Monday, March 18, 2013

Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences

ABC-CLIO launched its newest online solution Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences in March. This full, rich, comprehensive online resource provides definitive expertise on the sensitive and hard-to-teach topic of genocide. The reason it is such a necessary and accessible work is simple: the term genocide has become so widely used in recent times that it is now largely misunderstood, and even misapplied.

ABC-CLIO has assembled a collection of articles and teaching materials from a wide range of internationally-recognized scholars who are all known experts in their various fields. Ranging chronologically from the genocide of the Hereros in 1904 to that of Darfur in 2004 (and beyond), Modern Genocide is a comprehensive and fully integrated  resource for educators at all levels. There are few areas that are not explored. Most importantly, given the complexity with which both the theory and the reality of genocide is understood in today’s world, the many resources to be found in Modern Genocide provide a way for educators to chart a path through the labyrinth of often confused applications of the term. Modern Genocide is more than a useful tool; it is an indispensable guide to anyone who is charged with the responsibility of teaching this major social and political problem of our times.

Genocide was the 20th century’s greatest ongoing man-made catastrophe, arguably a greater disaster than environmental degradation or nuclear proliferation. It is a worse disaster than war, with which it is often linked but from which it can be separated. Genocide speaks of human dreams; it addresses questions of how people perceive one another, and influences their behavior when they interact. Above all, it conceives of humanity’s future in light of how people view themselves – superior, intelligent, vibrant, and perfectible. To attain that future, so-called “surplus humans” have had to be sacrificed, and as regimes around the world have tried to achieve their version of the dream innumerable murders have taken place.

Sadly, genocide does not just emerge out of nowhere. The violence required to achieve it might be sudden, but in all cases there are always a number of preliminary steps on the road to the ultimate “solution” of a regime’s “problem” target. Such steps invariably involve processes of identification, alienation, isolation and oppression, prior to the introduction of the decisive stage of the target group's removal. The 20th century saw the continued refinement of such processes, processes that were refined by the Nazis and developed throughout the rest of the century, right up to the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

All cases of genocide stem from a long-standing obsession on the part of the perpetrators with the physical, political, social, psychological, religious or cultural differences of the victim group – differences so great and irreconcilable that the perpetrators can see no solution to their situation than elimination of the “other” through mass annihilation. The objectives of those who shaped the post-1945 agenda increasingly became diluted as the 20th century wore on, until “Never Again!” became replaced by “Ever Again;” until the second half of the century began to appear as nothing other than a continual period of killing – in large wars, small wars, civil wars, and sometimes when there was no war at all.

As one of the Genocide Advisory Board, I can say that working on this project has been one of the biggest team efforts in the field of Genocide Studies I can recall. It is certain the biggest in which I have ever been involved. It involved a large number of internationally-recognized scholars, all experts in their respective fields. I commend Modern Genocide to one and all, knowing that it is as definitive as any work of this nature could ever be.

In recognition of Holocaust Awareness Month, ABC-CLIO will be providing unlimited access to this important resource to libraries across the country from March 18th through the month of April. Visit to gain access for your institution.

Paul R. Bartrop, PhD, one of the world’s leading scholars of the Holocaust and genocide, is professor of history and director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Human Rights Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. He was the 2011-2012 Ida E. King Distinguished Visiting Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Richard Stockton College, New Jersey. Prior to this appointment, he was head of the Department of History at Bialik College, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia between 2003 and 2011, teaching a range of subjects in history, Jewish studies, international studies, and comparative genocide studies. He is a member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and a past president of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies. His latest published work is A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide: Portraits of Evil and Good (ABC-CLIO, 2012).

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