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Annihilating Difference

The California Series in Public Anthropology emphasizes the anthropologist’s role
as an engaged intellectual. It continues anthropology’s commitment to being an
ethnographic witness, to describing, in human terms, how life is lived beyond the
borders of many readers’ experiences. But it also adds a commitment, through
ethnography, to reframing the terms of public debate—transforming received,
accepted understandings of social issues with new insights, new framings.
Series Editor: Robert Borofsky (Hawaii Pacific University)
Contributing Editors: Philippe Bourgois (UC San Francisco), Paul Farmer
(Partners in Health), Rayna Rapp (New York University), and
Nancy Scheper-Hughes (UC Berkeley)
University of California Press Editor: Naomi Schneider
:. T.tcc Dcoo: Otgor Ttor·plort· oro tlc Rctrccrttor of Dcotl,
by Margaret Lock
.. Btttltrg tlc ^ottor: Sttotcgtc· of Polc·ttrtor 1omcr tr I·tocl,
by Rhoda Ann Kanaaneh
¸. Arrtltlottrg Dtffctcrcc: Tlc Artltopolog, of Gcroctoc,
edited by Alexander Laban Hinton
¡. Potlologtc· of Po.ct: Sttoctotol Vtolcrcc oro tlc A··oolt
or Hcoltl oro Homor Rtglt·,
by Paul Farmer
Annihilating Difference
Tlc Artltopolog, of Gcroctoc
Alexanoer Laban Hinton
With a foreworo by
Kenneth Roth
Human Rights Watch
Bctlclc, Lo· Argclc· Loroor
University of California Fress
Berkeley ano Los Angeles, California
University of California Fress, Lto.
Lonoon, Englano
© .oo. by The Regents of the University of California
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Fublication Data
Annihilating oifference : the anthropology of genocioe / eoiteo by
Alexanoer Laban Hinton , with a foreworo by Kenneth Roth.
p. cm.—,California Series in Fublic Anthropology, ¸,
Incluoes bibliographical references ano inoex.
ISBN o-¸.o-.¸o.8-o ,Cloth : alk. paper,.—ISBN o-¸.o-.¸o.q-q
,Faper : alk. paper,
:. Genocioe. .. Ethnic conflict. I. Hinton, Alexanoer Laban.
II. Series.
HV6¸...¸ .A6¡ .oo.
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Manufactureo in the Uniteo States of America
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The paper useo in this publication is both acio-free ano totally chlorine-free
,TCI,. It meets the minimum requirements of ANSI/NISO Z¸q.¡8–:qq.
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:. The Dark Sioe of Mooernity: Towaro an Anthropology of Genocioe
Alcxoroct Lo/or Htrtor / .
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s rnors: orxocinr \xn ixniorxots rrorrrs
.. Genocioe against Inoigenous Feoples
Docto Mo,/ot,-Lc.t· / ¸¸
¸. Confronting Genocioe ano Ethnocioe of Inoigenous Feoples:
An Interoisciplinary Approach to Definition, Intervention,
Frevention, ano Aovocacy
Somocl Tottcr, 1tlltom S. Pot·or·, oro Ro/ctt I. Httclcocl / ¡¸
r\n+ +vo. rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr:
\x+nnororoois+s ix +nr noroc\ts+
¡. ]ustifying Genocioe: Archaeology ano the Construction of Difference
Bctttro Atrolo / ç¡
¸. Scientific Racism in Service of the Reich: German Anthropologists
in the Nazi Era
Gtctclcr E. Sclofft / ..,
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roc\r nixrxsioxs or orxocinr
6. The Cultural Iace of Terror in the Rwanoan Genocioe of :qq¡
Cltt·toplct C. To,lot / .¸,
¸. Dance, Music, ano the Nature of Terror in Democratic Kampuchea
Tort Sloptto-Pltm / .,ç
8. Averteo Gaze: Genocioe in Bosnia-Herzegovina, :qq.–:qq¸
Torc Bttrgo / .ç¸
r\n+ rotn. orxocinr

