The term "genocide' was coined by Raphaël Lemkin as a term with an embedded strategic logic, and though he was concerned primarily with German occupation policies, he was clear that this was a modern form of an ancient ill. The chronological scope of enquiry, therefore, is wide; extending as far back as pre-agrarian times.
The disciplinary scope is also wide. Lemkin defined genocide as "manifold', by which he meant that genocide is perpetrated by multiple concurrent means. Likewise the motives behind genocides are manifold. A people (genos) is attacked as such for reasons which combine economic, geopolitical, demographic and militarily strategic concerns. It would appear historically that ideology, which receives so much attention in orthodox discourse, is of secondary importance. There is no case of genocide whatsoever where ideology cannot be interpreted as a tool utilised by perpetrators, rather than a motive in and of itself.
Kieran Kelly has a first-class honours degree and MA in History, both from Massey University in Aotearoa (New Zealand). His honours thesis ("Beyond Stalemate", which deals with the US genocide in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia), is being published by Lambert Academic Press.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013