Political Science | The Politics of Genocide
Y348 | 26423 | Bielasiak
Throughout history, people have turned against other racial, ethnic,
or political groups and committed mass murder in the name of a better
tomorrow. What are the justifications for such acts of human
destruction? Who bears responsibility for crimes against humanity?
Should the international community intervene to prevent genocide? To
find answers, we examine several genocides of the 20th century as we
enter the reasoning of the perpetrators, the hell of the victims, and
the silence of the bystanders. In each case, whether the Holocaust,
Cambodia, Rwanda, and other instances of mass killings, we confront
the political, sociological, and psychological issues of mass murder.
The course presents us with an intellectual challenge, but also with
an emotional experience that must be harnessed for reasoned
understanding. We will use a variety of sources, historical accounts
and survivors' testimonies, documentary and fictional accounts, films
and poems. Assignments involve the typical examinations, but also
include a fact finding report, a position paper, and in-class
reaction notes. The point is not only to understand genocide, but
also to account for the tragedy in a way that confronts our humanity
and our commitment to become more than bystanders to history.