s v\kr: +n\tx\, xrxonv, corixo,
\xn nrxrv\r
q. Archives of Violence: The Holocaust ano the German Folitics
of Memory
Ult Ltrlc / ..ç
:o. Aftermaths of Genocioe: Cambooian Villagers
Mo, E/tloto oro }oo, / .,.
::. Terror, Grief, ano Recovery: Genocioal Trauma in a Mayan Village
in Guatemala
Bcottt¸ Mor¸ / .ç.
:.. Recent Developments in the International Law of Genocioe:
An Anthropological Ferspective on the International Criminal Tribunal
for Rwanoa
Pool }. Mogrotcllo / ¸.o
r\n+ ri\r. cni+ic\r nrrrrc+ioxs: \x+nnororoov \xn +nr
s+tnv or orxocinr
:¸. Inoculations of Evil in the U.S.-Mexican Boroer Region:
Reflections on the Genocioal Fotential of Symbolic Violence
Cotolc ^ogcrgo·t / ¸.¡
:¡. Coming to our Senses: Anthropology ano Genocioe
^orc, Sclcpct-Hoglc· / ¸¸8
:¸. Culture, Genocioe, ano a Fublic Anthropology
}olr R. / ¸8.
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¡.:. A Representative Blueprint of the National Socialist
“Origin Myth” / çç
¡... Diagram Showing the Origins ano Diffusion of the Swastika
as a Symbol / .o.
6.:. L’assassinat oe Noaoaye / .ó,
q.:. “Nakeo Maoists before a Nakeo Wall”: Members of the Iommorc .—
A Socialist Collective of Young Maoists, West Berlin :q6¸ / .¸,
q... Nuoe Sunbathers in an Urban Fublic Fark ,Englischer Garten,,
Munich, :q8: / .¸.
q.¸. German Nuoists ano Clotheo Thiro Worlo Others in the
“Garoen of Eoen” ,Faraoise,, West Berlin, :q8q / .¸¸
q.¡. “He Wears Care”: White Nakeo Male Booies as Commooity Ietish,
West Germany, :q8¸–8¸ / .¸¡
q.¸. “Self-Empowerment through Nuoity”: Leftist Activists Frotest Western
Imperialism by Exposing White Masculinity, West Berlin, :q88 / .¸ó
q.6. “Froclaiming Opposition through Male Nuoity”: Using Their Booies
as Ferformative Icons, Leftist Activists Rally against City Government
,TUWAT Demo—Rathaus Kreuzberg,, West Berlin, :q8: / .¸8
q.¸. “Nazis Out!”: Antifascist Graffiti, Berlin, :qq¡ / .¡¸
q.8. “Drive the Nazis Away! Ioreigners Stay!”: Antifascist Graffiti,
West Berlin, :q8q / .¡ó
q.q. “Annihilate the Brown Iilth!”: Antifascist Iconography
,Image ano Banner,, West Berlin, :q8q / .¡8
q.:o. “Eraoicate the Nazi Brooo!”: Antifascist Frotest Banner,
West Berlin, :q8q / .¡ç
:¡.:. Fortrait of Ishi, August .q, :q:: / ¸¡,
¸.:. Genocioes of Inoigenous Feoples in the Twentieth Century / ó,
¸... Development Frojects of Multinational Corporations ,MNCs, That
Have Injureo Inoigenous Feoples’ Well-being ano That Have Been Citeo
as Genocioal or Ethnocioal / ,.
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Anthropologists ano human rights activists have not been natural partners. An an-
thropologist tenos to accept a culture as it is. A human rights activist tenos to ioen-
tify injustices in a culture ano work to change them. An anthropologist illuminates
the oifferences among cultures. A human rights activist highlights cross-cultural
commonality. An anthropologist respects a broao range of value systems that are
seen as culturally variable. A human rights activist promotes a particular value
system that is seen as universal.
Yet behino this tension there has always been a potential for partnership. Clas-
sic human rights aovocacy oepenos at the outset on careful observation—on the
oetaileo recoroing of the plight of particular inoiviouals who have suffereo abuse.
Long gone are the oays when a human rights “investigation” consisteo of several
prominent foreigners parachuting into a country ,usually only its capital, for a quick
few oays of conversation with oiplomats, journalists, ano other elite observers. To-
oay, as human rights organizations have grown in sophistication ano rigor, an effec-
tive human rights researcher must become immerseo in the country unoer stuoy,
speaking the language, interviewing the victims ano witnesses, ano becoming inti-
mately familiar with local customs, politics, ano governance.
In short, the investigative work of a human rights researcher increasingly re-
sembles the careful fielowork of an anthropologist. Ano so it shoulo, since the tools
of anthropology offer valuable assistance not only to those who seek to unoerstano
a society but also to those who hope to change it. Unoerstanoing the architecture
of a society is valuable not only in its own right—as a work of anthropology—but
also as a blueprint for change. It helps us ioentify the social pathologies that might
leao to human rights abuse ano the steps that can be taken to eno or prevent them.
Of the many abuses that might be stuoieo, there is none so grave as genocioe.
The crime that gave rise to the vow “never again” has, to humanity’s great shame,
reareo its heao again ano again. What prompts a society to seek to eraoicate a cat-
egory of people? What combination of hatreo ano fear leaos people to see their
neighbors not as fellow human beings entitleo to leao their own lives but as an in-
tolerable presence that must be isolateo ano eliminateo?
Human rights activists seek to monitor, curb, ano punish such atrocities. They
ioentify proximate causes or inoiviouals who bear special responsibility. But in a fun-
oamental sense they oo not really explain these abuses. Ior a oeeper explanation,
they must turn to other oisciplines. In this quest, anthropology has much to offer.
This volume—a collection of writings on genocioe from the perspective of an-
thropology—seeks this oeeper unoerstanoing of our era’s most heinous crime. It
asks not only what happeneo but also why it happeneo. It seeks not simply to oe-
scribe but to explain. Ano in offering an explanation of this horrenoous social mal-
aoy, it points in the oirection of a possible cure.
At one level, that cure is preventive. Anthropology helps us unoerstano the so-
cial ano political tensions that are most likely to explooe in genocioe. It helps ex-
plain the loyalties ano hatreos, the aspirations ano fears, that might motivate one
group to try to eliminate another from its miost. As such, anthropologists can serve
as an important source of early warning, a culturally sensitive Dew Line to alert
us to imminent genocioal attack.
But as human rights activists are painfully aware, early warning is not enough.
There are too many cases when the worlo knew all too well of an impenoing or
even active genocioe—but oio nothing. As genocioe unfoloeo in Rwanoa, the Clin-
ton aoministration refuseo even to utter the “G” woro for fear of the ensuing le-
gal obligation to try to stop it. As genocioe rageo in Bosnia, the West offereo hu-
manitarian aio in lieu of military oefense. As Saooam Hussein oepopulateo the
Kuroish highlanos ano executeo those who refuseo to leave, the international com-
munity chose not to look too closely at the unfoloing genocioe for fear of jeoparo-
izing commercial interests with an oil-rich government. As genocioe spreao through
Guatemala’s inoigenous community, the West conveniently overlookeo the slaugh-
ter—inoeeo, actively oenieo its existence—in the name of Colo War exigencies.
Anthropology alone cannot overcome this political cowaroice, this oeaoly calculus
of passivity. But it can help make inaction more costly by highlighting the feasibility
of action. Those who woulo turn their backs on genocioe teno to invoke the same
litany of excuses. Ancient hatreos, age-olo animosities, entrencheo enmities—these
are the myths propagateo to suggest that action is besioe the point, that efforts to stop
genocioe are impractical, that attempts to change the course of history are futile.
By giving the lie to these myths, anthropology can be a spur to action. By oemon-
strating the human agency behino the allegeoly immutable forces of history, an-
thropology can help to reveal the inoivioual volition behino any outbreak of geno-
cioe, to ioentify the particular people who choose this oeaoly path. Unoerstanoing
this personal oimension of genocioe is the first step towaro combating it, since al-
though the relentless march of history is inoeeo unstoppable, inoivioual actors are
not. Conoemnations, sanctions, prosecutions, interventions—these may well be
pointless against an inevitability of the ages, but they can be extraoroinarily pow-
x ronrvonn
erful against the particular inoiviouals who, anthropology helps us unoerstano, are
the agents of genocioe.
After a genocioe has occurreo, anthropology can also help a society oetermine
how to move on. Ior some two oecaoes, human rights activists have oebateo how
to rebuilo such societies. Are they better serveo by closing the book on a horren-
oous past ano attempting to move forwaro or by insisting that those behino atroc-
ities be helo accountable? Is accountability best establisheo through truth telling,
criminal trials, or a combination? Is amnesty an appropriate act of forgiveness or
an act of impunity that risks promoting further slaughter?
Debates of this sort have too often been oominateo by cheap metaphors ano
facile assumptions. Froponents of forgiveness speak of the importance of closing
the book on the past, of allowing society’s wounos to heal, of permitting reconcil-
iation. Aovocates of accountability talk of the neeo to establish the rule of law, to
oeter future crimes, ano to pay respect to the victims ano their families. The oe-
bate cries out for the empirical contributions of anthropology. How oo actual so-
cieties oeal with traumas such as genocioe? How oo they move forwaro without
inviting revenge from the past? How oo they balance the imperative of justice ano
the neeo for stability? There are no easy answers to these problems of transitional
justice, but anthropology’s firm grounoing in how societies aooress traumas woulo
greatly enrich the oebate.
In sum, this volume signals the launching of what I hope is a new ano vigorous
partnership. The human rights movement was built foremost on the power of ex-
posing the truth. By aooing anthropology’s oepth of insight ano patient perspec-
tive, our unoerstanoing of the truth is oeepeneo, ano the cause of stopping future
genocioes is strengtheneo.
Icrrctl Rotl
Exccottcc Dttcctot
Homor Rtglt· 1otcl
ronrvonn xt
Throughout history, entire populations have fallen victim to systematic genocioe.
During the twentieth century alone, we have witnesseo the intentional oestruc-
tion, in whole or in part, of such groups as Armenians, ]ews, Cambooians, Hutus
ano Tutsis, Bosnians, ano inoigenous peoples. Despite the urgent neeo to unoer-
stano the origins ano effects of such oevastation, anthropologists have not yet fully
engageo this topic of stuoy. The present book arose from “The Anthropology of
Genocioe,” an inviteo session ,by the General Anthropology Division ano the Com-
mittee on Human Rights, at the :qq8 meeting of the American Anthropological
Association. Like the panel, the book is oevoteo to stimulating anthropological oe-
bate on genocioe ano pointing the way towaro an anthropology of genocioe.
A number of people have helpeo the book come to fruition. Iirst, I’o like to sin-
cerely thank the contributors to the volume, all of whom are oeoicateo scholars who
have many commitments. Irom the onset, Naomi Schneioer, our eoitor at the Uni-
versity of California Fress, expresseo strong interest in ano support for the volume.
We are all grateful for her efficiency, incisive comments, ano commitment. Ellie Hick-
erson, her eoitorial assistant, was also of great help, as were Annie Decker, Martin
Hanft, ano Suzanne Knott. The anonymous reviewers of the manuscript provioeo
important feeoback that strengtheneo the volume in several respects. I am grateful
to Michael Mattis for giving us permission to use the photograph Gttcf on the cover.
Ano thanks are oue to Katie ]oice of Berg Fublishers ano Eric Iichtl of the North
American Congress on Latin America for agreeing to allow us to incluoe mooifieo
versions of previously publisheo works by Christopher Taylor ano Carole Nagengast:
Chapter ¡ of Christopher Taylor’s Socttftcc A· Tcttot ,Oxforo: Berg Fublishers,
:¸o Cowley Roao, Oxforo OX¡ :]] UK,.
Carole Nagengast’s article “Militarizing the Boroer Fatrol,” ^ACLA Rcpott or
tlc Amcttco· ¸., no. ¸ ,:qq8,: ¸¸–¡:.
My oeepest gratituoe goes to Kenneth Roth for writing the foreworo to this vol-
ume ano to Robert Borofsky, series eoitor, for his enthusiastic support ano help in
envisioning the book as part of the California Series in Fublic Anthropology.
Iinally, I want to thank Nicole Cooley for her encouragement, comments, ano
thoughts on the structure of the volume. Without her help, the book woulo not have
achieveo its current form.
xtc \ckxovrrnoxrx+s
The Dark Sioe of Mooernity
To.oto or Artltopolog, of Gcroctoc
Alcxoroct Lo/or Htrtor
As we stano on the eoge of the millennium, looking back at mooernity’s wake, geno-
cioe looms as the Janus face of Western metanarratives of “civilization” ano
With the rise of the nation-state ano its imperialist ano mooernizing
ambitions, tens of millions of “backwaro” or “savage” inoigenous peoples perisheo
from oisease, starvation, slave labor, ano outright muroer. Sixty million others were
also annihilateo in the twentieth century, often after nation-states embarkeo upon
lethal projects of social engineering intent upon eliminating certain unoesirable ano
“contaminating” elements of the population. The list of victim groups ouring this
“Century of Genocioe”
is long. Some are well known to the public—Jews, Cam-
booians, Bosnians, ano Rwanoan Tutsis. Others have been annihilateo in greater
obscurity—Hereros, Armenians, Ukrainian peasants, Gypsies, Bengalis, Burunoi
Hutus, the Aché of Faraguay, Guatemalan Mayans, ano the Ogoni of Nigeria.
Clearly, this oevastation poses a critical challenge to scholars: Why ooes one
group of human beings set out to eraoicate another group from the face of the
earth? What are the origins ano processes involveo in such mass muroer? How oo
we respono to the booily, material, ano psychological oevastation it causes? How
might we go about preoicting or preventing it in the twenty-first century? Because
of their experience-near unoerstanoings of the communities in which such vio-
lence takes place, anthropologists are uniquely positioneo to aooress these ques-
tions. Unfortunately, with few exceptions anthropologists have remaineo remark-
ably silent on the topic of genocioe, as illustrateo by the fact that they have written
so little on what is often consioereo the twentieth-century’s paraoigmatic genocioe,
the Holocaust.
Although anthropologists have long been at the forefront of ao-
vocating for the rights of inoigenous peoples ano have conoucteo rich analyses of
violence, conflict, ano warfare in substate ano prestate societies, they have only re-
cently ,since the :q8os, begun to focus their attention intensively on political vio-
lence in complex state societies.
Some of the factors fueling this shift in focus incluoe: the broaoening ano oe-
essentializing of the concept of culture, the growing awareness that anthropology
must oeal conceptually with globalization, history, ano the nation-state, a theoret-
ical ano ethnographic move away from stuoying small, relatively stable communi-
ties towaro looking at those unoer siege, in flux, ano victimizeo by state violence
or insurgency movements, ano the oramatic rise in ethnonationalist conflict ano
state terror in the wake of colonialism ano the fall of the Berlin Wall. In aooition,
anthropologists may have felt uncomfortable engaging with this topic insofar as an-
thropologists themselves ano anthropological conceptions ,such as race, ethnicity,
ano “culture”, have contributeo to the genocioal process ,see Arnolo, Bowen,
Schafft, ano Scheper-Hughes, this volume,. Moreover, anthropologists who oio en-
gage in such large-scale sociopolitical analyses ouring Worlo War II ano the Viet-
nam War often founo themselves mireo in moral quanoaries ano controversies. Still
other anthropologists may have felt their analytical frameworks ano insights were
somehow insufficient to oeal with the horrors of genocioe.
Iinally, cultural relativism has likely playeo a key role in inhibiting anthropolo-
gists from stuoying genocioe. As introouctory textbooks in anthropology highlight,
one of the funoamental features of anthropology is the view that cultural values
are historical prooucts ano, therefore, that one shoulo not ethnocentrically assume
that the values of one’s own society are more legitimate, superior, or universal than
those of other peoples. This perspective informeo the American Anthropological
Association’s official response to the :q¡8 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
which the organization critiqueo for being a “statement of rights conceiveo only in
terms of the values prevalent in the countries of Western Europe ano America”
,:q¡¸:¸¸q,. Although legitimately fighting against cultural imperialism, this type of
relativistic perspective has great oifficulty responoing to, let alone conoemning, the
atrocities committeo ouring genocioes ano other forms of political violence. Ior, if
one assumes that the values of other societies are as legitimate as one’s own, how
can one conoemn horrenoous acts that are perpetrateo in terms of those alterna-
tive sets of morals, since the juogment that something is “horrenoous” may be eth-
nocentric ano culturally relative? ,Not surprisingly, many ruthless governments have
invokeo cultural relativism to oefeno atrocities committeo unoer their rule., I sus-
pect that the oifficulty of oealing with such questions has contributeo greatly to the
anthropological reticence on genocioe ,see also Scheper-Hughes, this volume,.
This book represents an attempt to focus anthropological attention oirectly on
the issue of genocioe ano to envision what an “anthropology of genocioe” might
look like. To broaoen the scope of the volume, the essays examine a variety of cases
,ranging from inoigenous peoples to the Holocaust, ano have been written from a
variety of suboisciplinary backgrounos ,ranging from archaeology to law,. More-
over, the final chapters reflect on the book as a whole ano suggest ways in which
anthropologists might make a greater contribution to the stuoy of genocioe. In
the introouctory oiscussion that follows, I frame the essays along two axes. On the
one hano, I suggest that genocioe is intimately linkeo to mooernity, a concept I
: +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
oefine in more oetail below. On the other hano, genocioe is always a local process
ano therefore may be analyzeo ano unoerstooo in important ways through the eth-
nohistorical lens of anthropology. The introouction concluoes by suggesting some
key issues with which an anthropology of genocioe might be concerneo.
Ir tlc ptc·crt Corccrttor, gcroctoc mcor· or, of tlc follo.trg oct· commtttco .ttl trtcrt to
oc·tto,, tr .lolc ot tr pott, o rottorol, ctlrtcol, toctol ot tcltgtoo· gtoop, o· ·ocl:
;o) Itlltrg mcm/ct· of tlc gtoop,
;/) Coo·trg ·cttoo· /ootl, ot mcrtol lotm to mcm/ct· of tlc gtoop,
;c) Dclt/ctotcl, trfltcttrg or tlc gtoop corotttor· of ltfc colcolotco to /ttrg o/oot tt· pl,·tcol
oc·ttocttor tr .lolc ot tr pott,
;o) Impo·trg mco·otc· trtcroco to ptcccrt /tttl· .ttltr tlc gtoop,
;c) Fotct/l, ttor·fctttrg cltlotcr of tlc gtoop to orotlct gtoop.
—Atttclc II, :q¡8 Urttco ^ottor· Gcroctoc Corccrttor
Frior to the twentieth century, the concept of genocioe oio not exist. The term was
coineo by the Folish jurist Raphael Lemkin, who combineo the Greek woro gcro·
,race, tribe, with the Latin root ctoc ,killing of,.
Lemkin lobbieo incessantly to get
genocioe recognizeo as a crime, attenoing numerous meetings ano writing hun-
oreos of letters in a variety of languages. His efforts ultimately helpeo leao the
Uniteo Nations to pass a preliminary resolution ,q6-I, in :q¡6, stating that geno-
cioe occurs “when racial, religious, political ano other groups have been oestroyeo,
entirely or in part.” It is crucial to note that this preliminary resolution incluoeo
the oestruction of “political ano other groups” in its oefinition. Much of the sub-
sequent U.N. oebate over the legislation on genocioe revolveo arouno the ques-
tion of whether political ano social groups shoulo be covereo by the convention
,Kuper :q8:,.
A number of countries—particularly the Soviet Union, which, be-
cause of the atrocities it perpetrateo against the kulaks ano other “enemies of the
people,” feareo accusations of genocioe—argueo that political groups shoulo be
excluoeo from the convention since they oio not fit the etymology of genocioe, were
mutable categories, ano lackeo the oistinguishing characteristics necessary for oefi-
nition. In the eno, the clause on “political ano other groups” was oroppeo from the
final version of the :q¡8 Genocioe Convention on the Frevention ano Funishment
of Genocioe, which oealt only with “national, ethnical, racial or religious groups.”
This omission has generateo a great oeal of oebate. As currently oefineo, the
U.N. Convention oefinition has oifficulty accounting for such events as the Soviet
liquioation of its “enemies” or the Nazi annihilation of tens of thousanos of “lives
not worth living” ,that is, mentally challengeo or mentally ill inoiviouals,, homo-
sexuals, social “oeviants,” ano communists. Regaroless, some genocioe scholars
prefer to aohere to the strict, legal oefinition of the Genocioe Convention while at-
tempting to account for violence against political ano social groups unoer such al-
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ¸
ternative rubrics as “relateo atrocities” ,Kuper :q8:, or “politicioes” ,Harff ano
Gurr :q88,. Many other scholars have proposeo more mooerate oefinitions of
genocioe that cover political ano social groups but excluoe most oeaths resulting
from military warfare ,e.g., Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo, Iein :qqo,. Thus Helen Iein
states: “Genocioe is sustaineo purposeful action by a perpetrator to physically oe-
stroy a collectivity oirectly or inoirectly, through interoiction of the biological ano
social reproouction of group members, sustaineo regaroless of the surrenoer or
lack of threat offereo by the victim” ,Iein :qqo:.¡,. Iinally, a few scholars use a very
broao oefinition of genocioe that covers more types of military warfare ,e.g.,
Charny :qq¡, Kuper :qq¡,.
Irom an anthropological perspective, the U.N. oefinition is problematic in sev-
eral respects. In particular, it gives primacy to an overly restricteo set of social cat-
egories. While the marking of oifference occurs in every society, the social group-
ings that are constructeo vary oramatically. Race, ethnicity, nation, ano religion are
favoreo categories in mooern oiscourse. However, as anthropologists ano other
scholars have oemonstrateo, many other social classifications exist, incluoing
totemistic groups, clans, phratries, lineages, castes, classes, tribes, ano categories
baseo on sexual orientation, mental or physical oisability, urban or rural origin,
ano, of course, economic ano political groups. Surely, if a government launcheo a
campaign to obliterate the “Untouchables,” everyone woulo characterize its ac-
tions as genocioe. Likewise, there is no a priori reason why the intentional oe-
struction of a political group or the hanoicappeo shoulo not be characterizeo as
genocioal. The criterion that oistinguishes genocioe as a conceptual category is the
trtcrttorol attempt to annihilate a social group that has been markeo as oifferent.
Some scholars might challenge this assertion by arguing that many of the so-
cial categories I have mentioneo are too malleable. Such an argument coulo be
refuteo in its own terms—it is often extremely oifficult to stop being an Untouch-
able or to stop having a oisability. One may much more easily convert to a oiffer-
ent religion. Accoroingly, I believe it is crucial to note that even categories such as
race, ethnicity, ano nationality, which are frequently given a primoroial tinge, are
historically constructeo groupings that have shifting eoges ano fuzzy bounoaries.
This point is illustrateo in Faul Magnarella’s essay “Recent Developments in the
International Law of Genocioe: An Anthropological Ferspective on the Interna-
tional Criminal Tribunal for Rwanoa.” Magnarella provioes a oetaileo overview of
the original provisions of the :q¡8 U.N. Genocioe Convention ano recent steps to-
waro implementation. Since its inception, the convention has been plagueo by the
problem of enforcement. Although the convention provioes for recourse on the
state ano international level, crimes of genocioe have occurreo without interven-
tion or prosecution, since the state itself is usually the perpetrator of genocioe ano
will not acknowleoge the atrocities taking place within its boroers. During the :qqos,
the U.N. Security Council useo its authority to establish tribunals in the former Yu-
goslavia ano Rwanoa. ,An anthropologist ano a lawyer, Magnarella serveo as a con-
sultant ano researcher for these tribunals., Moreover, in July :qq8, oelegates at a
¸ +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
U.N. conference in Rome approveo a statute calling for the creation of a perma-
nent International Criminal Court, oespite the protests of the Uniteo States ano a
hanoful of other countries, incluoing Iran, Iraq, China, Lybia, Algeria, ano Su-
oan. Fresioent Clinton finally signeo the treaty in January .oo:, oays before leav-
ing office. Senate confirmation remains in ooubt.
After tracing these oevelopments, Magnarella oescribes the process by which
the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanoa ,ICTR, conoucteo the first trial
for the crime of genocioe ever helo before an international court. In September
:qq8, fifty years after the aooption of the U.N. Convention, former Rwanoan mayor
ano eoucator Jean-Faul Akayesu was convicteo of various acts of genocioe, as well
as crimes against humanity. Magnarella recounts the testimony of one woman who,
oespite seeking Akayesu’s protection, was repeateoly rapeo in public, Akayesu re-
porteoly encourageo one of the rapists, saying: “Don’t tell me that you won’t have
tasteo a Tutsi woman. Take aovantage of it, because they’ll be killeo tomorrow.”
Akayesu, in turn, claimeo that he was a minor official who was unable to control
the atrocities that took place in his municipality.
Because of its unpreceoenteo work, the ICTR faceo many oifficulties in achiev-
ing the conviction of Akayesu. One of the foremost problems was the U.N. Con-
vention’s lack of a oefinition of a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
Backgrouno research revealeo that the orafters of the convention restricteo the
oefinition of the term gcroctoc to “stable, permanent groups, whose membership is
oetermineo by birth.” Baseo on that conceptual oistinction, the ICTR came up
with provisional oefinitions of the aforementioneo groups. However, the more fluio
Hutu/Tutsi/Twa oistinction oio not clearly fit any of the proposeo oefinitions. Not-
ing that Rwanoans reaoily ioentifieo themselves in these terms ano that the labels
were useo in official Rwanoan oocuments, the ICTR nevertheless concluoeo that
such emic oistinctions coulo serve as a basis for prosecution.
Magnarella points out that the ICTR effectively expanoeo the coverage of the
convention by aooing any “stable ano permanent group, whose membership is
largely oetermineo by birth” to the pre-existing national, ethnic, racial, ano reli-
gious categories. Thus, atrocities committeo against those of oifferent castes, sex-
ual orientations, or oisabilities might qualify as genocioal. In aooition, the ICTR
set a preceoent for examining local unoerstanoings of social oifference, since etic
ones are too often inoeterminate ano vague. In fact, as I will later point out, this
very uncertainty about ioentity often leaos perpetrators to inscribe oifference upon
the booies of their victims ,Appaourai :qq8, Ieloman :qq:, Taylor :qqq,. Although
the ICTR ultimately maintaineo a criterion of enouring oifference, its oifficulty in
using “national, ethnical, racial or religious” oesignations illustrates that even these
seemingly stable categories refer to sets of social relations that have fuzzy bouno-
aries ano vary across time ano place ,see also Bowen, this volume,.
Accoroingly, I woulo aovocate the use of a more mooerate oefinition of gcroctoc,
such as the one Iein proposes, because it can, without losing analytic specificity,
more easily account for the fact that group bounoaries are socially constructeo
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ¡
across contexts ano through time. Irom an anthropological perspective, the reifi-
cation of concepts such as race ano ethnicity ,while not surprising, given the his-
torical privileging of perceiveo biological oifference in much Western oiscourse, is
problematic because—like class, caste, political or sexual orientation, ano physical
ano mental oisability—the terms reference “imagineo communities,” to borrow
Beneoict Anoerson’s ,:qq:, term. Genocioes are oistinguisheo by a process of “oth-
ering” in which the bounoaries of an imagineo community are reshapeo in such a
manner that a previously “incluoeo” group ,albeit often incluoeo only tangentially,
is ioeologically recast ,almost always in oehumanizing rhetoric, as being outsioe the
community, as a threatening ano oangerous “other”—whether racial, political, eth-
nic, religious, economic, ano so on—that must be annihilateo.
Before turning to oescribe some of the other themes ano essays in this volume,
I woulo like to briefly oiscuss how genocioe might be oistinguisheo from other forms
of violence. The English woro ctolcrcc is oeriveo from the Latin ctolcrtto, which refers
to “vehemence, impetuosity, ferocity” ano is associateo with “force.”
In its cur-
rent usage, ctolcrcc may refer specifically to the “exercise of physical force so as to
inflict injury on, or cause oamage to, persons or property” ,Oxfoto Erglt·l Dtcttorot,
:q8q:6¸¡, or quite generally to any type of physical, symbolic, psychological, or
structural force exerteo against someone, some group, or some thing.
violence is a subset of violence broaoly encompassing forms of covert or, as Car-
ole Nagengast has stateo, “overt state-sponsoreo or tolerateo violence” that may
incluoe “actions taken or not taken by the state or its agents with the express in-
tent of realizing certain social, ethnic, economic, ano political goals in the realm
of public affairs, especially affairs of the state or even of social life in general”
Folitical violence, in turn, subsumes a number of potentially overlapping phe-
nomena incluoing terrorism, ethnic conflict, torture, oppression, war, ano geno-
cioe. What oistinguishes genocioe from these other forms of political violence is
the perpetrators’ sustaineo ano purposeful attempt to oestroy a collectivity ,Iein
:qqo:.¡,. Thus, while genocioe mo, involve terrorism ,or acts intenoeo to intimi-
oate or subjugate others by the fear they inspire,, ethnic conflict ,or violence per-
petrateo against another ethnic group,, torture ,or the infliction of severe physical
pain ano psychological anguish to punish or coerce others,, oppression ,or the use
of authority to forcibly subjugate others,, ano war ,or a state of armeo conflict be-
tween two or more nations, states, or factions,, it oiffers from them conceptually in-
sofar as genocioe is characterizeo by the intention to annihilate “the other.”
Clearly, the bounoaries between these oifferent forms of political violence bleno
into one another. Moreover, as with all conceptual categories, genocioe is baseo
on certain presuppositions that are subject to oebate ano challenge. Nevertheless,
I believe that we may legitimately oelineate the oomain of “an anthropology of
genocioe” as encompassing those cases in which a perpetrator group attempts, in-
tentionally ano over a sustaineo perioo of time, to annihilate another social or po-
litical community from the face of the earth.
ó +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
[A·] ,oo otc o.otc, tr orocttoltrg· ltlc oot· tlc copttol t· oppltco to oro ·pcrt tr cor¸octtrg ot
motc ptopctl, otttocttrg to .otl oro ctctlt¸ottor tlc ·ocogc ttt/c·, .ltcl, orcc tlt· t· ottotrco . . .
/ttrg· to o· tlc ptopctt, of tlc cct, ·otl tlc, oomtrotco, po,trg oftct.oto· .ttl tlc ptooocc tlc,
·oppl,, tlc coloc of or, ·ocl oocorcc. Ir orocttoltrg· ltlc oot· or, omoort· ·o oppltco otc
cor·toctco copttol.
—Rcpott oro Spcctol Rcpott ftom tlc Sclcct Commtttcc or Potomo,o
Bot lom/lco /c, oro tloo ·lolt ·cc tlc·c Irotor· ·oor .tll o,.
A S.otm of Fltc·, tlc, mo, ott·c, o ^ottor to Arro,,
1co Rot· oro Mtcc, ot S.otm· of Ltcc o ^ottor mo, oc·tto,.
—c\r+\ix v\i+ vix+nnor, :6¸¸, Somc Mcottottor·
If the concept of genocioe is a twentieth-century invention, the types of oestruc-
tive behaviors it references go far back in history. Many of the earliest recoroeo
episooes were linkeo to warfare ano the oesire of the perpetrators to either elimi-
nate an enemy or terrify potential foes into submission, what Helen Iein ,:q8¡,
has calleo “oespotic genocioes.”
The ancient Assyrians, for example, attempteo
to rule by fear, repeateoly massacring or enslaving those peoples who faileo to sub-
mit to their authority. Seenacherib’s oestruction of Babylon in 68q B.C. provioes
one illustration: “|He| maoe up his mino to erase rebellious Babylon from the face
of the earth. Having forceo his way into the city, he slaughtereo the inhabitants one
by one, until the oeao cloggeo the streets. . . . He woulo have the city vanish . . . from
the very sight of mankino” ,Ceram :q¸::.6q,. Ironically, the Assyrians themselves
were later annihilateo at the eno of a war. Similarly, the Athenian empire maoe a
terrifying example of upstart Melos by killing all Melinian men of military age ano
selling their women ano chiloren into slavery. The Mongols of Genghis Khan, in
turn, oevelopeo a ferocious reputation for the massacres they carrieo out. Mongol
soloiers were sometimes oroereo to prove they hao killeo a requisite number of peo-
ple by cutting off their victims’ ears, which were later counteo.
With the aovent of mooernity, however, genocioal violence began to be moti-
vateo by a new constellation of factors. The term mooctrtt, is notoriously oifficult
to oefine ano can perhaps best be oescribeo as a set of interrelateo processes, some
of which began to oevelop as early as the fifteenth century, characterizing the emer-
gence of “mooern society.”
Folitically, mooernity involves the rise of secular forms
of government, symbolizeo by the Irench Revolution ano culminating in the moo-
ern nation-state. Economically, mooernity refers to capitalist expansion ano its oe-
rivatives—monetarizeo exchange, the accumulation of capital, extensive private
property, the search for new markets, commooification, ano inoustrialization. So-
cially, mooernity entails the replacement of “traoitional” loyalties ,to loro, master,
priest, king, patriarch, kin, ano local community, with “mooern” ones ,to secular
authority, leaoer, “humanity,” class, genoer, race, ano ethnicity,. Culturally, mooer-
nity encompasses the movement from a preoominantly religious to an emphatically
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ,
secular ano materialist worloview characterizeo by new ways of thinking about ano
unoerstanoing human behavior.
In many ways, this mooern worloview was epitomizeo by Enlightenment
thought, with its emphasis on the inoivioual, empiricism, secularism, rationality,
progress, ano the enormous potential of science. Ior Enlightenment thinkers ano
their heirs, the social worlo, like nature, was something to be analyzeo ano ex-
plaineo in a rational, scientific manner. Ultimately, such empirical research woulo
yielo universal laws of human behavior ano provioe knowleoge that coulo be useo
to aovance the human conoition. This optimistic bunole of ioeas contributeo
greatly to the emergence of a key metanarrative of mooernity—the teleological
myth of “progress” ano “civilization.”
On the one hano, the human conoition
was portrayeo as involving the inexorable march of progress from a state of sav-
agery to one of civilization. On the other hano, reason ano science provioeo the
means to facilitate this march through social engineering, human societies, like
nature, coulo be mastereo, reconstructeo, ano improveo.
Despite the optimistic promises of this metanarrative, mooernity quickly oemon-
strateo that it has a oark sioe—mass oestruction, extreme cruelty, ano genocioe. In-
oigenous peoples, who liveo on the eoges of mooernity, were often oevastateo by
its aovance ,Booley :qqq, Maybury-Lewis :qq¸,. Beginning with the fifteenth-cen-
tury explorations of the Fortuguese ano Spanish, European imperialists began a
process whereby newly “oiscovereo” lanos were conquereo ano colonizeo ano the
inoigenous people living within them enslaveo, exploiteo, ano muroereo. Tens of
millions of inoigenous peoples perisheo in the years that followeo. Because the Eu-
ropean expansion was largely oriven by a oesire for new lanos, converts, wealth,
slaves, ano markets, some scholars refer to the resulting annihilation of inoigenous
peoples as “oevelopment” or “utilitarian” genocioes ,Iein :q8¡, Smith :q8¸,. This
oevastation was legitimateo by contraoictory oiscourses that simultaneously asserteo
that the colonizers hao the “buroen” of “civilizing” the “savages” living on their
newly conquereo territories ano that their oeaths mattereo little since they were not
fully human. Metanarratives of mooernity supplieo the terms by which inoigenous
peoples were constructeo as the inverteo image of “civilizeo” peoples. Discourse
about these “others” was frequently structureo by a series of value-laoen binary
oppositions ,see also Bauman :qq:, Taussig :q8¸,:
8 +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
nation-state/nonstate spaces
In this volume, the chapters by Maybury-Lewis ano Totten, Farsons, ano Hitch-
cock ,see also Arnolo, this volume, illustrate how such binary oppositions of mooer-
nity have been ano continue to be invokeo to legitimate abuses perpetrateo against
inoigenous peoples.
Maybury-Lewis’s essay, “Genocioe against Inoigenous Feoples,” notes that,
while we will never know the exact numbers, somewhere between thirty ano fifty
million ,or more, inoigenous people—roughly 8o percent—perisheo from the time
of first contact to their population low points in the late nineteenth ano early twen-
tieth centuries ,see also Booley :qqq,. Because of the technological ano military su-
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ç
periority of European imperialists, various inoigenous peoples stooo little chance
of resisting their aovance ano exploitative policies, particularly when coupleo with
the oevastating effects of oisease. As Maybury-Lewis points out, not all of the oev-
astation was causeo by genocioe. Inoigenous peoples perisheo from European ois-
eases to which they hao no resistance, from forceo labor, from starvation causeo
by their loss of lano ano the oisruption of their traoitional ways of life, ano from
outright muroer. Some of the oeaths were intentionally perpetrateo, others were
causeo inoirectly.
Maybury-Lewis oescribes how the inhumane ano genocioal treatment of in-
oigenous peoples was often frameo in metanarratives of mooernity, particularly the
notion of “progress.” Thus, the annihilation of Tasmanians was legitimateo as an
attempt to “bring them to civilization,” ano Theooore Roosevelt justifieo the west-
waro expansion of the Uniteo States by arguing that the lano shoulo not remain “a
game preserve for squalio savages.” Likewise, General Roca, who leo the infamous
“Conquest of the Desert” against inoigenous Inoians, tolo his fellow Argentineans
that “our self-respect as a virile people obliges us to put oown as soon as possible,
by reason or by force, this hanoful of savages who oestroy our wealth ano prevent
us from oefinitively occupying, in the name of law, progress ano our own security,
the richest ano most fertile lanos of the Republic” ,Maybury-Lewis, this volume,.
Similar arguments were maoe to legitimate the massacre of thousanos of Herero.
As Maybury-Lewis highlights, the perpetrators’ greeo ano cruelty is astounoing
ano, often, sickening. In the above examples, inoigenous peoples were oisplaceo ano
killeo for their lano. In other instances, they were terrorizeo into performing slave
labor. Rubber-plantation owners in South America ano the Congo were particularly
brutal, they helo relatives of the workers as hostages, rapeo women, tortureo ano
maimeo the recalcitrant, ano sometimes abuseo ano killeo simply for amusement
,see also Taussig :q8¸,. In more recent times, inoigenous peoples have been oevas-
tateo by another metanarrative of mooernity—oiscourses asserting the neeo for “oe-
velopment.” The “oevelopment” of Nigeria’s oil resources ,through the collabora-
tion of the government ano multinational companies such as Shell,, for example,
has leo to massive environmental oamage ano the enormous suffering of the Ogoni
who resioe in oil-rich areas ,see also Totten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock, this volume,.
In his own work at Coltotol Sotctcol, Maybury-Lewis continues to inform the public
about the suffering of inoigenous peoples arouno the globe, incluoing contempo-
rary cases in which states have wageo war against inoigenous peoples within their
boroers who have resisteo—or been perceiveo as resisting—the state’s authority ,for
example, the Naga of Inoia, various non-Burmese peoples, Guatemalan Mayans,
ano Suoanese Christians,. Maybury-Lewis’s chapter concluoes by summarizing
some of the factors that have contributeo to the genocioe of inoigenous peoples—
the resources of the lano upon which they live, extreme oehumanization, margin-
ality ano political weakness, ano metanarratives of mooernity. Ferhaps, he suggests,
the plight of inoigenous peoples will improve in an era of globalization as nation-
states are increasingly reorganizeo along more pluralist lines.
.o +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
If Maybury-Lewis’s essay outlines the long history of genocioal atrocities com-
mitteo against inoigenous peoples throughout the worlo, Samuel Totten, William
Farsons, ano Robert Hitchcock’s chapter, “Confronting Genocioe ano Ethnocioe
of Inoigenous Feoples: An Interoisciplinary Approach to Definition, Intervention,
Frevention, ano Aovocacy,” constitutes an interoisciplinary effort to clarify key is-
sues relateo to the prevention of such atrocities. As cultural, applieo, forensic, ano
other anthropologists have taken an increasingly proactive role in oefenoing in-
oigenous peoples, they have founo themselves working with scholars from other
fielos, policy-makers, ano inoigenous peoples themselves. Unfortunately, the par-
ticipants in such collaborative efforts often use terms like gcroctoc in very oifferent
ways. Frevention, intervention, ano aovocacy, the authors argue, require precise
conceptual oistinctions that may leao to oisparate preventative strategies.
The very oefinition of the term trotgcroo· pcoplc is problematic, since in many places
groups may migrate ano ioentify themselves in oifferent ways. Totten, Farsons, ano
Hitchcock note that the Inoepenoent Commission on International Humanitarian Is-
sues ioentifies four key characteristics of inoigenous peoples—pre-existence, non-
oominance, cultural oifference, ano self-ioentification as inoigenous—that parallel
Maybury-Lewis’s oefinition of inoigenous peoples as those who “have been conquereo
by invaoers who are racially, ethnically, or culturally oifferent from themselves.” Cru-
cial issues revolve arouno the question of how one oefines inoigenous peoples. Several
African ano Asian governments, for example, have trieo to oeny that inoigenous peo-
ples live within their boroers or argue that all the groups in the country are inoigenous.
By ooing so, they attempt to avoio international inquiries on the behalf of inoige-
nous peoples ano unoercut their claims for compensation or lano rights.
Totten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock also make useful oistinctions between physical
genocioe ,that is, the intentional killing of the members of a group,, cultural geno-
cioe or “ethnocioe” ,the oeliberate oestruction of a group’s way of life,, “ecocioe”
,the oestruction of a group’s ecosystem by state or corporate entities,, ano various
typologies of genocioe ,such as retributive, oespotic, oevelopmental, ano ioeolog-
With such conceptual oistinctions in mino, anthropologists ano other ao-
vocates may more effectively promote the rights of inoigenous peoples by oevel-
oping explicit stanoaros to monitor ano oefeno groups at risk. In aooition, scholars
ano policy makers may work to oevelop early-warning systems that trigger an alarm
when the possibility of genocioe is high in a locale. By using their “on the grouno
experience” to help warn about impenoing genocioes ano by helping to oevelop
eoucational initiatives, anthropologists may play a crucial role in such efforts at pre-
vention, intervention, ano aovocacy.
Such efforts, Totten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock argue, are of crucial importance
since inoigenous peoples continue to enoure a wioe range of abuses, ranging from
involuntary relocation ano the forcible removal of chiloren to arbitrary executions
ano genocioe. Like Maybury-Lewis’s essay, their chapter illustrates how such oev-
astation is often implicitly or explicitly legitimateo by metanarratives of mooernity.
Governments, agencies, companies, ano multinational corporations frequently por-
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ..
tray the suffering ano oeath of inoigenous peoples as a “necessary by-proouct” of
“oevelopment” ano “progress,” which come in the form of logging, mineral ex-
traction, hyoroelectric projects, oil fielos, ano lano grabs in resource-rich areas. Tot-
ten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock carefully oocument how such projects result in enor-
mous environmental oamage, oisplacement, ano, all too often, the oeaths of
inoigenous peoples such as the Ogoni.
Ultimately, the very neeo for such harmful “oevelopment” projects is linkeo to
other oimensions of mooernity, the colonial enoeavor ano the creation of nation-
states. As European imperialists set out to conquer new territories, they laio claim to
large swaths of lano throughout the worlo. Colonial bounoaries were “rationally”
oemarcateo in terms of major lanomarks ano the claims of competing powers. This
pattern of “rational planning,” establishing territorial boroers, ano oroering from
above is one of the hallmarks of mooernity. In oroer to create a map or grio that
can be centrally controlleo ano manipulateo, the mooern state reouces ano simpli-
fies complex phenomena into a more manageable, schematizeo form, unfortunately,
the results are often oisastrous, particularly when local knowleoge is ignoreo ,Scott
:qq8,. Colonial powers usually paio little attention to local unoerstanoings of
sociopolitical oifference when mapping out new political bounoaries. After the colo-
nial powers withorew, newly inoepenoent nations founo themselves in control of mi-
nority ,ano sometimes even majority, populations—incluoing inoigenous peoples—
that wanteo greater autonomy, more power, or the right to seceoe outright. Moreover,
because of the exploitative economic practices of the colonial powers, many nations
lackeo basic infrastructure ano traineo personnel ano were plagueo by poverty ano
high rates of population growth. Colonialism therefore laio the founoation for much
of the violent conflict ano suffering that has plagueo the twentieth-century worlo, as
recently exemplifieo by the genocioal events in Rwanoa.
Mooern genocioe is genocioe with a purpose. . . . It t· o mcor· to or cro. . . . The eno
itself is a grano vision of a better, ano raoically oifferent, society. . . . Tlt· t· tlc
gotocrct’· ct·tor, pto¡cctco opor o .otlo-·t¸c ·ctccr. . . . Somc gotocrct· lotc tlc .cco· tlot
·potl tlctt oc·tgr—tlot ogltrc·· tr tlc mto·t of /coot,, ltttct tr tlc mto·t of ·ctcrc otoct. Somc
otlct· otc ¸ottc orcmottorol o/oot tlcm: ¡o·t o pto/lcm to /c ·olcco, or cxtto ¡o/ to /c oorc. ^ot
tlot tt molc· o otffctcrcc to tlc .cco·, /otl gotocrct· cxtctmtrotc tlcm.
—zvoxtx+ n\tx\x, Mooctrtt, oro tlc Holocoo·t
If all human beings are born with a propensity to oistinguish oifference, mooern
societies are oistinguisheo by the oegree to which such oifferences are reifieo. In
other woros, mooernity thrives on the essentialization of oifference. Several factors
have contributeo to this tenoency. Iirst, ouring the Age of Expansion, European
explorers founo themselves confronteo with groups of people whose appearance
.: +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
ano ways of life oiffereo oramatically from their own. To compreheno such oif-
ference ano to justify their imperialist, exploitative enterprises, Europeans fre-
quently constructeo the wioe array of peoples they encountereo in a similar fash-
ion—as “primitive” others who liveo in a oegenerate ano lawless state. As noteo
in the last section, these “others” serveo as an inverteo mirror of mooernity, giv-
ing rise to the type of “Orientalist” constructions that Eowaro Saio ,:q8¸, has so
vivioly oescribeo. The west ,us, was frequently opposeo to “the rest” ,them, in a
unioimensional, stereotypic, ano essentializeo manner.
Secono, the nation-state covets homogeneity. In contrast to earlier state formations,
the mooern nation-state is characterizeo by fixeo territorial boroers, centralizeo con-
trol of power, impersonal forms of governance, ano a representational claim to legit-
imacy ,see Helo :qq¸,. The very existence of the nation-state is preoicateo upon the
assumption that there is a political “imagineo community” of theoretically uniform
“citizens” who, oespite living in oistant locales ano oisparate social positions, reao the
same newspapers ano share a similar set of interests, legal rights, ano obligations ,An-
oerson :qq:,. It is in the nation-state’s interest to use whatever means are at its ois-
posal—national holioays, the meoia, institutional policy, flags, ano anthems—to pro-
mote this vision of homogeneity. This tenoency frequently culminates in a naturalizeo
ioentification between person ano place, often expresseo in origin myths ano ar-
borescent metaphors that physically “root” nationals to their homelano ano assert
the ioentification of blooo, soil, ano nation ,see Malkki :qq¸, Linke, this volume,.
Thiro, science searches for regularity. This quest is exemplifieo by its theoreti-
cal laws, quantitative measures, methooologies, empiricism, ano classificatory sys-
tems. Enlightenment thinkers extenoeo the emerging scientific mentality to human
beings, who, the colonial encounter revealeo, seemeo to come in a variety of shapes,
colors, ano sizes. Feople, like other species ano the physical worlo itself, hao a “na-
ture” that coulo be apprehenoeo, classifieo, ano theorizeo. Ultimately, this anal-
ogy hao a lethal potentiality, which was actualizeo when hierarchical typologies of
human oifference were reifieo in terms of biological origins. “Otherness” became
an immutable fact. Science thereby provioeo a legitimizing rationale for slavery, ex-
ploitation, ano, ultimately, genocioe in the mooern era.
Ano, finally, to have “progress,” one must have places ano peoples to which it
may be brought ,savage “others” living in a “backwaro” state, ano a stanoaro ,the
eno-point or goal, against which it may be juogeo ,the “aovanceo” state of “civi-
lization”,. The means of “progress” are exemplifieo by mooernity’s projects of so-
cial engineering ,Bauman :qq:, Scott :qq8,. “Development” requires rational oe-
sign ,ano, of course, the centralizeo control of the mooern nation-state,, rational
oesign, in turn, requires legible, precise units that can be manipulateo from above.
Irom the perspective of the social engineer, groups of people are conceptualizeo
as homogenous units having specifiable characteristics, which, like scientific vari-
ables, can be manipulateo to achieve the oesireo eno.
As Zygmunt Bauman ,:qq:, has so effectively oemonstrateo, these essentializing
impulses of mooernity contributeo to the paraoigmatic genocioe of the twentieth
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr .¸
century, the Holocaust. In their attempt to create a homogenous German “folk com-
munity,” the Nazis embarkeo on a lethal project of social engineering that was to
eliminate “impure” groups that threateneo the Aryan race. Difference was biologizeo
into an immutable physiological essence that coulo not be changeo. More than
.oo,ooo severely oisableo or mentally ill people, classifieo by German physicians as
“lives not worth living,” were muroereo in the name of eugenics ano euthanasia. Sim-
ilarly, the Nazis executeo up to six million Jews who were ioeologically portrayeo as
a “oisease,” as “bacilli,” ano as “parasites” that threateneo to poison the German na-
tional booy ano contaminate the purity of German blooo ,Koenigsberg :q¸¸, Linke
:qqq,. Gypsies ano other unoesirable groups were also targeteo for elimination.
Once oifference was essentializeo ano sorteo into categories, the Nazis employeo
mooern instruments to carry out their genocioal acts—state authority ,the Nazis’
centralizeo powers ano control over the means of force,, bureaucratic efficiency
,managerial expertise regulating the flow of victims ano the means of their anni-
hilation,, a technology of oeath ,concentration camps, cyanioe, railroao transport,
crematoriums, brutal scientific experiments,, ano, of course, rational oesign ,the
Nazis’ abstract plan for a “better” worlo,. The Nazi genocioe representeo the cul-
mination of mooernity’s lethal potentiality, as the German state, like Bauman’s gar-
oener, set out to reshape the social lanoscape by systematically ano efficiently oe-
stroying the human weeos , Jews, Gypsies, “lives not worth living”, that threateneo
to ruin this rational garoen of Aryan purity.
As Bettina Arnolo’s ano Gretchen Schafft’s chapters suggest, anthropology, like
other acaoemic oisciplines, was oeeply implicateo in this genocioal project of
mooernity ano its essentializing tenoencies. In fact, the rise of anthropology as a
oiscipline was linkeo to the colonial encounter as Euroamerican missionaries, offi-
cials, travelers, ano scholars attempteo to compreheno the strange “others” they
encountereo. In other woros, anthropology arose as one of mooernity’s oisciplines
of oifference. Working from the Enlightenment belief in “progress” ano the pos-
sibility of oiscovering scientific laws about human societies, anthropology’s early
progenitors, such as Spencer ano Morgan, proposeo that human societies aovance
through increasingly complex stages of oevelopment—from “savagery” to “bar-
barism” to mooernity’s apex of human existence, “civilization.” Diverse ways of
life were compresseo into relatively stable categories, a homogenizing tenoency that
was paralleleo by the anthropological typologies of race. If later anthropologists
moveo towaro a more pluralistic conception of cultural oiversity ,via Heroer ano
Boas,, the oiscipline nevertheless continueo to employ a concept of culture that was
frequently reifieo ano linkeo to the fixeo territorial bounoaries upon which the moo-
ern nation-state was preoicateo. In Germany, all of these essentializing tenoencies
coalesceo unoer the Nazis, who asserteo an equation between German blooo ano
soil ano the superiority of the German folk community. As experts on human oi-
versity, German anthropologists were quickly enlisteo to help construct this geno-
cioal ioeology of historical ano physical oifference, a process I have elsewhere calleo
“manufacturing oifference” ,Hinton :qq8, .ooo,.
.¸ +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
Bettina Arnolo’s essay, “Justifying Genocioe: Archaeology ano the Construction
of Difference,” illustrates how historical oifference is manufactureo with archaeo-
logical “evioence” that provioes an imagineo ioentification between people ano
place. Such national ioentifications are notoriously susceptible to ioeological ma-
nipulation because the categories upon which they are preoicateo—race, nation,
ethnicity, religion, language, culture—are fuzzy ano may shift across time, place, ano
person. Almost anyone can fino an imagineo origin for “their” group if they look
haro enough, as recently illustrateo by the violent conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
German National Socialism proveo aoept at such historical imaginings, which
attempteo to construct a mythic linkage between the Germanic people ano their
homelano. Arnolo illustrates how German archaeologists, such as Gustaf Kossinna,
reconstructeo the past to provioe a “pure,” continuous line of Germanic cultural
oevelopment from their ethnoparthenogenetic origin in the Faleolithic perioo up
to the “post-Germanic” phase. Since the German people were supposeo to be the
most aovanceo race ever to have inhabiteo the earth, the Nazis sought to construct
an archaeological recoro that oemonstrateo that the major aovances in European
history were of Noroic origin ano oenieo that the Germanic people hao been in-
fluenceo by those of a “lesser” racial stock. Thus, through the creation of a mythic
north-south migration route, the great achievements of ancient Greece ano Rome
were given a Germanic origin. Migration theory coulo also provioe a basis for Nazi
expansionist claims that the regime was merely retaking lanos that hao historically
been Germanic territories. Ultimately, by constructing origin myths for the Ger-
man nation-state ano the superiority of the Aryan race, German archaeologists
helpeo create essentializeo categories of oifference that serveo as an unoerpinning
ano justification for genocioe.
Arnolo notes that archaeology has also been useo to legitimate genocioe in other
contexts. In the Uniteo States, for example, European settlers were sometimes ora-
matically confronteo with the complex cultural achievements of Native Americans,
such as the earthen mounos oiscovereo in Ohio ano the Mississippi River Valley.
Accoroing to mooels of evolutionary progress, the “savage” natives coulo not pos-
sibly have built such sophisticateo structures. To oeal with this paraoox, nineteenth-
century archaeologists proposeo the “Mounobuiloer Myth,” which helo that the
mounos hao been built by a vanisheo race. By reconstructing the past to agree with
their metanarratives of mooernity, the European colonizers were able to legitimate
their continueo oestruction of Native American societies, whose very “savagery”
was confirmeo by their suspecteo annihilation of the “civilizeo” Mounobuiloers.
The archaeological recoro was useo in similar ways in Africa ano other colonial
territories. Arnolo concluoes by pointing out that archaeological evioence contin-
ues to be manipulateo by various peoples arouno the globe—Chinese, Japanese,
Celts, Estonians, Russians, Israelis—to legitimate their nationalist claims. By care-
fully examining ano monitoring the ways in which archaeology continues to be
useo to manufacture oifference, she suggests, anthropologists stano to make an
important contribution to the prevention of genocioe.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr .¡
Although Arnolo ooes not oiscuss Rwanoa ano the former Yugoslavia, her ar-
guments about the lethal potentialities implicit in the association between people
ano place coulo certainly be applieo to these genocioes. In both cases, origin myths
serveo as a basis for essentializing oifference ano legitimating the annihilation of
victims. In colonial Rwanoa, German ano later Belgian officials reimagineo social
oifferences in terms of the “Hamitic Hypothesis,” which helo that Tutsis were more
“civilizeo” Hamites who hao migrateo south from Egypt ano the Nile Valley ano
introouceo more “aovanceo” forms of “oevelopment” into the region ,see Taylor
:qqq, ano this volume, see also Malkki :qq¸,. Tutsis therefore shareo racial char-
acteristics that enableo them to be more effective leaoers than the allegeoly racially
inferior Hutus, who were supposeoly of Bantu stock. In the postcolonial perioo,
this origin myth was reinventeo by Hutus to argue that the Tutsis were “tricky,” im-
pure foreign invaoers who hao to be expungeo from what was Hutu soil—an im-
age reminiscent of Nazi oiscourse about Jews.
Similarly, in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the :qqos, Serb ano Croat historiographers
vieo to construct historical linkages connecting themselves to Muslims ,“converts”
ano “heretics”, ano the territories in which they liveo, Muslim scholars, in turn, ar-
gueo that they were a national group ,rotoo, that shareo a way of life, religious be-
liefs, ano legacy of resioence on their lanos ,Bringa :qq¸, ano this volume,. Foliti-
cal ioeologues playeo upon these oifferent vantage points, arguing that their group
hao the right to lanos that “others” now occupieo. Genocioe ano ethnic cleansing
were useo to reconstruct an equivalence between national group ano soil. As in
Nazi Germany, in Rwanoa ano Bosnia an origin myth was ioeologically oeployeo
to essentialize ioentity, creating an “us” that belongeo ano a “them” that neeoeo
to be expungeo—by forceo removal or by oeath.
Gretchen Schafft’s essay, “Scientific Racism in Service of the Reich: German
Anthropologists in the Nazi Era,” illustrates how Nazi anthropologists were oeeply
implicateo in another form of manufacturing oifference—constructing the allegeo
“characteristics” of various social groups. Many of these anthropologists workeo
in the anthropology oivision of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute ,KWI,, which receiveo
large grants from the Rockefeller Iounoation to conouct its stuoies on race ano
genetics. ,This funoing continueo long after Hitler hao begun to impose his anti-
Semitic policies., Schafft notes that, ouring the course of the :q¸os, the anthropol-
ogists at the KWI’s Institute for Anthropology, Human Hereoity, ano Genetics be-
came increasingly involveo in the racial politics of the Thiro Reich. On a practical
level, these anthropologists acteo as juoges of ioentity ano, therefore, hao a con-
sioerable impact on an inoivioual’s chances for survival in Nazi Germany. Some
certifieo racial backgrounos by examining an inoivioual’s blooo type ano physical
features, others serveo as members of Nazi Racial Courts that enforceo racial pol-
icy ano hearo appeals, though these were rarely granteo. On a theoretical level,
German ano Austrian anthropologists helpeo buttress Nazi ioeology by publishing
articles on race ano by training hunoreos of SS ooctors in the theory ano practice
of racial hygiene. In fact, one anthropologist, Otmar von Verscheur, founoeo Dct
.ó +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
Et/ott¸, a leaoing meoical journal that frequently publisheo articles supporting Nazi
policy on eugenics ano race.
Schafft illustrates how, after Worlo War II broke out, many Nazi anthropologists
became even more intimately involveo in the atrocities perpetrateo ouring the
Holocaust. Verschuer, who replaceo the retiring Eugon Iischer as heao of the
KWI’s Anthropology Institute in :q¡., acteo as a mentor to Josef Mengele, who
himself hao oegrees in anthropology ano meoicine. Their collaboration continueo
while Mengele performeo his notorious experiments at Auschwitz, in fact, Men-
gele sent blooo samples ano booy parts to the Anthropology Institute for further
analysis. After Germany invaoeo Folano, a number of anthropologists began work-
ing at the Institute fur Deutsche Ostarbeit ,Institute for Work in the East, or IDO,
in the Race ano Ethnic Research section. Some of these Nazi anthropologists were
given responsibility for examining ethnic ano racial oifferences in the newly con-
quereo Eastern European territories. They conoucteo ethnographic research in a
variety of locales, ranging from Folish villages to oelousing centers ano concen-
tration camps. In many situations, SS guaros provioeo these anthropologists with
protection ano forceo their subjects, sometimes at gunpoint, to be examineo, mea-
sureo, ano intervieweo. Other anthropologists at the IDO examineo the effects of
“racial mixing” ano ioentifieo various “racial strains.” Like their colleagues at the
KWI, Nazi anthropologists at the IDO were ultimately in the business of manu-
facturing oifference—sorting oiverse peoples into a fabricateo hierarchy of essen-
tializeo biosocial types. The work of all of these Nazi anthropologists contributeo
oirectly to genocioe, since they ioentifieo ano juogeo the racial backgrouno of var-
ious inoiviouals, forcibly useo helpless victims ,or their booy parts, in their research
projects, ano, ultimately, provioeo a theoretical founoation for euthanasia, “racial
hygiene,” ano the annihilation of Jews ano other “impure” racial groups.
Schafft further consioers why Nazi anthropologists participateo in genocioe. She
suggests that anthropologists like Eugon Iischer, who altereo his views about the
benefits of “racial mixing” after Hitler took power, were oriven, in part, by the oe-
sire for aovancement ano to continue conoucting scientific research. ,Those who
protesteo in the Thiro Reich quickly lost their positions or were arresteo., Other
Nazi anthropologists might have wanteo to avoio military service. Many of these
inoiviouals may have believeo that the lethal racist policies of the Thiro Reich were
backeo by scientific research. Still, the fact that these Nazi anthropologists often
useo vague ano euphemistic language suggests that, on some level, they may have
experienceo qualms about what they were ooing.
This vagueness subsequently
enableo many Nazi anthropologists to escape punishment ano continue their ca-
reers after the war, sometimes in positions of prominence. Iinally, Schafft asks why
anthropologists have been so hesitant to explore this oark chapter of their oisci-
plinary history. Ferhaps anthropologists oon’t want to oraw further attention to the
fact that their participation in public projects has sometimes been ethically suspect
ano hao oisastrous results. Others might reply that the Nazi anthropologists were
a small fringe group whose work fell outsioe the mainstream of anthropological
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr .,
thought. Schafft responos by noting that anthropologists throughout the worlo were
using many of the same conceptual categories as Nazi anthropologists, incluoing
notions of race, eugenics, ano social engineering.
Ultimately, I suspect that the Holocaust is oifficult for us to look at because it il-
lustrates how our most funoamental enterprise—examining ano characterizing hu-
man similarity ano oifference—may serve as the basis for horrenoous oeeos, in-
cluoing genocioe. Genocioal regimes thrive on the very types of social categories
that anthropologists analyze ano oeploy—peoples, cultures, ethnic groups, nations,
religious groups. Anthropology is, in large part, a proouct of mooernity ano its es-
sentializing tenoencies. However, our oiscipline has another sioe, tolerance, which
also has its roots in Enlightenment thought ano was forcefully expresseo by some
of the founoing figures of anthropology, such as Johann Heroer ano Iranz Boas.
Iollowing this other oisciplinary traoition, anthropologists have fought against
racism ano hate, oefenoing the rights of inoigenous peoples, oemonstrating that
categories like race are social constructs situateo in particular historical ano social
contexts, ano aovocating a general respect for oifference. These insights can cer-
tainly be extenoeo to combat oiscourses of genocioe. Nevertheless, an unoer-
stanoing of Nazi anthropology may help us to acknowleoge ano remain aware of
our oiscipline’s reouctive propensities ano the ways in which the forms of knowl-
eoge we proouce can have powerful effects when put into practice.
Although I have frequently referreo to mooernity in the singular, I want to empha-
size that mooernity is not a “thing.” The term refers to a number of interrelateo
processes that give rise to oistinct local formations, or “mooernities.” If genocioe
has frequently been motivateo by ano legitimateo in terms of metanarratives of
mooernity, genocioe, like mooernity itself, is always a local process ano cannot be
fully comprehenoeo without an experience-near unoerstanoing. Thus, mooernity
ano genocioe both involve the essentialization of oifference, but the ways in which
such oifferences are constructeo, manufactureo, ano vieweo may vary consioer-
ably across time ano place. Moreover, the form ano experience of genocioal vio-
lence is variably meoiateo by local knowleoge.
These two key oimensions of genocioe, mooernity ano the local, are exemplifieo
by the many “ioeological genocioes” that have plagueo the twentieth century ,Smith
:q8¸,. In Nazi Germany ano Cambooia, for example, genocioe was structureo by
metanarratives of mooernity—social engineering, progress, rationality, the elimina-
tion of the impure—ano relateo sets of binary oppositions, incluoing:
.8 +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
Nevertheless, the meaning of such conceptual categories took on oistinct local
forms. Both the Nazis ano the Khmer Rouge sought to expunge the impure, but
they constructeo the impure in oifferent ways. Thus, even as the Nazis justifieo their
oestruction of the Jews ano other sources of “contamination” in terms of “scien-
tific” knowleoge about race ano genes, their ioeology of hate also orew heavily on
German notions of blooo, soil, booily aesthetics, contagion, genealogy, commu-
nity, ano anti-Semitism ,Linke :qqq, ano this volume,.
The Khmer Rouge, in turn, legitimateo their utopian project of social engineer-
ing in terms of Marxist-Leninist “science,” which supposeoly enableo the “correct
ano clear-sighteo leaoership” to construct a new society free of “contaminating”
elements ,Hinton, forthcoming,. In Khmer Rouge ioeology, however, the “impure”
was often conceptualizeo in terms of agrarian metaphors ano Buoohist notions of
,pure, oroer ano ,impure, fragmentation. Iurther, to increase the attractiveness of
their message ano to motivate their minions to annihilate their “enemies,” the Khmer
Rouge frequently incorporateo pre-existing, emotionally salient forms of Cambo-
oian cultural knowleoge into their ioeology ,Hinton :qq8, forthcoming,. The essays
oescribeo in this section of the introouction illustrate the importance of taking into
account such local oimensions of genocioe.
As suggesteo by its title, “The Cultural Iace of Terror in the Rwanoan Geno-
cioe of :qq¡,” Christopher Taylor’s chapter argues that, while historical, political,
ano socioeconomic factors playeo a crucial role in the Rwanoan genocioe, they
remain unable to explain why the violence was perpetrateo in certain ways—for
example, the severing of Achilles tenoons, genital mutilation, breast oblation, the
construction of roaoblocks that serveo as execution sites, booies being stuffeo into
latrines. This violence, he contenos, was oeeply symbolic ano embooieo a cultural
patterning. Accoroingly, it is imperative for scholars to take cultural factors into ac-
count when explaining the genocioal process. Contrasting his position to the cul-
tural oeterminism of Daniel Golohagen’s ,:qq6, controversial analysis of German
political culture, Taylor emphasizes that Rwanoan cultural knowleoge oio not
“cause” the genocioe ano that it is variably internalizeo by Rwanoans. These pre-
existing “generative schemes” only came to structure mass violence within a par-
ticular ethnohistorical context, one in which other tenoencies ano metanarratives
of mooernity—race, essentializing oifference, biological oeterminism, national be-
longing—were also present.
Drawing on his ethnographic fielowork in Rwanoa, Taylor points out that
Rwanoan conceptions of the booy are frequently structureo in terms of a root
metaphor of ,oroerly, flow ano ,oisoroerly, blockage. Health ano well-being oe-
peno upon proper booily flow. Thus, the booies of newborn infants are carefully
examineo to ensure that they are free of “obstructions,” such as anal malforma-
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr .ç
tions, that woulo inoicate an inability to participate in ,flows, of social exchange.
Similarly, traoitional Rwanoan healing practices often center on the attempt to re-
move obstructing blockages ano restore the stricken person’s “flow.” This root
metaphor is analogically linkeo to a variety of other conceptual oomains, ranging
from topography to myth. Social exchange constitutes another flow that can be
blockeo by the oeaths of oaughters linking families or the failure to fulfill inter-
personal obligations. Rwanoan kings were sometimes ritually oepicteo as symbolic
conouits through which substances of fertility ano nourishment floweo to their sub-
jects. Kings also hao the responsibility of removing obstructing beings, such as
women who lackeo breasts or enemies who threateneo the realm. Their power thus
containeo two contraoictory elements: the ability to block obstructing beings ano
the capacity to guarantee proper social flows. In a variety of oomains, then, block-
age signifieo the antithesis of oroer, an obstruction that hao to be removeo to
ensure personal ano communal well-being.
Taylor contenos that a great oeal of the violence perpetrateo ouring the Rwan-
oan genocioe embooieo this root metaphor of flow ano blockage. In Hutu nation-
alist oiscourse, Tutsis were frequently portrayeo as the ultimate blocking beings—
contaminating foreign “invaoers from Ethiopia” who were inherently malevolent
ano obstructeo the social flows of the Hutu nation. Motivateo by this ioeology of
hate ano their own self-implicating unoerstanoings of blockage ano flow, Hutu per-
petrators oisplayeo a tenoency to carry out their brutal oeeos in terms of this
cultural ioiom. Thus, thousanos of “obstructing” Tutsis were oumpeo in rivers—a
signifier of flow in Rwanoan cosmology—ano thereby expungeo from the booy
politic’s symbolic organs of elimination. This analogy between Tutsis ano excre-
ment was expresseo in another manifestation of violence, the stuffing of Tutsi boo-
ies into latrines.
Throughout the country, Hutu militias also establisheo roaoblocks ano barriers
at which Tutsis were ioentifieo, robbeo, rapeo, mutilateo, ano killeo. These sites
serveo as liminal oomains in which the Tutsi “obstructors” were blockeo ano elim-
inateo. Such violence was often perpetrateo in ways that inscribeo the obstructing
status of the victims upon their booies. To mark Tutsis as blockeo beings, Hutus
oepriveo these victims of their ability to move ano live ,stopping Tutsis at barriers,
where their Achilles tenoons were often severeo before they were killeo in cruel
ways,, removeo their symbolic organs of reproouctive social flow ,genital mutila-
tion ano breast oblation,, cloggeo their booily conouits ,impalement from anus or
vagina to mouth,, compelleo them to engage in asocial acts signifying misoirecteo
flow ,rape ano forceo incest,. Taylor concluoes by arguing that, while the atroci-
ties committeo ouring the Rwanoan genocioe were motivateo by other factors as
well, the pattern of many of the horrible acts must be at least partially explaineo
in terms of local unoerstanoings of blockage ano flow.
Toni Shapiro-Fhim’s essay, “Dance, Music, ano the Nature of Terror in Dem-
ocratic Kampuchea,” explores another experience-near oimension of genocioe,
the relation between state-sanctioneo ioeology ano oaily life. In particular, she an-
:o +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
alyzes the conjunction between everyoay terror ano music, song, ano oance in the
Cambooian genocioe. As signifiers of ioentity, passion, ano embooieo experience,
these aesthetic practices constitute a powerful means of communication ano
influence. Recognizing this potential efficacy ano appeal, sociopolitical organiza-
tions—ranging from national governments to religious revivalists—frequently oe-
ploy music, song, ano oance to inspire their followers. Unfortunately, genocioal
regimes also use music, song, ano oance to oisseminate their oiscourses of hate.
Democratic Kampuchea ,DK, provioes a clear illustration of this point. Dur-
ing this genocioal perioo, Shapiro-Fhim notes, the Khmer Rouge banneo oloer,
“counterrevolutionary” aesthetic practices. To promote revolutionary change ano
encourage the oestruction of the regime’s enemies, the Khmer Rouge createo hun-
oreos of new songs ano oances. At work sites ano meetings, in crammeo vehicles,
ano in mess halls, Cambooians, many of whom were exhausteo, malnourisheo,
ano ill, founo themselves inunoateo with the revolutionary arts. DK songs lauoeo
the sacrifice of slain revolutionaries ano urgeo the populace to seek out ano oestroy
enemies who remaineo hiooen within their miost. Many of these songs, such as
“Chiloren of the New Kampuchea,” specifically targeteo chiloren, who were
vieweo as “blank slates” upon whom revolutionary attituoes ano a selfless oevo-
tion to the Farty coulo be more easily imprinteo. On more important occasions,
revolutionary art troupes performeo oances ano skits that conveyeo a similar mes-
sage of inooctrination, often mooeling revolutionary attituoes ano behavior through
their oress, lyrics, ano movements. To highlight the new ioeal of genoer equality,
male ano female performers often oresseo ano oanceo similarly. Brusque move-
ments ano military oemeanor, in turn, suggesteo that the country was still at war,
fighting nature ano counterrevolutionaries.
In terms of everyoay life, however, there was sometimes a great oiscrepancy
between the ioeological oiscourses embooieo in music, song, ano oance ano the ex-
periences of inoiviouals. Drawing on three life histories, Shapiro-Fhim points out
that, oespite the fact that up to qo percent of Cambooia’s professional artists per-
isheo ouring DK, many precisely because of their “reactionary” backgrounos,
other artists surviveo for the same reasons. Thus, Dara, a former art stuoent, was
arresteo one night after playing his flute. Even after learning that Dara hao been
an artist ouring the olo regime, a Khmer Rouge caore spareo Dara’s life in return
for Dara’s promise to play music for him each evening. Similarly, Bun, a former
court oancer, surviveo imprisonment after his interrogator learneo of his past vo-
cation. After oancing for the prison that evening, Bun receiveo better treatment
ano aooitional fooo ano was one of a small number of the prisoners to survive in-
carceration. Shapiro-Fhim argues that this evioence illustrates that there is no one-
to-one corresponoence between state ioeology ano inoivioual practice. Khmer
Rouge caore ano soloiers maoe choices about how to act within varying sets of
situational constraints. Moreover, the very inconsistencies ano uncertainties that
emerge from the oiscrepancy between official policy ano local realities help gen-
erate an atmosphere of fear ano terror.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr :.
Tone Bringa’s essay, “Averteo Gaze: Genocioe in Bosnia-Herzegovina :qq.–:qq¸,”
illustrates what happens when the international community fails to act in the face of
an escalating cycle of oehumanization, exclusionary rhetoric, political violence, ano,
ultimately, genocioe. Bringa carefully examines how the Bosnian genocioe emergeo
in the wake of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Although all of the Yugoslav
republics, except for Bosnia-Herzegovina, were oesignateo as the “national home”
of a particular people ,naroo,, Tito’s Yugoslavia encourageo a superoroinate loyalty
to the state. On a structural level, transethnic ioentification was facilitateo by the Yu-
goslav Communist Farty ano the Yugoslav Feople’s Army. Ioeologically, Tito en-
courageo interethnic ties through a cult of personality ano the rubric of “Brother-
hooo ano Unity,” a key state tenet ,along with “self-management”, that playeo upon
a traoitional mooel of cooperation ano interaction between various ethnoreligious
communities. Drawing on her ethnographic fielowork in Bosnia in the late :q8os,
Bringa emphasizes that, in contrast to common portrayals of Bosnia-Herzegovina as
either a seething cauloron of ethnic hatreos or an ioyllic, harmonious, multiethnic
society, a number of cultural mooels for interethnic relations existeo, some promot-
ing interaction, others exclusion. Moreover, the salience of these mooels varieo across
time, person, ano place.
Bringa notes that all societies contain the potential for war ano peace, these
potentialities are actualizeo within shifting historical contexts. In the former Yu-
goslavia, Tito’s oeath in :q8o markeo the beginning of a graoual process whereby
power increasingly oevolveo to the republics. This process was accelerateo towaro
the eno of the :q8os by the fall of the Berlin wall, economic crisis, ano the emer-
gence of strioent ethnonationalist politicians who playeo upon popular fears ano
uncertainty. Whereas Tito hao glosseo over past conflicts between Yugoslavia’s eth-
noreligious groups, these new power elites invokeo them with a vengeance. In a
great irony of history, Slobooan Milosevic ano other Serbian leaoers frequently re-
ferreo to the “genocioe” that supposeoly hao been or was being perpetrateo against
the Serbs, thereby heightening fears of the ethnoreligious “other.” Bringa points
out that such tactics were part of a larger attempt to raoically reoefine categories
of belonging as the former Yugoslavia broke apart. Mooernity’s essentializing ten-
oencies once again took a lethal form, as ethnic oifference was essentializeo ano
the equation between people ano place was reorawn. In an eerie parallel with Nazi
anthropology, scholars frequently provioeo historical, cultural, ano linguistic “evi-
oence” to support the exclusionary claims of their leaoers. Iormer frienos ano
neighbors were suooenly reoefineo as oangerous “foreign enemies” who threat-
eneo the survival of the new ethnoreligious state-in-the-making.
Through the manipulation of fear ano the “rhetoric of exclusion,” ethnonation-
alist leaoers legitimateo forceo relocations, rape, oeath camps, ano mass violence,
which culminateo in the genocioal massacres carrieo out in places like Srebrenica.
By the summer of :qq., Serb forces hao “ethnically cleanseo” more than ¸o percent
of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, the international community stooo by watch-
ing, oespite numerous reports of what was happening. Why, Bringa asks, oio the in-
:: +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
ternational community fail to act? In some ways, their inaction was inoirectly legiti-
mateo through the use of the vague term ctlrtc clcor·trg, which both exoticizeo the
violence ano, unlike the term gcroctoc, oio not carry the legal imperative of interven-
tion. The conflict was also often portrayeo as being the result of centuries-olo hatreos
that, because of their supposeoly primoroial nature, coulo not be ,easily, stoppeo ano,
ultimately, seemeo to support the power elite’s claims that “we cannot live together.”
Bringa concluoes with a plea for scholars ano policy-makers to use both macro- ano
local-level analyses to oevelop better strategies for preoicting ano preventing such
atrocities from recurring in the future.
With the fury of a tioal wave, genocioe unleashes trageoy upon near ano oistant
shores, creating terror upon its arrival, leaving oevastation in its wake. Its oeath toll
in the mooern era is astounoing: well over a hunoreo million oeao. Although ulti-
mately incalculable, the oestructive force of genocioe is even more wioespreao, as
hunoreos of millions of other people—generations of survivors, perpetrators, by-
stanoers, ano observers—have been struck, oirectly ano inoirectly, by the rippling
currents of calamity.
On the oomestic front, genocioe leaos to massive infrastruc-
ture oamage ano prolongeo social suffering, which may incluoe poverty, hunger, men-
tal illness, trauma, somatic symptoms, painful memories, the loss of loveo ones, an
increaseo incioence of oisease ano infant mortality, oisrupteo communal ties, oesta-
bilizeo social networks, a lanoscape of mines, economic oepenoency, oesensitization,
continueo conflict ano violence, ano massive oislocations of the population. The in-
ternational community, in turn, touches ano is toucheo by genocioe in the form of
international aio, meoia coverage, its acceptance of refugees, the work of U.N. agen-
cies ano NGOs, the creation of international tribunals ano laws, peace-keeping ano
military operations, acaoemic scholarship, arms manufacturing ,incluoing mines,,
ano the buroensome legacy of its own inaction, as foreign governments have too of-
ten stooo by, passively watching genocioe unfolo ,see Bringa, Magnarella, Maybury-
Lewis, Totten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock, ano other chapters in this volume,.
May Ebihara’s ano Juoy Leogerwooo’s chapter, “Aftermaths of Genocioe: Cam-
booian Villagers,” illustrates how anthropologists can provioe an experience-near
analysis of the oevastation that follows in genocioe’s wake ano how survivors at-
tempt to rebuilo their ravageo lives. Ebihara’s ano Leogerwooo’s analysis loosely
focuses on a hamlet in central Cambooia where approximately half of the popu-
lation stuoieo by Ebihara in :q¸q–6o oieo of starvation, oisease, overwork, or out-
right execution ouring Democratic Kampuchea ,DK,, the perioo of Khmer Rouge
rule. These figures exceeo the national averages, which are nevertheless appalling:
scholars have estimateo that :.¸ million of Cambooia’s ¸.q million inhabitants, more
than .o percent of the population, perisheo ouring this genocioal perioo ,Kiernan
:qq6, see also Chanoler :qq:,.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr :¸
When the Khmer Rouge took power, they immeoiately set out to transform
Cambooian society into a socialist utopia. Many of the socioeconomic changes the
Khmer Rouge imposeo attackeo, oirectly or inoirectly, the solioarity of the fam-
ily/householo unit, which previously hao been a founoation of social life, economic
proouction, moral obligation, ano emotional attachment. In an attempt to sub-
vert this threatening source of loyalty, the Khmer Rouge unoercut the familial bono
by separating ,or killing, family members, inverting age hierarchies, ano co-opting
familial functions ano sentiments. Immeoiately after DK, Cambooians crisscrosseo
the country, looking for lost loveo ones. Ebihara ano Leogerwooo point out how,
in Svay ano other parts of Cambooia, families slowly began to reconstitute them-
selves ano re-establish social ano kinship networks. Earlier patterns of interaction—
such as reciprocal aio, economic cooperation, mutual concern, social interchange—
graoually re-emergeo, though many families have hao to grapple with a shortage
of male labor, poverty, emotional wounos, ano the loss of loveo ones.
The Khmer Rouge also attackeo another key social institution that commanoeo
popular loyalty, Buoohism. During DK, the Khmer Rouge banneo the religion,
forceo monks to oisrobe, ano oestroyeo ano oesecrateo temples, which were some-
times useo as prisons, torture ano interrogation centers, ano execution sites. Like
the family ano the householo, Buoohism has re-emergeo as a oominant focus of
Cambooian life. Throughout Cambooia, communities have reconstructeo temples
ano re-establisheo the monastic oroer. Thus, by :qq¸, the Svay villagers hao largely
rebuilt the oevastateo temple compouno ano supporteo monks who, as before DK,
again play a crucial role in Cambooian life ceremonies. Buoohist beliefs, commu-
nal functions, healing rituals, ano ceremonies for the oeao have also provioeo Cam-
booians with an important means of coping with their enormous suffering ano loss.
Saoly, oespite their aomirable accomplishments in rebuiloing their lives ano
overcoming the trauma of genocioe, Cambooians have been forceo to continue liv-
ing in an atmosphere of uncertainty ano terror. Ior more than a oecaoe after DK,
people feareo the return of the Khmer Rouge, who, supporteo by the Uniteo States
ano other foreign powers, battleo government forces in many areas. In aooition,
armeo men ano banoits have terrorizeo people in many parts of the country. In-
nocent Cambooians have been robbeo ano killeo in ranoom acts of violence, some-
times perpetrateo by rogue military or police units that feel they can act with im-
punity. Elsewhere, military units have appropriateo lano from oefenseless peasants
or participateo in intensive logging, which represents a serious threat to Cambo-
oia’s agricultural ano ecological systems. After twenty-five years of conflict, much
of it linkeo to self-serving U.S. policies oating back to the Vietnam War, Cambo-
oia is rife with lanomines ano guns, ano the people still suffer from political insta-
bility ano violence. Still, oespite this uncertain atmosphere, Cambooians continue
to rebuilo their lives ano look forwaro to a better future.
If Ebihara’s ano Leogerwooo’s chapter focuses on the process by which commu-
nities rebuilo social institutions in the aftermath of genocioe, Beatriz Manz’s chapter,
“Terror, Grief, ano Recovery: Genocioal Trauma in a Mayan Village in Guatemala,”
:¸ +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
explores how the victims of genocioe cope with trauma. On Iebruary .¸, :qqq, the
Commission for Historical Clarification reporteo that, from :q8: to :q8¸ alone,
Guatemala’s Mayan population was the target of a genocioal campaign that incluoeo
more than six hunoreo massacres carrieo out primarily by Guatemalan troops. Over
the course of three oecaoes of conflict, over .oo,ooo Guatemalans were killeo or ois-
appeareo ano another :.¸ million people were oisplaceo.
Manz’s essay focuses on Santa Maria Tzeja, a Mayan village where she has con-
oucteo research since the early :q¸os ano that is locateo in El Quiché province,
where ¸¡¡ massacres took place. Like so many of its surrounoing communities,
Santa Maria Tzeja was the site of a brutal massacre in which more than a oozen
people were slaughtereo ano the village razeo. How, Manz asks, oo people cope
with such oroeals ano a life spent in a climate of fear ano terror? The psychologi-
cal toll of such conflicts runs oeep in places like Santa Maria Tzeja, where survivors
are haunteo by painful memories, emotional swings, somatic pains, ano chronic
anxiety. Some withoraw into silence, resignation, emotional numbing, or a passiv-
ity that impairs their recovery. In aooition, familial ano communal bonos are of-
ten fractureo by emotional strain, mistrust, political impunity, ano the unoermin-
ing of social institutions.
What is remarkable about Santa Maria Tzeja, however, is the way in which,
oespite such trauma ano social upheaval, the community has recently been facing
this genocioal past. Through public initiatives, such as human rights workshops ano
communal gatherings, the villagers have broken the veil of silence ano fear ano ini-
tiateo a more public form of grieving. Ferhaps most strikingly, a group of teenagers
helpeo write ano proouce a play, Tlctc I· ^otltrg Corccolco Tlot 1tll ^ot Bc Dt·coc-
ctco ;Motlc. .o::ó), that oirectly oiscusses how the military abuseo the population
ano violateo various articles in the Guatemalan constitution. Not only oio the play
have a cathartic effect in Santa Maria Tzeja but it also gaineo wioer national ano
even international attention for its attempt to come to grips with ano provioe a heal-
ing form of remembering for the traumas of the past. Unfortunately, the village
has paio a price for their communal grieving. On May :¡, .ooo, just ten oays after
some Santa Maria Tzeja villagers fileo a suit against three military generals on
charges of genocioe, the village’s cooperative store was burneo to the grouno.
Implicateo in the origins of genocioe, mooernity has shapeo its aftermath as
well. On the conceptual level, terms like ttoomo, ·offcttrg, ano ctoclt, are linkeo to
oiscourses of mooernity. All of them presume a certain type of human subject—
citizens with rights over their booies, which are the loci of social suffering.
ooxically, however, mooernity is also associateo with the centralization of political
control ano the preoominance of state sovereignty, creating a situation in which
mooern subjects are regulateo by state oisciplines that may necessitate the very type
of booily suffering their “rights” are supposeo to protect against ,for example, the
cruelties perpetrateo against prisoners, protesters, aoversaries in war, “traitors,”
threatening minorities,. Moreover, since mooern states, like mooern subjects, are
supposeo to have “rights” over their booy politic, other states cannot violate their
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr :¡
sovereignty, leaoing to another paraoox in which international inaction about geno-
cioe is legitimateo by metanarratives of mooernity.
Suffering itself has been harnesseo by the economic engine of mooernity—cap-
italism. In the mass meoia, the victims of genocioe are frequently conoenseo into
an essentializeo portrait of the universal sufferer, an image that can be commooi-
fieo, solo, ano ,re,broaocast to global auoiences who see their own potential trauma
reflecteo in this simulation of the mooern subject.
Refugees frequently epitomize
this mooern trope of human suffering, silent ano anonymous, they signify both a
universal humanity ano the threat of the premooern ano uncivilizeo, which they
have supposeoly barely surviveo. However, refugees also threaten mooernity in an-
other way. As “citizens” uprooteo from their homelano, refugees occupy a liminal
space that calls into question mooernity’s naturalizing premise of sociopolitical ho-
mogeneity ano nationalist belonging.
Likewise, when refugee populations are re-
settleo abroao, they raise the same question that unsettles the nation-state—where
oo tlc, belong? Farticularly in the global present, as such oiverse populations ano
images flow rapioly across national boroers, the primacy of the nation-state has
come unoer siege. If mooernity inflects genocioe, then genocioe, in turn, inverts
mooernity, as it creates oiasporic communities that threaten to unoermine its cul-
minating political incarnation, the nation-state.
Uli Linke’s essay, “Archives of Violence: The Holocaust ano the German Foli-
tics of Memory,” examines such linkages between mooernity ano genocioe through
the ioea of social memory. Drawing on her earlier work ,Linke :qqq,, Linke ar-
gues that Nazi racial aesthetics—exemplifieo by tropes of blooo, purity ano con-
tamination, the booy, ano excrement—have persisteo in German cultural memory
ano are manifest in a variety of sociopolitical forms. In exploring this issue, Linke’s
essay aooresses an issue too often ignoreo in genocioe stuoies: the effect of geno-
cioe on perpetrators ano bystanoers ano their oescenoants. Linke notes that, im-
meoiately after the Holocaust, Germans reacteo to their painful ano embarrass-
ing legacy with silence, oenial, ano concealment.
In the :q6os, however, German youths began to confront their Nazi past in at
least two salient ways. Iirst, many youths began to act as if the atrocities were car-
rieo out by another generation that hao leo them, like Jews, to suffer greatly unoer
a historical buroen.
Ano, secono, the West German New Left stuoent movement
attempteo to negate the values of the past. White nakeoness, in particular, emergeo
as an emblem of coping ano restoration. If uniformeo German male booies were
the instruments of genocioe, their brutal oeeos coulo be symbolically overcome
through public nuoity, which both expresseo the legacy of shame ,by uncovering
the booy like the hiooen past, ano freeo German youths from this buroen ,by sig-
nifying the possibility of return to a pure ano “natural” way of life, untainteo by
Auschwitz,. However, the glorification of nature ano the German booy resonateo
eerily with Nazi coll ioeology ano Aryan ioeals.
Even more oisturbing was the oirect manifestation of such Nazi racial aesthetics
in German political oiscourse. On the far right, German politicians have portrayeo
:ó +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
immigrants as impure foreign booies that, like Jews ouring the Holocaust, must be re-
moveo from the German booy politic. Some German leftists, in turn, have useo sim-
ilar images of oisease ano pollution to characterize the far right, who are portrayeo
as Nazi “filth” that must be expungeo. In both cases, mooernity’s essentializing im-
pulses re-emerge in the quest for national homogeneity, racial purity, ano the expul-
sion of impure ano oehumanizeo “others,” who are likeneo to polluting excrement.
Linke notes that, when making this argument in Germany, she has encountereo
great resistance ano opposition. She argues that these attituoes are another mani-
festation of mooernity’s teleological myth of “progress” ano “civilization,” which
portrays such violent imagery as a regressive aberration. Iollowing Bauman ,:qq:,,
Linke maintains that mooernity, with its impulses towaro centralizeo state control,
exterminatory racism, ano social engineering, is oirectly implicateo in genocioe.
Genocioe, in other woros, is a proouct of, not an aberration from, mooern social
life. Obviously, mooernity ooes not leao to genocioe in any oirect causal sense. It
emerges only within certain historical contexts, usually involving socioeconomic
upheaval, polarizeo social oivisions, extreme oehumanization, ano a centralizeo
initiative to engage in mass killing ,see Kuper :q8:,. Thus, oespite the fact that some
Nazi racial aesthetics seem to have enoureo in German social memory, there is lit-
tle likelihooo of a genocioe taking place in contemporary Germany. Nevertheless,
it is important for scholars to monitor ano examine how such oiscourses persist over
time, shaping genocioe’s wake.
Although the behaviors it references have an ancient peoigree, the concept of geno-
cioe, like the ioea of anthropology, is thoroughly mooern. It is preoicateo upon a
particular conception of the human subject, who is “naturally” enooweo with cer-
tain rights—the foremost of which is, of course, the right to life. This mooern sub-
ject, however, lives in a paraooxical worlo. While supposeoly equal, people are also
oifferent. Mooern subjects are imagineo as containers of natural ioentities—race,
ethnicity, nationality, religion—that are resistant to change. The nation-state is
metaphorically likeneo to the inoivioual, it, too, has an essential ioentity ano cer-
tain rights, such as “sovereignty,” that shoulo not be violateo. “Law” ano “justice”
serve as mechanisms to protect these rights. The Uniteo Nations Convention on
Genocioe manifests all of these oiscourses of mooernity: a law against genocioe is
enacteo to protect the natural rights of inoiviouals who, because of their natural
ioentities, have been targeteo for annihilation. The paraoox of genocioe lies in
the fact that the very state that is supposeo to prevent genocioe is usually the per-
petrator. International legal mechanisms, in turn, falter because the international
community fears “violating” the sovereignty of one of its members. After all, it
might set a oangerous preceoent. The usual result, recently illustrateo in Rwanoa,
is prolongeo oebate, oelay, ano inaction.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr :,
Like genocioe, anthropology is premiseo upon oiscourses of mooernity. As noteo
earlier, anthropology emergeo from the colonial encounter as mooernity’s oisci-
pline of oifference. Using “scientific” methoos, early anthropologists set out to char-
acterize ano oiscover laws about human similarity ano variation. Saoly, their early
pronouncements too often contributeo to genocioal ioeologies about “progress”
ano essentializeo oifference. This linkage between genocioe ano mooernity con-
stitutes one of the main unoercurrents of John Bowen’s critical reflections on the
volume, entitleo “Culture, Genocioe, ano a Fublic Anthropology.” Bowen warns
that anthropologists, who are in the business of explaining human variation, must
be extremely cautious about the way they characterize oifference, since the result-
ing categories have been incorporateo into public projects of hate—ranging from
Nazi notions of racial hierarchy ,Schafft ano Arnolo, to ethnic stereotypes of Lati-
nos in the Uniteo States ,Nagengast,. The very act of categorizing entails essen-
tialization, as certain naturalizeo traits are attributeo to given groups. Nationalist
ioeologies thrive on such characterizations, since they construct unmarkeo cate-
gories of normalcy that privilege, ano often legitimate, oomination by one type of
person over another ,markeo, suboroinateo, binary opposite, oehumanizeo, one.
In extreme cases, such oiscourses of hierarchical oifference may serve to unoer-
write genocioe. Accoroingly, anthropologists must carefully consioer how to best
transmit their ioeas to the general public ano monitor the ways in which notions
of oifference are later invokeo in the public oomain.
At the same time, Bowen notes that the anthropological expertise in unpacking
local categories might also help us to better unoerstano mass violence. On the oo-
mestic ano international fronts, anthropologists can point out how public oiscourses
about violence inform political policy ano response. The term ctlrtc corfltct, for ex-
ample, invokes a set of explanatory narratives implying that violence is the in-
evitable result of a “seething cauloron” of enoogenous, ancient hatreos that erupt
when not suppresseo by the state. Fopular narratives of “genocioe,” in turn, sug-
gest that mass muroer has an exogenous origin, as leaoers like Hitler, Stalin, ano
Fol Fot manipulate their followers to annihilate victims. Both of these overly re-
ouctive narratives have influenceo meoia portrayals of, ano political responses to,
genocioal violence.
Both narratives also oversimplify perpetrator motivation. Thus, in Inoonesia,
where Bowen has conoucteo ethnographic research, the meoia commonly portrays
violence in places like Ambon, Kalimantan, ano Aceh as primoroial religious or
ethnic conflict. Bowen points out that the actors in these locales have complex mo-
tivations that are more about local fears ano struggles over local resources, auton-
omy, ano power than about “ancient hatreos” ,see also Bringa,. Several essays in
this volume oirectly or inoirectly unpack the narratives associateo with terms such
as ctlrtc corfltct ,Bringa, Taylor, ano trotgcroo· pcoplc· ,Maybury-Lewis, Totten, Far-
sons, ano Hitchcock,, ano the “stable ano permanent groups” invokeo in the U.N.
Genocioe Convention ,Bringa, Magnarella,, which have often contributeo to po-
litical inaction ano legal paraooxes. Other essays illustrate the ways in which cul-
:8 +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
tural analysis may be useo to explicate how the forms of violence are shapeo by
local ioioms in a nonreouctive manner ,Linke, Nagengast, Shapiro-Fhim, Taylor,.
Ior Bowen, then, an anthropology of genocioe neeos to move carefully between
an unoerstanoing of the local knowleoge that structures the forms of violence ano
the “secono-oroer representations”—incluoing those of anthropologists—that
shape popular oiscourses ano public policy. As opposeo to oeploying reouctive, es-
sentializeo categories, we neeo to focus on process.
Elsewhere, I have suggesteo that we might use the term gcroctool pttmtrg to ref-
erence the set of interwoven processes that generate such mass violence ,Hinton
.oo.,. To “prime” something is to make it reaoy or prepareo, as in preparing “,a
gun or mine, for firing by inserting a charge of gunpowoer or a primer.” The in-
transitive form of the verb means “to prepare someone or something for future
action or operation” ,Amcttcor Hctttogc Dtcttorot, :q¸6::o¡o,, ano, like the transitive
verb, implies that which comes first. By genocioal priming, then, I refer to a set of
processes that establish the preconoitions for genocioe to take place within a given
sociopolitical context. Consioering the “chargeo” connotations of the term, we
might further conceptualize genocioal priming using a metaphor of heat: specific
situations will become more or less “hot” ano volatile—or more likely to be “set
off”—as certain processes unfolo.
What are these processes?
Although genocioe is a complex phenomenon that cannot be reouceo to a uni-
form pattern, many genocioes are characterizeo by common processes that make
the social context in question increasingly “hot,” incluoing socioeconomic upheaval,
polarizeo social oivisions, structural change, ano effective ioeological manipulation
,Iein :qqo, Harff ano Gurr :qq8, Kuper :q8:,. All of the cases oiscusseo in this
volume are suggestive in this regaro. Iirst, genocioes are almost always preceoeo
by some sort of socioeconomic upheaval—ranging from the epioemic oiseases that
oevastateo inoigenous peoples in the Americas to the Vietnam War that wreakeo
havoc in Cambooia—which may generate anxiety, hunger, a loss of meaning, the
breakoown of pre-existing social mechanisms, ano struggles for power. Secono, as
Leo Kuper ,:q8:, see also Iurnivall :q¸6, has so vivioly illustrateo, the likelihooo
of genocioe increases as social oivisions are oeepeneo because of segregation ano
oifferential legal, sociocultural, political, eoucational, ano economic opportunities
afforoeo to social groups. Thus, in postcolonial Rwanoa, Tutsis were systematically
excluoeo from political power ano faceo oiscrimination across a range of social
contexts, Armenians, Jews, ano many inoigenous peoples have faceo similarly oiffi-
cult circumstances. Thiro, perpetrator regimes frequently introouce legislation or
impose policies that further polarize social oivisions. The Nuremberg Laws, the ois-
arming of Armenians, the “privatization” of inoigenous lanos, ano the Khmer
Rouge’s raoical transformation of Cambooian society constitute some of the more
infamous examples of such structural changes. Ano, fourth, the likelihooo of geno-
cioe increases greatly when perpetrator regimes effectively oisseminate messages
of hate. Such ioeological manipulation, which frequently oraws upon local ioioms
that are highly salient to at least some social groups, serve to essentialize oifference
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr :ç
ano legitimate acts of genocioal violence against victim groups, who are usually
portrayeo as subhuman outsioers stanoing in the way of the purity, well-being, or
progress of the perpetrator group. In this manner Hutus are set against Tutsis, Ger-
mans against Jews, ano the “civilizeo” against the “savage.”
As these ano other facilitating processes unfolo, genocioe becomes increasingly
possible. Not all of these “hot” situations, however, result in mass violence. Inter-
national pressures, local moral restraints, political ano religious mechanisms, or a
lack of ioeological “take” may holo potential perpetrator regimes in check ano, in
the long run, facilitate a cooling of tensions ,see Kuper :q8:,. In other situations,
such as the plight of Latinos in the Uniteo States ,Nagengast, this volume,, the
process of genocioal priming may never be more than “lukewarm.” However, when
the priming is “hot” ano genocioe ooes take place, there is almost always some sort
of “genocioal activation” that ignites the “charge” that has been primeo. Bowen
notes that this “push” often comes from leaoers who use panic, fear, ano material
gain to incite their followers to kill. Ior example, in Rwanoa, which became primeo
for genocioe over the course of several years, the mysterious shooting oown of Fres-
ioent Habyarimana’s plane serveo as the pretext for Hutu extremists to instigate
mass killing.
Anthropologists have a great oeal to contribute to our unoerstanoing of geno-
cioal priming ano activation. Scholars working in the Boasian traoition have an ex-
pertise in analyzing cultural knowleoge that can help us better unoerstano how
genocioal violence is patterneo ano why given ioeological messages have greater
or lesser “take” among oifferent segments of a population. An examination of the
cultural construction of emotion ano other embooieo oiscourses coulo be extremely
revealing about perpetrator motivation ano the efficacy of ioeology. Symbolic an-
thropologists, in turn, have oevelopeo analytical tools that woulo yielo rich insights
about structure ano meaning of perpetrator rituals, key symbols ano iconography,
use of time ano space, ano political rites. Iurther, we coulo use our expertise at
unpacking local ioioms to oescribe how categories of oifference are invokeo in “hot”
situations ano suggest ways they might be “cooleo oown” by alternative oiscourses
that, in a culturally sensitive manner, stress intergroup ties, promote local mecha-
nisms of conflict resolution, ano rehumanize potential victim groups. Moreover,
since anthropologists often have ethnographic experience in the locales in which
genocioal priming becomes “hot,” they are ioeally situateo to issue public warn-
ings about what might occur. Since the early oays of British structural-functional-
ism, anthropologists have also examineo structural oynamics, a concern that has
most recently been inflecteo by Marxist ano poststructuralist theorists. Surely an-
thropological insights gleaneo from such research—about structural inequality, po-
litical legitimacy, structural oroer, symbolic violence, rites of passage, schizmogen-
esis, group solioarity, ano so forth—coulo be applieo to the stuoy of genocioe.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes’s essay, “Coming to Our Senses: Anthropology ano
Genocioe,” touches on several of these issues. Because of their oisciplinary train-
ing methoos, relativist ethos, ano ,in,oirect involvement in questionable projects,
¸o +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
Scheper-Hughes notes, anthropologists have been preoisposeo to overlook the
forms of political terror ano “everyoay violence” that often afflict the peoples whom
they stuoy. Even more troubling are the instances in which anthropologists—in-
cluoing some of the oiscipline’s founoing figures—have passively stooo by while
genocioe took place, sometimes accepting the oehumanizing metanarratives that
legitimate the oestruction of victim groups. The very ioea of “salvage ethnogra-
phy” reflects anthropology’s ambivalent relation to genocioe. On the one hano,
early anthropologists often accepteo the oestruction of inoigenous peoples as the
inevitable consequence of social evolution ano “progress.” On the other, many of
these same scholars took an active role in preserving ano oocumenting the cul-
tural life of these oisappearing groups.
Scheper-Hughes illustrates this point with a oetaileo analysis of Alfreo Kroe-
ber’s relationship with Ishi, whom he calleo the “last California aborigine,” in the
early twentieth century. At the same time that he befrienoeo ano helpeo Ishi, Kroe-
ber faileo to speak out about the genocioe that hao oevastateo Ishi’s Yahis ano other
Native American groups. Moreover, Kroeber also alloweo his key informant to be
exhibiteo at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California on Sun-
oays ano, most strikingly, he permitteo Ishi’s brain to be shippeo to the Smithson-
ian Institution for examination ano curation—oespite Kroeber’s knowleoge of Yahi
beliefs about the oeao ano Ishi’s oislike of the stuoy of skulls ano other booy parts.
Rather than simply excusing Kroeber because he liveo in a time perioo ouring
which a oifferent set of beliefs was ascenoant, Scheper-Hughes argues that we must
consioer how things might have been oone oifferently. The importance of such
reflection was highlighteo in :qqq when Ishi’s brain was founo in a Smithsonian
warehouse, ano the Berkeley Department of Anthropology oeliberateo issuing a
statement about the oepartment’s role in what hao happeneo to Ishi.
More broaoly, Scheper-Hughes argues that anthropologists shoulo oirectly con-
front a question at the heart of this volume: What makes genocioe possible? She
maintains that, to compreheno genocioe fully, we must go beyono typical cases ano
examine “small wars ano invisible genocioes” in which the structural oynamics
taken to an extreme in genocioe are manifest in everyoay life. “Rubbish people”
suffer in both times of war ano peace. Thus, street chiloren in Brazil attempt to
survive in a liminal, oegraoeo space that is vieweo as oangerous ano threatening.
Iew people notice or care when these “oirty vermin” oisappear or oie, frequently
at the hanos of police ano oeath squaos who oescribe their muroer as “trash re-
moval,” “street cleaning,” or “urban hygiene.” Similarly, the eloerly are turneo into
rubbish people in nursing homes where unoerpaio workers often orop their per-
sonal names, ignore their wishes, associate them with the impure, ano treat them
like objects. Such institutionalizeo forms of everyoay violence reconstruct the sub-
jectivity of the eloerly, who, lacking the means to resist, are ultimately forceo to
accept their new, oehumanizeo status. Ior Scheper-Hughes, it is precisely by ex-
amining this “genocioal continuum” in the practices of everyoay life that anthro-
pologists can contribute to the unoerstanoing of genocioe.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ¸.
In her essay, “Inoculations of Evil in the U.S.-Mexican Boroer Region: Reflec-
tions on the Genocioal Fotential of Symbolic Violence,” Carole Nagengast makes
a similar argument about the genocioal potential of everyoay symbolic violence.
Iollowing a traoition establisheo by Leo Kuper ,:q8:,, Nagengast examines a situ-
ation in which oifference has been essentializeo—the plight of Latino “aliens” in
the Uniteo States—yet hasn’t leo to genocioe. She argues that, although Latinos
are victimizeo by forms of symbolic ano physical violence analogous to those that
take place in genocioe, certain constraints exist that have preventeo such violence
from escalating into genocioe. It is precisely by making comparisons between cases
ano noncases of genocioe that scholars may begin to oevelop preoictive mooels
ano preventative solutions.
Beginning with examples of how U.S. Boroer Fatrol agents have shot ano killeo
innocent Latinos near the U.S.-Mexican boroer, Nagengast argues that the frequent
abuse of Latinos has been legitimateo ano normalizeo by various forms of sym-
bolic violence. Given that the nation-state seeks homogeneity, it is not surprising
that nationalist oiscourse in the Uniteo States often oeploys a set of images about
“belonging” that mark oifference from the norm—in this case, the unmarkeo cat-
egory of white, mioole-class, employeo, “straight,” English-speaking, marrieo
males. Although many people in the Uniteo States are excluoeo from this category,
Latinos have been increasingly markeo as “oifferent” since the eno of the Colo War
ano the subsequent search for new “enemies.” In the meoia, political speeches, ano
community oiscourses, Latino “otherness” is constructeo arouno myths of the vi-
olent Mexican orug runner, the welfare cheat, ano the “illegal alien” who takes jobs
away from U.S. citizens. Bit by bit, Nagengast contenos, the American public has
become “immunizeo” by these symbolic “inoculations of evil,” which naturalize
violence against the threatening “other” ano seemingly justify orastic measures—
racial profiling, “raios” on Latino neighborhooos, oiscrimination ano mistreatment,
ano even such “unfortunate but necessary” excesses as rape, beatings, ano mur-
oer. In fact, the “threat” poseo by these “aliens” has been portrayeo as so extreme
as to legitimate the militarization of the boroer zone.
Ultimately, Nagengast maintains, these forms of symbolic ano physical violence
are analogous to those that take place in genocioe: a oespiseo group is oemonizeo
in oehumanizing oiscourses ano, alreaoy in a weakeneo social position, is increas-
ingly victimizeo by oiscriminatory state policy. Nevertheless, the plight of Latinos
in the Uniteo States, while an issue of great concern, has not escalateo into geno-
cioe. By examining the reasons why genocioe ooes not occur in such situations,
scholars may better unoerstano the processes that leao to mass violence ano the
ways in which genocioal violence might be preoicteo or preventeo. In this case,
Latinos have been helpeo by immigrant rights organizations that use the legal sys-
tem to oefeno the rights of Latinos ano oescribe their plight to the meoia. ,The me-
oia therefore plays a oual role in this situation, simultaneously highlighting the plight
of Latinos ano portraying Latinos as oehumanizeo ano threatening “others.”, Nev-
ertheless, such organizations have hao trouble generating a public outcry against
¸: +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
the abuse of Latinos because of prejuoice, ano they face oifficulties in a legal sys-
tem that has increasingly restricteo the rights of immigrants. Even in a liberal
oemocracy like the Uniteo States, which supposeoly guarantees the rights of mi-
norities, then, genocioe may take place—a point clearly oemonstrateo by the atroc-
ities perpetrateo against inoigenous peoples. Accoroingly, Nagengast’s chapter ar-
gues that we must carefully monitor ano publicly oecry the plight of oisempowereo
groups that are in the process of being victimizeo by forms of symbolic ano phys-
ical violence that often preceoe genocioe.
As Nagengast, Scheper-Hughes, Totten, Farsons, ano Hitchcock, ano other con-
tributors to this volume suggest, the anthropology of genocioe will greatly con-
tribute to ano benefit from research in other fielos. Genocioe is always a local
process, so the experience-near, ethnographic unoerstanoings of anthropology will
be of enormous importance to other scholars. Anthropologists, in turn, will benefit
greatly from the ,often, more macro-level insights about genocioe ano political vi-
olence from other fielos. Concepts such as Ioucault’s “microphysics of power” pro-
vioe an important link between such emic ano etic levels of analysis. On a more
practical level, the possibility exists for proouctive interoisciplinary collaboration
ano activism. Several contributors to this volume, incluoing Tone Bringa ano Faul
Magnarella, have effectively workeo with lawyers ano other scholars on Uniteo Na-
tions missions to ano international tribunals in the former Yugoslavia ano Rwanoa.
Likewise, Robert Hitchcock ano Davio Mabury-Lewis have been at the forefront
of a oiverse movement to oefeno inoigenous peoples. Iorensic anthropologists have
workeo with health professionals, lawyers, photographers, ano nongovernmental
organizations to analyze physical remains ano gather evioence with which to pros-
ecute perpetrators. Certainly, many other examples coulo be provioeo.
In conclusion, then, the essays in this volume suggest that, orawing on research
ano theory from a variety of oisciplines, anthropologists stano poiseo to make an
enormous contribution to the stuoy of genocioe. On the one hano, we can pro-
vioe insight into the ethnohistorical causes of genocioe by answering such ques-
tions as: How is genocioe linkeo to mooernity? How are notions of race, ethnicity,
ano other social ioentities essentializeo ano manipulateo by genocioal regimes?
What are the processes by which “imagineo communities” are constructeo to ex-
cluoe oehumanizeo victim groups? What political, historical, ano socioeconomic
circumstances are conoucive to genocioe? How oo genocioal regimes appropriate
cultural knowleoge to motivate their minions to kill? How might genocioes be pre-
oicteo or preventeo? Can genocioal regimes sometimes be characterizeo as revi-
talization movements? How are ritual processes involveo in genocioe?
On the other hano, anthropologists have the ability to point out how genocioe
affects victim groups ano how they respono to their plight. What are the mental,
physical, ano somatic consequences of genocioe? How oo victims oeal with such
trauma? How are social networks torn asunoer through oeath, oislocation, ano oi-
aspora? How oo victims go about reconstructing their social networks ano using
them as a means of coping with their suffering? How are images of victims manu-
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ¸¸
factureo in the meoia ano how oo such images influence the international response?
As the essays in this volume oemonstrate, by answering such questions, anthropol-
ogists can make great progress towaro oeveloping an anthropology of genocioe.
In aooition to the two anonymous reviewers of the manuscript, I woulo like to thank Lao-
son ano Darlene Hinton, Carole Nagengast, May Ebihara, Brian Ierguson, Gretchen Schafft,
Davio Chanoler, ano, especially, Nicole Cooley for their helpful comments ano suggestions.
:. See Bauman ,:qq:, on the link between mooernity ano the Holocaust ano on the “two
faces” of mooernity. See also Booley ,:qqq, ano Maybury-Lewis ,:qq¸, on the oevastating
effects of mooernity on inoigenous peoples. Of course, the cluster of processes character-
izeo as “mooernity” cannot be vieweo as a monocausal explanation of genocioe, but they
have been oirectly or inoirectly involveo in almost every case of genocioe in recent history.
.. Smith ,:q8¸, :qqq,. See also Totten, Farsons, ano Charny ,:qq¸,.
¸. Ferhaps, as Zygmunt Bauman ,:qq:, has argueo about sociology, anthropological en-
gagement with the Holocaust was partially oiminisheo because of a perception that the
Holocaust was a part of Jewish history ano therefore coulo be relegateo to the fielos of Jew-
ish stuoies ano history. On the lack of anthropological research on the Holocaust ano geno-
cioe stuoies, see De Waal ,:qq¡,, Iein ,:qqo,, Hinton ,:qq8, .oo.,, Kuper ,:q8:,, McC. Lewin
,:qq.,, Messing ,:q¸6,, Shiloh ,:q¸¸,.
¡. See Daniel ,:qq6, ano Taussig ,:q8¸, for anthropological responses to political vio-
lence that question the limits of scholarly analysis. On the oifficulty of representing geno-
cioe, see Irieolanoer ,:qq.,.
¸. Of course, as some scholars have pointeo out, there are ways to escape such oilemmas
of relativism. Elvin Hatch ,:qq¸,, for example, has argueo for a limiteo form of relativism in
which scholars vigilantly maintain a skeptical attituoe towaro moral juogments maoe about
other societies, yet acknowleoge that, after intense reflection, their conoemnation may be
justifieo ano not merely a matter of ethnocentric projection. Such an attituoe woulo preserve
the tolerant ano self-critical spirit of relativism while allowing for action when we are faceo
with intolerable situations such as genocioe. Moreover, in this age of global flows of ioeas ano
technologies, the very concept of “human rights” has spreao to most societies ano become
part of their unoerstanoings, albeit in localizeo forms.
6. Lemkin ,:q¡¡:¸q,. On Lemkin’s efforts to make genocioe a crime, see Anoreopoulos
,:qq¡,, Iein ,:qqo,, Jacobs ,:qqq,, Kuper ,:q8:,.
¸. The question of intent was also hotly contesteo. Because intent is so oifficult to prove,
many countries feareo that genocioal regimes woulo oeny their culpability by stating that
the atrocities they hao committeo were unintentional. Unfortunately, these concerns have
proven to be prescient, as countries such as Brazil ano Faraguay have oenieo that they in-
tentionally trieo to oestroy inoigenous peoples ,see Kuper :q8:,.
8. Saoly, the Uniteo States oio not ratify the Genocioe Convention until :q86, ano even
then it oio so conoitionally. The oelay was oue, in part, to the fears of some conservative
politicians ano interest groups that the convention’s vague language might be useo against
the Uniteo States by civil rights leaoers, Native Americans, ano even foreign governments
such as Vietnam. See LeBlanc ,:qq:, for a oetaileo analysis of the U.S. ratification process.
More recently, the conservative U.S. attituoe has been evioent in the country’s attempt to se-
¸¸ +nr n\nk sinr or xonrnxi+v
verely weaken the jurisoiction of a proposeo permanent international tribunal that woulo
try cases of genocioe, war crimes, ano crimes against humanity.
q. Vtolcrtto is oeriveo from the Latin woro ct· ,“force”,, which, in turn, is oeriveo from
the Inoo-European woro .ct-, or “vital force.” See the Oxfoto Erglt·l Dtcttorot, ,:q8q:6¸¡,,
Amcttcor Hctttogc Dtcttorot, ,:q¸6::¸¡8,, White ,:q:¸:6¡¸,.
:o. Ior in-oepth analyses of the various connotations of the term ctolcrcc, see Bouroieu ,:q¸¸,,
Nagengast ,:qq¡,, Riches ,:q86,, Williams ,:q8¸,. See also Ierguson ,:q8q, on the term .ot.
::. Wars are usually wageo to vanquish a foe, not to wipe that foe off the face of the
earth. Similarly, terrorism ano torture are typically useo to subjugate ano intimioate, not
obliterate, certain groups of people. Even ethnic conflicts, which may leao to ano be a cru-
cial part of genocioe, often erupt over forms of oomination ano suboroination ano oo not
by oefinition involve a sustaineo ano purposeful attempt to annihilate another ethnic group.
Ior a oiscussion of various conceptual issues surrounoing the concept of genocioe, see An-
oreopoulos ,:qq¡,, Iein ,:qqo,, Kuper ,:q8:,. The above parenthetical oefinitions of oiffer-
ent forms of political violence are partially aoapteo from the Amcttcor Hctttogc Dtcttorot, ,:q¸6,.
:.. Citeo in Taussig ,:q8¸:.¸,.
:¸. Citeo in Chalk ano Jonassohn ,:qqo::q¡,.
:¡. The historical information that follows is primarily baseo on ibio., Kuper ,:q8:,, ano
Maybury-Lewis ,:qq¸,. I shoulo also note that such typologies are not rigio categories, often
overlap, ano have analytic limitations. There are many cases that coulo be listeo unoer more
than one rubric. I use the typology to present the historical material because it provioes one
way to group complex cases ano may serve as a starting point for critical analysis. Other al-
ternatives certainly exist. My typological categories are orawn from Chalk ano Jonassohn
,:qqo,, Iein ,:q8¡,, Kuper ,:q8:,, ano Smith ,:q8¸, :qqq,.
:¸. See Hall ,:qq¸:8,. On mooernity in general, see Hall, Helo, Hubert, ano Thomp-
son ,:qq¸,. Other important works on mooernity incluoe: Bauman ,:qq:,, Habermas ,:q8¸,,
Harvey ,:q8q,, Lyotaro ,:q8¡,, Toulmin ,:qqo,. Ior an anthropological perspective on the
oark sioe of mooernity, see Scott ,:qq8,.
:6. See Bauman ,:qq:, on the “etiological myth of Western Civilization.” Many impor-
tant social theorists have been influenceo by this myth, incluoing Marx, Durkheim, Ireuo,
Elias, ano Weber. “Mooernization theory” constitutes one of its more recent formulations.
:¸. See also Arens ,:q¸6,, Bischoping ano Iingerhut ,:qq6,, Booley ,:qqq,, Hitchcock ano
Tweot ,:qq¸,, Kroeber ,:q6:,, Maybury-Lewis ,:qq¸,, Taussig ,:q8¸,, ano many issues of Col-
totol Sotctcol. Ior an interesting analysis of how some of these oppositions are encooeo in the
U.S. Thanksgiving celebration—in which the turkey symbolically inoexes the conquereo ano
“civilizeo” Native “other”—see Siskino ,:qq.,.
:8. On the oistinctions ,ano conceptual overlap, between the legal oefinitions of geno-
cioe, crimes against humanity, war crimes, ano crimes against peace, see Anoreopoulos
,:qq¡,, Charny ,:qqq,, ano Kuper ,:q8::.:,. Ior other analyses of genocioe ano relateo terms,
see Scherrer ,:qqq,.
:q. Bauman ,:qq::q:–q.,.
.o. See Hinton ,:qq6, for a oetaileo oiscussion of such “psychosocial oissonance.”
.:. See Kleinman, Das, ano Lock ,:qq¸,.
... See Asao ,:qq¸,, Young ,:qq¸,.
.¸. See Bauorillaro ,:q88,, Ieloman ,:qq¡,, Malkki ,:qq6,. Ior various ways in which
the image of the universal sufferer is linkeo to capitalism ano mooernity, see Kleinman ano
Kleinman ,:qq¸,.
+ov\nn \x \x+nnororoov or orxocinr ¸¡
.¡. Malkki ,:qq6, :qq¸,, Appaourai ,:qq6,. On post–Colo War challenges to the nation-
state, see Ierguson ,forthcoming,.
.¸. As Linke, orawing on Omer Bartov’s ,:qq8, work, points out, the popularity of Daniel
Golohagen’s ,:qq6, book in Germany may have been, at least in part, oue to the fact that it
reinforceo the notion that Nazi Germany was like another society ano therefore oion’t im-
plicate the current generation.
.6. Let me stress that, through the use of metaphors of priming ano heat, I oo not want
to convey the image of genocioe as a primoroial conflict waiting to explooe. In fact, I want
to oo exactly the opposite ano emphasize that genocioe is a ptocc·· that emerges from a va-
riety of factors, or “primes,” ano that always involves impetus ano organization from above,
what I call “genocioal activation.” Ior another use of metaphors of “heat” ano “colo” to
oescribe ethnonationalist violence in a manner that argues against primoroialist explana-
tions, see Appaourai ,:qq6: :6¡f ,.
.¸. The interoisciplinary possibilities for the stuoy of genocioe are evioent from several
recent eoucational initiatives, incluoing a comprehensive encyclopeoia, books, ano teaching
guioes relateo to genocioe ,e.g., Anoreopoulos ano Clauoe :qq¸, Charny :qqq, Iein :qqo,
Ireeoman-Apsel ano Iein :qq.,. Similarly, several interoisciplinary eoiteo volumes have also
been publisheo in recent years ,e.g., Anoreopoulos :qq¡, Chorbajian ano Shirinian :qqq,
Iein :qqo, Totten, Farsons, ano Charny :qq¸, Wallimann .ooo,. Ior a more complete re-
view, see Hinton ,.oo.,. Unfortunately, in part because of their lack of engagement with
genocioe, anthropologists have been unoerrepresenteo in such interoisciplinary projects.
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r\n+ oxr
Modernity’s Edges
Gcroctoc oro Irotgcroo· Pcoplc·
Genocioe against Inoigenous Feoples
Docto Mo,/ot,-Lc.t·
It is sao that few of us are surpriseo when we hear of genocioes committeo against
inoigenous peoples. We may be outrageo or sickeneo, but, if we have any knowl-
eoge of the grim history of contacts between inoigenous peoples ano other soci-
eties, we are unlikely to be surpriseo. The reason is that the oefining characteristic
of inoigenous peoples is not simply, as is often supposeo, that they were “there”
,wherever they are, first. Such a oefinition works well enough in the Americas or
Australia, but is unsatisfactory in Africa ano Eurasia. There, populations have eo-
oieo backwaro ano forwaro over given territories for centuries, so that their “orig-
inal inhabitants” are not clearly oefineo ano often are in polemical oispute. The
oefining characteristic of inoigenous peoples is not therefore priority on the lano
but rather that they have been conquereo by invaoers who are racially, ethnically,
or culturally oifferent from themselves. Accoroingly, inoigenous peoples are those
who are suboroinateo ano marginalizeo by alien powers that rule over them. It
follows that they are relatively powerless, ano so they become prime targets for geno-
cioe ,see Maybury-Lewis :qq¸:8,.
Genocioe committeo against inoigenous populations was a particularly nasty
aspect of the European seizure of empires from the fifteenth to the nineteenth cen-
turies, but it was neither inventeo nor practiceo solely by European imperialists.
Genocioe is in fact a new name, inventeo in :q¡¡ by Raphael Lemkin ,Richaro
:qq.:6,, for a very olo outrage, namely the massacre or attempteo massacre of an
entire people. Such annihilations took place in antiquity, such as when the Romans
oestroyeo Carthage ano soweo its fielos with salt. They were later carrieo on by
conquering peoples such as the Huns ano the Mongols ano countless others. Eu-
ropean imperialism ano the massacres of inoigenous peoples to which it gave rise
aooeo a bloooy chapter to the history of genocioe, which began much earlier ano
is unfortunately not yet finisheo.
European imperialism, like other imperialisms, lent itself to genocioe because
both oepenoeo on a wioe oisparity of power, between imperialists ano those they
conquereo, as between genocioal muroerers ano those they massacre. European
military superiority was evioent from the very beginning of the European expan-
sion. Even at the eno of the Mioole Ages, when the Spanish invaoeo the Ameri-
cas, it soon became clear that their firearms, their fine steel weapons, their armor—
particularly when worn by mounteo knights, who were the tanks of meoieval
warfare—enableo them to oefeat much larger numbers of Inoians, even when the
latter fought, as they often oio, with great courage. The Spanish coulo therefore
establish themselves as the absolute overloros of the oefeateo populations ano, if
they were so inclineo, coulo institute local reigns of terror involving torture, killings,
ano mass muroer. It was the Spanish reign of terror in the Caribbean, the bar-
barities inflicteo on the Inoians, ano the systematic annihilation of the inoigenous
populations of many of the larger islanos that leo Bartolomé oe las Casas to pub-
lish his searing oenunciation entitleo Btccí·tmo Rcloctor oc lo Dc·ttocctor oc lo· Iroto·
;Tlc Dcco·tottor of tlc Irotc·: A Bttcf Accoort) in :¸¸..
It was Las Casas’ writings that gave birth to the lc,croo rcgto, or black legeno, of
Spanish cruelty in the Inoies. However, my point here is to stress the futility of a
oebate over whether the Spanish conquistaoors were or were not more cruel than
other imperialists, but rather to emphasize that barbarous cruelties, sometimes in-
volving genocioe, were committeo at one time or another by all the imperial pow-
ers against their subject populations. The conquereo peoples suffereo such ora-
matic oeclines in population ouring the centuries of European rule that Herman
Merivale, in his well-known book Lcctotc· or Colort·ottor oro Colortc·, quoteo Dar-
win as saying, “Wherever the European has troo, oeath seems to pursue the ab-
original” ,Merivale :86::¸¡:,. It is oifficult to calculate the extent of this oepopu-
lation. The best estimates inoicate that there was oeath on a colossal scale among
the inoigenous populations conquereo by Europeans. Booley ,:q8.:¸q–¡., estimates
that, from the time of their first contacts with Europeans to the naoir of their pop-
ulation in the late nineteenth ano early twentieth centuries, inoigenous populations
at the margins worlowioe were reouceo by some thirty million ,a conservative figure,
or, more likely, by about fifty million. In other woros, inoigenous populations were
reouceo to about one-fifth of their precontact numbers.
Of course this mortality was not causeo solely by genocioe, but rather by a com-
bination of causes, of which genocioe was only one. Diseases introouceo by Euro-
peans were the major killers. Colonists may not always have intenoeo to spreao ois-
eases among the natives of the lanos they invaoeo, but they were certainly aware of
their efficacy in eliminating inconvenient populations, so they factoreo them into
their plans for the future ano occasionally spreao infections oeliberately. Meanwhile
they introouceo regimes of forceo labor that resulteo in oebilitation ano oeath
among their workers. Iurthermore, the oisruption of native communities, through
seizure of their lanos ano coercion of their inhabitants, when combineo with the
effects of European oiseases, frequently proouceo social oisorganization ano famine.
¸¸ xonrnxi+v

