Kevin Lewis O'Neill
This article explores the relationship between anthropology and genocide. Anthropology is the study of culture — the attitudes, behaviours, and practices that constitute a given community. The anthropology of genocide lends analytical clarity and empirical rigour to a range of issues, including truth, memory, and representation in post-genocidal spaces. Anthropology's growing interest in genocide has a number of roots, including a continued interest in both modernity and globalization as well as violence and terror; a shift from small village studies to research that examine the state-level dynamics in situations of upheaval, flux, and violence; and a greater commitment to reflexivity, historicity, and engaged anthropology. The formation of anthropological questions relating to genocide studies builds from several other intellectual developments such as critical assessments of ethnography, nationalism, violence, and refugees, but nonetheless continues to extend far beyond these issues in rather creative and thought-provoking ways.
Holocaust survivor and witness accounts began long before the Second World War ended. Diaries, journals, letters, notes hidden, buried, and stuffed into jars or between floor boards were mostly lost and destroyed, but those that have been recovered express desperation to tell, to document, to bear witness, and to commemorate. This article records the oral history of holocaust survivors. Together with the countless thousands of testimonies that would be recorded during the next sixty years, these eyewitness accounts would change the face of research and education, not only in the field of Holocaust studies but across academic boundaries. Together with the countless thousands of testimonies that would be recorded during the next sixty years, these eyewitness accounts would change the face of research and education, not only in the field of Holocaust studies but across academic boundaries. The second half of the twentieth century saw a renewed interest in holocaust narratives.
This article examines genocide in the Central and late Medieval Europe. The existence of peoples in Europe in the central and later Middle Ages reflected the facts of power: for contemporaries, ethnic communities were axiomatically political ones. Where the interactions of different peoples were most intensive, stress-laden, and ideologically and politically charged, acts of ethnic destruction were anticipated, and in some quarters sought most keenly. Outright ethnic destruction was most likely to occur where political subjugation was reinforced by fundamental religious difference. Pagans, Muslims, and Jews, but also, in an age of sharpened conceptions of religious orthodoxy, adherents of false forms of Christianity, were singled out for extreme solutions. For the rest, the history of this long period is partly one of how, through more intensive and precisely defined interactions, different imagined ethnic groups evolved forms of coexistence and mutual accommodation.
Nicholas A. Robins
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.
James E. Fraser
This article examines the concept of genocide in early Medieval Europe, looking at Britain and Ireland. Scholars have good reason to baulk at the application of a term like genocide, with all its twentieth-century moral and legal baggage, to early medieval episodes of violence, depopulation, and displacement which would otherwise seem to meet the criteria for genocide enumerated in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Preamble ‘that at all periods of history, genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity’. This article suggests that Britain and Ireland are not excluded from such an assertion in that period. The evidence shows that concepts of ethnic obliteration, and what constituted it, were variable, depending upon class and social standing, and extended well beyond the comparatively narrow confines of actual physical slaughter.
One can define ethnic cleansing as a mass-scale, violent, and permanent removal of an ethnically defined group from one territory to a perceived external homeland. Deportations within a state were special in this regard because there was no vision of an external territory to which the cleansed population would be sent. It still needs to be explored why some states treated deported minorities worse than other states treated their supposed external enemies. This article examines the origins and three preconditions of ethnic cleansing: modern nationalism, the concept of the modern nation-state, and the development of population policy. It also discusses four major periods of ethnic cleansing: 1912–1925, ethnic cleansing under the hegemony of Nazi Germany (1938–1944), ethnic cleansing and the postwar order in Europe (1944–1948), and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia (1991–1995).
This article compares ethnic cleansing with genocide. Since the 1990s, ethnic cleansing has become one of the most widely known forms of violence directed against groups. Ethnic cleansing is related to genocide, but ethnic cleansing is focused more closely than genocide on geography and on forced removal of ethnic or related groups from particular areas. The greatest overlap between ethnic cleansing and genocide takes place when forced removal of population leads to a group's destruction. Ethnic cleansing is often a policy carried out by strong states to mould the population map, especially of border zones, but the breakup of such states also generates power struggles that can lead to ethnic cleansing. Another paradox is that partition or division of ethnically or religiously mixed states has been identified both as a cause of ethnic cleansing and as a possible remedy for ethnic cleansing.
A. Dirk Moses and Dan Stone
This article examines the historical relationship between biopolitics, eugenics, racial hygiene, and genocide globally in this period. It describes that as the historiography of eugenics has broadened out from its Anglo-American core to an international and transnational perspective, so the focus of genocide studies has shifted from the Holocaust as the paradigmatic case to other, often extra-European, genocides. Furthermore, this article examines various policy modalities developed to solve the “problem” of minority and “useless” populations. It shows that mixed-race children pose particular challenges to eugenicists in thrall to ideals of cultural homogeneity, in which case eliminationist policies of assimilation, absorption, or sterilization might be pursued. It suggests that these policies could escalate in a genocidal direction.
This article discusses the role that eugenics plays in Jewish life, especially in shaping how Jews confronted the world, and engages Jewish and non-Jewish researchers alike. It discusses the socioeconomic conditions in which Jews lived as it had specific eugenic consequences. It also describes the breeding problems that occupy an important role in Jewish life. The rationale of eugenics in Jewish life depends on the extent to which social, political, religious, or cultural distinctiveness is considered to reflect biological racial factors. This article further draws comparison between old and new eugenics and states that new eugenics depends on screening healthy carriers, prenatal diagnosis, and selective determination of affected fetuses. It ends with the discussion of the importance of Jewish tradition in the continuation of Jewish culture and mentions that reproduction and eugenics has played a significant role in core Jewish practices and debates.
This article presents two scenarios that might have a huge influence for the prospects of genocide in the future: the carrying capacity of the planet and global warming. The key point about the pursuit of this theme is that the disruptive potential of climate change, whether writ small in terms of the single state, or writ large in terms of the international system, is entirely exponential. It also hints the necessity for a paradigmatic shift in the relationship not only to each other but to the precious planet if people are to avoid not simply genocide but omnicide. For those who would seek to avoid genocide in the twenty-first century, the task cannot somehow be reduced to Lemkin's law. The phenomenon cannot be contained within this box: it is too fundamental a by-product of a more general dysfunction, not to say, even as it transmutes into persistent post-genocide.