Hollie Nyseth Brehm

Associate Professor of Sociology, The Ohio State University

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About Hollie

Brehm’s research is motivated by the fundamental questions of why and how atrocity crimes occur and who commits them. She also studies the process of transitional justice after atrocities, including how societies rebuild, how international actors respond to the violence, and the lasting effects of mass violence. Brehm co-founded and served as chair of the Board of Directors of a Minneapolis public school that serves refugee students. She is also a quantitative mentor for the Center for Victims of Torture and a core team member of I-Activism, which empowers communities and governments to act on behalf of those affected by genocide and other mass atrocities.


Lessons from Rwanda's Quest for a Just Response to Genocide

  • Christopher Uggen


"The Impact of Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Social Networks on Rwandan Rescue Efforts During Genocide" (with Nicole Fox and John Gasana Gasasira). Genocide Studies and Prevention 15, no. 1 (2021).

Demonstrates that religion is tied to rescue efforts in at least three ways: 1) through the creation of cognitive safety nets that enabled high-risk actions; 2) through religious practices that isolated individuals from the social networks of those committing the violence; and 3) through religious social networks where individuals encountered opportunities and accessed resources to rescue.

"Following Heavenly Orders: Heroic Deviance and the Denial of Responsibility in Narratives of Rescue" (with Nicole Fox and Jamie D. Wise). Deviant Behavior (2021).

Focuses Hutu who did not participate in the genocidal violence in 1994 Rwanda and instead risked their lives to rescue Tutsi. Draws from 45 in-depth interviews, we examine how these deviant heroes invoke religion to narrate their actions. Finds that interviewees often neutralize their acts of rescue by attributing responsibility to God. 

"NGOs, IOs, and the ICC: Diagnosing and Framing Darfur" (with Megan Zacher and Joachim Savelsberg). Sociological Forum 29, no. 1 (2014): 29-51.
Assesses how different nongovernment organizations portray violence in Darfur and how those portrayals are also impacted by International Criminal Court actions.
"Genocide, Justice, and Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts" (with Christopher Uggen and Jean-Damascéne Gasanabo). Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 30, no. 3 (2014): 333-352.
Analyzes the sanctions given by the Rwandan gacaca courts after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
"Environmental Sociology for the 21st Century" (with David Pellow). Annual Review of Sociology 39 (2013): 229-250.
Outlines existing research in environmental sociology and suggests fruitful areas for future research.
"The Crime of Genocide" in Crime and the Punished, edited by Douglas Hartmann and Christopher Uggen (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013), 124-137.
Outlines the causes of genocide.
"Age, Sex, and the Crime of Genocide," (with Christopher Uggen), American Society of Criminology, October 31, 2012.
Compiles the largest database of perpetrators of genocide ever analyzed to assess the age and sex of people who commit genocide.