Political Science | The Politics of Genocide
Y348 | 27234 | 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?  How do we define individual and collective
responsibility for crimes against humanity?  Should the
international community intervene to prevent genocide?  We will
focus on these questions to "understand" genocide through the study
of the major instances of mass murder over the past century, from
the Holocaust to Darfur.   For each case, we will cover first the
historical processes and political arguments leading to genocide.  A
second issue addresses the question of political responsibility for
mass murder through the eyes of perpetrators, victims, and
bystanders.  Third, we turn to the impact of genocide on the
dehumanization of the modern world.

Course requirements include a midterm and a final exam, a short
paper, and in-class assignments.  We will use a variety of sources,
from historical studies and survivors' testimonies, documentary and
fictional accounts, to films and poems.  The point is not only to
understand genocide but also to account for the tragedy in a way
that confronts our humanity and our commitments to become more than
bystanders to history.