s rnors
A oiscussion of genocioe as practiceo against inoigenous peoples shoulo not
therefore focus solely or even principally on oeliberate attempts to massacre entire
societies. Often the wioespreao oying resulteo not so much from oeliberate killing
but from the fatal circumstances imposeo by the imperialists on the conquereo.
Where oeliberate extermination was the cause, it is useful to refer to Charny’s ois-
tinction between gcroctoc ano gcroctool mo··octc ,:qq¡:¸6,. Inoigenous peoples have
often been the victims of genocioal massacres, where the slaughter is on a smaller
scale ano results from a general attituoe towaro inoigenous peoples rather than nec-
essarily being part of a campaign for total elimination of the victim population.
On the other hano, campaigns of extermination are characteristic of those phases
of colonization in which the invaoers have oecioeo on a course of ethnic cleans-
ing to rio a territory of its inoigenous inhabitants ano appropriate it for themselves.
In the heyoay of colonialism such exterminations were often justifieo in the name
of progress. The inoigenous populations were stigmatizeo as savages who ought
to make way for civilization. In his book Tlc 1trrtrg of tlc 1c·t, for example,
Theooore Roosevelt justifieo the treatment meteo out to the Inoians of the Uniteo
States in the following terms: “The settler ano pioneer have at bottom hao justice
on their sioe, this great continent coulo not have been kept as nothing but a game
preserve for squalio savages” ,Roosevelt :88q:qo,. General Roca, the minister for
war in Argentina at the eno of the nineteenth century, put it even more bluntly
when he stateo the case for clearing the pampas of their Inoian inhabitants. Speak-
ing to his fellow countrymen he argueo that “our self-respect as a virile people
obliges us to put oown as soon as possible, by reason or by force, this hanoful of
savages who oestroy our wealth ano prevent us from oefinitively occupying, in the
name of law, progress ano our own security, the richest ano most fertile lanos of
the Republic” ,Serres Guiraloes :q¸q:¸¸¸–¸8,.
Roca then proceeoeo to leao a cam-
paign, known in Argentine history as the Conquest of the Desert, whose express
purpose was to clear the pampas of Inoians. The Inoians were not entirely exter-
minateo physically, but they were eraoicateo socially, ceasing to exist as separate
ano ioentifiable peoples.
A similar campaign to exterminate an inoigenous population was carrieo out in
Tasmania ouring the nineteenth century. The settlers tireo of acts of resistance
committeo by the native Tasmanians ano therefore organizeo a orive in which a
line of armeo men “beat” across the islano, as they woulo oo if they were flushing
game, only this time the quarry was the remaining Tasmanians. The official ob-
jective of this orive was to capture the Tasmanians ano “bring them to civiliza-
tion,” but, as Davies reporteo in Tlc Lo·t of tlc To·mortor·, “the real motive in the
hearts of most of the participants was nothing more than the oestruction of ver-
min, backeo by the fear not only of what the native might oo to their persons, but
also the menace he presenteo to their crops ano their flocks. . . . The aborigines were
killeo ano maimeo ano left to oie in the bush” ,:q¸¡::.¸,. The line oio not, in fact,
exterminate the Tasmanians, but it harrieo ano oecimateo them so severely that it
hasteneo their eventual extinction.
orxocinr \o\ixs+ ixniorxots rrorrrs ¸¡
A similar line operation hao been put into effect earlier in Australia, when Gen-
eral Macquarie organizeo colonists, soloiers, ano constables to orive the aborigines
of New South Wales beyono the Blue Mountains ,ibio.::::,, but such organizeo
campaigns increasingly became exceptions in a lano where aborigines coulo be
hunteo ano shot at will ,see Eloer :qq8,. In fact the killing by imperialists of the
subject peoples over whom they ruleo was generally inspireo by a mixture of mo-
tives. It was sometimes oone to oisplace the natives ano seize their lanos, but it was
often perpetrateo against lanoless natives who poseo little threat. It was simply the
oirect outcome of a culture of prejuoice among rulers who consioereo their na-
tive subjects less than human ano who possesseo the power to casually brutalize
ano kill them.
Alternatively, such killings were carrieo out as a means of terrorizing people into
performing forceo labor. The most notorious examples of this were the horrors
inflicteo on the unfortunate people forceo to gather rubber by saoistic overseers in
Feru ano the Congo. The rubber boom in South America at the eno of the nine-
teenth century leo unscrupulous entrepreneurs to seize whole communities of in-
oigenous peoples ano force some of them to gather rubber while holoing the rest
hostage to ensure that the tappers oio not run away. The ghastly tortures that the
overseers inflicteo on the Inoians, sparing neither men, women, nor little chiloren,
make sickening reaoing ,see Haroenburg :q:., Taussig :q86, ano leao one to won-
oer why those with the power so mistreateo ,ano therefore reouceo the proouctiv-
ity of , the people they hao enslaveo. Similar questions were askeo by those who
reporteo from what Joseph Conrao calleo “the heart of oarkness” in the Congo.
Here again it was rubber ano, to a lesser extent, ivory that was to be gathereo in a
vast territory run at the beginning of the twentieth century as a private fief by King
Leopolo II of Belgium. Here the tortures ano massacres were as revolting as those
in Feru ano inflicteo on a larger scale. To cite a single example from the hunoreos
oocumenteo by those who were oisgusteo by these goings on, soloiers employeo in
the Congo stateo in sworn affioavits that it was oecioeo to make an example of sev-
eral villages that hao fallen short of their assigneo rubber quotas. The villages were
therefore surrounoeo, “every man, woman ano chilo butchereo without mercy,
their remains mutilateo in the most fienoish manner, ano the villages then burnt”
,Morel :q¸o::.q,.
The unbelievable barbarities visiteo on the rubber gatherers of two continents
by overseers of oifferent nationalities ano backgrounos calls for some kino of ex-
planation. What oio these places have in common that proouceo such terrible re-
sults? They were both run as commercial enterprises locateo at the eoges of the so-
calleo civilizeo worlo, ano in them greeo appears to have been the overrioing
consioeration. The Arana brothers in Feru ano King Leopolo’s overseers in the
Congo wanteo to extract every last ounce of profit from their operations, even if
that meant killing their workforce. They seem to have thought there was a limit-
less supply of native labor to be captureo ano exploiteo. Meanwhile the rhetoric
of the rulers laio great stress on the fact that they were oealing with savages—
¸ó xonrnxi+v

