Sociology and Anthropology

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

New Course on Genocide

ANTH 699 - Contemporary Issues in Sociocultural Anthropology: Genocide

Spring 2010
Thursday 4:30 – 7:20 (Thompson 121)

Dr. Ann M Palkovich

Genocide is a difficult topic. It is a persistent problem that has led and continues to lead to the deaths of millions of people. We have ample evidence that groups of people in various world areas are and have been systematically murdered simply because they of who they are. The stark reality of genocide is all the more troubling by virtue of its scope and persistence in the 21st century. It is a reality that begs our attention; we must explore it, no matter how difficult a topic it is.

Genocide is also an extraordinarily complex topic; seemingly endless views from academic, legal, historical, economic, psychological, sociological, political and other perspectives attempt to define and to make sense of this phenomenon.  In this course, we can only hope to gain an initial understanding of why mass killings occur, their underlying circumstances and their aftermath. We will engage anthropological perspectives on genocide, and consider the ways in which anthropologists have (or have not) confronted issues of mass violence.

Truth, memory, representation and evidence are centering issues on which we will focus during the first half of the course. The second half of the course poses a series of questions about genocide, and uses specific genocide case studies as a means to explore and define the issues.  These questions also will serve as the focus of student presentations.  You will be asked to explore these questions through selective examples of genocide that have occurred (or are currently occurring) in various parts of the world.  These class presentations will then serve as the basis for a broader discussion of ethnical issues the final two weeks of the term.

Required Reading

Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Public Affairs, Publisher,  2009.

Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide. Alexander Laban Hinton, editor. University of California Press,  2002.

Genocide: Truth, Memory and Representation. Alexander Laban Hinton and Kevin O’Neill, editors. Duke University Press,  2009.

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow You Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Philip Gourevitch, Picador Press, 1999.

The Bone Woman: An Anthropologist’s Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. Clea Koff, Random House, 2005.

Defining the Horrific: Readings on Genocide and Holocaust in the 21st Century. William Hewitt,  Prentice Hall, 2003.

Recommended Reading

How to Read Ethnography. Huon  Wardle,   Routledge,  2006.

Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum. Edward Linenthal,  Columbia University Press,  2001.

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