Genocide: Origins and Definition

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 4426F/G
James S Quinn

Hinton September-21-10 9:25 PM • Intro o Genocide • The intentional destruction of a group because of who they are  20th Century = 60 million • Backward/savage indigenous people destroyed in the name of progress o Moral Imperative for scholars • If we do not attempt an explanation, how can we prevent its recurrence in the future? • Problems: may mitigate the moral offense of the perpetrators o Terming Genocide • Terminological rigor is crucial for analytical clarity and to avoid diluting the meaning of the term • Clear definition is also needed for legal reasons o Questions • Why? • How can part of/a population perish? • What goes on in the minds of perpetrators when they kill another human being? • What is the psychological toll on the victims and survivors? o Genocide Convention • Dec 11, 1946 UN passed resolution that would outlaw genocide  Defined as "denial of the right of existence of entire human groups...when racial, religious, political, and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part" • Issues with this Definition 1. Disagreement over which groups should be protected • Led by USSR against the more "mutable" group identities 2. Issue of intent • Becomes possible for perpetrators to deny the intent behind their actions 3. Types of actions that should be characterized as genocide • Lemkin 's definition included the destruction of a culture's way of life • This worried countries with colonial pasts 4. Numbers • How can genocide be quantified? 5. Enforcement • Until creation of ICC, states were essentially left to indict themselves • Article #2  In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group o Fein's Definition • A sustained purposeful action by a perpetrator to physically destroy a collectivity directly or indirectly, through interdiction of the biological and social reproduction of group members, sustained regardless of the surrender or lack of threat offered by the victim o Genocide as Liberal • Protects "individuals" against the violation of their "human rights" while paradoxically guarding the sovereignty of the nation- state o Modernity • Linked to a set of interrelated processed  Economic (the rise of capitalism and monetarized exchange)  Political (the emergence of the nation-state and secular forms of government)  Social (the decline of "traditional" hierarchies and allegiances and the rise of new class, race, and gender-based distinctions)  Cultural (the privileging of a new set of secular ideas, many based on the Enlightenment's faith in progress, science, and reason) • Idea that "modern" is something Western, favourable, desired and improved o Manufacturing Differences • Group identities are premised on the existence of an "other" and a "we" that are usually ethnocentric • Chapter 1 o Genocide Definition Objectives • Signifies a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at annihilating the groups themselves  Disintegration of the political & social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion and the economic existence of national groups  Destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the people belonging to such groups • Directed at the national group as an entity  Actions involved directed at individuals as members of that particular group o Two patterns of Genocide • Destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group • Imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor • Referred to as "Denationalization"  "Denationalization " inadequate because it does not connote the destruction of the biological structure  In connoting the destruction of one national pattern it does not connote the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor  Used by some authors to only mean the deprivation of citizenship o Rousseau-Portalis Doctrine • War is directed against sovereigns and armies  Not against subjects and civilians • Modern Application  War is conducted against states and armed forces and not against populations o German Case Study - Techniques of Genocide Political • Local institutions in incorporated areas (Poland, Luxembourg, Alsace-Lorraine, etc) destroyed and German pattern of administration imposed • Every reminder of the former national identity was obliterated Commercial signs and inscriptions, road and street names, etc • Register of Germans was established and special identity cards were issued • Local political parties dissolved and replaced with Nazi parties Social • Abolition of local law and courts and imposition of German law • Intelligentsia and clergy removed from the rest of the population Cultural • Local population forbidden to use its own language in schools and in print • German teachers introduced in schools and taught National Socialism • Controlled all cultural/media activities to try and control subversion Destruction of inspiring cultural artefacts: EX burning of Talmudic Library in Lublin, Poland Economic • Lowering of the standard of living Having to fight daily for bread and water would handicap general and national thinking • Shift the economic resources of the Polish national group to the Germans (banks, trade, etc) • Participation in economic life was made dependent on one's being German Therefore, promoting a national ideology other than German was difficult and dangerous Biological • Policy of depopulation Measures to decrease birthrate of non-related national groups and increase birthrate of Volksliste Separation of males and females and prohibi
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