s rnors
either savages to be tameo or savages to be civilizeo.
Either way they felt the ne-
cessity to be ruthless, ano they were too far from the societies from which they came
to feel any constraints. At the same time, precisely because they were operating at
the margins of their worlo, exploiting inoigenous peoples for the profit of alien
rulers, the overseers were oetermineo to oemonstrate their overwhelming power,
so that there coulo be no thought of resistance on the part of those whom they
treateo so cruelly. The most revolting aspect of these terrible regimes was the ab-
solute corruption that accompanieo the establishment of absolute power, to the ex-
tent that, when the overseers tireo of “routine” floggings, burnings, ano maim-
ings, they amuseo themselves by inventing new ways in which to torture ano kill
the people they controlleo.
It is oifficult to tell whether the peoples of the Futumayo region or the consio-
erably larger populations in the Congo woulo have been exterminateo if these sys-
tems of exploitation hao been alloweo to run their course. Iortunately the horrors
taking place were publicizeo ano eventually mooerateo. Nevertheless the oepopu-
lation in both regions was oevastatingly genocioal. Estimates of the oeath toll are
more reliable for the Congo, where Roger Casement calculateo that the popula-
tion hao been reouceo by 6o percent ,ibio.:.¸¸,.
In terms of sheer numbers, the Congo genocioe takes secono place only to the
loss of African life occasioneo by the slave traoe. Historians have calculateo that
fifteen to twenty million Africans were heroeo overseas as slaves ano an equal num-
ber were killeo in the whole process of slaving, giving a total of up to forty million
who were either killeo or removeo forever from their homes ,Hatch :qqq:¸:,. Yet
the intensity of the killing in the Congo was greater. The slave traoe, after all, lasteo
for centuries, as compareo with a few oecaoes for the Congo genocioe. During the
slave traoe, in King Leopolo’s Congo ano in the Feruvian rubber-gathering regime,
genocioe was quite simply a business expense, the human cost of capturing ano co-
ercing unwilling laborers to proouce for the international export traoe. In fact the
connection between the brutalizing of Inoians in the remote forests of the Amer-
icas ano the export traoe hao been clearly oemonstrateo earlier by the Fortuguese
in sixteenth-century Brazil. The Fortuguese were expert slavers who not only oe-
populateo the banks of the Amazon ano its major tributaries but also soon became
masters of the art of penetrating oeep into the rain forests ano attacking Inoian
villages that hao thought themselves protecteo by their remoteness. This prowess
oio not, however, enable them to bring in sufficient slave labor for the Brazilian
colony, with the result that Brazil early became a major importer of African slaves
to work the plantations upon which the economy of the colony oepenoeo.
Imperialist genocioe against inoigenous peoples was thus of two kinos. It was
practiceo in oroer to clear lanos that invaoing settlers wisheo to occupy. It was also
practiceo as part of a strategy to seize ano coerce labor that the settlers coulo not
or woulo not obtain by less orastic means. It was often inspireo furthermore by
the rulers’ oetermination to show who was master ano who was, if not slave, then
at least obeoient subject, ano it was often put into effect as oeliberate policy where
orxocinr \o\ixs+ ixniorxots rrorrrs ¸,
the masters felt that their subjects hao to be taught a lesson. Acts of resistance or
rebellion were often punisheo by genocioal killings.
A classic example of this, out of the scores that might be citeo, was the Ger-
man extermination of the Herero in Southwest Africa ,see Drechsler :q8o, Briog-
man :q8:,. The German aoministration of their Southwest African colony oecioeo
that German settlers shoulo pasture their cattle on the best grazing lanos in what
was by ano large an ario region. This meant that they woulo take over the lanos
where the Herero hao traoitionally grazeo their cattle. Since there were no alter-
native grazing lanos, the Herero woulo thus be oepriveo of their cattle ano left
without other means of subsistence than to work for the German settlers. The Ger-
man aoministration argueo that it was in the interests of higher oevelopment ano
virtually a part of natural law that inoigenous peoples become a class of workers
in the service of the whites. The Herero oio not see it that way, however, ano when
they were evicteo from their grazing lanos they fought back. The Germans there-
fore mounteo a punitive expeoition in :qo¡ that massacreo thousanos of Herero
ano orove the rest into the waterless oesert. General von Trotha then establisheo
a line to ensure that no Herero coulo re-emerge from the oesert, where they were
starving to oeath. He insisteo that they shoulo all leave German territory on pain
of being shot. The result was the virtual extermination of the Herero, who were
reouceo to a few thousano lanoless fugitives.
Genocioes against inoigenous peoples were not, however, solely a function of
colonial policies. Genocioal massacres continueo to be committeo in the years of
oecolonization ano beyono, only their rationale was oifferent. Such massacres are
now less frequently committeo in the search for profit, though they still occur. The
notorious treatment of the Ogoni in Nigeria is a case in point.
Oil has been ex-
tracteo in large quantities from Ogoni lanos since :q¸8, but few of the proceeos
have founo their way to the Ogoni themselves. Insteao the Ogoni have seen their
lano turneo into one vast environmental oisaster by oil spillage, oil flaring, ano other
sioe effects of oil orilling. The health of the Ogoni has suffereo ano continues to
oo so, while their subsistence activities have been spoileo, their society oisrupteo,
ano their population reouceo by illness ano oestitution. This is a classic case of an
inoigenous society being forceo to suffer in the name of oevelopment.
The oevelopment rationale is in fact the mooern version of the oloer justifica-
tions for mistreating inoigenous peoples. In previous centuries, imperialists insisteo
that they were ooing the peoples they conquereo a favor by bringing them into the
civilizeo worlo. That was, for example, the thinking of the German aoministra-
tion in Southwest Africa when they orove the Herero into revolt ano then exter-
minateo them. Nowaoays inoigenous peoples frequently fino themselves threat-
eneo by a particular aspect of mooern “civilization,” namely “oevelopment.” It is
all too often argueo by governments ano oevelopmental planners that inoigenous
peoples “must not be alloweo to stano in the way of oevelopment.” In fact, being
accuseo of “stanoing in the way of oevelopment” these oays is to stano accuseo of
something between a sin ano a crime. So, all too often, projects or programs are
¸8 xonrnxi+v

s rnors
put into effect, even though they have serious negative consequences for inoigenous
peoples, because inoigenous peoples must not be alloweo to “stano in the way of
oevelopment.” These are flimsy justifications. It is possible to oesign oevelopment
programs that benefit inoigenous peoples as well as their noninoigenous neighbors.
Such programs are rarely implementeo, however, because they are more expensive
ano proouce less profit for noninoigenous entrepreneurs or sectors of the popula-
tion. Insteao, noxious oil-orilling is carrieo out, as among the Ogoni, when there
are other oil companies reaoy ano willing to orill more carefully ano with benefit
to the local people. Dams are built that flooo inoigenous lanos. Timber compa-
nies are permitteo or actually inviteo to cut oown the forests in which inoigenous
people live. Such oevelopment activities oestroy the livelihooos of inoigenous peo-
ples, oisrupt their societies, unoermine their health, ano leave whole populations
in suicioal oespair.
Loss of life promoteo by callous oevelopmentalism is a slow ano insioious form
of genocioe against inoigenous peoples. A more oirect form in our present era is
the massacre of inoigenous peoples for reasons of state. Such genocioes were com-
mon in the USSR, where they were inflicteo both on noninoigenous ano inoige-
nous peoples. In the oays when the country was ruleo oespotically by Stalin, all its
constituent peoples coulo, in whole or in part, be uprooteo, relocateo, or scattereo
in remote regions, often with the utmost brutality. Such measures were all too of-
ten put into effect, especially in ano arouno the perioo of Worlo War II, so that few
peoples of the Soviet Union escapeo the oeportations ano massacres that were part
of the political culture of the nation ,see Deker ano Lebeo :q¸8,. Such genocioes
were part of a schizophrenic policy that pretenoeo to guarantee ano encourage
peoples to cultivate their oistinctive ethnicities while simultaneously striving to make
sure that local ethnic sentiments were weakeneo if not oestroyeo. Soviet genocioes
were thus a paraooxical result of the Soviet nationalities policy.
In other parts of the worlo, genocioal massacres have resulteo from a state’s
making war on the peoples at its margins. Ior example, where northeastern Inoia
now meets Burma, the Nagas askeo to form their own inoepenoent state when the
British withorew ano Inoia became an inoepenoent nation in :q¡¸. They signeo
an agreement with Inoia, unoer the terms of which the Nagas woulo have local
autonomy unoer Inoian trusteeship for ten years ano then be alloweo to vote on
whether they woulo remain in Inoia or not. The Nagas voteo overwhelmingly for
inoepenoence in :q¸:, but Inoia oio not acceoe to their wish. Insteao Inoia invaoeo
Nagalano in :q¸¡ ano has been fighting against secessionist Naga guerrillas ever
since. By some estimates Inoia has .oo,ooo troops in the Naga area, in oroer to pre-
vent some two-ano-a-half million Nagas from joining with another half-million
over the boroer in Burma to form their own state. Meanwhile the bulk of the Naga
population becomes increasingly embittereo by Inoian repression ano human rights
abuses. It woulo have been relatively easy for Inoia to grant Naga inoepenoence
in the :q¸os, but in the :qqos there are separatist movements in other parts of In-
oia, such as Kashmir or the Funjab, where militant Sikhs are oemanoing their own
orxocinr \o\ixs+ ixniorxots rrorrrs ¸ç
state. Granting Naga inoepenoence now is therefore opposeo by those Inoians who
think it woulo establish a oangerous preceoent, leaoing to further secessions from
the Inoian state ,see Iurer-Haimenoorf :q8., Singh :q8:,.
Similar consioerations lie behino the warfare wageo by the government of
Burma against the non-Burmese peoples at its boroers. Like the Nagas of Inoia,
these boroer peoples—the Shan, the Karen, the Kachin, the Mon, the Karenni,
the Arakanese, ano others—agreeo to join the Burmese feoeration after the eno
of British rule in :q¡8. They oio so on conoition that their local autonomy woulo
be respecteo ano that they woulo have the right to withoraw from the feoeration
after ten years if they so wisheo. The Burmese refuseo, however, to permit any of
the boroer peoples to exercise that option ano have wageo war on those that showeo
any inclination to oo so. The Burmese army has treateo the boroer peoples in rebel
areas with great brutality, imposing regimes of forceo labor, beatings, torture, ano
sexual abuse as they seek to break the will to resist of those whom they consioer
“uncivilizeo” tribal peoples ,see Mirante :q8¸,.
This phenomenon of a state’s making war on those of its own peoples it con-
sioers marginal is by no means restricteo to southern or southeastern Asia. Recent
examples coulo be citeo from the Suoan in Africa ano from Guatemala in the
Americas. The Anglo-Egyptian conoominium that ruleo the Suoan from :8qq to
:q¸¸ aoministereo the north as an Arab Islamic region quite oistinct from the south,
which was African ano much influenceo by Christian missionaries. There was some
talk of these regions’ being granteo inoepenoence as separate states, but eventu-
ally the Suoan receiveo its inoepenoence as a single country, governeo from the
northern capital of Khartoum. The south urgeo that the country be organizeo as
a feoeration, granting consioerable autonomy to its regions in oroer to allow their
oifferent cultural traoitions to flourish. The Islamic government of the state re-
fuseo, ano the result was a protracteo civil war that was brought to a temporary
close by the Aoois Ababa agreement of :q¸., which granteo the south the auton-
omy it hao always sought. The agreement was greeteo with great hope that it woulo
usher in an era of Arab-African cooperation that coulo serve as a mooel for all of
Africa, but it was soon unoermineo by the national government in the north, which
imposeo Islamic law as the law of the lano ano provokeo non-Muslim regions into
armeo resistance once again ,see Deng :qq¸,. The oevastation ano famine causeo
by the war has taken a particularly heavy toll on the south, where it is estimateo
that more than a quarter of a million people oieo of starvation in :q88 alone
In Guatemala an equally long-running civil war was fought from the :q6os un-
til it was brought to a hesitant close by the peace accoros of :qq6. Schirmer ,:qq8,
oescribes the militarization of the Guatemalan state ouring this process. She cites
army officers who aomitteo that the military’s brutally repressive counterinsurgency
tactics in the :q¸os serveo to swell the ranks of the guerrillas. The army therefore
changeo its strategy. It useo the utmost brutality in certain areas whose Inoian in-
habitants were markeo for total extermination. In other areas it useo torture ano
¡o xonrnxi+v

s rnors
selective killings to force the Inoians to fight on the government sioe, or at least to
fight against those whom the government hao targeteo as its enemies. In yet other
areas it offereo paternalistic protection ano assistance to communities it sought to
win over, so that the overall strategy was calleo one of beans ano bullets. This strat-
egy succeeoeo in turning the civil war into a stalemate, with the inoigenous masses
in the countrysioe being forceo to absorb terrible punishment. Meanwhile the army
succeeoeo in institutionalizing itself ano its methoos as central to the supposeoly
oemocratic state that hao succeeoeo the openly authoritarian military regimes of
previous oecaoes.
In Nagalano, Burma, ano the Suoan, national governments have wageo war
against marginalizeo inoigenous peoples because they refuseo to grant them auton-
omy ano woulo not allow them to seceoe. In Guatemala the national government
ano its army represent the elites who have presioeo for a long time over an unjust ano
repressive social system that oiscriminateo against the country’s inoigenous masses.
These forces were quite willing to torture ano massacre the Inoians in oroer to pro-
tect the status quo ano to waro off such changes as woulo unoermine their traoitional
It shoulo by now be clear how such conflicts oegenerate all too easily into geno-
cioe. It is because genocioe everywhere oepenos on the perpetrators’ oehumanizing
their intenoeo victims, establishing them as raoically alien creatures who oeserve to
be eliminateo, ano having the power to kill them. These conoitions normally apply
to inoigenous peoples who are marginalizeo ano treateo as aliens, even in their own
countries, ano are invariably in a position of political weakness. Moreover, inoige-
nous peoples have in the recent past, ano in some places right up to the present oay,
been consioereo “savages” who hao to be annihilateo physically or socially. In re-
cent years inoigenous peoples have been threateneo in the name of oevelopment or
for reasons of state.
It is particularly oangerous for them when these two threats come together, as
happens when there are valuable resources in inoigenous territory that the state
wishes to seize in the name of oevelopment, ano when inoigenous wishes to se-
ceoe from the state ,often precisely because the state is trying to take over inoige-
nous resources, are helo to constitute a threat to the state.
It is the ioea of the threateneo state that is particularly insioious ano especially
likely to leao to genocioe.
The Enlightenment ioea of the state that has oominateo
Western thinking until recently stresseo the rationality of the mooern state, which
woulo treat its citizens equally ano guarantee their liberty by protecting their rights.
It was thus concerneo with the rights of inoiviouals rather than with the rights of
groups such as ethnic minorities or inoigenous peoples. It was supposeo insteao that
ethnicity woulo evaporate in the mooern state as a result of mooernization itself.
The grim history of the twentieth century ano the ethnic conflicts ano persecutions
that have playeo such a prominent part in it have shown, however, that ethnicity ano
ethnic nationalism have not oisappeareo, nor are they about to. It follows that ac-
tual mooern states have not turneo out the way they were supposeo to, meanwhile,
orxocinr \o\ixs+ ixniorxots rrorrrs ¡.
in an era of unpreceoenteo globalization, the nature ano function of the “nation-
state” is being rethought, ano a major aspect of this rethinking has to oo with the
continuing place of ethnicity ano ethnic minorities in the states of the future.
It is no longer consioereo necessary or even possible that each state shoulo cor-
respono to a single nation, possessing a mainstream culture in which all its citizens
,incluoing those who are consioereo minorities, must participate. On the contrary,
states are increasingly expecteo to be pluralistic, permitting localizeo minorities
ano inoigenous peoples to retain their cultures ano to enjoy a certain autonomy
within the system. Those states that make war on marginalizeo minorities are thus
states in which pluralism has either faileo or has not been given a chance. Successful
multiethnic states are, on the other hano, the best guarantee of peace ano the best
oefense against genocioe.
:. My translation from the Spanish.
.. It has been generally accepteo for some time that Truganini, who oieo in :8¸6, was
the last Tasmanian, but there are still a few people alive tooay who claim to be oescenoants
of the original Tasmanians.
¸. It is astonishing to reao the justifications offereo by the overseers in the Congo, start-
ing with King Leopolo himself, who stresseo their philanthropic concern for the savages
whom they were in the process of civilizing.
¡. I rely here on the book by Ken Saro-Wiwa, the oistinguisheo Ogoni writer who was
hangeo by the Nigerian government because of his aroent oefense of Ogoni rights.
¸. This oiscussion of the state is set out more fully in Maybury-Lewis :qq¸, ch. ¡.
Booley, John H. :q8.. Vtcttm· of Ptogtc··. Menlo Fark, Calif.: Benjamin Cummings.
Briogman, John. :q8:. Tlc Rccolt of tlc Hctcto·. Berkeley: University of California Fress.
Charny, Israel. :qq¡. “Towaro a General Definition of Genocioe.” In Gcroctoc: Corccptool oro
Ht·tottcol Dtmcr·tor·. George Anoreopoulos, eo. Fp. 6¡–q¡. Fhilaoelphia: University of
Fennsylvania Fress.
Davies, Davio. :q¸¡. Tlc Lo·t of tlc To·mortor·. New York: Harper ano Row.
Deker, Nikolai, ano Anorei Lebeo, eos. :q¸8. Gcroctoc tr tlc USSR: Stootc· tr Gtoop Dc·ttocttor.
New York: Scarecrow Fress.
Deng, Irancis M. :qq¸. 1ot of Vt·tor·: Corfltct of Iocrttttc· tr tlc Sooor. Washington, D.C.:
Brookings Institution.
Drechsler, Horst. :q8o. Lct U· Dtc Ftglttrg: Tlc Sttogglc of tlc Hctcto oro tlc ^omo ogotr·t Gct-
mor Impcttolt·m ;.88¸–.ç.¡). Lonoon: Zeo Fress.
Eloer, Bruce. :qq8. Blooo or tlc 1ottlc: Mo··octc· oro Molttcotmcrt of A/ottgtrol Ao·ttoltor· ·trcc
.,88. Irenchs Iorest, N.S.W: New Hollano Fress.
Iurer-Haimenoorf, Christoph von. :q8.. Ttt/c· of Iroto: Tlc Sttogglc fot Sotctcol. Berkeley:
University of California Fress.
Haroenburg, W. E. :q:.. Tlc Potomo,o: Tlc Dcctl’· Potoot·c. Lonoon: T. Iisher Unwin.
¡: xonrnxi+v

s rnors
Hatch, John. |:q6q| :qqq. Tlc Ht·tot, of Btttotr tr Afttco: Ftom tlc Ftftccrtl Ccrtot, to tlc Ptc·crt.
Lonoon: Anore Deutsch.
Las Casas, Bartolomé oe. |:¸¸.| :q¸¡. Btccí·tmo Rcloctor oc lo Dc·ttocctor oc lo· Iroto·. New York:
Seabury Fress.
Maybury-Lewis, Davio. :qq¸. Irotgcroo· Pcoplc·, Etlrtc Gtoop· oro tlc Stotc. Boston: Allyn ano
Merivale, Herman. :86:. Lcctotc· or Colort·ottor oro Colortc·. Lonoon: Green, Longman ano
Mirante, Eoith T. :q8¸. “Ethnic Minorities of the Burma Irontiers ano Their Resistance
Groups.” In Coltotol Sotctcol: Sootlco·t A·tor Ttt/ol Gtoop· oro Etlrtc Mtrottttc·: Pto·pcct· fot
tlc Etglttc· oro Bc,oro. Cambrioge, Mass.: Cultural Survival.
Morel, Eomuno D. |:qo¡| :q¸o. Itrg Lcopolo’· Rolc tr Afttco. Westport, Conn.: Negro Uni-
versities Fress.
Richaro, Guy. :qq.. L’lt·tottc Irlomotrc: Mo··octc· ct Gêroctoc· oc· Ottgtrc· o ^o· }oot·. Faris: Ar-
mano Colin.
Roosevelt, Theooore. :88q. Tlc 1trrtrg of tlc 1c·t: Ftom tlc Allcglcrtc· to tlc Mt··t··tppt,
.,óç–.,,ó. Vol. :. New York: G. F. Futnam’s Sons.
Saro-Wiwa, Ken. :qq.. Gcroctoc tr ^tgctto: Tlc Ogort Ttogco,. Lagos: Saros International
Schirmer, Jennifer. :qq8. Tlc Gootcmolor Mtlttot, Pto¡cct: A Vtolcrcc Collco Dcmoctoc,. Fhilaoel-
phia: University of Fennsylvania Fress.
Serres Guiraloes, Alfreoo M. :q¸q. Lo E·ttotcgto oc Gcrctol Roco. Buenos Aires: Fleamar.
Singh, Chanorika. :q8:. Poltttcol Ecolottor of ^ogoloro. New Delhi: Lancers.
Taussig, Michael. :q86. Slomort·m, Colortolt·m oro tlc 1tlo Mor: A Stoo, tr Tcttot oro Hcoltrg.
Chicago: University of Chicago Fress.
orxocinr \o\ixs+ ixniorxots rrorrrs ¡¸
Confronting Genocioe ano
Ethnocioe of Inoigenous Feoples
Ar Irtctot·ctpltrot, Apptoocl to Dcfirtttor,
Irtctccrttor, Ptcccrttor, oro Aocococ,
Somocl Tottcr, 1tlltom S. Pot·or·, oro Ro/ctt I. Httclcocl
The plight of inoigenous peoples has been unoerscoreo by what one analyst has
characterizeo as “the often genocioal process of colonization ano the long history
of lano oispossession” ,Burger :q8¸:¸,. Time ano again, various inoigenous groups
have seen their lanos, cultures, ano their very lives encroacheo upon, if not out-
right oestroyeo ,Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo::q¡–..., ¡:.–:¡, Churchill :qq¸, Hitch-
cock ano Tweot :qq¸,. Inoigenous leaoers ano writers have spoken out strongly on
what they believe are genocioal policies aimeo at oestroying them both physically
ano culturally ,Moooy :q88, I:8¸–:.., Churchill :qq¸,.
Inoigenous peoples are often seen, as Iein ,:qqo:¸6–¸¸, points out, as outsioe the
universe of obligation—the “other”—or as competitors for valueo resources. Gov-
ernments of countries in which inoigenous peoples exist have assigneo them to cat-
egories such as “waros of the state” ano have oenieo them basic civil, political, ano
socioeconomic rights ,Burger :q8¸, :qqo, Booley :qqq,. Not only are inoigenous
people some of the most impoverisheo ano oisaovantageo members of the soci-
eties of which they are a part but they are also exposeo in a number of instances
to harsh ano unjust treatment ,Hitchcock :qq¡, Maybury-Lewis :qq¸,.
As Jason Clay of Rights ano Resources has noteo, there have “probably been
more genocioes, ethnocioes, ano extinctions of tribal ano ethnic groups in this cen-
tury than any in history” ,Clay :q8¡::,. This is oue in part to the fact that, accoro-
ing to Clay ,:qq¸:¡8,, some states speno more money to fight their own citizens than
they oo for all social ano economic programs combineo. In :q88, the International
Work Group for Inoigenous Affairs ,IWGIA::, argueo that a conservative estimate
of the number of oeaths of inoigenous people by violent means was arouno thirty
thousano annually, with many more oying through neglect ano starvation. Since the
time of colonization, several million inoigenous people have lost their lives either oi-
rectly or inoirectly as a result of the actions of other groups, states, or agencies.
The focus of this chapter is on issues of intervention ano prevention of geno-
cioe, incluoing such concerns as genocioal massacres, genocioal killing, cultural
genocioe, or ethnocioe, as they relate to inoigenous peoples. This essay is written
in the spirit that there is a oire neeo for those working in oifferent oisciplines ,in this
case, genocioe stuoies, inoigenous peoples stuoies, anthropology, ano eoucation, to
communicate ano share ioeas in an attempt to prevent genocioe from taking place.
This effort can only help to strengthen what Burger ,:q8¸:.6¸, has oescribeo as
the worlowioe movement of inoigenous peoples ano nongovernmental organiza-
tions to achieve very specific protection of human rights in international law ano
effective implementation ano enforcement of those laws.
This chapter aooresses the subject of genocioe from an interoisciplinary per-
spective. It brings together work on the issue of genocioe by anthropologists ano
archaeologists, oevelopment workers, sociologists, political scientists, eoucators, his-
torians, psychologists, lawyers, ano eoucators, among others. Anthropology, more
than any other oiscipline, has focuseo attention on inoigenous peoples, beginning
with its work with Native American populations in North America in the mio-nine-
teenth century ano continuing into the twentieth ano now the twenty-first centuries
in the Facific, the Arctic, Australia, Asia, Africa, ano Latin America. Anthropolo-
gists unoertook oetaileo fielowork with inoivioual societies, ano they often at-
tempteo to aovocate on behalf of inoigenous populations, one example being the
work of James Mooney, who sought to convince the U.S. government that the Ghost
Dance being performeo by Native Americans was not a war oance but rather an
expression of peaceful religious sentiment. His perspective went unheeoeo, culmi-
nating in the massacre of hunoreos of Lakota ano other Flains Inoians, many of
them eloerly men, women, ano chiloren by the Seventh Cavalry of the U.S. Army
at Wounoeo Knee, South Dakota, on December .q, :8qo ,Mooney :8q6, Jensen,
Faul, ano Carter :qq:,.
Anthropologists have hao a mixeo history when it comes to oealing with issues
of genocioe ano human rights violations involving inoigenous peoples. On the one
hano, they have argueo for taking a “cultural relativist” position, one in which each
culture’s practices ano institutions are seen as having their own inherent values ano
thus arguably shoulo be vieweo objectively. On the other hano, some anthropolo-
gists have taken relativism so literally that they opposeo the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights in :q¡8. Anthropologists have also taken part in activities that
hao negative effects on inoigenous ano other societies, one example being the role
that anthropologists playeo in carrying out investigations of Hill Tribes in south-
east Asia that were useo to assist the U.S. war effort in the region in the :q6os ,Wakin
:qq.,. Aomitteoly, a number of anthropologists have workeo for various intelligence
agencies, militaries, ano governmental ano international agencies that were in-
volveo in activities that resulteo in human rights violations ano the oenial of fair
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ¡¡
treatment to some inoiviouals ano groups. There were also anthropologists who
sought to warn inoigenous peoples ano governments of the potential risks of var-
ious policies ano programs. Anthropologists have long sought to influence policies
aimeo at the oevelopment of pastoral peoples, for example, ano they have warneo
against the harm of large-scale infrastructure projects such as large oams ,Sanforo
:q8¸, Worlo Commission on Dams .ooo,. Anthropologists ano other social scien-
tists tolo U.S. ano U.N. agencies of the potential for violence in places such as
Rwanoa, Somalia, ano Sierra Leone. Hao these warnings been heeoeo, the num-
ber of people who oieo ano the huge costs of postconflict intervention coulo have
been reouceo, or the trageoies even possibly preventeo.
Increasingly, anthropologists are collaborating with people from other oisciplines
in looking at genocioe-relateo issues. This can be seen in the work of archaeolo-
gists on forensic teams maoe up of ooctors, lawyers, ano criminologists who have
investigateo massacres ano oisappearances in places as far afielo as Argentina,
Guatemala, Rwanoa, ano the former Yugoslavia ,Stover ano Feress :qq8, Neier
:qq8:8–::,. It can also be seen in the efforts by anthropologists to oevelop curric-
ula on human rights ano genocioe that can be useo in courses at the seconoary ano
postseconoary levels.
Anthropologists have workeo extensively in complex fielo situations, often see-
ing firsthano the violence that can ano sometimes ooes leao to genocioe ,Norostrom
ano Robben :qq¸,. Anthropologists along with psychologists, sociologists, historians,
ano political scientists have ioentifieo some of the preconoitions of genocioe, in-
cluoing the exclusion of people ioentifieo as being “oifferent” from what Iein ,:qq¡,
calls “the universe of obligation.” By focusing on issues such as racism, sexism, eth-
nocentrism, nationalism, funoamentalism, ano anti-Semitism, anthropologists ano
other social scientists ano eoucators have contributeo to efforts to oiscreoit ioeolo-
gies ano perspectives that leao to oifferential treatment of groups ano inoiviouals.
The balance of this chapter aooresses issues relating to inoigenous peoples ano
genocioe, the oefinitions of genocioe ano ethnocioe, typologies of genocioe, espe-
cially as they relate to inoigenous peoples, strategies for coping with genocioe, in-
cluoing preoiction, intervention, ano aovocacy, ano the varieo roles of the oisci-
pline of anthropology as it relates to genocioe ano ethnocioe issues. The conclusion
of the paper oeals with the importance of eoucation as a means of oealing with
genocioe, ethnocioe, ano human rights violations.
Inoigenous peoples are those people who are also referreo to as aboriginal peoples,
native peoples, tribal peoples, Iourth Worlo peoples, or “first nations.” No single
agreeo-upon oefinition of the term trotgcroo· pcoplc· exists. Accoroing to the Inoe-
penoent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues ,:q8¸:6,, four elements
are incluoeo in the oefinition of inoigenous peoples: ,a, pre-existence, ,b, non-
oominance, ,c, cultural oifference, ano ,o, self-ioentification as inoigenous. Tooay,
¡ó xonrnxi+v

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there are approximately ¡¸o million to 6¸o million inoigenous people resioing in
some ¸¸ of the worlo’s :q¡ nation-states. In the majority of cases inoigenous peo-
ples are numerical minorities, ano they oo not control the governments of the states
in which they live.
Inoigenous peoples generally possess ethnic, religious, or linguistic characteris-
tics oifferent from those of the oominant groups in the societies where they exist.
They teno to have a sense of cultural ioentity or social solioarity that many mem-
bers attempt to maintain. Tooay there is a worlowioe inoigenous movement in
which members of inoigenous communities ano groups are seeking to promote
their social, cultural, economic, political, ano religious rights.
The pace of oestruction of inoigenous peoples rose substantially in the twenti-
eth century, in spite of the fact that international oeclarations were orawn up ano
statements of inoigenous rights createo to try to counteract physical ano cultural
oestruction ano oiscrimination. It is estimateo that in Brazil alone, between :qoo
ano :q¸¸, more than eighty Inoian groups that were contacteo enoeo up oestroyeo
as a result of oisease, oeculturation, ano physical oestruction ,Davis :q¸¸:¸,. The
situation was especially oevastating for those groups situateo near natural resources
that coulo be extracteo from the lano ,rubber ano nut collection, for example, or
mineral exploitation,. Overall, the number of inoigenous people in Brazil oeclineo
from more than a million to .oo,ooo, a orop of 8o percent ,ibio.:¸,.
Inoigenous peoples are often blameo for their own oestruction. They are some-
times saio not to be utilizing lano proouctively or are argueo to be responsible for
its oegraoation, as seen, for example, in the case of rain forest oepletion resulting
from shifting cultivation. All too often, those in power characterize them negatively:
briganos, nomaos, vagabonos, vermin, poachers, orunkaros, aliens, thieves, oissi-
oents, inferiors, ano unproouctive people. The use of these terms increases when
the state, business companies, or inoiviouals move into new areas where inoigenous
groups are living ano using the resources, as occurreo when Europeans entereo
Australia ano North America.
It is apparent that there are numerous terms useo by inoigenous peoples ano
those who work with them to illustrate what these groups are oealing with. On the
one hano, there is physical genocioe, the oestruction of inoigenous peoples them-
selves, on the other there is cultural genocioe, or ethnocioe, the oestruction of a
group’s culture ,Kuper :q8::¸o–¸:, Falmer :qq.::–6,.
The term gcroctoc has been the focus of great oebate over the past several oecaoes
,Kuper :q8:, :q8¡, :q8¸, Charny :q8¡, :q8¸, Iein :q8¡, :qqo, Chalk :q8q, Chalk
ano Jonassohn :qqo, Totten ano Farsons :qq:,. If humanity is to oevelop souno
conventions ano genocioe warning systems in oroer to stave off genocioe, then we
,inoigenous peoples, scholars, activists, eoucators, members of nongovernment or-
ganizations, ano government officials, among others, neeo to come to a general un-
oerstanoing of what ooes ano ooes not constitute genocioe. It is also necessary to
unoerstano the preconoitions that leao up to ano culminate in genocioe ,Charny
:q8¡, :qq:, Kuper :q8¸, :qq.,.
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ¡,
Too often an incioence of massacre or some other serious human rights infrac-
tion is incorrectly referreo to or oeemeo to be genocioe by survivors, victim groups,
the meoia, activists, or scholars. As horrible as these infractions are, if they oo not
meet certain criteria they cannot legitimately be calleo genocioe. This misuse of
the term ooes not assist in either fully unoerstanoing or combating actual geno-
cioes. A key problem herein, ano one that complicates the effort to be more exact,
is the fact that scholars are still in the process of trying to oevelop a theoretically
souno ano, at the same time, practical oefinition of genocioe.
In light of the significance of this issue, we will begin with a synopsis of oefini-
tions of gcroctoc, gcroctool mo··octc·, ctlroctoc, ano various typologies of gcroctoc that
have been oevelopeo. Next, we will highlight past ano present cases that generally
have been acknowleogeo by spokespersons of inoigenous groups, scholars, ano
members of human rights organizations. We will concluoe with an examination
of efforts by scholars, activists, ano others working to intervene in or prevent the
genocioe of inoigenous peoples.
Some have argueo that if humanity truly hopes to oevelop an efficacious methoo
for preventing genocioal crimes, what is neeoeo, at the very least, is a consensus as
to what genocioe is. As we will show, that has been ano continues to be a oaunting
Ever since Raphael Lemkin coineo the term gcroctoc in :q¡¡, scholars, activists,
government officials, ano representatives of intergovernmental organizations like
the Uniteo Nations have been wrestling with the term in an effort to try to oevelop
a oefinition that is not so inclusive that it is meaningless but not so exclusive that it
oenies protection to certain groups of people ,Iein :q8¡, :qqo, Walliman ano
Dobkowski :q8¸, Charny :q88, Chalk :q8q, Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo,. Consen-
sus has been extremely oifficult to come by. Various scholars have recast the oefi-
nition of gcroctoc in an attempt to make it more workable, manageable, specific, or,
as Chalk ano Jonassohn ,:qqo::¸, put it, “analytically rigorous.”
Various other terms have been coineo in an effort to oifferentiate between the
intent, scope, ano type of crime against humanity that has been committeo. Among
these terms are ctlroctoc ,Kuper :q8::¸:, Whitaker :q8¸::¸, Falmer :qq.::–¡,, col-
totol gcroctoc ,Daorian :q¸¸:.o:–:., Kuper :q8:::¸, ¸o–¸:, ¡¡, Whitaker :q8¸::¸,
Charny :qq::¸:–¸.,, ·clccttcc gcroctoc ,Kuper :q8¸::¸¡–¸¸,, gcroctool ptocc·· ,Kuper
:q88::¸6,, ano gcroctool mo··octc· ,Kuper :q8:::o, ¸., 6o, Chalk ano Jonassohn
:qqo:.6, Charny :qq::.o,. The use of the various concepts is important because,
as Kuper ,:q8¸::¸o, notes, oifferent types of genocioe imply oifferent strategies for
prevention ano protective action.
Raphael Lemkin ,:q¡¡,, who wageo a one-man crusaoe for establishment of
an international convention against the perpetration of genocioe, formeo the term
¡8 xonrnxi+v

s rnors
gcroctoc by combining the Greek gcro· ,race, tribe, ano the Latin ctoc ,killing,. As
he stateo,
Generally speaking, genocioe ooes not necessarily mean the immeoiate oestruction
of a nation, except when accomplisheo by mass killings of all members of a nation.
It is intenoeo rather to signify a cooroinateo plan of oifferent actions aiming at the
oestruction of essential founoations of the life of national groups with the aim of
annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan woulo be the ois-
integration of the political ano social institutions of culture, language, national feel-
ings, religion, economic existence of national groups ano the oestruction of the per-
sonal security, liberty, health, oignity, ano even the lives of the inoiviouals belonging
to such groups. Genocioe is oirecteo against the national group as an entity, ano the
actions involveo are oirecteo at inoiviouals, not in their inoivioual capacity, but as
members of the national groups. . . . Genocioe has two phases: one, oestruction of the
national pattern of the oppresseo group, the other, the imposition of the national pat-
tern of the oppressor. ,Lemkin :q¡¡:¸q,
It is apparent from this oefinition that Lemkin consioereo both physical ano cul-
tural genocioe—or ethnocioe—to be part of the general concept of genocioe. Ba-
sically, the term ctlroctoc refers to the oestruction of a culture without the killing of
its bearers. The genocioe/ethnocioe issue has engenoereo consioerable oiscussion
ano heateo oebate ,Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo, Falmer :qq.,. Succinctly stateo,
those who have argueo against the inclusion of ethnocioe unoer the rubric of geno-
cioe suggest that there is a qualitative oifference between those situations in which
people are slain outright ano those in which certain aspects of a peoples’ culture
are oestroyeo.
Iollowing Worlo War II ano the annihilation by the Nazis ano their collabo-
rators of approximately six million Jews ano five million other people, such as
Gypsies, the physically ano mentally hanoicappeo, Foles ano other Slavic peo-
ples, the Uniteo Nations aoopteo a resolution on December q, :q¡6, calling for
international cooperation on the prevention of ano punishment for genocioe. It
was this terrible slaughter ano the methoos of oestruction useo by the Nazi
regime that provokeo the Uniteo Nations formally to recognize genocioe as a
crime in international law.
Irom the outset, however, the oevelopment of the U.N. Genocioe Convention
was enmesheo in controversy. As Kuper ,:q8¸::o, has noteo, nations with vastly
oifferent philosophies, cultures, ano “historical experiences ano sensitivities to hu-
man suffering” presenteo varying interpretations as to what constituteo genocioe,
ano as a consequence they argueo in favor of a oefinition ano woroing in the con-
vention that fit their own perspectives. The arguments ano counterarguments re-
sulteo in what can best be oescribeo as a “compromise oefinition,” one that signi-
ficantly playeo oown ethnocioe as a component ,Kuper :q8::.¸,. At the same time,
it broaoeneo the oefinition by aooing a new category of victim: “political ano other
groups” ,Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo::o,.
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ¡ç
However, the Soviet Union, Folano, ano other nations argueo against the inclusion
of political groups, claiming that such a step woulo not conform “with the scientific
oefinition of genocioe ano woulo, in practice, oistort the perspective in which the crime
shoulo be vieweo ano impair the efficacy of the Convention” ,Kuper :q8::.¸,. The
upshot was that political ano social groups were excluoeo from the convention. The
sagacity of excluoing such groups has been questioneo, if not outright criticizeo, by
numerous scholars ,Kuper :q8:, :q8¸, Whitaker :q8¸, Charny :q8¡, :qq:, Chalk ano
Jonassohn :qqo, Totten :qq:,. Others believe that the exclusion of political groups from
the convention was a souno move. LeBlanc ,:q88:.q.–q¡,, for example, supports the
exclusion of political groups because of what he sees as the oifficulty inherent in se-
lecting criteria for oetermining what constitutes a political group ano their instability
over time, other reasons he cites are the right of the state to protect itself ano the po-
tential misuse of the label “genocioe” by antagonists in conflict situations.
On December q, :q¡8, the Convention on Genocioe was approveo by the Gen-
eral Assembly of the Uniteo Nations. The convention oefines genocioe as follows:
In the present Convention, genocioe means any of the following acts committeo with
the intent to oestroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,
as such:
a. Killing members of the group,
b. Causing serious booily or mental harm to members of the group,
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conoitions of life calculateo to bring about its
physical oestruction in whole or in part,
o. Imposing measures intenoeo to prevent births within the group,
e. Iorcibly transferring chiloren of the group to another group.
It is important to note, as Kuper ,:q8¸::¸o, ooes, that the Genocioe Convention
oraws no oistinction between types of genocioe, since it seeks to oefine the elements
that they share in common. The convention oifferentiates only the means ,ibio.::¸,.
As Chalk ano Jonassohn ,:qqo:::, stress, the U.N. oefinition of genocioe commin-
gles physical oestruction with causing mental harm to members of a group. Once
again, this raises the issue of whether ethnocioe shoulo be subsumeo unoer the
larger oefinition of genocioe.
Cultural genocioe ano ethnocioe are basically synonymous ano refer to the oe-
struction of a group’s culture. As Whitaker ,:q8¸::¸, notes, cultural genocioe con-
stitutes “|a|ny oeliberate act committeo with intent to oestroy the language, reli-
gion or culture of a national, racial or religious group on grounos of national or
racial origin or religious belief such as: :. Frohibiting the use of the language of
the group in oaily intercourse or in schools, or the printing ano circulation of pub-
lications in the language of the group, .. Destroying or preventing the use of li-
braries, museums, schools, historical monuments, places of worship.” Accoroing
to Whitaker ,ibio.::¸,, at least one member of the Ao Hoc Committee preparing
the Uniteo Nations Genocioe Convention inoicateo that exclusion of the term
coltotol gcroctoc from the final text left minorities unprotecteo.
óo xonrnxi+v

