College Of Arts And Sciences | Megamurder: the Politics of Genocide
E104 | 0147 | Bielasiak

11:15-12:30 TR WH 120
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 individual or collective responsibility for
crimes against humanity?  Should the international community
intervene to prevent genocide? To answer these questions we must
enter the world of the perpetrators, the hell of the victims, and the
silence of the bystanders.  In each case of genocide, the Holocaust,
Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and others, we confront political,
sociological, and psychological issues that arise in the process of
mass murder: the connection between technology and collective
violence, the place of faith or selfishness in survival, or the role
of memory and forgetting.
The content of the course presents each of 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 studies and survivors' testimonies, documentary
and fictional accounts, films and poems.  Class assignments will go
beyond the typical examinations so that we can personalize the issues
through reaction essays, an oral history report, and an advocacy
paper.  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.