Currently viewing the tag: "genocide"

Playing the Genocide Card

On December 18, 2013 By

This piece was originally published by The New York Times on December 18, 2013.

When France decided to send soldiers to the Central African Republic on Nov. 26, it did the right thing for the wrong reason.

France, the United Nations and the African Union dispatched some 4,000 troops soon after the French foreign [...]

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This essay is part two of a series on “The subjects of mass atrocities.” Part one can be found here.

Studying violence under the rubric of genocide offers one contribution above all others: attention to the ways that violence is targeted at and experienced as a group. The term was coined in [...]

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Does it matter if the subject of mass atrocities is named as: an ethnic, national, racial or religious group; civilian; population; perpetrator, victim, bystander or rescuer; or something else? These are some of the “names” that are currently in use in the broad field that works on large-scale, systematic atrocities under a range of rubrics: [...]

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Not everyone will agree with this presentation of the challenges facing the field or how the field of genocide and atrocity prevention should respond to its challenges. However, the strength of a field is not measured solely by its points of consensus, but also the vibrancy of its debates. This paper attempts to outline both areas of consensus in the field and the knowledge base that informs it, as well as areas of contention. To this end, it aims to be provocative in highlighting debates that are already underway in the field of genocide and atrocity prevention. The questions raised in this paper do not lend themselves to easy answers nor necessarily to consensus, and this may not be desirable. Instead, it is a hope that they contribute to the field’s capacity for self-criticism and reflection, while also challenging it to reach out to other fields to share insights and join forces.

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Because of our country’s painful racist past, South Africans tend to see all human rights violations through the prism of white vs black. Learning about the Holocaust, where, in very general terms, whites killed whites and Rwanda where blacks murdered blacks is hugely important.

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The views of victims, perpetrators and bystanders about genocide and how the term itself translates culturally and linguistically in different regions may provide another more place-based understanding of such crimes. Of course, this is unlikely to change whether or how policymakers use ethically loaded terms, but it might help scholars and others interested in helping resolve such conflicts to better interpret the nature of such crimes and the expectations of affected communities.

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