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Some members proposeo at the :q8¸ meetings of the Sub-Commission on the
Frevention of Discrimination ano Frotection of Minorities that the oefinition of
genocioe be broaoeneo to incluoe ethnocioe, but it was opposeo by some members
who felt that this might result in political interference in the oomestic affairs of states
,ibio.: :6,. It was also suggesteo that the protection of minorities’ culture shoulo
be the responsibility of other international booies besioes the Uniteo Nations—
meaning, presumably, organizations such as the Uniteo Nations Eoucational, Sci-
entific, ano Cultural Organization ,UNESCO,, the International Labour Organi-
zation ,ILO,, ano the Uniteo Nations Inoustrial ano Scientific Organization. Such
a strategy, though, as was noteo, might not be very effective, given the lack of en-
forcement capabilities ano the staffing limitations of these institutions.
A number of typologies of genocioe have been presenteo, some of which incluoe
actions involving inoigenous peoples specifically. Daorian ,:q¸¸,, for example, ioen-
tifieo five types of genocioe: ,a, cultural genocioe, in which assimilation is the per-
petrator’s aim, ,b, latent genocioe, the result of activities with unintenoeo conse-
quences ,for example, the spreao of oiseases ouring an invasion,, ,c, retributive
genocioe, that oesigneo to punish a segment of a minority that challenges a oom-
inant group, ,o, utilitarian genocioe, the using of mass killing to obtain control of
economic resources, ano ,e, optimal genocioe, which is characterizeo by the slaugh-
ter of a group to achieve its obliteration.
Chalk ano Jonassohn ,:qqo::.–:¸, ioentifieo four types of genocioe: that oesigneo
,a, to eliminate a potential or future threat, ,b, to acquire economic wealth, ,c, to cre-
ate terror, ano ,o, to implement a belief, theory, or ioeology. As they point out, geno-
cioe associateo with the expansion of economic wealth was closely associateo with
colonial expansion into Asia, Africa, ano the Americas ,Chalk ano Jonassohn
:qqo:¸6,. As will be oiscusseo below, oestruction of inoigenous groups ano their so-
cieties has continueo ano even increaseo ouring the twentieth century, oue in part
to rapioly expanoing business activities ano both large-scale ano small-scale oevel-
opment projects ,Burger :q8¸, Geoicks :qq¸, Wilmer :qq¸, Hitchcock :qq¡, :qq¸,.
The process of contact between immigrant ano inoigenous groups all too often
hao tragic consequences. Some groups receiveo especially harsh treatment in the
context of colonial expansion, notably hunter-gatherers ,Kuper :q8¸::¸:, Goroon
:qq., Hitchcock ano Tweot :qq¸,. One of the cases citeo most frequently is that of
Tasmania ,Turnbull :q¡8, Morris :q¸., Jonassohn ano Chalk :q8¸::¸o, .o¡–..,
Barta :q8¸, Tatz :qq::q¸–q8,. The white resioents of Tasmania planneo ano exe-
cuteo what they felt was a Iinal Solution to the “Aboriginal problem” ,Morris
:q¸.:6:,. As Synot ,:qq¸::¸, notes, “The most graphic image in Tasmanian history
remains that of a continuous line of armeo invaoers marching through the bush,
oriving tribes of Aboriginals before them into Ioresters Feninsula where they were
exterminateo.” In fact, however, the “Black Line,” or coroon of military person-
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ó.
nel ano volunteers that was mounteo in the late :8.os, resulteo in the capture of
only two aboriginals, one of whom was a small boy ano the other of whom escapeo
shortly afterwaro ,Morris :q¸.:66–6¸, Tatz :qq::q¸,. As colonial forces oiscovereo,
it was not easy to eliminate hunter-gatherers, since they tenoeo to stay in remote
areas, were often wioely oisperseo across the lanoscape, ano were eminently fa-
miliar with their surrounoings.
The number of inoigenous people in Tasmania oio oecline precipitously, from
an estimateo five thousano at the time of first contact with Europeans in :6¡. to
some three hunoreo in :8¸o ,Diamono :qq¸:¸¸,. Some of them oieo from oisease,
but substantial numbers oieo at the hanos of colonists who shot them on sight, poi-
soneo them, caught them in steel traps ano then killeo them with sworos, ano
oasheo out the brains of their chiloren ,Turnbull :q¡8:¸q–¡.,. Aboriginal women
were rapeo, men were emasculateo, ano chiloren were captureo ano forceo into
slavery. Many of those who manageo to survive the mistreatment, oisease, ano star-
vation were rounoeo up in the early :8¸os ano forcibly relocateo to Ilinoers Islano,
where the majority of them oieo. With the oeath in :8¸6 of Truganini, an eloerly
full-bloooeo Aboriginal woman who liveo her last oays in Hobart, the last of Tas-
mania’s aboriginals was gone. As the local newspaper, the Mctcot, noteo, “Ior the
first time in human history, oies out the last of a race, a race . . . which never knew
the meaning of suffering, wretcheoness, ano contempt until the English, with their
soloiers, bibles, ano rum-puncheons, came ano oispossesseo them of their heritage”
,Mctcot,, quoteo in Morris :q¸.:¸o,.
Truganini’s mother hao been stabbeo to oeath by a European, her sister was
rapeo by sealers, ano her husbano’s hanos were cut off, she herself liveo her final
oays fearing that her booy woulo be oissecteo by scientists ,Turnbull :q¡8:.¸¸–¸6,
Morris :q¸.:6q–¸o,. Her last woros were, “Don’t let them cut me up,” ano she
beggeo the ooctor who was attenoing her to ensure that she was burieo “behino
the mountains.” After her oeath, her booy was sent to the Tasmanian Museum,
where it remaineo in a box in the basement ,Turnbull :q¡8:.¸6, Morris :q¸.:¸o,.
The oescenoants of Tasmanian Aboriginals ano the people who colonizeo the is-
lano have presseo the government to treat the remains of Tasmania’s inoigenous
peoples with greater respect, but the government continues to maintain that they
oo not oeserve special treatment. Tasmanian Aboriginal spokespersons argue that
they themselves were in fact subjecteo to “special treatment,” treatment that was
genocioal both in intent ano practice.
There have been ongoing oebates over the issue of genocioe among inoige-
nous peoples. The situation is perhaps best illustrateo in the case of the Ache of
eastern Faraguay, who were oescribeo in the :q¸os as the victims of genocioal poli-
cies ,Munzel :q¸¸, :q¸¡, Lewis :q¸¡, Arens :q¸6, :q¸8, Smith ano Melia :q¸q,. In
the :8¸os the Ache were still hunter-gatherers who moveo about the lanoscape in
small groups. By the :q¡os ano :q¸os some of the Ache groups were harasseo ano
attackeo by Faraguayan colonists ,Hill ano Hurtaoo :qq¸:¡q,. The :q6os saw paci-
fication efforts carrieo out, ano some of the Ache were moveo onto reservations.
ó: xonrnxi+v

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Efforts were maoe in the early :q¸os to bring aooitional Ache to the reservations.
Munzel ,:q¸¸, :q¸¡,, Lewis ,:q¸¸,, ano Arens ,:q¸6, :q¸8, maintain that armeo par-
ties were sent out to bring people to the reservations ano that violence was very
much a part of what were oescribeo as “manhunts.” Accoroing to these reports,
men were muroereo ano women ano chiloren enslaveo ouring the course of those
operations, which reporteoly were mounteo from reservations that serveo essen-
tially as staging grounos for hunts of “wilo” Ache. Munzel ,:q¸¸:.¡, noteo that Ache
slavery was not only wioespreao but that it was also tolerateo officially, with prices
for Ache Inoians on the open market fluctuating between $:.:¸ ano $¸.oo apiece
ouring the perioo up to :q¸.. Ache ano other Inoians were consioereo “inconve-
nient,” especially after roaos were built into the forests ano lano values increaseo
,Arens :q¸6, Staub :q8q:8¸,.
There were oisagreements over whether genocioe hao actually occurreo among
the Ache, not only on the part of the government of Faraguay ano ranchers living
in Ache areas but also between two aovocacy organizations promoting the rights
of inoigenous peoples: Cultural Survival, baseo in Cambrioge, Massachusetts, ano
Survival International, baseo in Lonoon ,see Maybury-Lewis ano Howe :q8o, Sur-
vival International :qq¸,. There is no question, however, that the Ache suffereo at
the hanos of others, members of Ache groups were muroereo, women were rapeo,
Ache chiloren were kionappeo ano sometimes solo, ano whole communities were
moveo onto reservations. The question is, to what extent were those actions car-
rieo out or conooneo by the Faraguayan state, ano was there the intent by the per-
petrators to exterminate, in whole or part, the Ache?
Although there were reports that some of the killings ano kionappings of Ache
were the work of the Faraguayan military ,Munzel :q¸¸, :q¸¡, Arens :q¸6,, oth-
ers claimeo that the state was not involveo ano that there was no evioence of geno-
cioe ,Maybury-Lewis ano Howe :q8o,. Hill ano Hurtaoo ,:qq¸::68–6q, pointeo
out that most of the killings of Ache occurreo in the context of peasants at-
tempting to take over Ache lano or to carry out retaliatory actions for livestock or
crop theft. They also argueo that “tr ro co·c were armeo parties sent out, nor was
there any violence or physical coercion involveo” in the efforts to get the Ache to
move to reservations ,Hill ano Hurtaoo :qq¸:¸:, emphasis in original,. The gov-
ernment of Faraguay rejecteo the charge of genocioe that was leveleo against it
at the Uniteo Nations in March :q¸¡, saying that there was no intention to oestroy
the Ache as a group ,Lewis :q¸¡:6.–6¸,. The Faraguayan minister of oefense, for
example, saio, “Although there are victims ano victimizer, there is not the thiro el-
ement necessary to establish the crime of genocioe—that is ‘intent’ ” ,quoteo in
Kuper :q8¸::.,. Hill ano Hurtaoo ,:qq¸::68, concluoeo, “The Ache contact situ-
ation also resulteo in extremely high mortality, but this was oue to carelessness ano
incompetence rather than intention, ano the contact history is not particularly
oifferent from any of hunoreos that have taken place in the Amazon over the past
two centuries.” Clearly, the question of intent is a major issue when it comes to
oealing with genocioe.
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ó¸
The Ache case unoerscores the importance of careful oocumentation of cases ano
the juoicious use of the charge of genocioe. Although emotional appeals for better
treatment of inoigenous peoples are unooubteoly important, they shoulo be backeo
up with carefully oetaileo fielo research, eyewitness testimonies, ano analyses of a
wioe variety of oata if they are to be creoible ano serve the interests of the people
affecteo ,Totten :qq:, Hill ano Hurtaoo :qq¸:¡¸6–8o, Hitchcock ano Tweot :qq¸,.
With regaro to “the oecimation of native peoples in the new continents ano states
settleo by Europeans,” Iein ,:qqo:¸q, argues that oemographic stuoies seloom ois-
entangle the relative importance ano interaction of the causes of oecline in the num-
ber of native peoples, a point also maoe by Hill ano Hurtaoo ,:qq¸::68–6q, ¡¸6–8o,.
As Iein ,:qqo:¸q, further notes, there are several causes of such oecline, incluoing ,a,
oiseases importeo by settlers to which the local population lack immunity, ,b, lano
usurpation ano oestruction of the inoigenous economy, ,c, oeculturation ano oe-
moralization of inoigenous group, ano alcoholism, ,o, wars, ano ,e, slaughter by the
colonists. Tooay, as Iein points out, we are apt to label the secono ano thiro causes
as ethnocioe ano the fifth as genocioe ,ibio.:¸q,. Iein herself uses what she oescribes
as a “sociological” oefinition of genocioe: “Genocioe is sustaineo purposeful action
by a perpetrator to physically oestroy a collectivity oirectly or inoirectly, through in-
teroiction of the biological ano social reproouction of group members, sustaineo re-
garoless of the surrenoer or lack of threat offereo by the victim” ,ibio.:.¡,. One of
the aovantages of this oefinition is that it incluoes the sustaineo oestruction of non-
violent political groups ano social classes, something that few others oo.
Iein oevelopeo a typology of genocioe maoe up of the following four categories:
,a, oevelopmental genocioe, in which the perpetrator intentionally or uninten-
tionally harms the victims as a result of colonization or economic exploitation, ,b,
oespotic genocioe, in which the perpetrator’s aim is to rio his oomain of any op-
position ,actual, potential, or imagineo, to his rule, ,c, retributive genocioe, in which
the perpetrator responos to a challenge to the structure of oomination when two
peoples, nations, ethnic groups, tribes, or religious collectives are lockeo into an
ethnically stratifieo oroer in a plural society, ano ,o, ioeological genocioe, whose
causes “are the hegemonic myths ioentifying the victims as outsioe the sanctioneo
universe of obligation or myths baseo on religion |that| excluoe the victim from
the sanctifieo universe of salvation ano obligation” ,Iein :q8¡:::, :8,. In the case
of oevelopmental genocioes, Iein aooresses both intentional ano unintentional con-
sequences. This oiffers from the Uniteo Nations Convention, which aooresses only
intentional consequences.
It is important to note that the forms of genocioe seen among inoigenous peo-
ples are oiverse ano spring from oifferent roots. Smith ,:q8¸, sees genocioe as a
proouct of war ano oevelopment. He also notes ,ibio. .¸, that the Inoians of Feru,
Faraguay, ano Brazil were “oestroyeo out of colo calculation of gain, ano, in some
cases, saoistic pleasure rather than as the result of a political or economic crisis.”
Inoigenous peoples are often seen as oifferent from the people in power in society
or, in some cases, as competitors.
ó¸ xonrnxi+v

s rnors
Kuper ,:q8¸::¸:, is emphatic that a major cause of the oestruction of inoige-
nous peoples has been colonization, especially in the “conquest” ano “pacification”
of inoigenous groups. He ooes remino us, however, that “|s|ome of the annihila-
tions of inoigenous peoples arose not so much by oeliberate act, but in the course
of what may be oescribeo as a genocioal process: massacres, appropriation of lano,
introouction of oiseases, ano arouous conoitions of labor” ,Kuper :q88::¸6,. He
oraws a oistinction ,:q8¸::¸o, between what he calls “oomestic genocioes,” those
arising from internal oivisions within a society, ano those genocioes that occur in
the context of international warfare.
Domestic genocioes can be suboivioeo on the basis of the nature of the victim
group ano the social contexts in which they are perpetrateo ,Kuper ibio.::¸o,. Do-
mestic genocioes, he says ,ibio.::¸o–¸¸,, incluoe the following: ,a, those against in-
oigenous peoples, ,b, those against what he terms “hostage groups,” vulnerable mi-
norities who serve as hostages to the fortunes of the oominant groups in the state,
,c, those against groups in a two-tiereo state structure following the eno of colo-
nialism, ano ,o, those committeo against ethnic, racial, or religious groups seeking
power, autonomy or greater equality. The latter type of genocioe, accoroing to Ku-
per ,ibio.::¸¸–¸6,, woulo incluoe the victimization of Guatemala’s Inoians, who
constitute more than half of the country’s population.
Cases of genocioe in the context of international warfare incluoe those that
occurreo when the Chinese invaoeo Tibet ano the occupation by Inoonesia of East
Timor. Kuper ,ibio.::¸¸, also cites the atomic bombings of Hiroshima ano Nagasaki
in :q¡¸ ano the wioespreao oestruction causeo by the Uniteo States in Vietnam,
Laos, ano Cambooia ouring the Vietnam War as examples of genocioe. Some
scholars oisagreeo aoamantly with Kuper that either the atomic bombings or the
Vietnam War constituteo genocioe, since there was arguably no intent on the part
of the Uniteo States to “oestroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or
religious group, as such.” In light of the fact that political mass muroer is not in-
cluoeo in the Uniteo Nations Convention on Genocioe, Kuper ,ibio.:.6, argueo for
the reinstatement of political mass muroer, in part because that form of mass mur-
oer takes substantial numbers of lives ano because in some cases political mass mur-
oers teno to be tieo in with ethnic ano religious massacres, the Holocaust being a
classic example. Another example of a political mass muroer that was brought
about by policies that leo to starvation is the Soviet treatment of the peoples of
the Ukraine ,Mace :qq¸,.
Minority groups that are in areas where there is competition for resources fre-
quently face the threat of intimioation, oppression, ano oestruction, especially if
they actively oppose the efforts of outsioe agencies ano inoiviouals ,Gurr :qq¸, .ooo,
Hitchcock :qq¸,. Kuper ,:q8¸::¸:, sees contemporary small-scale inoigenous soci-
eties as “the so-calleo victims of progress, victims, that is, of preoatory economic oe-
velopment” ,see also Booley :qqq,. Smith ,:q8¸:.¡–.¸, oistinguisheo three types of
genocioe, one of which, utilitarian genocioe, was characterizeo by inoigenous peo-
ples being subjecteo to “genocioal attacks in the name of progress ano oevelop-
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ó¡
ment.” Not only were the natural resources of inoigenous groups exploiteo, but so,
too, were their human resources, with their labor being utilizeo in the quest for eco-
nomic profits ,International Labour Office :q¸¸,. Mistreatment of minorities is a
wioespreao part of genocioal actions ,Kuper :q8:, :q8¸, Chalk ano Jonassohn :qqo,.
Literally scores of inoigenous peoples have been ano continue to be the victims of
ethnocioe, genocioe, or some variation thereof. A oetaileo oiscussion of each of
these cases is beyono the scope of this essay, but a table has been generateo show-
ing twentieth-century cases of genocioe of inoigenous peoples ,Table ¸.:,.The table
contains cases orawn from a variety of sources, incluoing the Utgcrt Acttor Bollcttr·
,UABs, of Survival International, reports ano publications by the International
Work Group for Inoigenous Affairs, Cultural Survival, the Minority Rights Group,
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, ano
African Rights, as well as from overviews of the situations of inoigenous groups
,Burger :q8¸, :qqo, Miller :qq¸, Wilmer :qq¸, Maybury-Lewis :qq¸, Booley :qqq,.
Key citations have been provioeo below for reaoers who want to pursue the stuoy
of this issue in more oepth.
The cases of twentieth-century genocioe citeo here represent a number of per-
spectives helo by researchers regaroing the fate of the various victim groups. As
one will see upon reaoing the various essays ano reports citeo, while one scholar
may view a particular situation as ethnocioe, another may view it as part of a geno-
cioal process, ano yet another may perceive it as outright genocioe. The latter sit-
uation makes it abunoantly clear as to why certain scholars are working arouously
on the oevelopment of new ano more exact oefinitions ano typologies of genocioe.
Until there is at least a general agreement as to what shoulo ano shoulo not con-
stitute genocioe, there will continue to be a certain oegree of murkiness in the fielo.
In light of the ongoing oebate ano work vis-a-vis oefinitions, we have maoe the
conscious choice not to categorize each trageoy specifically as either a case of eth-
nocioe, genocioe, or genocioal massacre because such oecisions coulo be vieweo
as somewhat arbitrary. As these cases oemonstrate, the genocioe of inoigenous peo-
ples is a wioespreao phenomenon, occurring on every continent ano in a variety
of social, political, economic, ano environmental contexts.
In virtually every case, genocioe is a calculateo ano generally premeoitateo set
of actions oesigneo to achieve certain goals, such as the removal of competitors or
the silencing of opponents. Inoigenous peoples can also be harmeo through the
oestruction of their resource base, as occurreo, for example, on the Great Flains
of North America with the near-extermination of the buffalo ano in the equato-
rial zones of South America, Africa, ano Asia with the purposeful oestruction of
tropical forests.
óó xonrnxi+v

s rnors
+\nrr ¸.: Genocides of Indigenous Peoples in the Twentieth Century
Gtoop ^omc Coortt, Dotc;·)
Bubi Equatorial Guinea 1969–79
Dinka, Nuer Sudan 1992–93
Herero Namibia 1904–7
Hutu Burundi 1972, 1988
Isaak Somalia 1988–89
Karimojong Uganda 1979–86
Nuba Sudan 1991–92
San Angola, Namibia 1980–90
Tuareg Mali, Niger 1988–90
Tutsi Rwanda 1994
Tyua Zimbabwe 1982–83
A·to oro tlc Poctftc
Armenians Turkey 1915–18
Atta Philippines 1987
Auyu West Papua, Indonesia 1989
Cham Kampuchea (Cambodia) 1975–79
Dani Papua New Guinea 1988
H’mong Laos 1979–86
Kurds Iraq 1988, 1991
Nasioi Bougainville, Papua N.G. 1990–91
Tamil Sri Lanka 1983–86
Tribals Chittagong Hills, Bangladesh 1979–present
Lottr Amcttco oro tlc Cott//cor
Ache Paraguay 1966–76
Arara Brazil 1992
Cuiva Colombia 1967–71
Mapuche Chile 1986
Maya Indians Guatemala 1964–94
Miskito Nicaragua 1981–86
Nambiquara Brazil 1986–87
Nunak Colombia 1991
Paez Colombia 1991
Pai Tavytere Paraguay 1990–91
Ticuna Brazil 1988
Yanomami Brazil 1988–89, 1993
^ottl Amcttco
Indians United States, Canada 1500s–1900s
Ior purposes of this chapter, we will oistinguish several types of genocioe involv-
ing inoigenous peoples. The first of these is genocioe in the context of a struggle
between a state ano an inoigenous group or collectivity of several collaborating
groups that are resisting the actions of the state. Neitschmann ,:qq¡, has analyzeo
the conflicts that occur between states ano what he terms “nations,” those people
who perceive themselves as a single entity ano who share common ancestry, cus-
toms, ioeology, language, ano territory. Iew, if any, nations have willingly given up
their lano ano resources, ano some have sought actively to assert their autonomy—
sometimes violently, as seen in the cases of the Kuros of Iraq ,Saeeopour :qq.,
Mioole East Watch ano Fhysicians for Human Rights :qq¸,, the Maya of the west-
ern Highlanos of Guatemala ,Burger :q8¸: ¸6–8¸, Inoepenoent Commission on
International Humanitarian Issues :q8¸:8¡–8¸, Montejo :q8¸, Carmack :q88,
Manz :q88, Amnesty International :qq.:::–:¸, .o–.., ¡¸–¡¡, Stoll :qq¸, Ialla :qq¡,,
ano the Chittagong Hill Tribes of Banglaoesh ,Chowohury :q8q, Jahan :qq¸,. Gurr
,:qq¸:::¸, has noteo that of all the minority group types that he ioentifieo, inoige-
nous peoples experienceo the greatest proportional increase in the magnituoe of
conflicts between the :q¸os ano the :q8os.
Often oefineo by governments as insurgents, separatists, or terrorists, resisting
nations teno to consioer themselves freeoom fighters or people seeking self-oeter-
mination. Many of these groups are outnumbereo ano outgunneo by the state, so
they resort to guerrilla tactics or civil oisobeoience. The peoples of West Fapua ano
other areas claimeo by Inoonesia have been massacreo ano subjecteo to severe
abuse at the hanos of the Inoonesian military ,Hynoman :qq¡, Cribb :qq¸, Dunn
:qq¸,. The Isaaks of northern Somalia were treateo brutally by Somali government
forces, who not only bombeo ano shot them but also poisoneo their wells ano uti-
lizeo a scorcheo-earth policy to oestroy their resource base ,Africa Watch :qqo,
Hitchcock ano Tweot :qq¸,. Similar kinos of tactics were useo by the Germans
against the Hereros in Namibia between :qo¡ ano :qo¸ ,Briogman :q8:, Briogman
ano Worley :qq¸, ano against the Nuba, Nuer, Dinka, ano other ethnic groups in
southern Suoan by the Suoanese government in recent years ,African Rights :qq¸a,
Deng :qq¸, Hutchinson :qq6, Human Rights Watch/Africa :qq¸,. The Chechens
ano members of other ethnic groups ,such as the Karachai, Kalmyks, ano Ingushi,
were summarily rounoeo up ano oeporteo en masse by the Soviet state to exile
camps in central Asia, where they faceo inhumane conoitions ,Gurr :qq¸::qo,
Legters :qq¸,. In the recent past, the Chechens have been subjecteo to artillery
bombaroments, bombings, ano infantry operations by the Russian army. In all of
these cases, the vast majority of people affecteo were noncombatants.
Over the past thirty years, tens of thousanos of Quiche Maya ano other
Guatemalan Inoians were killeo, their villages oestroyeo, ano their crops burneo by
the Guatemalan military, with the tacit ano sometimes active support of the Uniteo
States government ,Carmack :q88, Stoll :qq¸, Ialla :qq¡,. The Guatemalan elite was
ó8 xonrnxi+v

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not prepareo to allow Inoians to participate in the workings of the government or in
local-level oecision making. By the late :q¸os some of the Inoians hao joineo guerrilla
groups that hao as their aims the expansion of political participation ano the im-
provement of the lives of peasants. The Guatemalan government responoeo to the
organizational efforts of inoigenous peoples ano others with repressive tactics. Death
squaos kionappeo ano muroereo political leaoers. Counterinsurgency operations were
launcheo in the mio-:q¸os, ano by the late :q¸os ano early :q8os the government was
engageo in a full-scale frontal assault against inoigenous peoples ano peasants in
Inoians joineo the guerrilla movements not so much because they agreeo with
their ioeology but because they saw such movements as being among the few means
available for protecting themselves against the acts of terror perpetrateo by the gov-
ernment forces ,Carmack :q88,. As Stoll ,:qq¸:xi, notes, most of the Maya “were
rebels against their will, ano they were coerceo by the guerrillas as well as the army.”
In Iebruary :qq6, anthropologists from the Guatemalan Iorensic Anthropology
Team, human rights workers, ano local people excavateo a mass grave at Agua Iria,
a village in the state of Quiche. This grave is but one of literally oozens of clan-
oestine cemeteries that contain the victims of brutal military operations against In-
oian peasants who were suspecteo of provioing support for rebels opposeo to the
government of General Efrain Rios Montt, who ran Guatemala in :q8.–8¸. The
mass muroers were part of a general campaign on the part of the government to
terrorize the populace.
At the height of the Guatemalan civil war, there were as many as forty-five to
fifty thousano Quiche Maya refugees living in camps in Mexico. Even there, peo-
ple were not completely safe. There is evioence of assassins going into the refugee
camps in Mexico ano killing suspecteo guerrilla leaoers ,Victor Montejo, personal
communication,. Mayan peasants argueo that they were “living between two fires”
ano that they wanteo simply to be treateo with respect by the government ano those
with whom they liveo in rural Guatemala.
The secono type of genocioe that we will oeal with here is retributive genocioe,
those actions taken by states or other entities in retribution for their behavior. A
classic statement recommenoing retributive genocioe came from a member of
Chase Manhattan Bank’s Emerging Markets Group, Rioroan Roett, who, in Jan-
uary :qq¸, maoe the following comment about the Zapatista uprising in southern
Mexico: “While Chiapas, in our opinion, ooes not pose a funoamental threat to
Mexican political stability, it is perceiveo to be so by many in the investment com-
munity. The government will neeo to eliminate the Zapatistas to oemonstrate their
effective control of the national territory ano of security policy” ,quoteo in the
1o·ltrgtor Po·t, Iebruary :¸, :qq¸,. Amnesty International ano other human rights
organizations reporteo on human rights violations by the Mexican army in its ef-
forts to quell the Zapatista uprising in :qq¡–q¸. Not only were members of the
Zapatista Army of National Liberation ,EZLN, killeo, but so, too, were noncom-
batants ,Collier ano Quaratiello :qqq,. Although the Zapatistas were not wipeo out,
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs óç
other inoigenous associations ano groups have not been so fortunate, as can be seen
in the cases of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Banglaoesh, in Inoonesia, ano in
Burma. It is important to note that of the :.o-plus wars that were going on in :qq¸,
8o percent of them involveo Iourth Worlo nations resisting state military forces
,Neitschmann :qq¡:.¸¸,.
Accoroing to representatives of inoigenous groups speaking at international fo-
rums on inoigenous peoples ano human rights, people oefineo as inoigenous have
experienceo mass killings, arbitrary executions, torture, mental ano physical mis-
treatment, arrests ano oetentions without trial, forceo sterilization, involuntary re-
location, oestruction of their subsistence base, ano the removal of chiloren from
their families ,Ismaelillo ano Wright :q8., Veber et al. :qq¸, Wilmer :qq¸, Churchill
:qq¸,. Some of these actions have been oescribeo as genocioal, others as pregeno-
cioal or as situations that potentially coulo leao to genocioe if alloweo to continue
without any attempts at intervention or alleviation.
Cases claiming genocioe of inoigenous peoples have been brought before the
Uniteo Nations, but generally they have brought little result, in part because gov-
ernment representatives claimeo that there hao been no intent to oestroy inoige-
nous peoples as such, ano that the groups were never eliminateo “as an ethnic or
cultural group” ,Kuper :q8¸::.–:¸,. Governments ano other agencies usually state
that the oeaths of inoigenous people were an “unintenoeo consequence” of cer-
tain actions, such as colonizing remote areas, ano that there were no planneo ef-
forts to oestroy people on the basis of who they were. Inoigenous groups in nu-
merous countries, incluoing Guatemala ano Banglaoesh, have stresseo that
violations of the right to life in many countries has hao a oistinctly ethnic or cul-
turally targeteo character, no matter what government officials claim.
Military repression of inoigenous peoples that resist state-builoing efforts is not
the only context in which conflict-relateo genocioe occurs. Some states have con-
scripteo members of inoigenous groups into their armeo forces, sometimes at gun-
point. The Uniteo States orew upon the services of the Montagnaros of Vietnam,
while the South African Defense Iorce orafteo members of !Kung, Khwe, ano
Vasakela San groups in the war against the South West Africa Feople’s Organiza-
tion ,SWAFO, in Angola ano Namibia in the :q¸os ano :q8os. Inoeeo, the San of
southern Africa have been oescribeo as “the most militarizeo ethnic group in the
worlo” ,Goroon :qq.:.,. Although the San have been treateo poorly throughout
their history ,see ibio., Hitchcock :qq6,, they oio sometimes engage in violent ac-
tions against other people. The point here is that inoigenous peoples have been ano
are on both sioes of the genocioe equation. Simply because one is inoigenous ooes
not mean that she or he is incapable of genocioal behavior.
An assumption is sometimes maoe that hunter-gatherers tenoeo not to engage
in genocioe. Chalk ano Jonassohn ,:qqo:¸6,, for example, state, “It seems unlikely
that early man engageo in genocioe ouring the hunting ano gathering stage.” One
of the reasons for this position is that it is assumeo that hunter-gatherers teno to be
peace-loving peoples ano that they preferreo to have amicable relations with their
,o xonrnxi+v

s rnors
neighbors rather than engaging in intergroup conflict. Inoeeo, there is mounting ev-
ioence that inoicates that inoigenous warfare increaseo significantly as a result of
European expansionism ,Ierguson ano Whiteheao :qq.,. Juoging from the archae-
ological recoro, intergroup conflicts were much more common among state systems
ano settleo agriculturalists than was the case among foragers. This shoulo not be
taken to mean, however, that genocioe was primarily a proouct of seoentism, agri-
culture, ano the rise of the state. Certainly early foragers hao the skills, technology,
ano presumably the oesire to eliminate other people in competitive situations.
Another context in which genocioes ano massive human rights violations against
inoigenous peoples occur is where efforts are maoe to promote social ano economic
oevelopment, often characterizeo as being “in the national interest.” Sometimes
calleo oevelopmental genocioes, these kinos of actions occur when states, agencies,
companies, or transnational corporations oppress local peoples ouring the course
of implementing various kinos of oevelopment projects.
All too frequently, local people have been killeo or forceo out of oevelopment proj-
ect areas, often with little or no compensation either in the form of alternative lano
or cash for lost assets ,see Table ¸..,. The problem has become so wioespreao, in fact,
that a new category of oisplaceo persons has been proposeo: “oevelopment refugees”
,Horowitz :q8q, :qq:, Scuooer :qqo,. River basin oevelopment projects, among other
kinos of large-scale efforts, have sometimes employeo violent means to ensure com-
pliance on the part of local people. Dam projects such as those along the Narmaoa
River in Inoia, the Rio Negro in Guatemala, ano the Manantali Dam on the Sene-
gal River in west Africa witnesseo repressive tactics by the companies or agencies in-
volveo, incluoing the muroer of political activists, oisappearances, the shooting of
oemonstrators, arbitrary arrest, ano the torture of oetainees ,Koening ano Horowitz
:qq., Human Rights Watch :qq.:¡:–¡., Scully :qq6, Colajacomo :qqq,.
There are a number of cases where transnational corporations ,TNCs, have
allegeoly been involveo in serious human rights violations against inoigenous peo-
ples. These cases range from the actions of mining companies such as Ireeport
Inoonesia, Inc., ,III, in Irian Jaya ,West Fapua, to oil companies such as Texaco
ano Maxus in Ecuaoor ,see Table ¸..,. Some companies, such as Royal Dutch/Shell
in Nigeria, have been accuseo of being in complicity with governments that are
oppressing their own citizens ,Human Rights Watch/Africa :qq¸, Kretzman :qq¸,.
Companies have been citeo as being guilty of a series of human rights crimes, in-
cluoing assassinations, oisappearances, raios ano the burning of villages, oetentions
without trial, torture, purposeful oumping of toxic substances, ano intimioation of
opponents ,Human Rights Watch ano Natural Resources Defense Council :qq.,
Geoicks :qq¸, Wilmer :qq¸, Hynoman :qq¡, Kane :qq¸, Sachs :qq¸, Hitchcock
:qq¸,. Justifications by company executives for their actions range from their right
to protect their assets ano the security of their employees to making profits, some
of which go to the countries where they operate.
In spite of the fact that human rights concern has become wioespreao, inoige-
nous peoples have continueo to suffer severe abuse. Recent evioence suggests that
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ,.
+\nrr ¸.. Development Projects of Multinational
Corporations (MNCs) That Have Injured Indigenous Peoples’
Well-being and That Have Been Cited as Genocidal or Ethnocidal
Pto¡cct oro Compor, Coortt, Effcct·
Ecuador Oil Developments Ecuador Waorani and other Indians
(Texaco, Maxus Oil Co., forced off land, massive
and Conoco, etc.) environmental problems
with oil spills, poisoning
of water, loss of biodiversity
Freeport-MacMoRan West Papua Amungme and other
Copper and Gold Mining (Irian Jaya) West Papuans dispossessed,
crackdowns on local people,
ecological destruction,
Unocal Burma Alleged complicity in slavery,
forced relocation, torture,
murder, and disappearances
in the area of a Unocal
Shell Oil Nigeria Development of oil
production and refining
facilities in the Ogoni region
of Nigeria led to habitat
destruction, pressure on the
Ogoni people by the
Nigerian state
Tanzania Wheat Tanzania Barabaig agropastoralists
Project (CIDA) removed from their lands,
harrassed and jailed, denied
access to winter grazing
Logging Companies Malaysia Deforestation, dispossession
(e.g., Mitsubishi) and oppression of resident
Penan and other groups
Western Desert Uranium Australia Aboriginals forced out of
Mining (e.g., Rio Tito Zinc) traditional areas, land and
sacred sites affected, some
problems with mining
xo+r: Ior aooitional case material, see Human Rights Watch ano Natural Resources Defense
Council ,:qq.,, Johnston ,:qq¡, :qq¸,, Geoicks ,:qq¸,, Sachs ,:qq¸,, Hitchcock ,:qq¡, :qq¸,, see also the
Molttrottorol Morttot.
the situations they face are actually getting worse in a number of areas, particu-
larly as economic oevelopment reaches into the worlo’s remoter regions ,Durning
:qq., Hitchcock :qq¡, :qq¸, .ooo, Booley :qqq,.
It is important to note that one of the oefenses offereo by both government ano
company officials to charges of genocioe is that the killing of inoigenous people
cannot be oefineo as genocioe if it is oone for “economic” reasons ,Kuper :q8¸::¸,.
As one African inoigenous leaoer put it at a March :qq6 meeting of the Uniteo Na-
tions Human Rights Commission, “We are killeo out of greeo.” The poor treat-
ment of inoigenous peoples ano the loss of their lano has hao a series of negative
effects, incluoing reouction of their subsistence base, nutritional oeprivation, ano
heighteneo social tensions, some of which are manifesteo in higher rates of suicioe,
as was the case, for example, with the Guarani Kaiowa of Brazil in the late :q8os
ano :qqos.
Yet another context in which genocioes occur is one that is not normally rec-
ognizeo in the human rights ano environmental justice communities, conservation-
relateo violations. In many parts of the worlo, national parks, game reserves, ano
other kinos of protection areas have been establisheo, often at significant cost to
local communities, many of which have been oispossesseo as a result. Iorceo relo-
cation out of conservation areas has all too often exacerbateo problems of poverty,
environmental oegraoation, ano social conflict. In the course of state efforts to pro-
mote conservation, legal restrictions have been placeo on hunting ano fishing
through national legislation. Such legislation not only reouces the access of in-
oigenous peoples to natural resources, it also results in inoiviouals ano sometimes
whole communities being arresteo, jaileo, ano, in some cases, killeo, as has been
the case in Africa ano Inoonesia ,Feluso :qq¸, Hitchcock :qq¡,. Anthropologists
have oocumenteo these situations ano have attempteo to pressure governments, in-
ternational agencies, ano environmental organizations to pay more attention to the
rights of people exposeo to what in effect is coercive conservation.
Genocioal actions also sometimes occur in situations in which there is purposeful
environmental oestruction. That can be seen, for instance, in cases where herbicioes
such as Agent Orange were useo to clear forests so that counterinsurgency actions
coulo proceeo, as was the case in Vietnam. The so-calleo orug war, orchestrateo in
part by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency ,DEA, in countries such as Bolivia,
Colombia, ano Feru, has hao more than its share of human rights violations, some
of them arising from raios on local communities ano the use of chemicals to oestroy
coca ano marijuana crops. Ecocioe, the oestruction of ecosystems by states, agencies,
or corporate entities, is a problem facing substantial numbers of inoigenous ano other
peoples in many parts of the worlo ,Grinoe ano Johansen :qq¸,.
Activists opposeo to the oegraoation of the ecosystems have hao to conteno with
efforts by transnational corporations ano states to silence them, sometimes violently
,Human Rights Watch :qq., Human Rights Watch ano Natural Resources Defense
Council :qq., Johnston :qq¡, Sachs :qq¸::q–.¸,. The :q88 killing of Chico Menoez,
the Brazilian rubber tapper who spoke out forcefully against the oestruction of the
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ,¸
tropical rain forests, ano the execution by the Nigerian state of Ken Saro-Wiwa,
the heao of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni Feople ,MOSOF,, on No-
vember :o, :qq¸, unoerscoreo the oangers faceo by environmental activists ano the
lengths to which their opponents are willing to go.
Anthropologists, too, have been killeo for their efforts in behalf of social jus-
tice, as occurreo in the case of antiapartheio activist Davio Webster in South Africa.
There have also been cases in which anthropologists who serveo as whistle blow-
ers about projects that were ooing harm to inoigenous peoples ano others lost their
jobs or were investigateo by agencies ranging from the Ieoeral Bureau of Investi-
gation to the Internal Revenue Service. Aovocacy in behalf of inoigenous peoples
by anthropologists has leo to the establishment of human rights organizations
aimeo at promoting the well-being of inoigenous groups, examples being the In-
ternational Work Group for Inoigenous Affairs, founoeo in Denmark in :q68 by
Helge Kleivan ano others, ano Cultural Survival, Inc., founoeo by Davio ano Fia
Maybury-Lewis ano their colleagues in Boston, Massachusetts, in :q¸.. Anthro-
pologists have also collaborateo with inoigenous nongovernment organizations in
their efforts to promote their rights, as can be seen in the cases of Iirst Feople of
the Kalahari ,IFK,, a San aovocacy organization baseo in Ghanzi, Botswana, ano
the Working Group of Inoigenous Minorities in Southern Africa ,WIMSA,, a re-
gional San aovocacy ano networking organization.
Efforts have been maoe at the international ano the national levels to bring inoige-
nous genocioe cases to the attention of both the meoia ano human rights ano in-
tergovernmental organizations, incluoing the Uniteo Nations. In the :q¸os, the
Uniteo Nations was officially informeo of the situations in Faraguay with the Ache
ano various inoigenous groups in Brazil ,Kuper :q8¸::¸:,. Officials from both
Faraguay ano Brazil vehemently oenieo that their governments were responsible for
genocioe. Such was the case in :q6q, when the Brazilian representative to the Uniteo
Nations saio that although Inoians in Brazil hao been “eliminateo,” it was oone “for
exclusively economic reasons, the perpetrators having acteo solely to take posses-
sion of the lanos of their victims” ,Uniteo Nations Human Rights Communication
no. ¡¸8, September .q, :q6q, quoteo in Kuper :q8¸::¸:,. In other woros, the killings
of Brazilian Inoians were not genocioe because the purpose of the actions was eco-
nomic. Economically motivateo oestruction of inoigenous peoples has been ano is
a serious problem in Brazil ,Davis :q¸¸, Ramos ano Taylor :q¸q, Bay :q8¡, Ameri-
can Anthropological Association :qq:, Amnesty International :qq., Colby ano Den-
nett :qq¸,. Although wioe-ranging efforts have been maoe to promote the rights of
Brazilian Inoians by inoigenous communities, aovocacy organizations, ano human
rights groups, their socioeconomic status continues to oecline in many areas.
In August :qq¸ there was an international outcry over the killings of Yanomami
,Yanomamo, Inoians by golo miners on the Venezuela-Brazil boroer ,Chagnon
,¸ xonrnxi+v

s rnors
:qq¸a–c, Albert :qq¡, Ramos :qq¸,. When it was learneo that the number of peo-
ple shot ano oismembereo was “only” sixteen, international interest in the case
waneo. Subsequently, when charges were traoeo about possible complicity on the
part of social scientists ano missionaries in the processes that leo up to the mas-
sacre, public interest was piqueo again, but it subsioeo after the governments of
Brazil ano Venezuela argueo that the situation was not as bao as hao been claimeo.
The governments of countries in which inoigenous peoples face severe human
rights problems routinely oeny that the situation is as bao as is portrayeo in the me-
oia, by aovocacy groups, or by the oral testimonies of inoiviouals claiming viola-
tion of human rights. The same is true of those private companies in areas where
inoigenous peoples are being affecteo by oevelopment ano environmental change.
It shoulo be emphasizeo that there are frequently serious conflicts of interest be-
tween states ano private companies operating insioe their boroers. In the :q8os ano
early :qqos, the Uniteo Nations Economic ano Social Council Commission on
Transnational Corporations orew up a Cooe of Conouct for transnational corpo-
rations, but as of early :qqq the cooe hao yet to be implementeo.
There has been markeo opposition to inoigenous peoples’ efforts to re-estab-
lish their lano ano resource rights, not only from states but also from private com-
panies seeking access to minerals ano other resources. Tooay, some of the greatest
problems faceo by inoigenous groups in terms of lano ano resource rights oerive
from transnational corporations, private companies, ano inoiviouals who are pres-
suring governments to reouce their efforts in behalf of inoigenous lano rights, as
can be seen, for example, in Australia, Brazil, ano Mexico.
Efforts are being maoe by intergovernmental organizations, inoigenous associ-
ations, oevelopment ano human rights–orienteo nongovernmental organizations,
ano interesteo inoiviouals to oraw up guioelines for oevelopment ano conservation
project implementation that protect both local people ano their ecosystems. The
problem with many of these guioelines, however, is that they rarely, if ever, are en-
forceo. Although oetaileo international stanoaros have been establisheo for han-
oling the resettlement of people affecteo by large-scale infrastructure projects ,see,
for example, Worlo Bank :qq:,, there are few cases in which all or even most of
the steps have been followeo. The result has been that a majority of the people who
have been forcibly relocateo, numbering in the tens of millions, have enoeo up
much worse off after relocation ,Scully :qq6, Scuooer :qq¸a, :qq¸b, Worlo Com-
mission on Dams .ooo,.
There have been few cases where companies or oevelopment agencies have been
requireo to change their tactics or to follow international stanoaros. As yet there
are no internationally accepteo principles by which companies, oevelopment in-
stitutions, or conservation organizations must operate. The consequence is that
inoigenous groups face major problems.
In response, inoigenous groups have begun to organize among themselves in
an effort to oppose genocioal practices ano promote human rights ,Durning :qq.,
Wilmer :qq¸, Hitchcock ano Biesele .ooo,. How successful these efforts will be very
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ,¡
much oepenos on whether private companies, intergovernmental organizations,
states, ano nongovernment organizations are willing to ,a, come up with strict in-
ternationally recognizeo human rights ano environmental stanoaros, ,b, monitor
oevelopment ano conservation activities as they are implementeo, ano ,c, enforce
those stanoaros.
Lawsuits have been fileo by inoigenous groups ano their supporters against
multinational corporations. In :qq¸, a group of lawyers in New York fileo a $: bil-
lion lawsuit against Texaco on behalf of the Huaorani Inoians of Ecuaoor. In :qq6
lawyers representing citizens of Burma fileo a lawsuit in a U.S. feoeral court that
allegeo complicity on the part of the oil company Unocal in human rights abuses
in an area of Burma where a natural gas pipeline was being built. The charges in-
cluoeo complicity in enslavement of people, forceo relocation, torture, muroer, ano
intimioation of opponents of the pipeline ,Strioer :qq¸, Bray :qqq,. These lawsuits
coulo set a legal preceoent whereby environmental ano human rights violations
can be prosecuteo unoer international law in the Uniteo States. What this woulo
mean, in effect, is that private companies coulo be helo to the same stanoaros as
governments. It may be necessary, in our opinion, to charge the chief executive
officers ,CEOs, of some of the worlo’s major corporations with crimes against hu-
manity ano try them in a ouly constituteo ano inoepenoent international court.
Fublicizing the names of companies involveo in human rights violations is help-
ful, ano efforts are ongoing along those lines, with the assistance of a number of
nongovernment organizations, some of which publicize the actions of multina-
tionals on the worlowioe web ano in other forums. Nongovernment organizations
ano stockholoer groups have calleo for the organization of boycotts ano the im-
position of sanctions on those companies involveo in systematic human rights vi-
olations. It is only when company profits ano stock values begin to oecrease that
efforts will be maoe to curb the kinos of systematic mistreatment of inoigenous
peoples that are so commonplace in many parts of the worlo tooay.
Over the past oecaoe or so, numerous scholars have begun working on what are com-
monly referreo to as genocioe early warning systems ,GEWS, ,Charny :q8¡, :qq:,
:qqq:.¸¸–6:, Kuper :q8¸:.:8–.8, :qq:, Whitaker :q8¸:¡:–¡¸, Totten ano Farsons
:qq:,. These are systems that ioentify criteria for oetecting conoitions that increase
the possibility of genocioe. Their goal is to bring worlo attention to a potentially geno-
cioal situation so that an objective outsioe agency can intervene. Such a system woulo
be useful in many ways, but for inoigenous groups it woulo be especially important,
given that many of them are exposeo to genocioal actions with little or no outsioe
monitoring ano limiteo channels of communication to the outsioe worlo.
Totten ,:qq:, has suggesteo that a key component of any early warning system
shoulo be the collection ano analysis of eyewitness accounts of events that might
be leaoing up to a genocioe, or of particular genocioal acts themselves. As Totten
,ó xonrnxi+v

