The Berkeley Human Rights Seminar: A. Dirk Moses

How and Why Did Genocide Become a Non-Political Crime?

A. Dirk Moses
Professor and Chair in Global and Colonial History, European University Institute

Tuesday, September 4
3335 Dwinelle

The tentative international reaction to the mass crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s, no less than to events in Darfur a decade later, indicates that denoting them as genocide is a fraught diplomatic but also classificatory exercise. What, precisely, is genocide? The consensus depoliticizes genocide by making it a mass hate crime driven by irrational racial prejudices. For example, the UN’s 2005 Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded that the state's policy of ‘attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds.’ This was counter-insurgency warfare rather than genocide -- even if its outcome was genocidal. Yet a case can be made that all genocides occur in military circumstances when 'necessity' and security are invoked
in targeting civilians. By reconstructing its conceptualization in the 1940s, Professor Moses investigates how and why the genocide concept became detached from such political circumstances. It is now a category so difficult to apply that international courts have recourse to alternative indictments like war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dirk Moses is the Chair in Global and Colonial History at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. He is the author of publications including the prize-winning Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation
and Subaltern Resistance in World History (Berghahn 2008/pbk 2009) and has co-edited the Oxford History of Genocide Studies (2010) and a six-volume collection of essays on genocide for Routledge's Critical Studies series.

Moses is currently finishing a critical intellectual history of the genocide concept and historiography called Genocide and the Terror of History.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 4:00pm
All welcome
3335 Dwinelle Hall