Comparative Genocides

History 103U.001

Spring 2017
Section: 
001
Location: 
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
F 12-2
Class Number: 
16149
Units: 
4

This senior seminar is an introduction to the field of genocide studies from an interdisciplinary, comparative, and thematic perspective.  Its main characteristics follow.  First, this seminar 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. Second, even though it will emphasize twentieth-century cases, it will also cover earlier occurrences.  Third, it will touch upon the contributions of various disciplines: anthropology, international law, political science, social psychology, and sociology. Fourth, a number of relevant thematic issues will be discussed: "genocide and gender;" "memory, forgetting, and denial"; "justice and truth"; and "intervention and prevention."

The seminar will start with a broad narrative survey of genocides in world history.  We will continue with readings on the concept of genocide and the discontents this concept generates.  We will then focus on case-studies summing up the current state of the historiography. Thereafter, disciplinary approaches and thematic issues will be treated.  Finally, we will conclude the seminar with two acclaimed advanced readings, which require prior knowledge of genocides.

These are some of the case-studies we will discuss: genocide in the Americas, the destruction of the Herero in German South West Africa (1904-08), the Armenian genocide, the mass killings resulting from Stalin's regime, the Holocaust and its historiography, the death of millions of Chinese under Mao, the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, mass murders in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the Rwandan genocide.  

Stephan Astourian is an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of History and the Executive Director of Berkeley's Armenian Studies Program.