s rnors
,ibio.: lvii, pointeo out, “Time ano again throughout this |the twentieth| century,
some of the first warnings that a genocioal act was taking place were the appear-
ance of first-person accounts by members of the victim group who either manageo
to escape or smuggle out reports, ano/or accounts by other witnesses ,e.g., jour-
nalists, consular officials, relief workers,.” Besioes eyewitness accounts, there are
other inoications of potential genocioes, incluoing increaseo rates of beatings,
killings, kionappings, ano oisappearances, ano heighteneo refugee flows.
The threats facing inoigenous peoples incluoe the lack of efforts on the part of
states ano regional governments that contribute to the insecurity of inoigenous peo-
ples, these woulo incluoe incomplete oemarcation of reserve areas, failure to pros-
ecute inoiviouals or companies that enter reserves that have been legally gazetteo,
ano allowing inoiviouals or groups that have committeo human rights violations
against inoigenous people to get away with their crimes. Freconoitions for geno-
cioe incluoe rising numbers of arrests, extrajuoicial executions, oisappearances,
ano heateo rhetoric in the meoia, all of which were seen, for example, in the cases
of Burunoi ano, more recently, Rwanoa ,African Rights :qq¸b, Neier :qq8,. Com-
ing up with oetaileo assessments of the factors that result in genocioes is crucial if
these crimes are to be preoicteo.
We, along with Whitaker ,:q8¸:¡¡,, support the establishment of an interna-
tional booy to oeal with genocioe. Such a booy coulo have a section that analyzes
oata on potential genocioes ano be empowereo with the authority to bring any ur-
gent situations to the attention of the secretary-general of the Uniteo Nations ano
other appropriate institutions.
In October :qq., the Uniteo Nations Security Council agreeo, albeit somewhat
reluctantly, to unoertake a formal investigation into the allegations concerning oeath
camps, ethnic cleansing, ano mass rape in Bosnia. The panel, known as the Com-
mission of Experts, was aimeo in part at preparing the way for a war crimes tribu-
nal. The War Crimes Tribunal was establisheo in :qq¸, the first time such a tribunal
hao been set up since the trials helo in Nuremberg ano Japan following Worlo War
II. There has been a certain amount of reluctance on the part of the Uniteo
Nations leaoership to pursue high-level inoiviouals as war criminals, but the tribunal
is now issuing inoictments. Inoictments have also now been issueo by the Interna-
tional Tribunal for Rwanoa ,ICTR,. We hope that both of these tribunals will follow
through on prosecution of those responsible for genocioe ano war crimes.
Anthropologists ano archaeologists can play significant roles in preoicting, ooc-
umenting, ano investigating pregenocioal ano genocioal situations. Anthropologists
sometimes fino themselves in situations where they witness violence ano poor treat-
ment of people ,Norostrom ano Robben :qq¸,. Some of them have recoroeo their
observations carefully ano maoe them available to human rights organizations ano
to the meoia. Others have shareo information on government plans that might af-
fect local people, ano some have assisteo in organizing resistance efforts. Careful
oocumentation of allegeoly genocioal actions with the use of archaeological ano
forensic techniques has been oone in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvaoor,
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ,,
the Fhilippines, Ethiopia, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Rwanoa, ano, recently,
Zimbabwe ,Geiger ano Cook-Deegan :qq¸, Mioole East Watch ano Fhysicians for
Human Rights :qq¸, Hagluno ano Sorg :qq¸, Stover ano Feress :qq8,. The infor-
mation obtaineo ouring the course of these activities can ano will serve as part of
the evioence for pursuit of human rights cases by courts ano the International War
Crimes Tribunals ,for example, those for the former Yugoslavia ano for Rwanoa,.
The American Association for the Aovancement of Science ,AAAS,, Fhysicians for
Human Rights ,FHR,, Human Rights Watch, the Minnesota Lawyers Interna-
tional Human Rights Committee, ano regional teams of forensic anthropologists,
lawyers, ano meoical personnel collaborate in carrying out investigations, con-
oucting workshops, ano ooing training exercises for people involveo in the exami-
nation of instances of suspicious oeaths.
It is of the utmost necessity for university ano seconoary school curricula not to
focus solely on genocioal acts themselves but also on the preconoitions of genocioe,
as well as methoos of intervention ano prevention, incluoing the role of inoiviou-
als acting alone ano in concert with others. A primary purpose of holoing up clear
examples of the abuse of human rights is to encourage people to look seriously at
events ano oeeos in their own lives ano the worlo about them that may increase the
likelihooo of bigotry ano the possibility for violence.
The most effective peoagogy on genocioe helps stuoents think about issues such
as the use ano abuse of power, the implications of a society that violates civil ano
human rights, ano the role ano responsibilities of inoiviouals, groups, ano nations
when confronting human rights violations ano genocioal acts. Examining these is-
sues can broaoen stuoents’ unoerstanoing of key concepts ano concerns, such as
racism, prejuoice, oiscrimination, blino obeoience, loyalty, conflict, conflict reso-
lution, oecision making, justice, prevention, intervention, ano survival, all of which
can be useful when consioering what constitutes responsible citizenship. If that is
not oone, the stuoy is little more than an acaoemic exercise.
If stuoents at all levels of schooling across the globe are going to be reacheo
effectively, then something more—much more—than traoitional curricula ano
instructional efforts are neeoeo. An all-out, well-cooroinateo eoucational ano
outreach effort is requireo, one that involves those groups working on the behalf
of victims of genocioe as well as those groups working on various genocioal ano
human rights issues, in conjunction with peoagogical experts. Working together,
those three groups, we believe, coulo not only proouce outstanoing curricular
materials but coulo also reach stuoents in a way that has not been attempteo
thus far.
The protection of inoiviouals ano groups who are oifferent is very much a con-
temporary issue, ano stuoents shoulo be presenteo with opportunities ,if they so
oesire, to move from stuoying ano thinking to becoming actively involveo in inter-
,8 xonrnxi+v

s rnors
vention ano prevention work. The efforts of Amnesty International, the interna-
tional human rights organization that was the recipient of the Nobel Frize for Feace
in :q¸¸, to involve stuoents in human rights work is both aomirable ano something
that coulo be emulateo by other organizations working to protect inoigenous peo-
ples ano other victims of oiscrimination ano genocioal acts. The strength of such
programs is that they provioe stuoents with an outstanoing reason for stuoying hu-
man rights issues. It helps them appreciate the fact that human rights are not givens
but something that must be protecteo. Likewise, it informs them about why ano
how human rights infractions are committeo across the globe, ano how inoiviou-
als can work together to ameliorate these situations.
International Alert Against Genocioe ano Mass Killing ,which has its heao-
quarters in Lonoon, was establisheo as a response to the realization that groups
were not being protecteo against genocioe ano that there seemeo to be an in-
creasing incioence of the crime. It seeks “to promote awareness ano a commitment
to preventive action through teaching ano research ano by sounoing international
alerts on threatening crises in inter-group relations” ,Leo Kuper, personal com-
munication, August :o, :qqo,. Fut another way, “it is the action component com-
plementing the eoucational work” ,Kuper, personal communication, May .q, :qq:,.
This organization makes representations in the conventional channels ,such as aio
agencies, governments, ano international organizations,, but it also tries to explore
new channels for effective action.
History oemonstrates that encounters between inoigenous peoples or ethnic mi-
norities ano other groups, states, ano oevelopment agencies often culminate in in-
oigenous peoples or minorities being strippeo of their culture, physically oecimateo,
or both. In light of that, the following comment by Irving Horowitz is worthy of
consioerable thought: “Genocioe is always a conscious choice ano policy. It is never
just an accioent of history or a necessity imposeo by unseen economic growth re-
quirements. Genocioe is always ano everywhere an essentially political oecision”
,Horowitz :q8o:¸8,. To some extent, the lack of awareness by the “average person”
about the conoitions of inoigenous peoples is reminiscent of many of the conclu-
sions reacheo by Michael Harrington ,:q6¸, in his book Tlc Otlct Amcttco, which
helpeo to bring the issue of poverty in the Uniteo States to the forefront of many
peoples’ minos. In his opening chapter, Harrington puts forth his main theme when
he states: “The millions who are poor in the Uniteo States teno to become in-
creasingly invisible. Here is a great mass of people, yet it takes an effort of the in-
tellect ano will even to see them” ,ibio.::o,. Like the poor that make up the “other
America,” the inoigenous peoples of the worlo tooay are generally invisible, iso-
lateo, “off the beaten track,” powerless, ano “slipping out” of our “very experience
ano consciousness” ,ibio.:::–:¸,.
Anthropologists have workeo extensively on marginalizeo groups ano segments
of society. They have examineo poverty ano unoeroevelopment, the causes ano
consequences of conflict, warfare, ano genocioe, ano policies of separate oevel-
opment ano oifferential treatment of groups on the basis of ethnicity, class, or back-
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ,ç
grouno, they also have firsthano information on what happens to groups ano in-
oiviouals unoer stress. This material can be orawn upon in the oevelopment of uni-
versity ano seconoary school curricula ano case stuoies for workshops ano train-
ing sessions relating to human rights, social justice, ano equity. It can also be useo
in courses ano programs on conflict resolution ano conflict management. Having
a better unoerstanoing of the roots of prejuoice, oiscrimination, ethnic ioentity for-
mation ano manipulation, nationalism, ano genocioe will go a long way towaro
helping alleviate the conoitions that bring about human rights violations ano oe-
struction of inoiviouals, groups, ano cultures.
When we reao the lists of peoples that have been ano are being oestroyeo, it is
easy to forget that behino the names of these inoigenous groups are unprotecteo
mothers, fathers, chiloren, granoparents—inoeeo, entire families. Awareness of this
victimization ano injustice forces us to make choices. Some of us choose to ignore
ano avoio the information, others strive to learn more, ano still others search for
ways to intervene or to prevent these events ano oeeos from happening. In this chap-
ter we have attempteo to analyze some of the major issues surrounoing genocioe
ano ethnocioe as they affect inoigenous peoples. We have stresseo the neeo for geno-
cioe preoiction ano prevention efforts, as well as the neeo to intervene in situa-
tions where genocioe might occur. We believe strongly that more work is neeoeo
on oefining genocioe. The fact that governments ano other agencies have oenieo
engaging in genocioe while at the same time carrying out serious human rights vi-
olations unoerscores the neeo for mooifications to the oefinition of genocioe in
the Genocioe Convention.
Iein ,:qqo:8., has aooresseo the crucial neeo for oelineating clear policies for
the protection ano enhancement of the well-being of inoigenous peoples:
It seems wise . . . to me to have clear conceptual standards, discriminating specific poli-
cies and ways of monitoring the operation of state and settlers—laws, administra-
tion, equal justice, land settlement, health and educational services—so that we can
assess both intentions and effects on indigenous peoples, rather than to label all pop-
ulation decline as a result of genocide and assume the inevitability of decimation of
indigenous peoples. (Fein ibid.)
There is a clear neeo to oocument cases carefully ano to come up with quantita-
tive as well as qualitative analyses of the effects on inoigenous peoples of actions
by states, agencies, corporations, ano other entities.
It woulo be useful, as Iein ,ibio., notes, to oraw up a convention on ethnocioe
ano lay out in very specific terms what the various obligations are of states in pro-
tecting the rights of inoigenous peoples. Such a convention woulo be important
because there are problems with the current Genocioe Convention ano with the
Uniteo Nations’ role in preventing genocioes.
8o xonrnxi+v

s rnors
Many of these problems lie in the convention itself. Iirst, the oefinition itself is
lacking in clarity. Secono, the convention concentrates primarily on punishment
rather than prevention. Thiro, the lack of enforcement has meant that the Geno-
cioe Convention can be ignoreo by states ano inoiviouals without fear of retribu-
tion. Many states are reluctant to pursue genocioe cases because they take the po-
sition that these situations are “internal matters”, taking strong action might be
vieweo as oenying self-oetermination ano states’ rights. However, as Whitaker
,:q8¸:¸¸, notes, genocioe shoulo be maoe a matter of universal jurisoiction. Only
in that way will governments be helo accountable for their actions.
Among the most important efforts to achieve the protection of the rights of in-
oigenous peoples are those of various inoigenous groups themselves. Inoigenous
groups tooay are “organizing to survive,” as one San put it. Their actions are im-
portant for a number of key reasons. Iirst of all, the efforts are a classic case of self-
oetermination. The groups know what they neeo ano oesire, ano they are working
towaro those goals, some on an inoivioual basis ano some collectively. Secono, these
actions, while not always successful, serve to provioe important experience for in-
oigenous groups, ano they may serve to increase their knowleoge ano potential ef-
fectiveness. Thiro, they often serve to enhance the organizational capacity of the
groups because they often require them to try various oecision-making, participation,
ano leaoership strategies. Iourth, the efforts, if successful even marginally, provioe in-
oiviouals ano groups with much-neeoeo self-confioence in the face of aoversity.
Although most of these groups eventually come face to face with forces that
are beyono their control, they are better equippeo to cope with them for having
attempteo to mobilize themselves. The fact that they are forming coalitions ano
communicating more effectively through the electronic meoia ano other means is
inoicative of their oesire to establish broao-baseo networks ano information ois-
semination mechanisms.
That saio, one still neeos to be circumspect in regaro to what has been ano still
neeos to be accomplisheo. Ior example, while it is certainly true that inoigenous
groups are making steaoy progress, it is also a fact that there are inoivioual gov-
ernments, big businesses, certain church organizations, ano others that are ooing
everything in their power to circumvent the efforts ano progress being maoe by
inoigenous groups within their realm of power or interest. What neeos to be oone
by inoigenous groups ano noninoigenous organizations that support them is to form
strong networks ano coalitions that will work towaro the same goals in the most ef-
ficacious manner. It can be hopeo that such efforts will prevent factions from be-
ing formeo ano will leao to a more cohesive ano stronger movement for the pro-
tection of all inoigenous peoples.
Encouraging representatives of governments ano inoigenous peoples to reach
agreement on international stanoaros for protecting inoigenous peoples is an on-
going task of the Working Group on Inoigenous Fopulations of the Uniteo Na-
tions, which is maoe up of representatives of inoigenous peoples ano groups that
work with them ,International Work Group for Inoigenous Affairs :qqq,. Although
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs 8.
broao agreement has been reacheo on many issues, there still exist many areas of
oispute. Some of the most serious of these conflicts relate to protection of the lano
ano resource rights of inoigenous peoples, the recognition of collective rights, ano
the right to self-oetermination.
There are literally oozens of organizations ano associations working on inoige-
nous rights’ issues. A major strength of these organizations is that they serve as ao-
vocates for those people who often fino themselves voiceless or powerless against
governments or business interests that encroach upon their lano, threaten their way
of life, or enoanger their lives ,Burger :q8¸, Durning :qq., Maybury-Lewis :qq¸,
Hitchcock :qq¸,. These organizations also assist those inoigenous groups that are
active on their own behalf in reaching a larger constituency or power base. In oo-
ing so they conouct research into the neeos of ano problems faceo by inoigenous
peoples, serve as aovocates for the groups in international ano national meetings
ano governmental ano nongovernmental forums, ano eoucate the general public
about the situation of inoigenous peoples. In recent years, greater efforts have been
maoe by these aovocacy groups to get involveo in human rights investigations ano
promotion of health, nutrition, ano oevelopment activities that enhance the well-
being of inoigenous groups. All of these efforts will go a long way towaro reouc-
ing the problems facing inoigenous peoples.
Whitaker ,:q8¸:¡., asserts that research on the causes ano prevention of geno-
cioe “coulo help form one part of a wioe eoucational program throughout the
worlo against such aberrations |that is, genocioe|, starting at an early age in
schools.” To fail to eoucate stuoents ano the public at large about genocioe, in-
cluoing the fate of inoigenous peoples across the globe who have to face this crime,
has, we believe, profouno ramifications. To ignore genocioe is to oistort history.
To talk about the conquest of the New Worlo, colonialism in the Americas, or the
confrontation between inoigenous peoples ano “technological aovancement” to-
oay without oiscussing genocioe is to present a false or sanitizeo picture of the way
changes have occurreo over time.
It is heartening to note that a growing number of communities are beginning
to incluoe the stuoy of genocioe in their curricula ,Totten ano Farsons :qq:, Charny
:qqq,. At present, twenty states in the Uniteo States recommeno the teaching of
the Holocaust ano genocioe. However, in spite of the surge in the stuoy of geno-
cioe ano the use of materials on genocioe in schools, the level of unoerstanoing of
the causes ano consequences of genocioe ano human rights violations on the part
of the public is limiteo at best.
The vast majority, if not all, of the curricula oevelopeo on genocioe for use in
schools oo not aooress the plight of most inoigenous peoples other than Native
Americans ano the Armenians in any systematic way. Even those stuoents who oo
stuoy some aspect of genocioe still cannot intelligently oiscuss what it is that con-
stitutes genocioe, the preconoitions ano consequences of any genocioe, or meth-
oos of intervention ano prevention: those kinos of issues are not unoerscoreo in
the curricula or the meoia. In aooition, to a large extent, most of the current cur-
8: xonrnxi+v

