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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the genocides of conquest and colonization in Latin America, highlighting the shortcomings of conventional definitions of genocide. According to some interpretations of the 1948 UN Convention on genocide, it is possible to have a ‘genocide’ free of death. Actions causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group are legally considered genocide, yet can be interpreted as not necessarily involving mass killing even when the object is the destruction of a group. Likewise, although in a broader intellectual context, deliberate cultural destruction, or ethnocide, and the deliberate elimination of languages, or linguicide, are also often considered genocide. On the other hand, the unintended extinction or near extinction of a people from disease, a literal genocide and what could also be termed ‘collateral genocide’, is not considered genocide according to the UN Convention.

Keywords: Latin America, genocide, 1948 Genocide Convention, mass killing, ethnocide, linguicide

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