ and other victims’ perceptions of justice and reconciliation.


The Complexity of Evil – book project
This book project under contract with Rutgers University Press is attempting to answer the question of why people participate in genocide. The book develops a model that identifies various motivations which provide people with an impulse for participating in genocide, and these are then supported by facilitative factors and contextual conditions. Empirically, the book draws on qualitative data analysis of interviews I have conducted in Cambodia.


Fieldwork Experience

Myanmar: Scoping visit to ascertain possibilities for future field research (08/2019)

Rwanda: Participant observation of commemoration events and interviews with perpetrators (04/2019)

Rwanda: Visits of memorials and Interviews with actors in memory politics (07-08/2018)

Cambodia: Interviews with civil parties and other victims of the Khmer Rouge regime (05-06/2018)

Cambodia: Interviews with ICJ and memory experts in Phnom Penh and management of a nation-wide survey of civil parties and other victims (01-03/2018)

Cambodia: Interviews with ICJ and memory experts in Phnom Penh (01/2017)

Armenia: Archive research looking for Turkish soldiers’ diaries (07/2015)

Cambodia: Interviews with 59 former cadres of the Khmer Rouge in 10 provinces (07/2014-01/2015)

Cambodia: Preparatory visit with expert interviews and networking for later field visit (03/2014)

Thailand: Expert interviews on the government policies regarding the Malay insurgency in the South  (09/2011-10/2011)