s rnors
ricula available on genocioe are not of a particularly high quality, although that sit-
uation is changing.
A particular area of concern among inoigenous peoples as it relates to genocioe
ano human rights violations is genoer-relateo violence. Representatives of women’s
organizations, inoigenous associations, ano human rights groups have argueo that
rape ano sexual assault shoulo be consioereo crimes against humanity. Mass rape
was useo as a strategy to terrorize people in the former Yugoslavia ,Stiglmayer :qq¡,.
Aboriginal women were rapeo ano sexually abuseo by settlers in Tasmania ano Aus-
tralia ,Turnbull :q¡8,, as were Ache women in Faraguay ,Munzel :q¸¸, :q¸¡, Arens
:q¸6,, American Inoian women in the Uniteo States ,Dunbar Ortiz :q8¡, Jaimes
:qq., Churchill :qq¸,, ano Somali women, a number of whom were in refugee
camps, in the Horn of Africa ,Africa Watch :q8q,. The oeclaration of rape ano
sexual abuse as crimes against humanity will, in the opinion of inoigenous leaoers
ano others, result in greater efforts to oeter genoer-relateo violence both in wartime
ano peacetime.
If stuoents ano the public are to have greater knowleoge of the plight of in-
oigenous peoples, oeprivation of human rights, ano the causes ano consequences
of genocioe, scholars in such fielos as anthropology, history, sociology, political sci-
ence, law, ano genocioe stuoies are going to have to work with teachers ano school
aoministrators to convince them of the necessity for aooressing such concerns as
well as to assist them in oeveloping accurate content ano peoagogically souno cur-
ricula. Scholars, inoigenous groups ano their supporters, ano nongovernmental or-
ganizations neeo to assist eoucators in choosing cases that contribute significantly
to an unoerstanoing of the survival problems facing inoigenous peoples. An in-
oepth approach to well-oocumenteo cases encourages stuoents ano the public to
oevelop more careful oistinctions when making comparative generalizations, ano
it helps them to refrain from offering simple answers to complex human behavior.
Ior intervention ano prevention of genocioe ano ethnocioe against inoigenous
peoples to succeeo, better progress neeos to take place in increasing our level of
awareness, in encouraging the citizens of the worlo to care, ano in overcoming oe-
nial. Ior the most part, governments oo not acknowleoge or take responsibility for
their genocioal acts, past or present, ano most citizens woulo like to avoio oealing
with ugly events ano oeeos perpetrateo by their nation or others. Unfortunately,
oenial is reinforceo because the historical recoro oemonstrates that perpetrators
of ethnocioe or genocioe are seloom brought to trial. A case in point is the fact that
even the perpetrators of major twentieth-century genocioes have escapeo justice.
Investigations of cases of allegeo genocioe ano prosecution of the perpetrators
woulo help to ensure that others will be less likely to engage in such actions in the
Resolving complex problems ano injustices requires multiple approaches. Schol-
ars neeo to continue grappling with the multituoe of criteria ano oistinctions that
help to oefine, unoerstano, ano prevent genocioe ano ethnocioe. Eoucators neeo
to learn about what has ano is happening to inoigenous peoples, ano they neeo to
coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs 8¸
oevelop strategies for bringing these lessons to their stuoents in oroer to give in-
tervention ano prevention a real chance in the future. Activists neeo to keep in-
volving others, expanoing their efforts, ano confronting those who violate the rights
ano freeooms of inoigenous peoples.
The international business community neeos to take further steps to oevelop a
cooe of business ethics that protects the rights of people in areas where businesses
are operating. Governments must live up to their obligation to protect inoigenous
peoples ano not compromise their rights unoer the weight of so-calleo progress, eco-
nomic growth, or nationalism. Iinally, all institutions, whether states, corporations,
nongovernment organizations, or inoigenous support groups, neeo to work together
to promote the rights not just of inoigenous peoples but also of all human beings.
Aoelman, Howaro, ano Astri Suhrke. :qq6. “Early Warning ano Response: Why the Inter-
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coxrnox+ixo orxocinr or ixniorxots rrorrrs ç.
r\n+ +vo
Essentializing Difference
Artltopologt·t· tr tlc Holocoo·t
Justifying Genocioe
Atclocolog, oro tlc Cor·ttocttor of Dtffctcrcc
Bctttro Atrolo
It is one of the terrible ironies of the systematic extermination of one people by
another that its justification is consioereo necessary. As Norman Cohn has argueo,
“|H|owever narrow, materialistic, or oownright criminal their own motives may
be, such men cannot operate without an ioeology behino them. At least, when op-
erating collectively, they neeo an ioeology to legitimate their behavior, for without
it they woulo have to see themselves ano one another as what they really are—com-
mon thieves ano muroerers. Ano that apparently is something which even they can-
not bear” ,Leo Kuper |:q8::8¡| quoting Norman Cohn |:q6¸:.6¸–6¡|,. Obviously
warrants for genocioe can take many forms, ano not all of them make explicit ref-
erence to the archaeological past. Those that oo oeserve closer examination. The
starting point for this paper therefore is Leo Kuper’s statement that “massive slaugh-
ter of members of one’s own species is repugnant to man, ano that ioeological le-
gitimation is a necessary preconoition for genocioe” ,:q8::8¡,. I explore the sym-
biotic relationship between nationalism, race, ano archaeology from a cross-cultural
perspective in oroer to illustrate how archaeological research has been co-opteo to
ratify ano reify genocioe.
If the politics of memory ano the psychology of politics are intimately relateo, as
Hirsch suggests, ano if memories, ano the myths ano hatreos constructeo arouno
them, may be manipulateo by inoiviouals or groups in positions of leaoership to
motivate populations to commit genocioe or other atrocities ,:qq¸:¸,, then archae-
ology must be consioereo a potential contributing factor in such political systems.
Archaeological research in contemporary contexts is in fact explicitly referreo to as
“cultural capital,” a source to be mineo for “useful” matter, much as natural re-
sources are ,Hamilakis ano Yalouri :qq6,. The terms “heritage management”
,Britain, ano “cultural resource management” ,Uniteo States,, both useo to oescribe
archaeological research, especially government-funoeo research, illustrate this point
,Arnolo :qqq::,. In the oecaoes since :q¡¸, the cultural capital representeo by the
“oeep past quarry” of archaeological research has become heavily contesteo ter-
ritory, without however being accompanieo by the oevelopment of a clear set of
ethical or programmatic policies within the oiscipline to cope with the potential for
overt exploitation. Organizations such as ROFA ,the Register of Frofessional Ar-
chaeologists, in the Uniteo States, or the Council of British Archaeology, have not
as yet succeeoeo in raising the consciousness of practicing archaeologists in those
countries to the level requireo if abuse of research results is to be avoioeo. As Hirsch
points out, “|If| the connection between memory ano politics is not clarifieo, the
past may be ignoreo, reconstructeo or manipulateo, employeo as a mythological
justification for the present” ,:qq¸: :o,.
On the other hano, the spate of recent publications on the archaeology of na-
tionalism ano ethnicity illustrates a oawning awareness of the significance of ar-
chaeological research to the ioeological unoerpinnings of political systems ,Olivier
:qqq, Legenore :qqq, Halle ano Schmiot :qqq, Demoule :qqq, Jones :qq¸, Atkin-
son, Banks ano O’Sullivan :qq6, Kohl ano Iawcett :qq¸, Ligi :qq¸, Eowaros :qq:,
:qqq,. To what extent oo material culture remains “map” people, ano what are the
implications of this operating assumption for archaeology ano for the oiscipline of
anthropology more generally? The tenoency to equate material culture assemblages
with cultural suboivisions still oominates the fielo of archaeology ,Wells :qq8, among
others,, a theoretical oilemma that oeserves closer attention. Archaeologists have
traoitionally claimeo that ethnicity can be recognizeo in archaeological assemblages.
Reouceo to a simplistic formula, pots ~ people ,Chiloe :q.q:vi,.
As a result of this
assumption, archaeology acquires political significance. In other woros, the way eth-
nicity is ioentifieo in the archaeological recoro ano the way archaeology informs eth-
nicity in contemporary cultures must be seen as two sioes of the same coin.
British archaeologist Stephen Shennan oefines the term ethnicity very generally
as “self-conscious ioentification with a particular social group” ,:q8q:6,. A more re-
cent oefinition by South African archaeologist Martin Hall oefines it as “an his-
torically valioateo continuity of ioentity” ,:qq¡::¸6,. As with most oefinitions, these
raise more questions than they answer. What is meant by “self-conscious” or “his-
torically valioateo”? How is a “social group” or an “ioentity” oefineo, ano by
whom? Sian Jones in her recent treatment of the topic of the archaeology of eth-
nicity ,:qq¸, argues that not enough attention is paio by archaeologists to oistin-
guishing between the emic vs. etic classification of ethnic groups—self-ioentifieo
ethnicity vs. that assigneo by others. Her criticism is part of a growing recognition
of the complexity ano context-oepenoent fluioity of the term “ethnicity,” which
archaeologists have so long treateo as normative ano immutable ,Graves-Brown,
Jones, ano Gamble :qq6,.
çó rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Fart of the problem is the mutability of the term “ethnicity” itself, which is useo
expeoiently in mooern oiscourse. It can be equateo with religious belief, race, lan-
guage, or cultural continuity within a specific location ,Arnolo :qq8/qq, :qqq,. An-
other term that neeos to be oefineo is “nation.” I am using the term in its most gen-
eral sense: a group of people who feel themselves to be a community bouno by
ties of history, culture, ano common ancestry. Is “nationalism” possible without no-
tions of “ethnicity”? Is nationalism the inevitable result of the creation of ethnic
ioentity in the postinoustrial state? How oo nationalist agenoas affect archaeolog-
ical interpretation, ano how ooes archaeological evioence affect nationalist agen-
oas, ano in some cases, the genocioal expression of those agenoas?
A particularly egregious, ano therefore informative, example of the manipulation
of the “oeep” archaeological past for political, ano ultimately genocioal, purposes
is prehistoric German archaeology unoer the National Socialists. I have been oo-
ing research for some time now on the role playeo by archaeology in the creation
of nationalist ano ethnic ioentity in the German nation-state ,Arnolo :qqo, :qq.,
:qq8/qq, :qqq, Arnolo ano Hassmann :qq¸,, ano I will further oevelop some of
those ioeas in this chapter.
Michael Ignatieff ,:qq¡, has oescribeo nationalism as an emotional mix of
“blooo ano belonging,” ano certainly it was blooo, or race, that oetermineo be-
longing in the German nation-state in the nineteenth century ano particularly af-
ter :q¸¸.
Language was a seconoary, though important, oefining characteristic
,Kellas :qq::¸:,, but the ioea that race was what oistinguisheo Germans from all
other human groups hao several ramifications. Unlike other oefining ethnic char-
acteristics, race was assumeo by nationalists to be unaffecteo by cultural changes
over time, which meant that “Germans” in :q¸¸ coulo be consioereo part of an
ethnic continuum in northern Europe going back as far as the Upper Faleolithic
,that is, the first appearance of anatomically mooern humans in the European ar-
chaeological recoro,. Race as oefineo by German National Socialism was what
qualifieo one to be a member of the Germanic community. It was more impor-
tant than religion, language, or place of birth. It was, in fact, the basis for the “imag-
ineo community” that was the “German Reich.” In the nineteenth ano early twen-
tieth centuries, Germany was wherever Germans were or coulo be shown to have
been. Germans establisheo territory by occupying it ano leaving a oistinctive ma-
terial recoro of their presence. Once occupieo, the territory coulo be reclaimeo,
which was why the ioentification of “Germanic” material culture in the archaeo-
logical recoro of eastern ano northern Europe came to have such political signifi-
cance for German territorial expansion unoer the National Socialists. Ernest Re-
nan’s prophetic :88. essay oecrieo this conflation of race ano nation by German
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr ç,
The Germanic family . . . has the right to reassemble the scattereo limbs of the Ger-
manic oroer, even when those limbs are not asking to be joineo together again. The
right of the Germanic oroer over such-ano-such a province is stronger than the right
of the inhabitants of that province over themselves. There is thus createo a kino of
primoroial right analogous to the oivine right of kings, an ethnographic principle is
substituteo for a national one. This is a very grave error, which, if it were to become
oominant, woulo oestroy European civilization. The primoroial right of races is as
narrow ano as perilous for genuine progress as the national principle is just ano le-
gitimate. ,:qqo::¸,
The origin myth of the German people that oevelopeo between :8¸: ano :q:8
laio the founoations for the abuse of archaeological research in the Thiro Reich,
while also provioing a justification for genocioe. Hirsch has argueo that origin myths
frequently involve the ioentification of groups of people who are oefineo as being
outsioe the “universe of obligation” that oetermines behavior towaro members of
the “in-group” ,:qq¸:qq,. Eoucational texts, films, ano archaeological publications
for popular auoiences proouceo between :q¸¸ ano :q¡¸ represent the origins of the
German people as beginning with a form of ethnoparthenogenesis in northern Eu-
rope in the Faleolithic ,Iigure ¡.:, Strobel :q¸¸,. How these populations of anatom-
ically mooern humans got to Europe in the first place is shrouoeo in obscurity in
most of these texts, since an eastern or African origin was inconsistent with the
notion of a unique ano superior Germanic gene pool. The reoefining in :q¸¸ of
all post-Faleolithic cultural phases ,Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze ano Iron Ages, as
permutations of an isolateo ano “pure” Germanic cultural oevelopment ,Arnolo
:qqo, was more than a semantic makeover. It exemplifies the way archaeology was
expecteo to serve as hanomaioen to the ioeology of genocioe in Nazi Germany.
The Nazi cultural phases were renameo as follows:
Fre-Germanic Faleolithic–¸ooo B.C.
Froto-Germanic ¸ooo–.ooo B.C.
Early Germanic .ooo–¸oo B.C.
Olo Germanic ¸oo B.C.–o B.C.
High Germanic o–A.D. ¡oo
Late Germanic ¡oo–A.D. 8oo
Fost-Germanic 8oo–present ,Dinstahl :q¸6,
Each of these time perioos has a counterpart in the evolutionary oiagram in Iigure
¡.:, which was publisheo in a school textbook in :q¸¸ with the stirring title “Un-
seres Volkes Ursprung: ¸ooo Jahre Noroisch-Germanische Kulturentwicklung”
,“The Origins of Our Feople: ¸ooo Years of Noroic-Germanic Cultural Evolution”,
,Strobel :q¸¸,. The oiagram was intenoeo to link German chiloren in their :q¸¸
classrooms to the unbroken chain of “Germanic” peoples, protagonists in the lat-
est chapter of a cycle of repeateo testing, representeo by genetic ano cultural crises
ano eventual triumph in the twentieth century ,the “Reawakening/Self-awakening”
ç8 rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Iigure ¡.:. A Representative Blueprint of the National Socialist “Origin Myth.”
Frehistoric ano historic perioos are useo in this “ontogeny” of the Germanic people:
Time of Becoming, Time of Maturation, Time of Struggle, Time of Suffering/Testing,
Time of Self-Awakening ,Strobel :q¸¸,.
at the very bottom of the oiagram,. In effect, the oiagram is a simplifieo blueprint
for the construction of notions of cultural oifference ano genetic superiority, aimeo
at the impressionable minos of schoolchiloren.
The “Froto-Germanic” perioo of National Socialist archaeologists is repre-
senteo by the 1ctoc¸ctt ,Time of Becoming, phase in Strobel’s oiagram. The ge-
ographically oesignateo racial “core” of the German people at this time is rep-
resenteo by the mioole column, entitleo ^otoocot·clloro, the home of the
^otot·cl-Fölt·clc· Utcoll ,Noroic-Fhalian Ur-Feoples,. Accoroing to Strobel’s blue-
print, some of these “pure” Noroic people migrateo out of their northern Eu-
ropean homelano into regions to the south ano east ouring what he calls the
“Inoo-Germanic Lano-Taking.” The rest remaineo in the northern core, where
they presumably kept the home fires burning pure through the centuries that
followeo. Threats to racial homogeneity ano “Noroic” cultural oominance are
associateo throughout the oiagram with the south ano east, whence are founo
Aroct·to··tgc Vollct ,literally “Other-racial, that is, non-Noroic Feoples”,. So-calleo
Mt·clcollct ,literally “mixeo peoples”, incluoe the Celts ano the Northern Illyri-
ans. Significantly, most of the arrows that Strobel uses to illustrate migration ra-
oiate out of the Noroic-Germanic core rather than into it, the first incursion is
representeo by the Romans arouno the time of the birth of Christ. Not coinci-
oentally, the Roman conquest also marks the appearance of the first historical
recoros in northern Europe, less easily manipulateo than the archaeological
recoro of prehistoric times—hence the first inoication in the oiagram of outsioe
influence within the “Germanic core.” This unioirectional representation of cul-
tural ano genetic influences on the evolution of the “Germanic” people appears
repeateoly in German archaeological publications of the :q¸os ano :q¡os. A par-
ticularly gooo example, applieo to the penultimate symbol of German National
Socialism, is Jorg Lechler’s :q¸¡ oiagram ,Iigure ¡.., purporting to show the ori-
gins ano oistribution of the swastika ,Lechler :q¸¡,.
The perioo oesignateo as “High Germanic” represents what archaeologists to-
oay woulo call the late Iron Age, when Germanic-speaking peoples are first oocu-
menteo historically as well as archaeologically within ano outsioe the bounoaries
of the Roman empire in west-central Europe. This corresponos to the perioo oes-
ignateo as the Iompf¸ctt ,Time of Struggle, in Iigure ¡.:. The four preceoing “cul-
tural phases” are neither linguistically nor culturally ioentifiable as “Germanic”
but are oefineo as Celtic ,early Bronze Age through the Roman perioo, or pre-
Celtic, Inoo-European-speaking peoples ,Mesolithic through the late Neolithic,
by both linguists ano archaeologists tooay ,Zvelebil :qq6,.
The year A.D. 8oo was chosen by National Socialist archaeologists ,ano by Stro-
bel, as the oivision between the supposeoly uncompromiseo cultural ano biologi-
cal oevelopment of the German people ,apart from the Roman influence, ano the
“Fost-Germanic” perioo because it markeo a historical event that hao symbolic as
well as political significance for National Socialist ioeologues: in that year Charles
the Great, king of the Iranks, was crowneo in Aachen by Fope Leo III ano became
.oo rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
the founoer of the Holy Roman Empire. He was frequently vilifieo by the National
Socialists for his campaigns against the tribes in northern Germany, which earneo
him the sobriquet “Carl the Saxon Slaughterer.” As Charlemagne, he was a potent
national symbol for the Irench, yet another reason for his oisapprobation by the
Nazi Farty. In Iigure ¡.:, the perioo beginning with Charlemagne’s crowning as
Holy Roman Emperor is oesignateo by the entries Ftörlt·clc Eto/ctorg ,Irankish
Conquest, ano U/ctftcmoorg ,Ioreign Infiltration,. The link between “non-Noroic”
political oomination ano genetic aoulteration is maoe quite explicit here.
All of these cultural phases witnesseo the movement of peoples into ano out of
west-central Europe, neither the linguistic nor the archaeological recoros show any
evioence of “Germanic” peoples until the eno of the last of these cultural phases,
the late Iron Age. The “renaming” of these cultural phases by National Socialist pre-
historians then was ioeologically ano politically significant. The oenial of cultural or
genetic change is an example of what has been calleo “pseuoo-” or “social specia-
tion” ,Erikson :qq6:¸¸,. This is one of the preconoitions of genocioe, as well as other
forms of intraspecies violence. In the woros of Kai Erikson: “At its worst . . . social
speciation is a process by which one people manages to neutralize the humanity of
another to such an extent that the inhibitions which normally prevent creatures of
the same species from killing one another wantonly are relaxeo” ,:qq6:¸¸,. The Ger-
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr .o.
Iigure ¡... Diagram Showing the Origins ano Diffusion of the Swastika as a Symbol
,after Lechler :q¸¡,. The central position of the Germanic “core area” ano the subsioiary
role of the Meoiterranean worlo are clearly inoicateo here. This relationship is repeateo
in other contexts as well, this is just one example.
man woro Voll, which is so oifficult to translate into English, is a linguistic example
of the sense of separateness, both cultural ano biological, that characterizeo belonging
in the German nation-state. It coulo be argueo that this sense of separateness re-
sulting from social speciation is still a oistinguishing characteristic of the German na-
tion tooay, since the preconoition for citizenship continues to be blooo ano not soil
,race rather than geography,.
Archaeology helpeo to oraw the bounoaries of the
German nation-state in geographic as well as biological terms by claiming to be able
to oistinguish ethnic groups in the material recoro.
Gustaf Kossinna, a linguist by training who came late to archaeology, is creoiteo by
most contemporary scholars with oeveloping the concept of oefining ethnic bouno-
aries on the basis of material culture patterns in the archaeological recoro. His work
hao consioerable influence on National Socialist archaeology, ano provioes insight
into the question of how it in turn coulo have helpeo unoerwrite genocioe ,Arnolo
:qqq, Hassmann ano Jantzen :qq¡, Veit :q8¡, :q8q, Hagen :q8¸/86, Smolla
:q¸q/8o, Klejn :q¸¡, Daniel :q6.::¡6, Eggers :q¸o, among others,. Kossinna’s
methooology oevelopeo within a specific cultural context that emphasizeo the bio-
logical ano cultural uniqueness of the German people. He was not the first prehis-
torian to incorporate notions of ethnicity ano race into his research, but his char-
acterization of archaeology as a “preeminently national oiscipline” was new.
Kossinna oefineo his methooology as follows:
Ior all of these sorts of questions prehistoric archaeology seems to me to provioe the
most secure founoation, inoeeo the only oepenoable guioe, because it alone can take
us into times long past about which other oisciplines can provioe only vague impres-
sions ano uncertain conclusions. The key is to ioentify a geographic area which seems
appropriate for the homelano of a particular tribe, people, or social group—for ex-
ample, that of the original Inoogermanic people. After that it is just a matter of get-
ting the culture history of that group out of the grouno or, if that has been oone al-
reaoy, to reconstruct it from existing excavateo material. ,Kossinna :q.o::,
Kossinna explicitly equateo ceramic traoitions ano ethnic groups, since he believeo
that at least until the invention of the potter’s wheel pottery was most often the re-
sult of autochthonous oevelopment rather than traoe or oiffusion. The so-calleo
Fommeranian face urns, for example, which Kossinna assigneo to a Germanic eth-
nic traoition, were the basis of his argument for returning territory to Germany
ceoeo to Folano in :q:8. Inoeeo, since :qqo archaeologists on both sioes of that bor-
oer have taken up the olo fight using the same weapons Kossinna forgeo in the years
just after Worlo War I, something that shoulo perhaps be grounos for concern.
National Socialist manipulation of migration theory, one of the elements of
Kossinna’s work, in the stuoy of cultural evolution is relevant here as well ,Anthony
.o: rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
:qq¸:qo–q6,. This ties in with party attituoes towaro the Meoiterranean cultures
of Greece ano Rome, which were ambivalent to say the least. Alexanoer von Hum-
bolot exemplifies the pre-:q¸¸ hellenophilic perspective: “ ‘Knowleoge of the
Greeks is not merely pleasant, useful, or necessary to us—no, tr tlc Gtccl· olorc we
fino the ioeal of that which we shoulo like to be ano proouce’ ” ,quoteo in Morris
:qq¡::8,. The National Socialists rejecteo the Meoiterranean worlo as a major in-
fluence on Germanic culture. Insteao, party ioeologues proposeo that Classical
Greek civilization was really the proouct of southeastwaro migration of peoples
from the northern Germanic heartlano, where the Noroic stock remaineo pure
,Iigure ¡..,. Everything that was lauoable, aomirable, ano positive about Greek or
Roman civilization was the result of Noroic influence, everything that was repre-
hensible, oegenerate, ano negative was the result of native, non-Noroic oilution of
the original, superior racial stock. This preserveo the olo narrative structure but re-
verseo the oirection of cultural influence ,see Marchano :qq6 for a more in-oepth
oiscussion,. Allieo to the north-south migration concept was the total oenial of out-
sioe influence on German cultural evolution ano an emphasis on autochthonous
oevelopment. This manifesteo itself institutionally in witch hunts against Romltrgc,
archaeologists primarily concerneo with the stuoy of Greek or Roman civilization
,Arnolo :qqo, Bollmus :q¸o, Kater :q¸¡,.
Inevitably ano ironically, in creating this myth of a northern origin for the civiliza-
tions of the Meoiterranean ,Hermano :qq.::q6,, National Socialist researchers hao
to lean heavily on written sources from that region. A gooo example is the Roman
writer Tacitus. His account of the German people has been calleo “the birth certi-
ficate of the German race” ,Schama :qq¸:¸6,, ano National Socialist school text-
books referreo to it as the Olo Testament of the German people ,Ocklitz :q¸¡,. What
was it about Tacitus’s text that maoe it so important for the National Socialist meta-
narrative? Among other things, it supporteo the ioea of cultural ano racial partheno-
genesis, so attractive to National Socialist ioeologues. Tacitus oescribeo Tuisto, the
primal oeity of the German people, as literally issuing from the soil, giving birth to
Mannus, the first man, who in turn hao three sons. ,The total absence of women,
even in their officially sanctioneo role as “hero-makers,” is notable here., Each of
these sons was the ancestral father of a German tribe. “Beyono all other people,
Tacitus seemeo to be saying, the Germans were true inoigenes, sprung from the
black earth of their native lano” ,Schama :qq¸:¸6,.
Farty archaeologists between :q¸¸ ano :q¡¸ supporteo the ioea that the Ger-
mans not only “gave birth to themselves” but also succeeoeo in oeveloping inoe-
penoently all the major technological aovances of civilization, which they shareo
with all other, less fortunate European peoples through migration from their north-
ern homelano. Another trope that the National Socialist ioeologues looteo from
Tacitus ,oeriveo from Charles Darwin ano filtereo through Ernst Haeckel, was his
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr .o¸
theory of social geography as the reason for the tempereo haroiness of the Ger-
manic people, aoapteo to an environment at once cruel ano ennobling. The “Ior-
est Frimeval” as the testing grouno for the archetypal German warrior-hero is also
reflecteo in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, where the supernaturally gifteo
,reao: biologically superior, protagonist must pass through ano be testeo by the for-
est to achieve transformation ano emerge victorious. The following quotation from
Hitler’s Mctr Iompf makes it clear that it is the innate ,that is, racial, qualities of the
German people that allow them to emerge unscatheo from this testing ,an exam-
ple of noumenal racism, where physical traits ano customs are the expressions of
some internal occult quality,:
The scanty fertility of a living space may instigate one race towaros the highest
achievements, while with another race this may only become the cause for the most
oire poverty. . . . The inner oisposition of the peoples is always oecisive for the way in
which outwaro influences work themselves out. What leaos one people to starvation,
trains the other for haro work. ,:q¸q:¸q6,
The east ano south were to be vieweo as recipients, but not oonors, of superior cul-
ture ano technology. If the “hero,” the German people, hao an eastern origin, then
this argument was not tenable. School texts ano other propaganoa literature publisheo
in the :q¸os reouceo the formula to three main points: ,a, The Germans are not bar-
barians, but rather are the carriers of a superior, inoigenous culture, ,b, German his-
tory begins not with Charlemagne ,Carl the “Saxon Slaughterer”, but with the
Neolithic megalithic tombs of northern Europe, ,c, the political history of Europe
,incluoing Classical Greek civilization, is unthinkable without the north ano without
the German people ,see Dinstuhl :q¸6, Vogel :q¸q, Ruoe :q¸¸, among others,.
Strobel’s school text is particularly instructive, because his heaoings, subheao-
ings, ano highlighteo passages oemonstrate the exploitative nature of the relation-
ship between National Socialist propaganoa ano prehistoric German archaeol-
ogy. What follows is a sample: “German Frehistory, a Source of Strength for Our
Feople,” followeo by a reference to the fact that Mussolini consciously built the new
Italy on the founoations of ancient Rome ,:q¸¸:¸,. “The Cultural Hiatus of Charle-
magne Rippeo Our Most Ancient Fast from Us,” followeo by a oiatribe against the
forcible replacement of inoigenous Germanic values by those of “Rome” ,reao:
Strobel also stresses the fact that the archaeological recoro represents an “un-
bribable/uncontaminatable” witness to what “truly” happeneo in the past, ironically
enough ,ibio.: ¡,, since that was the last thing to concern party ioeologues. Such claims
regaroing the objectivity of archaeological evioence ,“the oirt ooesn’t lie”,, accom-
panieo by suppression or exaggeration of the existing evioence, are often invokeo by
propaganoa texts ouring this perioo. Again, the legitimacy that archaeological evi-
oence lenos to claims maoe in the present is illustrateo by such manipulation.
At the “lunatic fringe” eno of the spectrum ,mainstream archaeologists referreo
to this group as Gctmoromorcr |Germanomaniacs|,,Arnolo :qqo:¡¸o, are fictional
.o¸ rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
accounts like those of Eomuno Kil, whose novels about the rise, fall, ano ultimate
triumphant rebirth of the “lost” civilization of Atlantis ,supposeoly originating
somewhere in the Arctic Circle, tie ioeas of Germanic racial superiority to pseuoo-
scientific concepts like Hans Horbiger’s Glo¸tol-Io·mogor, ,Glacial Cosmogony,
,Hermano :qq.::q¸–q8,. Such amalgams of fiction, mythology, ano selectively cho-
sen archaeological evioence ,archaeologist Hans Reinerth, a high-ranking official
in the Rosenberg Office, was sent to Greece in the :q¡os to search for evioence of
a Noroic-Germanic invasion of the Meoiterranean in the Neolithic, partly in re-
sponse to Kil’s notions of a post-Atlantis oiaspora, set the tone for at least some of
the research conoucteo within organizations like Himmler’s SS-Ahnenerbe ,An-
cestor Heritage Society, ,Arnolo :qqo,.
The national Socialist archaeo-mythology about Atlantis ano Noroic migrations
south ano east might be oismisseo by some as harmless, if oisturbing, lunacy. The
subtext is anything but harmless, however, ano it oemonstrates how reaoily such
notions of ethnoparthenogenesis can be useo to unoerwrite genocioe. Accoroing
to Kil ano others who exploiteo or supporteo the Atlantis myth, the “sons of the
Sun” ,reao “Asa/Aryans/supermen”,, whose superior blooolines guaranteeo their
supremacy over all inferior ,reao “non-Aryan”, peoples, were repeateoly threat-
eneo by miscegenation in their postcatastrophic wanoerings arouno the globe. Stro-
bel’s references to Mischvolker in Iigure ¡.:, ano his reference to a Kampfzeit, is
an example of the pervasiveness of this ioea. Kil’s novels were also avioly reao ano
praiseo by top Nazi officials, incluoing Hitler ,Hermano :qq.::q¸,. The eventual
return to the Noroic homelano ,with the Arctic Atlantis no longer habitable, north-
ern Europe became a stano-in, ano periooic recourse to “racial hygiene” practices
,reao: the genocioal extermination of unoesirable elements in the gene pool, were
necessary elements in the survival ano maintenance of Noroic-Germanic racial
ano cultural supremacy, accoroing to Kil ano his supporters. There are frequent
references to metallurgy in oescriptions of this cultural ano genetic “refining”
process ,the terms “tempering” ano “steel” appear repeateoly |ibio.::q¡|,, ano the
motifs of the warrior-hero ano the northern Iorest Frimeval as the ultimate test-
ing grouno are interwoven with concepts of purification ano elimination.
The folkloric founoations of National Socialism have been extensively oiscusseo
elsewhere ,ibio., Dow ano Lixfelo :qq¡, Lixfelo :qq¡, among others,. A few elements
can be linkeo to archaeological research in instructive ways. The Iorest Frimeval theme
is perhaps one of the most pervasive ,Schama :qq¸:¸¸–:¸¡,. It appears in the short-
liveo National Socialist attempt to create a neo-pagan state religion, centereo on open-
air theaters known as Thing-Statten ,Arnolo :qq., Lurz :q¸¸,. These were constructeo
in carefully controlleo “wilo” settings with archaeological links to the Germanic past,
either real, fabricateo, or “enhanceo.” Morality plays ano eoucational oramas were
enacteo at these open-air theaters, which incorporateo the National Socialist meta-
narrative in their plot lines: the noble, courageous German warrior-hero, the long-
suffering, patient German mother ,she is always a mother, never “just” a woman,, ano
the evil, cunning Jewish antihero, lockeo in an eternal, three-cornereo struggle.
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr .o¡
If National Socialist Germany’s “origin myth” was consciously mooeleo after a
hero tale metanarrative, as I am suggesting here, it also was logically unable to cope
with oefeat. As Gellner has argueo, “|T|he Nazi salvation was selective, it was re-
serveo for the strong ano victorious, ano when they lost, there was no logical bolt-
hole” ,:qq¡::¡¸,. Frotagonists of hero-tales oon’t neeo boltholes, because their nar-
ratives have happy enoings by oefinition. This may be why oefeat in :q¡¸ seems to
have been especially traumatic in the oiscipline of prehistoric archaeology, which
has maintaineo a kino of collective amnesia for more than fifty years on the sub-
ject of its role in the construction of the National Socialist metanarrative ,Arnolo
:qqo, Arnolo ano Hassmann :qq¸, but see Halle ano Schmiot :qqq,. Other com-
promiseo acaoemic oisciplines eventually went through a self-critical ano self-
reflexive phase, the timing of which varieo oepenoing on the extent of their in-
volvement. The fact that German prehistoric archaeology is only now beginning
to come to terms with its past is, I believe, testimony to its involvement in the con-
struction of the hero-tale that went so horribly wrong, ano the oegree to which it
oweo its existence as a legitimate oiscipline to the National Socialist state.
The mutability of archaeological approaches to ethnicity ano the construction of
nationalist narrative can be seen in the shifting focus on oifferent ethnic groups by
European nations in the twentieth century. Ior example, the Germanic tribes were
manipulateo for the purposes of political propaganoa at least as early as Julius Cae-
sar, who clearly hao ulterior motives for the ethnic oistinctions he maoe between
the “barbarian” populations on the left ,“Celtic”, ano right ,“Germanic”, banks
of the Rhine. Tacitus’s oepiction of the Germanic character as the polar opposite
of his oissolute ano oebaucheo Roman contemporaries has alreaoy been men-
tioneo. The creation by the National Socialists of the myth of Germanic racial
superiority is a more recent application of the archaeology of ethnicity to a polit-
ical agenoa that incluoeo the systematic extinction of whole segments of the pop-
ulation. George Anoreopoulos argues that the “fiction of the nation-state often con-
tains a prescription for the cultural oestruction of a people through state policies
of more or less compulsory assimilation ano, at the limit, for genocioe” ,:qq¡:6,.
He cites the example of the Belgian state: “Much as the colonial Golo Coast in-
venteo a :ooo-year olo historical peoigree by renaming itself Ghana, Belgian his-
torians seek their roots in Caesar’s Dc Bcllo Golltco. Never mino that Caesar’s Bel-
gae hao only the most tenuous connection with tooay’s Belgians” ,ibio.:¸–8,.
Nazi Germany is by no means the only example of the use ano abuse of the
past by genocioal regimes, though it may be one of the most extreme. Another
much-stuoieo example comes from the Uniteo States. In the late eighteenth ano
nineteenth centuries the European population of the Uniteo States was engageo
in oisplacing, physically eliminating, or culturally assimilating inoigenous popula-
.oó rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
tions ,McManamon :qqq,. This systematic erasure of peoples ano cultures was
justifieo accoroing to the following assumptions about contemporary native groups:
,a, eighteenth- ano nineteenth-century Inoian populations were not seen builoing
or using the mouno complexes of Ohio or the Mississippi Valley, ano supposeoly
hao no knowleoge of who hao built them, ,b, they were thought to be too primi-
tive to have constructeo anything on the scale of structures such as Monk’s Mouno
at the Mississippian site of Cahokia in Illinois, which was over a hunoreo feet high
with a footprint close to that of the Great Fyramio at Giza, ,c, “tablets” with “writ-
ing” purporteoly founo in some of the mounos were interpreteo as having an Olo
Worlo origin ,suggestions for these pre-Columbian travelers rangeo from wanoer-
ing Egyptians to oisorienteo Welshmen,, ano ,o, the mounobuiloers were obviously
much oloer than any contemporary Inoian group, baseo on what later turneo out
to be erroneous tree-ring oating techniques applieo to some of the mounos.
There were some early challenges to the view that contemporary Inoian cul-
tures coulo not have been associateo with the mounobuiloing cultures. Thomas
Jefferson is one of the best known of those early skeptics. He baseo his interpreta-
tion on mounos he excavateo on his own property rather than on speculative ano
racist assumptions of the cultural sophistication of contemporary Inoian groups.
Significantly, however, it was not until the eno of the century, when Inoian resis-
tance to colonial aovances ano appropriations was beginning to wane, that the
Bureau of American Ethnology in Washington hireo an entomologist from Illi-
nois by the name of Cyrus Thomas to systematically investigate the origins of the
mounos. In his multivolume report submitteo to the bureau in :8q¡, Thomas con-
cluoeo that the mounos were not as olo as originally claimeo, there was solio evi-
oence suggesting continuity between contemporary Inoian burial practices ano
those seen in the mounos, ano the oe Soto expeoition in the seventeenth century
hao observeo ano reporteo the construction ano use of such mounos by tribes in
the southeast, many of which hao been oecimateo by oisease ano warfare by the
time the first colonists arriveo in the area.
Robert Silverberg, in his stuoy of the Mounobuiloer Myth, concluoeo that the
ioea of a vanisheo race of Olo Worlo origin was politically motivateo, in part be-
cause it was “comforting to the conquerors” ,:q8q:¡8,. Why “comforting”? Ken-
neth Ieoer argues more explicitly as follows:
Ferhaps if the Inoians were not the builoers of the mounos ano the bearers of a cul-
ture that impresseo even the rather ethnocentric European colonizers of America, it
maoe wiping out the presumably savage ano primitive natives less troublesome. Ano,
if Europeans coulo further convince themselves that the Inoians were very recent in-
terlopers—in fact, the very invaoers who hao savagely oestroyeo the gentle ano civ-
ilizeo Mounobuiloers—so much the better. Ano if, finally, it coulo be shown that the
Mounobuiloers were, in actuality, ancient European travelers to the Western Hemi-
sphere, the circle was complete. In oestroying the Inoian people, Europeans in the
:8th ano :qth centuries coulo rationalize that they were . . . merely reclaiming terri-
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr .o,
tory once helo by ancient Europe. The Mounobuiloer myth was not just the result of
a harmless prank or a confusing hoax. It was part of an attempt to justify the oe-
struction of American Inoian societies. ,:qq6::¸¸,
In this particular case archaeology initially unoerwrote but later challengeo the ioe-
ology justifying the extermination of Native Americans on the basis of their sup-
poseo cultural inferiority ano recent arrival in the Americas—but the acknowl-
eogment of native achievement oio not come until the living oescenoants of the
populations to which the mounobuiloing cultures were attributeo hao effectively
been oisenfranchiseo ano no longer poseo a legitimate threat to the colonial regime.
Significant parallels to the Mounobuiloer myth can be founo in the history of the
archaeological investigation of the ruins known as Great Zimbabwe in what was
formerly the British colony of Rhooesia ,Garlake :q8¸, Hall :q8¡, Kuklick :qq:,.
Seeking to legitimate their rule, British settlers ano African nationalists subscribeo to
very oifferent accounts of the builoing of the ruins, placing their construction alter-
nately in ancient times ano the relatively recent past, ano ioentifying the builoers—
or, at least the architects—either as representatives of some non-African civilization
or oismisseo the possibility that the Shona in the area coulo have built Great Zim-
babwe. ,Kuklick :qq:: :¸q–¡o,
The list of supposeo non-African “builoers or architects” proposeo by white re-
searchers, settlers, ano politicians incluoes some of the same peripatetic types citeo
by the Mounobuiloer fantabulists ,minus Vikings ano Welshmen,: Fhoenicians,
Egyptians, the Lost Tribes of Israel, ano so forth. As in the North American case,
the local population was categorizeo as intellectually too oegenerate to have been
able to proouce such sophisticateo structures, later, when an African origin for the
site became the accepteo interpretation, the construction techniques were oescribeo
as primitive, giving with one hano ano taking away with the other, while main-
taining the trope of the inherent inferiority of the local African peoples. A similar
reversal can be founo in North American archaeology post-Cyrus Thomas, where
the emphasis for many years was on the cultural immutability, even stasis, of Na-
tive American peoples ,Trigger :q8ob,. To some extent this notion is still with us
tooay in the form of New Age interpretations of Native culture as “closer to Na-
ture” because less evolveo. This may currently be intenoeo to be complimentary
but is nevertheless part of the same legacy of oenigration of the colonizeo by the
colonizers that we alreaoy see in Tacitus, whose Gctmorto has been oescribeo by
Schama as a “backhanoeo compliment from Barbarism to Civilization” ,:qq¸:¸6,.
In this sense archaeology historically has been in the business of what Alex Hin-
ton calls “manufacturing oifference” ,:qq8::¡,, which is the first step towaro, ano
necessary preconoition of, “social speciation” ano, unoer certain conoitions, geno-
cioe. As Barry Sautman has pointeo out, “|M|yths of oescent oeployeo as an in-
strument in the service of a mooernizing, authoritarian state to artificially recon-
struct the ioea of a people are politically perilous. . . . The experiences of the former
.o8 rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
USSR ano Yugoslavia show that making oubious historicizing central to a nation-
builoing project leaos to ethnic outbiooing in which the most virulent ultra-
nationalists prevail ano violence ensues” ,:qq¸:8q,.
The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambooia is another example of genocioe un-
oerwritten by the past. Excavations ano reconstruction by the Irench of parts of
the site of Angkor Wat ,ninth to fourteenth centuries A.D., revealeo that Cambo-
oia hao once been a great ano powerful empire, rich in agricultural resources ano
conquereo territory. Angkor Wat itself became the symbol of this past greatness,
its five towers have been featureo in stylizeo form on each of Cambooia’s national
flags since :q¸o ,Chanoler :qq¸, Staub :q8q::qq,. Interestingly, much of the rhet-
oric associateo with the Khmer Rouge regime sounos very much like that useo by
the German totalitarian state in the :q¸os ano :q¡os, the two regimes even share a
characterization of the Irench as a paramount enemy: “The counterpart to the
xenophobia implicit in the targeting of foreigners ano ethnic groups was an ioeal-
ization of Khmer racial purity ano a ‘mission to revive the ancient glory ano honor
of Cambooia ano to ensure the perenniality of the Khmer race’ ” ,Anoreopoulos
:qq¡:.6–.¸, quoting Becker :q86:.¸q,.
The significance of origin stories in shaping contemporary attituoes is often un-
oerestimateo. As Juoy Leogerwooo correctly notes in a recent paper, “Not only oo
we learn from origin stories how we are to behave morally in the present, but the
proper telling of these stories, the proper recitation of texts, can recreate this per-
ception of oroer, of things being as they shoulo be—that is, as they were in the be-
ginning” ,n.o.:.¸–.¡,. She refers specifically to Cambooia in her oiscussion, elab-
orating on Davio Chanoler’s work ,:q8.,, which “plays on contrasting notions of
oroer ano oisoroer, of forest ano fielo, ano postulates that for Khmer in the :q
century, just emerging from a time of haroship ano oestruction, an appeal to no-
tions of previous times when hierarchical relationships in society were as they
shoulo be was useo tactically to re-assert oroer in the present” ,ibio.:.¡,.
The Khmer Rouge regime consciously ano expeoiently mooeleo itself on the
peoples who built Angkor Wat. Just as the majority of the population in Angkor in
the thirteenth century were slaves ,baseo on the report of a Chinese observer,
,Staub :q8q::q6,, so Fol Fot’s regime createo its own slave class, the “new people,”
many of whom were former elites. Inasmuch as the king in Angkor between the
ninth ano fourteenth centuries was an absolute monarch, with the great temples
testimony to his right to rule, Fol Fot establisheo himself as a peasant leaoer on
the basis of that earlier system: “The role of the king in Cambooian society pro-
vioeo a cultural blueprint for absolute authority ano maoe it easier for people to
accept the absolute authority of the Khmer Rouge” ,ibio.::q8,. As in the case of
Germany after :q:8, the “Khmer Rouge hao a sense of superiority combineo with
unoerlying feelings of inferiority ano vulnerability. This arose from a combination
of long past glory, recent history ano present circumstances” ,ibio.::qq,. In Cam-
booia the resioent Chinese ano Vietnamese ,as well as an extensive ancillary list
that incluoeo Muslim Chams, members of the Lon Nol regime, internal “traitors,”
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr .oç
ano “counterrevolutionaries”, were constituteo as the “Other” ano became targets
for extermination unoer the Khmer Rouge regime, whereas in Germany the tar-
gets were Jews, Gypsies, ano other groups singleo out for “social speciation.” The
anti-intellectual nature of both the German ano Cambooian systems is another
common oenominator that seems to characterize genocioal regimes in other con-
texts as well, incluoing the example from the nineteenth-century Uniteo States ois-
cusseo above.
Examples of the symbiosis between archaeological research ano racial nationalism
are much more common than genocioal regimes making use of the past to justify
the extermination of certain groups within a population, but the correlation be-
tween the two is important ano worth oiscussing. Regimes that make reference to
the archaeological past in their nationalist rhetoric are frequently in the prelimi-
nary stages of social speciation, ano whether that process eventually leaos to geno-
cioe is oepenoent on the changing context within which such manipulation of the
past occurs. As Barry Sautman has succinctly put it, “|N|ationalism is both polit-
ical ano ethnic because race ano nationalism overlap. In particular, race ano na-
tion are rooteo in common myths about the significance of common oescent”
,:qq¸:8¸,. Recently, Uli Linke proouceo an eloquent exegesis on the concepts of
blooo ano nation ano their symbiotic relationship throughout European history
,:qqq,. In a sense, the oeep past in the form of the archaeological recoro represents
the concretization of both concepts, evioence of blooo ano belonging in material
form, ano it is this that gives archaeological research its symbolic ano hence its po-
litical potency.
I have attempteo to show in this oiscussion in what ways archaeology plays a
role in the creation ano maintenance of origin myths ano notions of cultural oif-
ference. I hope I have oemonstrateo that there are enough common oenominators
in the appropriation of archaeology by political regimes to warrant keeping a close
eye on nations exploiting the past in these ways. This incluoes nations like Irance,
in which Celtic heritage ano sites associateo with the Roman-Gallic conflicts are ex-
plicitly referenceo by political leaoers ,Dietler :qq¡,, nations like Israel, where ar-
chaeology has been oescribeo as a “national sport” in which participants “volunteer
to participate in archaeological excavations, make pilgrimages to reconstructeo ar-
chaeological sites, ano visit museums that oisplay archaeological finoings, as if
through these activities they ritually affirm their roots in the lano” ,Zerubavel
ano nations like China, in which racial nationalism is constructeo “through
the official propagation of myths of origin ano oescent. The former confer oignity
through antiquity to a group ano locate its ‘primal habitat.’ The latter trace oe-
scent to illustrious forebears ano suggest nobility ano solioarity” ,Sautman :qq¸:8o,.
Japanese scholars recently have maoe a point of the frightening parallels between
the racist rhetoric of Japan in the :q¸os ano that of China tooay ,ibio.:q:, but for a
..o rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
oiscussion of Japanese nationalism ano archaeology, see Eowaros :qq:, :qqq,. If the
manipulation of the past, incluoing the archaeological past, in the construction of
oifference along racial lines is a sort of canary in a coal mine, a harbinger of geno-
cioal policies, then it seems imperative that anthropologists turn their attention to
the stuoy of political systems in which such manifestations appear.
What ooes the future holo? Is the appropriation of the past as a justification for
authoritarian ano occasionally genocioal regimes inevitable? That seems to oepeno
on a number of variables, but there are some new configurations oeveloping to
counter the continuing paraoe of regimes intent on cannibalizing themselves in the
name of cultural oifference. Ior example, the Celts are currently the “ethnic” group
that it is most expeoient to claim as national patrimony in Germany, as well as a
number of other western European nations. One can apply Gellner’s observations
regaroing the connection between emerging states ano a resurgent interest in eth-
nicity to this “Celtic renaissance.” Whereas in the late nineteenth ano early twen-
tieth centuries the emphasis was on national oifferences, now, with the newly emer-
gent European Community, it is on “pan-European-ness.” The Celts are presenteo
as the ultimate pan-European “ethnic” group , James :qqq,, stretching from Spain
to Galicia ouring the late Iron Age. In fact, this archaeologically “oocumenteo”
Celtic cultural uniformity is as much an “imagineo community” as Tacitus’s or
Kossinna’s constructions, since it is baseo mainly on similarities in material culture.
As examples from ethnographic contexts such as New Guinea have shown ,Terrell
:q86,, ethnicity neeo not map onto material culture, nor necessarily map onto lan-
guage, or religion, or race, or any combination of the above. The question of how
to oefine “cultures” in the material recoro of the past is in neeo of serious re-ex-
amination, not least because of the potential for abuse by political systems. Ar-
chaeologists can no longer afforo to proouce interpretations of the past on the sioe-
lines of history. Whether they are actively involveo in the construction of cultural
oifference or not, inoirectly their research proouces a potentially lethal weapon in
the symbolic arsenal available to political regimes, incluoing those bent on geno-
cioe. This places a tremenoous responsibility on the prooucers of such knowleoge,
a buroen that will only continue to grow as the oemanos placeo on scholars increase
in complexity in the coming oecaoes. Archaeology as a oiscipline, which has tenoeo
to be focuseo inwaro, will neeo to aojust its moous operanoi accoroingly. The re-
cent emergence of the concept of the archaeologist as “public intellectual” ,Bony-
haoy ano Griffiths :qq¸, suggests the oirection that the oiscipline will neeo to take
if it wants to aoopt a proactive stance in the battle over the interpretation ano ex-
ploitation of the archaeological past. At the same time, anthropology as a whole
coulo benefit from acknowleoging the actual ano potential contributions of ar-
chaeological research to the increasingly pressing problem of how to recognize ano
take action against inter- ano intragroup violence baseo on the cultural construc-
tion of oifference. I therefore want to thank Alex Hinton for the opportunity to
contribute an archaeological voice to the anthropological analysis of genocioe—
this is an enoeavor that can only benefit from interoisciplinary cooperation.
¡ts+irvixo orxocinr ...
:. To quote V. Goroon Chiloe, one of the most influential archaeologists of the twenti-
eth century ,Trigger :q8oa,, who was himself influenceo by Kossinna’s “settlement archae-
ological methoo”: “We fino certain types of remains . . . constantly recurring together. Such
a complex of regularly associateo traits we shall term a ‘cultural group’ or just a ‘culture.’
We assume that such a complex is the material expression of what woulo tooay be calleo a
‘people’ ” ,:q.q:vi,.
.. The metaphor of blooo is oiscusseo by Uli Linke in some oetail in her stuoy of race
ano nation in mooern Germany ,Linke :qq¸:¸¸q–6:,.
¸. The Christian Democratic Farty in Germany, for example, propagates the principle
of ¡o· ·orgotrt· ,right of the blooo, ano views Germans as a “community of oestiny ano an-
cestry” ,Ffaff :qq6:q, quoteo in Sautman :qq¸:8:,. This is not a phenomenon unique to the
German nation-state. The nationality laws of the Feople’s Republic of China also rely on
the concept of race through the “principle of blooo lineage” ,xoctorg ¸lo,t ,, as with so-calleo
ethnic Germans, inoiviouals of Chinese oescent not living in China may apply for FRC pass-
ports by virtue of their blooo lineage ,Sautman :qq¸:8:,.
¡. Martin Hall makes this relationship between colonialism ano archaeological manipu-
lation of the past explicit: “In those countries where the archaeology of the colonizeo is mostly
practiseo by oescenoants of the colonizers, the stuoy of the past must have a political oi-
mension. This has become overt in Australasia, where, as one Aboriginal representative has
put it, the colonizers ‘have trieo to oestroy our culture, you have built your fortunes upon the
lanos ano booies of our people ano now, having saio sorry, want a share in picking out the
bones of what you regaro as a oeao past’ ” ,Langforo :q8¸:., quoteo in Hall :q8¡:¡¸¸,.
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¡ts+irvixo orxocinr ..¡
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..ó rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Scientific Racism
in Service of the Reich
Gctmor Artltopologt·t· tr tlc ^o¸t Eto
Gtctclcr E. Sclofft
Almost sixty years after the invasion of Folano by the Nazis in Worlo War II, an
olo man stanos shaking by his ooor, afraio to meet the anthropologists who have
come to talk to him. He says he ooes not have anything to tell, he was sick, in the
hospital at the time. Another villager is not hesitant ano tells of the time of the Nazi
occupation of Folano when anthropologists came into the town unoer SS guaro,
gave the townspeople a time to appear at the priest’s house, ano examineo them
from heao to foot. ,Iew Jews remaineo in the villages by that time, having been
moveo to collection points ano ghettoes., Some were given German passports ano
tolo to appear for inouction ano transport to the Russian Iront. Others were tolo
to appear for oelousing ano assignment to labor battalions in Germany. Others
escapeo to the south ano joineo the resistance, or were shot attempting to oo so.
The few people who can remember this time complete a recoro that at last is be-
ing pieceo together. They are the living memory of a perioo almost forgotten in
anthropology’s professional history.
The fact that German ano, to a lesser extent, Austrian anthropologists were in-
volveo in the Holocaust as perpetrators, from its beginning to its conclusion, has
never been fully acknowleogeo nor oiscusseo by American anthropologists.
role that American funoing playeo in oeveloping the Nazi ioeology of race has also
not been tolo. The information has been available, although not easy to access.
Recoros of these anthropologists’ theoretical ano empirical stuoies, as well as their
activities as trainers of SS ooctors, members of racial courts, collectors of oata from
concentration camp meoical experiments, ano certifiers of racial ioentities have
been “cleanseo.” Documents that shoulo be available in archival files are missing.
The biographies of many perpetrators incluoe a cover story for the years :q¸¸
through :q¡¸.
The archives of the Rockefeller Iounoation, which supporteo Ger-
man anthropologists in their racial research, are also mysteriously missing impor-
tant research plans ano reports.
Ferhaps the most interesting aspect of all this obscuration is that the perpetra-
tors themselves were careful in how they oescribeo their activities, making the most
obscene appear quite harmless.
They rarely stateo explicitly what they were oo-
ing, ano usually useo euphemisms to oescribe what we now know were crimes
against humanity. However, oeoicateo researchers have founo enough corollary
oocumentation to make an airtight case that anthropologists were oeeply enmesheo
in the crimes of the Thiro Reich. This oocumentation is founo in archives in the
Uniteo States ano Europe ano, increasingly, in books about ano compilations of
oocuments from the perioo ,Lifton :q86, Froctor :q88, Klee et al. :qq:, Drechsel
:qq¸, Aly et al. :qq¡, Irieolanoer :qq¸, Klee :qq¸,.
The arguments against bringing up this oisastrous chapter of the oiscipline’s his-
tory are strong. Anthropologists have askeo: Why oiscreoit our fielo so long after
the oeeos were oone? Why oiscreoit all anthropologists of the era when only a few
were involveo? Why shoulo we give German anthropologists of that perioo so much
attention when American anthropologists never took them seriously anyway?
The answer to these questions is simply that the issues that challengeo the an-
thropologists of the Nazi era were not so oifferent from the issues that have chal-
lengeo anthropologists at other times as well. As a oiscipline we have hao a strong
oesire to play a role in the governmental activities of our countries ano to inform
policy makers of our learneo opinions regaroing population groups. Anthropolo-
gists were involveo in the aoministration of Englano’s colonies, they have been in-
volveo in the conouct of war ano have been aovisers on racial ano eoucational pol-
icy in the Uniteo States. This involvement has hao both positive ano negative effects
on the people who were subject to the policies that evolveo with anthropological
input. Froblems arise when the oirection a government is taking is in opposition to
the human rights of some of its people or those it has power to commano. Does
the anthropologist then abanoon the oesire to be a player, or ooes he or she aoapt
to the oroer of the oay?
We must remino our critics that one ooes not oiscreoit a oiscipline by looking
closely at the mistakes, or crimes, its theoreticians ano practitioners have commit-
teo, even when they are of the magnituoe of a Holocaust. It is far more oanger-
ous to ignore an infamous perioo ano to learn nothing from it. Denial of unpleas-
ant truths makes it easy to turn complicateo events into myths by placing them in
a simplistic format ,Schafft :qq8,. When we oo that, we fail to see the ways by which
people come to follow the roao to genocioe. Farticularly in our own time, follow-
ing the turn of the century, we see no eno to impulses to commit atrocities against
ethnic groups. It is absolutely vital that we begin to look at the ways by which oth-
erwise civilizeo people embrace the roao to genocioe, as Scheper-Hughes ooes in
this book. What roles in society can fan the flames of ethnic violence or, more ap-
propriately, stop the treno? What policies exacerbate or might be effective in restor-
ing values that protect human life? Stuoents in a class I teach on the Holocaust al-
ways ask, Why oio it happen? Why oion’t anyone stop it? Their questions are
..8 rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
important. It is important to know why anthropologists became so involveo in Nazi
genocioe ano why no one insioe or outsioe the oiscipline stoppeo them.
Unfortunately, it was not a single branch of European anthropology or only a
few anthropologists who were engageo in creating ano supporting events that were
tieo to the Holocaust’s horrors. Fhysical anthropologists, eugenicists, ethnographers,
ano social anthropologists were equally busy ouring the first half of the :qoos in
“racial” stuoies, in Menoelian genetics, in ethnographic stuoies of prisoners of war,
ano in sorting groups of people by psychological ano physical characteristics. In
these ano in so many oifferent ways they helpeo to oetermine the outcomes of the
lives of their subjects.
German anthropology in this time perioo was often an interoisciplinary stuoy
ano practice. It was common for meoical ooctors, biologists, or geneticists to take
a secono “practical” ooctoral oegree in anthropology. It was believeo that anthro-
pology coulo assist in making a better society by provioing the theoretical basis for
improving the biological structure of the population ano the practical means of
sorting those people into oesirable ano unoesirable groups, using ethnographic as
well as physical anthropological techniques.
Even before Hitler, many people arouno the worlo believeo that it might be pos-
sible to gain control over many social problems by social ano biological “engi-
neering.” In the :q.os, many were greatly concerneo with the criminality that ac-
companieo urbanization, inoustrialization, ano population movements, mental
illness, for which there were no effective treatments or cures, ano mental retaroa-
tion ,Kuhl :qq¡,. Fersons who were physically or mentally ill were left to inoivio-
ual or family care, with only the most oismal warehousing of patients the alterna-
tive to home care. The ioea that a society in the next generation coulo be rio of the
buroen of this care—through the sterilization of a variety of persons who oio not
“fit,” or were not self-sufficient or proouctive—was wioely accepteo. Sterilization
of the mentally ill ano hanoicappeo, as well as criminals, was legal in many states
in America before Hitler came to power in Germany ,ibio., These U.S. laws pro-
vioeo the justification ano grounowork for some of his earliest oecrees.
Anthropologists were able to introouce the concept of race to this bevy of con-
cerns about builoing a healthy ano masterful society. The concept of race came to
mean to German anthropologists of the early :qoos oistinct groups of people who,
although they hao mingleo throughout the ages, remaineo ioentifiable. Ioeas about
kinship, therefore, were mixeo with ioeas of race. When anthropologists ano other
professionals combineo these ioeas with Menoelian ioeas of hereoity, they coulo
oevelop a wioe range of research aimeo at riooing society of “life unworthy of life.”
Thus the first steps of genocioe in the Nazi era were sterilization ano eventual
killing of the physically ano mentally ill ano those with hanoicaps, a practice re-
ferreo to as euthanasia ,Irieolanoer :qq¸, Lifton ano Markusen :qqo,. When com-
bineo with racial beliefs, it was not oifficult to exteno this killing to supposeo racial
groups in oroer to cleanse the fatherlano ,Aly :qq¡,.
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn ..ç
At first interesteo in oescriptive analyses of varieties of peoples arouno the worlo,
anthropologists then turneo to oeveloping hierarchies of value ano assigning them
to their racial categories. It was a small step for anthropologists to chart the “races
of the worlo,” rank them in some way, ano assign capabilities to each. Those imag-
ineo capabilities coulo then match the neeos of the Reich, ano population groups
coulo be moveo, placeo, positioneo, or eliminateo to serve the neeos of the “mas-
ter race,” those of German ancestry.
Ioeas of “race” were almost immeoiately part of this kino of social engineer-
ing. If one coulo visualize a country in which the population became uniform in
its excellent health, fitness, ano mental capacity, then why not also uniform in its
“racial” characteristics, which inoeeo were thought to be equateo with such qual-
ities? The ioea of uniform “racial” ioentity became more important as the public
embraceo a hierarchical theory of valueo “racial” groupings, as oio the ioea of a
uniform physical ano mental “type” that woulo represent the German “race.”
Research regaroing the concept of race was oevelopeo initially by German an-
thropologists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Anthropologie ,KWIA,, a part of the
larger Kaiser Wilhelm Institut ,KWI,. This entity coulo be likeneo to a national acao-
emy of science with the broao goal of aovancing knowleoge ano intellectual achieve-
ment. At first supporteo in part by the Rockefeller Iounoation, the programs of the
KWIA laio the grounowork for future oisregaro of human subjects ano, ultimately,
the genocioe of unwanteo ,orct.ör·clt, groups in Germany ano the occupieo lanos.
The KWI was founoeo on October :o, :q:o, on the oay of Berlin University’s cen-
tennial, unoer the premise that it woulo gain international recognition ano coop-
eration in its research ventures. ,In :q:¡ Albert Einstein became the oirector of
the KWI Institute of Fhysics, he won the Nobel Frize in :q.:, bringing honor to
the Berlin complex., The Institute of Anthropology, Human Hereoity, ano Genetics
was founoeo in :q.¸, one of the later institutes in the KWI. Shortly before Hitler
assumeo power in :q¸¸, the KWI hao thirty-one institutes “oivioeo into three
classes: I. Institutes of chemistry, physics, technology, II. Institutes of biology, zo-
ology ano anthropology, III. Institutes of letters ano art.”
In a voice of optimism,
the oirector of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft, a major funoing source for the
institute, stateo:
I have learneo here that the Americans are just as eager as the European scientists to
oo all in their power towaros cultivating ano furthering the cause of international sci-
entific oevelopment by the cooperation of the scholars of the worlo. They have re-
alizeo the importance of such an institution oeoicateo to the interests of every nation
ano its tremenoous value in promoting international peace ano gooowill. We sincerely
hope this house will serve as a span to brioge oceans ano to bring the nations of the
worlo more closely together. ,op. cit.:6–¸,
.:o rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Ano inoeeo, “the Americans,” namely the Rockefeller Iounoation, provioeo
money for many of the institutes, built facilities for them, bought lano for them,
ano, in general, were enthusiastic supporters of the KWI until war broke out in
The Section on Anthropology, Human Hereoity, ano Genetics hao hao an
early interest in race. In particular, it wanteo to map the “racial” characteristics
of the German nation. In :q.q the Rockefeller Iounoation gave the Notge-
sellschaft fur Deutsche Wissenschaft, a kino of governmental funoing agency for
science, $:.¸,ooo oeoicateo to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Anthropologie. It
was to be useo over a five-year perioo for the purpose of mapping the racial char-
acteristics of the German nation.
Unoer the oirection of Eugen Iischer, the in-
stitute’s oirector, anthropologists went from community to community measur-
ing their subjects ano ooing ethnographic inquiries, but they founo great
resistance among the population to this probing ano prying ,Loesch :qq¸,. The
resistance of the population was so great that even with Rockefeller funoing
progress was oifficult.
By the time Hitler was electeo chancellor of Germany in :q¸¸, the Kaiser Wil-
helm Institut fur Anthropologie was a major research center in Germany. It hao a
reouceo buoget, because of the worlo financial crisis, of ¸:,.oo Reich Marks ,RMs,,
of which :.,¸¡¸.¸: RM came from the Rockefeller Iounoation.
By :q¸¸, the buoget
of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Hereoity, ano Genetics hao risen to
:¡o,ooo RM, in large part because of the critical role it was playing in racial pol-
icy ,Froctor :qq8,. Eugon Iischer hao a powerful position as heao of the institute
ano also rector of the University of Berlin.
Internal oocuments at the Rockefeller Iounoation inoicate that officials there
watcheo the oevelopment of the Nazi regime but were not particularly concerneo
about supporting a research entity that hao become closely aligneo, because of
funoing ano policy, with the new government. Corresponoence that remains shows
that officials were aware of the anti-Semitic policies that hao come into force, but
year by year the grants continueo.
Certainly many German anthropologists, although interesteo in race, were at
first not in agreement with the “racial” ooctrines that the Nazis espouseo. The
KWI, not a government agency but a recipient of government funoing, was obligeo
to rio itself of Jewish workers ano politically left-leaning personnel. The anthro-
pologists at the KWI immeoiately set about cleansing their institute of these col-
leagues. Max Flanck, oirector of the KWI throughout the Nazi era, went to see
Hitler to tell him that the removal of Jewish scientists from the KWI woulo mean
far fewer Nobel prizes in the future ,Stern :qqq,. ,Albert Einstein hao left Germany
in :q¸.., This oio not impress Hitler, who was oetermineo that Germany woulo
thrive without Jews. Nor oio it oeter Flanck from continuing his work while com-
plying with every government regulation.
Eugen Iischer, who at first was not so sure about the Nazi ioea of a pure Ger-
man race,
soon was able to tell a learneo auoience:
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .:.
We neeo—I repeat again—an Et/pflcgc |literally, a fostering of hereoity|, in large part
conscious ano goal oirecteo. Erbpflege is a better woro for genetics than racial hygiene,
it promotes those who are healthy in mino ano booy, those with a Germanic heritage,
those who carry our way of life. Only that is a population policy! If finally such is en-
acteo, it is not too late to save our people, our German people . . . to |bring them to|
the fortifieo National-Socialist State, a State that we all want, that is supporteo by our
sense of outy, baseo on an ethical unoerstanoing of the future of our people.
The monographs from the stuoy of race in Germany were in the miost of being
publisheo when Hitler took power. The arrangement hao been for the government’s
scientific funoing agency, the Notgesellschaft fur Deutsche Wissenschaft, to pay for
the printing. Given the worlo economic oepression in the late :q.os ano the cuts in
general funoing, this cost was oifficult to bear. The Rockefeller Iounoation was askeo
to assume the costs. One can surmise what reasons the Rockefeller Iounoation might
have hao to hesitate giving money to the Institute for Anthropology for racial stuo-
ies, but the written recoro ooes not reveal the internal oiscussions on this matter.
Insteao, a note is maoe that :q¸¡ money earmarkeo for the institute is given to the
Notgesellschaft with the unoerstanoing that it will be useo for this purpose.
monographs were releaseo unoer the title “Deutsche Rassenkunoe,” or “German
Racial Stuoies.” In its internal oocuments, the Rockefeller staff refers to the mono-
graphs as parts of the “Stuoy of the German Feople.”
The neeo for money within the Institute for Anthropology was partially allevi-
ateo by the source of funoing that came from the Department of the Interior ,In-
nenministerium,. With the onset of Hitler’s racial policies, the neeo for certifica-
tion of “Germanness” was immeoiate, even within the KWI itself. Employees hao
to prove that they hao no “Jewish blooo” ano were “pure Germans” in oroer to
continue in their jobs. Kinship formeo the basis of oetermining who was Jewish
ano who was not. Long before the Reich Citizenship Law was enacteo in Novem-
ber :q¸¸, spelling out the oefinition of a Jew became critical to the enforcement of
the new German government policy. A Jew was oefineo unoer the law of Novem-
ber :q¸¸ as a person:

oescenoeo from three Jewish granoparents,

oescenoeo from two Jewish granoparents ano belonging to a Jewish religious
community on September :¸, :q¸¸, or on a subsequent oate, or

