Tag Archives: genocide

Understanding the Causes of Genocide

Our own Hollie Nyseth Brehm recently wrote a special feature for TSP entitled “The Crime of Genocide.” The article is a short and concise summary of the conditions that can lead to genocide, as identified by social science research. This would be a great article to use in a course on crime, as criminologists have largely neglected the study of genocide. It’s a great introduction to the topic!

A few questions to get the discussion going:

1. What does the word genocide mean and how did the word come to mean what we understand it to mean today?

2. Why have genocides generally been ignored by criminologists? What do they have in common with other types of crime more often studied by such scholars?

3. What does the metaphor “genocide doesn’t come like rain” mean? Why is this the case?

4. How do psychological and individual factors matter (or not matter) when trying to understand which people become perpetrators of genocide?

5. How can the government and characteristics of the state play a role in encouraging genocide? (The author gives several reasons. List them all.)

6. How can the international community play a role in preventing and stopping genocide? How do connections to other countries matter?

 

Genocide

Genocide is fundamentally social, though sociologists often ignore it in research and in the classroom.  A lesson on genocide could be part of multiple course units, such as ethnic conflict/war, race, crime/criminology, law, human rights, collective memory, etc.   Here’s one of many ideas:

Assign John Hagan and Wenona Rymond-Richmond’s article “The Collective Dynamics of Racial Dehumanization and Genocidal Victimization in Darfur” (ASR 2008).   Also consider assigning Contexts’ podcast with author John Hagan, which can be found here.

A few questions to consider:

1.  What is the legal definition of genocide?

2.  Why are only some groups protected under the legal definition of genocide?  Should other groups be included?

3.  How does genocide differ from crimes against humanity?

4.  How do Hagan and Rymond-Richmond explain genocide?