Comparative Genocides

History 280U

Spring 2016
Day & Time: 
W 1000-1200

This graduate seminar is an introduction to the field of genocide studies from a comparative perspective.  It will not focus on any single genocide; instead, it will try to provide a good understanding of the extreme diversity of this form of mass killing. Even though it will emphasize twentieth-century cases, it will also cover earlier occurrences. 

The seminar will start with a broad survey of genocides or genocidal killings in world history.  We will continue with readings on the concept of genocide and the discontents this concept generates.  We will then focus on the main twentieth-century cases of mass killings and genocides: the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Soviet mass killings and the Cambodian genocide, and finally the Rwandan genocide.  We will conclude the seminar with an acclaimed book written by a French political scientist, which provides a good analytical and comparative perspective on this phenomenon. 

Among other things, this seminar will focus on the motivations of the killers and the processes leading to the mass murder of various groups. Grading will be based on three papers (eight to ten pages each) that will discuss the readings and on participation.

Course Books

Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide by Semelin, Jacques Columbia University Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-231-14283-0 Required
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Hatzfeld, Jean Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. ISBN: 0-312-42503-1 Required
The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda by Straus, Scott Cornell University Press, 2006. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-7492-7 Required
Stalin’s Genocides by Naimark, Norman M. Princeton University Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-691-15238-7 Required
Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918-1945 by Kühne, Thomas Yale University Press, 2010. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-300-19828-7 Required
The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 by Browning, Christopher R. University of Nebraska Press, 2004. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-8032-5979-9 Required
The Extermination of Armenians in the Diarbekir Region by Kaiser, Hilmar Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2014. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-6053993339 Required
“They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide by Suny, Ronald Grigor Princeton University Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-691-14730-7 Required
What Is Genocide? by Shaw, Martin Polity Press, 2015. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-87-7-0 Required
Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to by Kiernan, Ben Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-300-14425-3 Required
Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar by Locard, Henri Silkworm Books, 2004. ISBN: 978-974-9575-56-7 Optional
Cambodia: 1975-1978: Rendezvous with Death by Jackson, Karl D. Princeton University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0-691-02541-X Optional
The Historiography of Genocide by Stone, Dan Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 978-0-230-27955-1 Optional
The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies by Bloxham, Donald and Moses, A. Dirk Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-967791-7 Optional