marrieo to a Jewish person on September :¸, :q¸¸, or on a subsequent oate.
In aooition, the offspring of a marriage contracteo with a “three-quarters” or “full
Jew” after September :¸, :q¸¸, or the offspring of an extramarital relationship with
a “three-quarters” or “full Jew” born after July ¸:, :q¸6, were also consioereo Jew-
ish ,Hilberg :q8¸:¸:,.
Although this law was not orafteo by anthropologists, who better unoerstooo
kinship ano were in a position to certify it? Iischer maoe use of this expertise to
further the fortunes of the institute. An examination was neeoeo when church
.:: rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
recoros oio not establish the ethnicity of a person. The examination, when it was
performeo, consisteo of a blooo test, a look at the eye shape ano physiology, the
shape of the heao, ano a photograph, front ano in profile. In the eno the oecision
was baseo on personal opinion, for there were no criteria for oetermining who
was Jewish, or of any other ethnicity.
Throughout the country people rusheo to fino Gotocltct, or certifiers. Universi-
ties performeo the service free of charge. Iischer rebelleo against this volunteer
service, however: “I woulo urgently aovise against ooing these certifications with-
out cost. Iirst, it is really not clear why some who have government funoing shoulo
take the time, especially the scientific time, from public work to perform economic
jobs that oo not pay for the trouble.”
In :q¸8 Iischer oeclareo that his institute prepareo about seventy certificates yearly,
bringing in an income of :,6¸. RM in :q¸¸–:q¸6 ano :,::¸ RM from April to Au-
gust of the next year.
Accoroing to the Interior Ministry, each certificate shoulo cost
about qo RM. Most people seeking or requiring a certificate coulo pay for it them-
selves, leaving a shortfall of only :,¸¸o RM per year to the government as a whole.
Although eventually the government alloweo the institute to keep the money it col-
lecteo, it argueo that the “research value” alone of ooing the racial certifications
shoulo be a rewaro, particularly to the university oepartments of anthropology.
Racial courts were establisheo by the Nazis to hanole violations of racial cooes,
to settle racial questions, ano to enforce the racial stanoaros. Anthropologists at the
institute were askeo to serve, ano they oio. In the “Report of Activities” of the in-
stitute from July :q¸¸ to April :q¸¸, Iischer reporteo:
At the meeting of the Boaro of Directors in July :q¸¸, Dr. Gutt, the Minister Direc-
tor, stateo that it was the wish ano in the interest of the Reich government that ex-
actly this Institute woulo be reaoy to aovise on the enactment of laws regaroing ster-
ilization, research on the genetically ill, clinical hanoling ano training of a genetic
ano racial-biological meoical force. The Institute has trieo to oo this without restraint
since that time. I have been aware that much of my scientific work has been some-
what reouceo or given to others but that oio not stop me. I am of the opinion that at
the present time as we builo the peoples’ State, no other institution can serve this
task as well as we, ano it must be our priority. We have all oone this—oivision leao-
ers, assistants ano volunteers—to the greatest oegree possible.
Iischer then went on to say that Frofessor Otmar von Verschuer, at that time sec-
ono in commano at the institute, hao been a member of the Genetic Health Court
“for a long time.” Iischer himself hao been a member of the Appellate Genetic
Health Court in Berlin “from the beginning.”
The Genetic Health Courts hao a rapio influence ano a chilling effect on the
population. Those oroereo to be sterilizeo because of what was thought to be a
genetic flaw in their makeup coulo appeal their cases. In the first two months after
they were establisheo, the first court in Berlin hearo ¸¡8 cases, of which ¸.¸ ap-
peals were rejecteo ano the sterilization was oroereo ,Froctor :q88::o6,.
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .:¸
Iischer also reporteo that Frofessor Iritz Lenz, an anthropologist who was the
liaison between the universities ano the institute before he became heao of the In-
stitute for Race Stuoies at the University of Berlin, took part in the Commission
on Fopulation ano Racial Folicy. This commission was a powerful source of plan-
ning for the occupation of lanos to the east of Germany, the resettlement of vari-
ous population groups, ano the oispersion ano eventual annihilation of Jews, Sinti,
ano Roma.
Certainly, the training of SS ooctors was an important part of the service the
institute was provioing for the state. A textbook for ooctors useo at that time quotes
Eugon Iischer as stating that the cultural life of mankino involves a oomestication
in which many weak ano sick inoiviouals come to be tolerateo ,Keiter :q¡:,. This
woulo not occur in free nature where variation ano mutations woulo not survive.
The textbook goes on to explain the implications of “contra-selection,” the begin-
ning arguments for euthanasia.
In the first year ano a half of the regime, the institute traineo eleven hunoreo
ooctors in the theory ano practice of racial hygiene ,Froctor :q88:¡.,. These ooc-
tors were traineo by the anthropologists to be ruthless in their approach to their pa-
tients. They proveo their ability to be just that in their work in concentration camps,
hospitals, ano asylums.
By the late :q¸os, most of the significant university positions in anthropology
were being vetteo by the Kaiser Wilhelm Insitut fur Anthropologie in Berlin, which
hao a sterling recoro of loyalty to the government ano its “racial” policies. It is
safe to assume that few, if any, anthropologists hao positions in German universi-
ties who were not ioeologically committeo to “racial” stuoies ano actions to make
Germany ano the Reich uniform in its population. Racial certification was oone
by anthropology oepartments throughout Germany, research being parceleo out
to universities in Marburg, Munich, Jena, Gera, Leipzig, Irankfurt, Vienna, Graz,
ano other universities too numerous to mention.
Eugen Iischer remaineo the oirector of the Institute for Anthropology until he
retireo in :q¡.. His case illustrates how it coulo come about that one woulo move
so easily from a stuoy of oifferences to the conviction that oifferences coulo be
graoateo into a hierarchical value system. He began stuoies in South Africa of peo-
ple of mixeo “race” whom he calleo the “Rehobath Bastaros.” Despite the nega-
tive connotation of the woro /o·toto, he was rather favorably impresseo by “mixeo
race” people ano oecioeo that offspring from two oifferent groups might prove ben-
eficial to a society. This opinion was not lookeo upon with favor from those in the
Hitler regime, ano over a relatively short time his statements changeo, until he
hao brought himself in line with government policy. He became so willing to go
along with the oroer of the oay that he instituteo a series of measures that oirectly
supporteo the move to make Germany a homogeneous nation. As alreaoy stateo,
he began courses for SS ooctors in “Racial Hygiene” through the auspices of the
institute ano certifieo them in the theoretical basis of racism.
He supporteo ster-
ilization in his writing, in his speeches, ano as a member of the racial court.
.:¸ rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Iischer hao the chance to withoraw from the research arena in the Thiro
Reich ano go into “internal exile.” Insteao he chose to alter his beliefs baseo on
his finoings to come into congruence with the government’s stance. The policy of
Glctcl·cloltorg, the homogeneous approach to all matters of organization ano be-
lief, was vigorously enforceo by the Nazi government. The alternative for those who
coulo not or woulo not stano with official policy was to be removeo from any seri-
ous enoeavor ano to be regaroeo with suspicion by the police state. At some point,
although Iischer was olo enough to retire, he chose to play an active role even if it
meant changing his position. In the eno, this shift to enoorsing Nazi ioeology leo
him to support a line of research that oevelopeo into the most vivio horror of the
Nazi era.
The Rockefeller Iounoation shifteo its interest from racial stuoies to research on
twins at the beginning of the Hitler era. Twins helo the key to questions of hereo-
ity versus environment. The stuoies at the institute were the oomain of Verschuer,
who hao been a professor at Irankfurt ano maintaineo a post there as well as in
Berlin. In a report from :q¡:, Iischer reporteo that Verschuer hao “a material of
¸oo twin pairs on hano.”
Verschuer was interesteo in oetermining the influence of nature versus nurture
in personality, especially criminal personality. Ior this purpose, he hao ioentifieo
:¸o pairs of twins that he stuoieo. “With clinician Diehl he is stuoying tuberculo-
sis in twins ano publishing on that subject. The investigation is supporteo by the
Ministry of the Interior, the Frussian Welfare Ministry ano the Rockefeller Ioun-
At first the stuoy lookeo at these issues using ¡,ooo twin pairs he ioen-
tifieo through public school recoros. Later he arrangeo for the twins to be aomit-
teo into a hospital facility at Berlin Buch, paio for by the Rockefeller Iounoation.
There, research regaroing resistance to infectious oisease, incluoing tuberculosis,
was unoertaken. In :q¸¸ Iischer relateo to the Rockefeller Iounoation that twin
research unoer Verschuer compriseo psychological stuoies, pathological stuoies,
ano “the reaction of twins to Atrophin, Filocarpin, Aorenalin, Histamin. Dr.
Werner can show that the pulse, blooo pressure, saliva, etc. reacts more similarly
among ioentical twins than the others, therefore the reactions are inheriteo.”
What kino of experimentation was going on? It is not clear from the existing
recoros, but introoucing school-ageo chiloren to experimental ooses of chemical
substances preoateo twin experiments in Auschwitz by almost a oecaoe. There is
no inoication that the Rockefeller Iounoation staff raiseo ethical questions about
the practices.
Early in the Hitler regime, Verschuer founoeo the professional journal Dct Et-
/ott¸ ,Tlc Gcrcttc·’ Doctot,, which became the most wioely reao journal by physicians
in the Thiro Reich. It serveo as a publication venue for much of the work of the
institute. Through this vehicle he was able to spreao the eugenics ano racial ooc-
trine throughout the Reich, incluoing the neeo for sterilization of hanoicappeo
inoiviouals ano the ooctrine of creating a more perfect race for the state while aban-
ooning the ioea of the value of inoivioual human beings.
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .:¡
The Rockefeller Iounoation oiscontinueo funoing of the KWI after war was oe-
clareo between the Uniteo States ano Germany. That oio not stop the Institute for
Anthropology from continuing its activities, however. Many were intensifieo.
Iischer continueo as oirector until :q¡., when he retireo. Accoroing to internal
memos, he was past the retirement age ano not in gooo health. Whatever other
reasons he may have hao are not known. He was replaceo by Verschuer, who was
often assisteo in his work by Josef Mengele. Verschuer hao been the “Doctor Ia-
ther” ,mentor, of Mengele, ano they workeo well together when Mengele coulo
spare time from his SS outies. Mengele hao gotten a ooctorate in anthropology ano
then a secono ooctorate in meoicine. Like Verschuer, he was both a meoical ooc-
tor ano an anthropologist. He was very interesteo in twin research ano was able to
provioe some “materials” to the institute from Auschwitz.
My assistant Dr. | Josef | Mengele ,M.D., Fh.D., has joineo me in the branch of re-
search. He is presently employeo as Hoopt·totmföltct ano camp physician in the con-
centration camp at Auschwitz. Anthropological investigations on the most oiverse
racial groups of this concentration camp are carrieo out with permission of the SS
Rctcl·föltct |Heinrich Himmler|, the blooo samples are being sent to my laboratory
for analysis.
If only the investigations hao been limiteo to blooo samples. Unfortunately, there
is ample evioence that eyes ano other human booy parts were sent to the institute
for further stuoy. Some of the twins surviveo to tell their stories:
Mengele hao two types of research programs. One set of experiments oealt with ge-
netics ano the other with germ warfare. In the germ experiments, Mengele woulo
inject one twin with a germ. Then, if ano when the twin oieo, he woulo kill the other
twin to compare the organs at autopsy. ,Annas ano Grooin :qq.,
The institute receiveo a new assignment as Germany pusheo into Folano ano
the Soviet Union. Coulo they aovise the government on the nature of ethnic groups
that woulo be founo in the occupieo lanos? Another anthropological group was
alreaoy working on this problem ano hao its own moous operanoi.
Anthropologists in Germany ano Austria were well-respecteo participants in the
Nazi regime by the time Germany marcheo into Folano. They were counteo on
for aovice, assistance, ano active participation in many of the tasks of the expanoing
.:ó rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
empire. They provioeo the justification, the theory, ano the methooology for
“Racial Science” ano its applications, the backbone of the Thiro Reich.
On Hitler’s birthoay, April .o, :q¡o, The Institut fur Deutsche Ostarbeit ,IDO,
was openeo. Its purpose was to create policy ano investigate mooes of exploiting
the newly conquereo lanos in the Gcrctolgoocctrcmcrt ,GG,, unoer Gouveneur Hans
Irank. Iive months earlier, just one month after the invasion of Folano, the Ger-
mans hao trickeo :8¸ professors of Cracow’s Jagiellonian University into appear-
ing for a meeting that was promptly oismisseo, its participants packeo into buses
heaoing for German concentration camps where most were eventually killeo
,Burleigh :q88:.¸¸,. This cleareo the way for a new oirection in the acaoemy ano
space for the offices of the IDO.
The institute took over the beautiful builoings of the Jagiellonian University,
which oateo back to the age of Copernicus. Within the IDO were eleven sections,
incluoing prehistory, history, art history, law, language, economy, agriculture, lano-
scape, forestry, earth science, ano race ano ethnic research. The structure was not
unlike that of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut in Berlin.
The section on Race ano Ethnic Research hao a relatively small number of per-
manent staff members augmenteo by Folish workers, most of whom were highly
traineo. Unlike the KWI, however, the anthropological part of the IDO was fo-
cuseo on ethnographic stuoies as well as anthropometric “racial” ioentifications.
The section hao three Rcfctot, or oivisions: Anthropology, Ethnology, ano Jewish
Research. The outcomes of research leo to the same eno as anthropological re-
search elsewhere in the Thiro Reich: classifications of persons as outsioers, ano a
oetermination of their life chances within the Nazi worlo oroer.
The Rcfctot Ethnology is making efforts to carry the concept of ethnic research far be-
yono what has hitherto been unoerstooo by the term as it is useo in acaoemic circles.
This ethnic research requires the total encompassing of the life history of peoples,
what they carry with them from all sioes, such as their racial history, their biology,
their oemographics, sociology, ethno-politics, ano folk psychology. Ethnic investiga-
tion incluoes the health of a people, their limitations oue to inheriteo illnesses ano
conoitions, the ,cultural, movements of the people, their customs ano expressions of
it in form ano content, the feeling for nationhooo ano mythmaking, the problems ano
conflicts on the speech ano ethnic bounoaries, ano much more—in short, all that con-
tributes to a group’s active or passive expression of race ano ioentity.
The anthropologists put forth the ioea that Mioole ano Eastern Europe was
composeo of various “racial strains.” Unoer the prevailing philosophy, each group
shoulo be assesseo accoroing to how the capabilities of its people coulo best assist
in the oevelopment of the New Oroer of Nazi Germany ,Gottong :q¡::.8–¡o,. In
practice this meant that the anthropologists of the IDO ano their staffs intenoeo
to cast a “thick net” of investigations over the GG, as the former Folish oistricts of
Warsaw, Cracow, Raoom, ano Lublin were known unoer Nazi occupation. The
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .:,
outcome of these ethnographic ano anthropomorphic investigations was a sorting
of people for slave labor, colonization of Ukrainian farmlano, entry into the Ger-
man Army, or oeath.
The German anthropologists were not satisfieo with the oescriptions of popu-
lations they coulo obtain from Folish scientists: “There is little worth in the mate-
rials presenteo to us by Folish anthropologists oue to their peculiar point of view
ano the methoos useo. There is virtually no material on the races ano their oistri-
bution, everything remains for the German scientists to oo.”
Many of the anthropological positions were filleo with university people from
Vienna. Women anthropologists playeo a major role in the section, one becoming
acting oirector when her preoecessor was calleo to the front. Their outies were
broao ano strenuous, ano the anthropologists, without a ooubt, workeo very haro.
In Cracow they took part in the confiscation of libraries ano private collections
of books useful to their cause. They oversaw the inventory of ethnographic muse-
ums throughout Folano ano arrangeo for materials to be sent back to Germany for
exhibits there, they also prepareo exhibits for oisplay in occupieo Folano. A major
thrust of these exhibits seemeo to be the justification for the Nazi invasion. These
justifications incluoeo the ioea that Germanic tribes ano peoples hao populateo the
newly occupieo lanos in the twelfth ano thirteenth centuries, ano their “racial” her-
itage hao provioeo every cultural aovantage to the GG. This heritage neeoeo to
be reoefineo ano protecteo in the future. They publisheo unceasingly in journals,
paio for by the IDO, oevoteo to examination of the oiscoveries of Eastern Eu-
rope, particularly the GG. They cooroinateo visits with anthropologists from the
Reich ano parceleo out work to them.
Their most important task, however, was the ethnographic ano anthropomet-
ric stuoies of the people of occupieo Folano. During the four years of their IDO
work, they investigateo numerous villages, oelousing centers, at least one ghetto,
ano concentration/prisoner-of-war camps. This ethnographic work was carrieo on
in cooroination with the SS, which provioeo protection to the scientists ano ensureo
the compliance of the subjects. Feople were taken at gunpoint to collection places
where they were measureo, intervieweo, ano sometimes fingerprinteo. Occasion-
ally, hair samples were taken. Fhotographs were taken by SS photographers, ano
sketches of booy hair were maoe of many of the subjects.
In :q¡. the section reporteo that it hao maoe :¸,.¸8 separate notes in its research
into Folish bibliographic sources! Many of these were historical oescriptions of set-
tlements in which the anthropologists hao an interest. They hao assembleo these notes
ano placeo them in a caro catalog that was “completeo up to the letter ‘J.’ ”
The Section on Jewish Research oescribeo its goal in a forthright way. The staff
collecteo written material about Jews ano hopeo to publish materials showing the
results of the “racial mixing” of societies in the occupieo lanos. “The final goal of
all the inoivioual research projects is the proouction of a history ano course of stuoy
of the Jewish question in oroer to immunize the coming generations against re-
neweo oomination tenoencies of Jews.”
.:8 rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
By :q¡¸ the section was more focuseo on practical matters.
Seloom has a region within Europe been so racially mixeo ano presenteo with the re-
sulting ethnic problems as the Gcrctolgoocctrcmcrt. To investigate the full range of ethnic
expression ano to make the results useful to the State officials is the job of the Section.
In this report it is clear that another concern bothereo the Germans. Many Foles
were being sent back to the Reich to work as slave laborers. Woulo they “mix” with
the people there, infecting the “pure” German population with inferior genes? Only
Foles with preoominantly “Aryan” features shoulo be riskeo. The anthropologists
hao to fino these people ano ioentify them.
The Jews of the Tarnower Ghetto were another group that hao to be investi-
gateo quickly, for they were being eliminateo. This investigation was carrieo out in
conjunction with the Anthropological Institute in Vienna. The features ioentifieo
in the Jews, many of whom hao been forcibly removeo from Vienna, woulo be avail-
able to trace traits that hao been passeo on to other groups through intermarriage
ano “racial” mixing in the future. The anthropologists were aware that the Jews
woulo not be alive much longer.
As far as the Jews’ pictures are concerneo, of course we will stano by the agreement
we maoe as far as it just oepenos on us. I am in agreement with the times you have
given, but I want to remino you that we oon’t know what measures regaroing the ex-
pulsion of the Jews will be taken in the coming months, unoer which circumstances
worthwhile material woulo be lost to us. It coulo happen that the natural family con-
nections will be torn from their context, whereby not only the pictures themselves will
be taken unoer oifficult circumstances, but also the very possibility of taking pictures
will be very much altereo.
There is little of a personal nature that has remaineo of the experiences of the
anthropologists. Several female anthropologists from Vienna University, who were
increasingly responsible members of the team as the male anthropologists were
calleo to the Russian Iront, carrieo on a limiteo corresponoence. These are the
only remaining inoications that personal experiences entereo into their lives as re-
In one such letter, Elfrieoe Iliethmann oescribes her trip to Hanozowa.
“As I orove back from Hanozowa, I was almost hit by an avalanche. Workers there
loaoeo a car with stones, ano as I orove past they threw a whole forklift full at me.
Luckily nothing happeneo to me, but you can imagine my fury.”
By the summer of :q¡¡, the Russians hao closeo in on the GG, ano Germany
was in retreat. Concentration camp prisoners from Ilossenburg ano Ravensbruck
were calleo in to pack up the materials ano seno them to two castles in Bavaria for
The staff of the IDO relocateo with their materials, ano some sci-
entists trieo to continue to work.
The U.S. Army oiscovereo the staff ano materials at the eno of the war. They
were convinceo that these were harmless scientists who hao been victims of the
war. As such, they even arrangeo for them to be paio for a few more months! The
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .:ç
materials from the IDO’s Section on Race ano Ethnic Research were sent to Wash-
ington ano oivioeo among several archives. Although much of the material hao
been oeleteo ano oestroyeo—by whom cannot be ascertaineo—enough remaineo
to give a picture of what hao happeneo in Cracow.
Other archives storeo vari-
ous materials from the IDO, ano their publications remain in several worlo libraries,
incluoing the Library of Congress.
We return to the questions my stuoents have raiseo about these anthropologists:
why oio they oo it, ano why oio no one stop them? Ferhaps the answers are not as
oifficult as they seemeo at first. Hannah Arenot was right, there was a banality of
evil ,Arenot :q6¸,.
It is now clear that the ptocc·· by which the ultimate evil of the Holocaust came
about was not begun unoer the Nazis, but many years earlier when the worlo lookeo
for answers to haro questions raiseo by urbanization ano mooernity, oescribeo by
Hinton in the first chapter of this book. The steps in the process were, first, inter-
national acceptance of initial research questions ano the methoos ano context in
which they were carrieo out. This context incluoeo the exclusion from the research
teams of previously valueo members because of political ano “racial” ioentities.
Secono, career aggranoizement—rather than unemployment—offereo a great mo-
tivation. Thiro, psychological protection reouceo the psychosocial oissonance ,Hin-
ton :qq6, ano assisteo anthropologists in hanoling the stress of conoucting inhu-
mane investigations. Iourth, values of the “normal” worlo were attacheo to their
very abnormal activities.
How coulo the worlo be maoe healthier, more proouctive, ano more efficient?
The questions were askeo not only in Germany but also in the Uniteo States ano
other Western countries. Despite its questionable methooologies, the German re-
search of the :q.os that aooresseo these questions was supporteo in large part by
the Rockefeller Iounoation, an American institution.
The answers oeviseo in the Thiro Reich were as follows: Iirst, the state coulo arrange
to sterilize those who reproouceo or coulo reproouce offspring not valueo by the state.
Secono, the state coulo allow ano encourage experimentation on human subjects, re-
ferreo to as “pieces” or “material,” those who hao no power to say “no.” Next, the state
coulo arrange to get rio of “life unworthy of life” ano assign those consioereo least wor-
thy to menial tasks unoer the control of those in charge of the New Oroer. Iinally, the
state coulo move masses of population groups from place to place, killing some ano
enslaving others for the benefit of the few who met the criteria of the “Master Race.”
Why oio the anthropological community in Germany offer no objection? Iirst,
inoiviouals who stooo against government policy were oealt with quickly in the first
weeks, months, ano years of the regime. Their ability to protest was brutally ano
quickly wipeo out. We have no recoro of anthropologists who went to concentration
camps for their aoherence to a oifferent moral oroer, but we can assume some oio.
.¸o rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
Others were motivateo to continue their work by their own success. Never hao
their oiscipline been so well respecteo ano receiveo ,Mosen :qq::q,. Never hao prac-
titioners been so busy. Iurthermore, their work, which was so closely tieo to the SS,
coulo provioe exemptions from military service for the men. This was not a small
consioeration. All the motivation for cooperation with the Nazi regime was incor-
porateo in career aovancement, while the price for not cooperating was “internal
exile,” joblessness, or incarceration.
The acaoemic oiscipline as a whole assisteo the inoivioual in hanoling the psy-
chosocial oissonance by allowing anthropologists the opportunity to publish their
research accounts with only vague references to their methoos ano selection of sub-
jects. A cognitive oissociation between the treatment of human subjects ano the
oescriptions of scientific research was actually encourageo. Despite the ruthless-
ness of the actions instigateo by anthropologists ano other scientists, the incipient
shame ano guilt they must have felt can be reao into what they oio rot say ano write.
It takes a great oeal of reaoing to fino even hints of “smoking guns” among the
remaining oocuments. Ior example, Mengele’s files, once returneo to the KWI, are
not to be founo. Only his victims inoicate the enormity of his crime.
The practice of not specifying the actual activities unoertaken in the name of
science serveo the purpose of protecting the postwar careers of Nazi anthropolo-
gists ano other perpetrators. Of the acaoemics who workeo in the IDO, virtually
all went on to other esteemeo positions following the war. Iischer retireo in :q¡.
from the KWI, but Verschuer, after paying a small fine, was given other university
positions until his connection with Mengele became known. Among the scientists
of the IDO, most continueo with government careers oespite their participation
in the genocioe of Jews ano Roma, as well as the rape of Folano.
Ferhaps the anthropologists who witnesseo genocioe, ano playeo a role in it,
buffereo their knowleoge of their own involvement with a scientism that went be-
yono their convoluteo verbiage. Ferhaps they believeo that the ethnographic stuo-
ies they performeo were valuable in their own right, even if they hao to be con-
oucteo unoer SS guaro ano village people were shot at the eoge of town ouring
their research trips.
Some of their values matcheo those of the outsioe worlo. They spoke of bet-
ter public health, better economic conoitions, ano a oeeper intellectual unoer-
stanoing of oiversity. By stressing those values ano oenying the enormity of the
oamage they were inflicting on people through their practice, the anthropolo-
gists coulo continue to feel they were making a contribution to a better worlo,
one in which they woulo be ever more highly valueo ano their knowleoge
revereo. This coulo happen only if the fate of those they oefineo as “Other” was
justifieo by the search for a clean ano purifieo “Iolks’ Society.” Nazi anthropol-
ogists marcheo unoer their pseuoo-science banner to the tune of health, clean-
liness, ano racial homogeneity, provioing the state its justification for genocioal
ano criminal acts. The activities of the Nazi anthropologists linger with us
through the suffering of survivors ano often survivors’ offspring, through their
scirx+iric n\cisx ix +nr nricn .¸.
influence on a postwar generation of stuoents, ano through the garbleo history
they left behino them.
The author would like to recognize the following archives and thank the staff members
who were particularly helpful: The National Anthropological Archives (NAA), John Ho-
miak, director, and Robert Leopold, archivist; The National Archives in Washington,
D.C. (NAW); The Jagiellonian University Archive ( JUA), Adam Cie´slak, curator; The
Bundesarchiv Koblenz (BAK), Gregor Pickro, archivist; the Archiv zur Geschichte der
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (AMPG); and the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC). Gerhard
Zeidler was a partner in most of the research reflected in this chapter, although the au-
thor alone is responsible for its content. Sonja Kämpgen assisted with the editing.
:. The exception to this silence is a chapter by Robert Froctor, “Irom Anthropologie to
Rassenkunoe in the German Anthropological Traoition,” in Borc·, Bootc·, Bcloctot: E··o,· or
Btologtcol Artltopolog,, George Stocking, eo. ,Maoison: University of Wisconsin Fress, :q88,.
German anthropologists oio not explore the history of their oiscipline’s activities in the
Thiro Reich until :q8¸, the fiftieth anniversary of the takeover by Hitler ,Iischer :qqo,. Since
that time, several universities have exploreo their own history, although there is often a great
oeal of resistance to such an enterprise ,Mosen :qq::¸,. Ior further information on the view
of German ano Austrian anthropologists of this perioo, see among others Hauschilo ,:qq¸,,
Linimayr ,:qq¡,, Gernot ,:q8¸,, ano Mosen ,:qq:,.
.. Fersonal conversation with Gregor Fickro, archivist at the Bunoesarchive Koblenz,
Germany, ano experience in various archives.
¸. Examples abouno of scientists who “manageo” their ioentities after the war. During
the war they kept the oescriptions of their activities innocuous, often by maintaining a uni-
versity position while, in fact, “practicing” anthropology in a government-relateo office.
¡. Speech by Dr. Aoolf Morsbach, oirector of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Fro-
motion of Science, :q¸., p. ¸, RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series A, Sub-Series ¸:¸, Box
:o, Ioloer 6¡.
¸. All translations in this chapter are the work of the author.
6. There was some oiscussion that the KWI woulo name its physics institute the Rock-
efeller Institut in return for a substantial investment of funos. RAC, Recoro Group :.:, Se-
ries A, Box ¡, Ioloer ¡6, pp. 6–¸.
¸. Memo from Frofessor Stark, presioent of the Notgesellschaft, to Eugen Iischer, oi-
rector of Anthropological Stuoies of the German Feople. RAC, RI, Collection :.:, Recoro
Group A, Box .o, Ioloer :8¸.
8. RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series ¸:¸, Sub-Series A, Box :o, Ioloer 6¸.
q. RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Subseries A, Box ¡, Ioloer ¡6.
:o. “Flanck oeclareo to Irick ,Reichs Innenminister, his willingness ‘to place the KWI at
the systematic service of the Reich’ ” ,Loesch :q8¸:¸:.,.
::. Loesch ,pp. .¸¡–.¸¸, states that there was a campaign against Iischer baseo on his
pre-:q¸¸ research reports that claimeo some benefit of mixeo-race populations. After ois-
cussions with officials in the SS Office of Fopulation ano Genetic Health ,SS-Amt fur
Bevolkerungspolitik uno Erbgesunoheitspflege,, he realizeo that he woulo have a very re-
stricteo position ano possibly be requireo to retire at sixty-five in :q¸q if he oio not agree to
the line set out by the racial policy groups. This he oio not want to oo.
.¸: rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
:.. Eugen Iischer. “Die Iortschritte bei menschlichen Erblehre als Grunolage eugeni-
scher Bevolkerungspolitik,” p. ¸: ,source unioentifieo, RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series
A, Box .o, Ioloer :8¸.
:¸. RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series A, Box .o, Ioloer :8¸.
:¡. AMFG, I Abt., Rep. :A. Nr. .¸qq/¸, Bl. qo.
:¸. Ibio.
:6. Ibio., Bl. 8o.
:¸. Ibio.
:8. AMFG, I. Abt., :A., Nr. .¡o¡/¸, Bl. ¡q.
:q. RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series A, Box .o, Ioloer :8¸.
.o. Iischer is a gooo example of an anthropologist who was influenceo, even formeo,
by the state ano yet contributeo to the viability ano practice of the oeaoly ioeology it em-
booieo. Given his wish to conform, one can imagine that hao he liveo unoer a more hu-
mane or benign government, he might have been a oifferent kino of professional.
.:. AMFG, I. Abt., :A, Nr. .¡o¡/., Bl. :¡–:¸.
... Ibio.
.¸. RAC, RI, Recoro Group :.:, Series A, Box ¡, Ioloer ¡6.
.¡. Ibio., Box :o, Ioloer 6¸.
.¸. Froctor :q88, ¡¡, from Benno Muller-Hill, Motoctoo· Sctcrcc ,Oxforo: Oxforo Uni-
versity Fress, :q88,, BAK, R ¸¸/:¸¸¡., fol.6¡.
.6. NAA, Register to the Materials of the Institut fur Deutsche Ostarbeit ,IDO, collec-
tion ,Schafft ano Zeioler :qq8,.
.¸. Ernst R. Iugmann. “Das wirtschaftsgeographische Gefuge oes Generalgouverne-
ments.” Unioentifieo article founo in a collection at the Bunoesarchiv Berlin-Lichterfeloe.
.8. NAA, IDO Collection.
.q. Ibio.
¸o. Ibio.
¸:. Ibio.
¸.. Corresponoence Iliethmann, IDO Collection, Ioloer ¸o.
¸¸. JUA, IDO Collection, Ioloer ¸o.
¸¡. These women anthropologists carrieo on research in their own assigneo villages, usu-
ally traveling without their male colleagues but unoer heavy SS guaro.
¸¸. Ibio.
¸6. Ravensbruck is often thought of as solely a women’s camp. It incorporateo, how-
ever, both a youth camp ano a men’s camp.
¸¸. One assumes from the nature of the collection that materials have been oestroyeo.
Informants in Folano inoicate that pictures of their nakeo booies were taken, but only the
portraits of faces ano ethnographic shots of material gooos ano lanoscapes exist tooay. It is
possible that some materials remain to be founo.
Aly, Gotz, F. Chroust, ano C. Fross. :qq¡. Clcor·trg tlc Fotlctloro. Baltimore, Mo.: Johns Hop-
kins University Fress.
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.¸¸ rssrx+i\rizixo nirrrnrxcr
r\n+ +nnrr
Annihilating Difference
Locol Dtmcr·tor· of Gcroctoc
The Cultural Iace of Terror in the
Rwanoan Genocioe of :qq¡
Cltt·toplct C. To,lot
Ior the past fifteen years anthropology’s central concept, the concept of culture, has
come unoer withering attack. Some have criticizeo its use as overly reifying. Others
claim that no human group has ever been characterizeo by a single coherent set of
norms, beliefs, ano attituoes. Still others view the notion of culture as excessively
rule-orienteo ano oeterministic—too much of a “cookie-cutter” ano as such in-
sufficiently sensitive to the expression of oiverse human agencies. There are no such
things as rules, say the latter, only contesteo meanings ano negotiateo realities ar-
riveo at, ano only ephemerally, in the clash of conflicting interests ano ioeologies.
Yet those who claim that the anthropological notion of culture has been excessively
totalizing sometimes ignore the fact that the analysts they criticize are often not guilty
of the imputeo charges ,Sahlins :qqq:¡o¡,. Still the critique has not fallen on oeaf ears.
It cannot be oenieo that in its wake, much anthropological analysis has returneo to a
kino of methooological ano ontological inoivioualism. Eschewing homeostatic “so-
cial structures” ano the oecooing of “oeep structures,” many anthropologists have be-
gun to prefer analytic approaches that emphasize oiverse subjectivities, multivocality,
ano multiple interpretation ,Clifforo ano Marcus :q86,. These latter claim that an-
thropologists of intellectualist bent ignore or oiminish the subject, that they oepict so-
cial actors as mere bearers of their culture rather than its shapers. History as well, in
the hanos of the intellectualists, loses its oynamism as all becomes reouceo to the
recapitulation of the same or very similar structures of thought.
Yet among those who woulo fetishize oifference, many appear bent upon abol-
ishing the concept of culture altogether. In earlier versions of methooological in-
oivioualism, as in transactionalism ano rational choice theory, inoiviouals every-
where seemeo to think ano to act alike. Like Homo ccoromtco·, social actors exerciseo
their free will, maximizing utility, ano choosing courses of action accoroing to per-
ceiveo cost/benefit ratios. Culture was aooitive, an aggregate generateo by the sum
total of inoiviouals’ choices ,Barth :q¸q,. Although more recent inoivioualist ap-
proaches often criticize the presumeo universality of a maximizing person, cul-
ture has nevertheless become fragmenteo into a cacophony of multiple ano con-
flicting oiscourses in which the subject often oisappears in a clouo of complexity
ano incoherence ,Ortner :qq¸::8¸,.
Yet it coulo also be argueo that in the latter case the notion of the subject is a cul-
ture-bouno one, grounoeo in inoivioualist ano egalitarian assumptions that “celebrate
oifference ano interpretation” ,Kapferer :q8q::q¸,. Culture, accoroing to that strain
of thought, has become epiphenomenal, a oepenoent variable, a mere instrument in
the political or economic struggle rather than the ioeational crucible in which these
struggles fino their significance. In earlier versions inoivioualist assumptions were ex-
plicitly stateo, more frequently tooay they are not. In either case cultural voluntarism
ano its more recent avatars continue to souno particularly Western in perspective.
Attempting to weno the way between an overly reifieo notion of culture ano the
concept’s effective negation has presenteo anthropology with a formioable challenge,
neither sioe appears to be completely right, nor completely wrong. Yet both sioes
are loath to consioer the possibility that the analytic strength that one might oerive
from an axiomatically unifieo set of presuppositions may also be a weakness. Fer-
haps this is nowhere more apparent than in the oomain of political anthropology,
where scholars like John Gleohill are insisting that to unoerstano the political be-
havior of elites in the non-Western worlo, one must unoerstano not only the varieo
self-interests of social actors ano the multiplicity of oiscourses they construct but
also the cultural frameworks in which actions occur ano that renoer those actions
meaningful ,Gleohill :qq¡,. We cannot assume that the manifestations of power in
the worlo are everywhere the same, for, as Gleohill shows, there are profouno oif-
ferences in political cultures. Economic ano political behavior outsioe the Western
context is unlikely to be unoerstooo without some sense of these oifferences.
Gleohill’s work builos upon that of Michel Ioucault, Fierre Bouroieu, ano Bruce
Kapferer. Irom Ioucault, Gleohill pursues the insight that power involves not only
the negative aspect of constraining the volition of others but also a positive as-
pect. Social actors in specific cultural ano historical circumstances are constructeo
to think ano to act in certain ways ,ibio.::.6,. We neeo to unoerstano the con-
struction of the subject from the insioe out in oroer to unoerstano power in its fullest
oimensions, ano that, Gleohill argues, might best be accomplisheo by builoing upon
conventional anthropological stuoies of symbolism ,ibio.,. To this eno, Gleohill cites
the work of Fierre Bouroieu ano his use of the notion of lo/tto·, ano Bruce
Kapferer ano his use of the notion of ontology.
It is to these theorists that I turn in attempting to unoerstano some of the cultural
oimensions of what occurreo ouring the :qq¡ genocioe in Rwanoa, where as many
as one million people were killeo—one-seventh of the country’s population.
much of what I will concern myself with involves the politics of ethnicity in Rwanoa,
my major point is that we cannot make full sense of the Rwanoan trageoy with an
.¸8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
analytical approach that merely recapitulates the assumption of instrumental ratio-
nality that characterizes much neofunctionalist analysis. The violence that occurreo
in Rwanoa cannot be reouceo solely ano simply to the competition for power, oomi-
nance, ano hegemony among antagonistic factions. Much of the violence, I maintain,
followeo a cultural patterning, a structureo ano structuring logic, as inoivioual Rwan-
oans lasheo out against a perceiveo internal other who threateneo, in their imagi-
nary, both their personal integrity ano the cosmic oroer of the state. It was over-
whelmingly Tutsi who were the sacrificial victims in what in many respects was a
massive ritual of purification, a ritual intenoeo to purge the nation of “obstructing be-
ings,” as the threat of obstruction was imagineo through a Rwanoan ontology that sit-
uates the booy politic in analogical relation to the inoivioual human booy.
As I will attempt to show in this chapter, many of the representations concerning
booily integrity that I encountereo in popular meoicine ouring fielowork in Rwanoa
in :q8¸ to :q8¸, :q8¸, ano :qq¸ to :qq¡ emergeo in the techniques of physical cru-
elty employeo by Hutu extremists ouring the genocioe. But there was no simple cul-
tural oeterminism to the Rwanoan genocioe. I oo not aovance the argument that the
political events of :qq¡ were in any way causeo by these symbols, or by Rwanoan
“culture,” conceiveo of in a cognitively oeterminist way in the manner of Goloha-
gen’s controversial analysis of the Nazi genocioe ,:qq6,. These representations oper-
ateo as much ouring times of peace as ouring times of war. The “generative
schemes”—the logical substrate of oppositions, analogies, ano homologies—upon
which the representations were baseo constituteo for many Rwanoans a practical,
everyoay sense of booy, self, ano others. Because these “generative schemes” were in-
ternalizeo ouring early socialization, they took on a nearly unconscious or “goes with-
out saying” quality ,Bouroieu :qqo:6¸–¸q,. Although many Rwanoan social actors
embooieo this knowleoge, they never explicitly verbalizeo it.
The symbolic system I oescribe here takes root in representations that go back
at least to the nineteenth century: elements of it can be oiscerneo in the rituals of
Rwanoan sacreo kingship practiceo ouring precolonial ano early colonial times. In
that sense, much of this symbolism is relatively olo. It must be emphasizeo, how-
ever, that neither the symbolic nor the normative structures of early Rwanoa were
mechanically reproouceo ouring the events of :qq¡. Moreover, the context in which
the symbols appeareo was quite contemporary, for the oiscourse of Hutu ethnic
nationalism with its accompanying characteristics of primoroialism, biological oe-
terminism, essentialism, ano racism is nothing if not mooern.
The ioea that violence may be culturally or symbolically conoitioneo is not new.
In a work eoiteo by C. Norostrom ano J. Martin ,:qq.,, the authors remark “that
repression ano resistance generateo at the national level are often inserteo into the
local reality in culturally specific ways” ,ibio.:¸,. Yet elsewhere in the volume the
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸ç
contributors seloom live up to this promise, showing insteao that violence ano ter-
ror split communities along fault lines that can be oemarcateo by social analysis,
rather than that violence follows culturally specific mooalities. Coming closer to
this point, Michael Taussig oescribes the narrative forms that accompanieo the
emergence of a “culture of terror” in the rubber-collecting regions of early twen-
tieth-century Colombia ,:q8¡,. In Taussig’s book Slomort·m, Colortolt·m oro tlc 1tlo
Mor ,:q8¸,, he again takes up the subject of the Futumayo violence committeo
against Native Americans as reporteo by the English investigator Roger Casement:
Irom the accounts of Casement ano Timerman it is also obvious that torture ano
terror are ritualizeo art forms ano that, far from being spontaneous, sui generis, ano
an abanoonment of what are often calleo the values of civilization, such rites of ter-
ror have a oeep history oeriving power ano meaning from those very values. ,ibio.::¸¸,
Taussig analyzes colonialist oiscourse ano unoerscores the Manichean nature of its
explicit opposition of savagery vs. civilization. He unmasks the bitterly ironic
process of mimesis that was at work when rubber company overseers both imag-
ineo into existence ano became the savage, in gratuitous acts of terrorism ano tor-
ture. His point that the forms of violence practiceo in Futumayo logically extenoeo
the ioeological ano normative patterns of colonizing culture, rather than being a
oeparture from them, is well taken. Yet one is left to wonoer, from the pithy state-
ment citeo above, whether there might be more to this claim than oiscourse analy-
sis alone is capable of revealing—specific, art ano ritual forms from colonizing cul-
tures that Taussig might have analyzeo ano that tell us something about European
preoccupation with the oemonic, ano the tenoency to project fears of it onto con-
venient scapegoats, whether internal or external.
Rwanoa as well, ouring the years leaoing up to the genocioe of :qq¡, became
a “culture of terror,” ano there were a number of narratives in circulation that
Hutu extremists useo to justify violence against the Tutsi. They incluoeo narratives
of this sort, among others: “Tutsi are invaoers from Ethiopia.” “We carry the Tutsi
on our backs.” “Tutsi are lazy.” “Tutsi are shrewo ano conniving.” “They use the
beauty of their women to seouce us into working for them.” Many of the narra-
tives of Hutu extremism that I encountereo in :qq¡ Rwanoa, or in earlier fielowork
ouring the :q8os, closely resemble the “mythico-histories” oiscusseo by Liisa Malkki,
in her book Pottt, oro Extlc ,:qq¸,, among Burunoian Hutu refugees in a Tanzanian
camp. Many of the narratives take root in the early colonial historiography that
oepicteo Tutsi as intelligent “Hamite” invaoers who conquereo the slower-witteo
“Bantu” Hutu. The selective use of this historiography leaos one to believe that the
narratives, far from being recent creations, oate from late colonial times ano form
something of a substrate for the ioeology of Hutu ethnic extremism.
More germane to the purposes of this chapter, Malkki’s book also oescribes
the techniques of violence meteo out against Hutu victims in Burunoi ouring that
country’s genocioal events of :q¸.–¸¸. Those techniques incluoeo impalement
of men from anus to heao or mouth, impalement of women from vagina to
.¸o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
mouth, cutting fetuses from their mothers’ wombs, forcing parents to eat the flesh
of their chiloren, ano forcing a parent ano chilo to commit incest by roping them
together in a sexual position prior to killing them ,ibio.:8¸–q8,. She raises inter-
esting questions with regaro to the forms that the violence took ano the accounts
about it:
|It| is relevant to ask how the accounts of atrocity come to assume thematic form,
how they become formulaic. . . . The first thing to be examineo is the extent to which
the techniques of cruelty actually useo were alreaoy meaningful, alreaoy mythico-
historical. ,ibio.:q¡,
One neeo only inspect reports from Amnesty International ano other organiza-
tions whose main purpose is to oocument human-rights violations to begin to see that
the conventionalization of torture, killing, ano other forms of violence occurs not only
routinely but in patterneo forms in the contemporary worlo. Torture, in particular,
is a highly symbolizeo form of violence. At this level, it can be saio that historical ac-
tors mete out oeath ano perpetrate violence mythically. ,ibio.,
Nevertheless, oespite the assertion that the violence in Burunoi was alreaoy “mythico-
historical” ano that it was patterneo—an assertion that woulo seem to cry out for
ritual ano symbolic analysis—Malkki’s analysis ooes not pursue this avenue in other
than general comments about the attempt on the part of Burunoian Tutsi to humil-
iate ano oehumanize their Hutu victims, to renoer them powerless, to oestroy the
life of their future generations, or to reverse natural processes ,ibio.:q8,. Although all
her statements are true, my contention is that Malkki’s comments leave the ontolog-
ical oimension of extremist violence in Burunoi ano Rwanoa untoucheo. Many of
the same forms of violence, the same techniques of cruelty, were encountereo in
Rwanoa ouring the :qq¡ genocioe: impalement, evisceration of pregnant women,
forceo incest, forceo cannibalism of family members. There were also other forms
of torture ano terror in Rwanoa that may or may not have occurreo in Burunoi: the
wioespreao killing of victims at roaoblocks erecteo on highways, roaos, streets, or
even on small footpaths, the severing of the Achilles tenoons of human ano cattle
victims, emasculation of men, ano breast oblation of women.
In oroer to make these forms of violence comprehensible in terms of the local sym-
bolism, it is first necessary to unoerstano, as Fierre Clastres ,:q¸¡, instructs us, that so-
cial systems inscribe “law” onto the booies of their subjects. Occasionally physical tor-
ture is an integral part of the ritual process intenoeo to inculcate society’s norms ano
values. As Ioucault shows, measures of booily oiscipline short of actual torture im-
poseo on inmates in institutions such as schools, prisons, ano the military also serve a
similar purpose ,Ioucault :q¸¸,. Using Tlc Pcrol Color, by way of illustration, Clastres
states: “Here Kafka oesignates the booy as a writing surface, a surface able to receive
the law’s reaoable text.”
Clastres expanos upon this by consioering the cognitive role
of the booy in ritual, “The booy meoiates in the acquisition of knowleoge, this knowl-
eoge inscribes itself upon the booy.”
Ano ritual, Clastres emphasizes, involves the
mnemonics of oroeal ano pain: “|S|ociety prints its mark on the booy of its youth. . . .
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸.
The mark acts as an obstacle to forgetting, the booy carries the traces of a memory
printeo upon it, tlc /oo, t· o mcmot,.”
Although the rituals of which Clastres speaks are rites of passage—specifically, male
initiation rituals in so-calleo primitive societies—I believe that many of his insights
coulo be fruitfully extenoeo to the actions of mooern nation-states, particularly ac-
tions of a violent ano terroristic nature. It is here that Clastres presages Bruce
Kapferer’s work on nationalism, particularly with regaro to the mythico-ritual oi-
mensions of nationalism as these oelineate an analogical space relating the booy to
the booy politic. As Kapferer states: “I have shown that in the myths ano rites of evil,
as in the legenos of history, the oroer of the booy is ioentifieo with ano proouceo within
the oroer of the state” ,:q88:¸8,. Kapferer shows that the passions, violence, ano in-
tolerance that characterize mooern nationalism cannot be unoerstooo solely through
analysis of the associateo political pragmatics. Nor can these passions be interpreteo
in purely psychological terms, as simply the tension-oissipating response to psycho-
logical stress generateo by oisoroer ano rapio social change. In oroer to unoerstano
the passions of mooern nationalism, as well as the violence ano terror unleasheo upon
the booies of its sacrificial victims, we neeo to unoerstano its ontological oimensions.
Builoing upon Beneoict Anoerson, Kapferer says, “Nationalism makes the po-
litical religious ano places the nation above politics” ,ibio.::,. He then proceeos to
analyze Sinhalese ano Australian nationalisms, which, although quite oifferent in
their specific ontologies, are both constitutive of being ano personhooo. Conoenseo
within these ontologies are the “myths, legenos, ano other traoitions to which these
nationalisms accoro value” ,ibio.:6,. Iurther on in the book he oescribes the pre-
reflective oimensions of ontology:
|It| oescribes the funoamental principles of a being in the worlo ano the orientation
of such a being towaro the horizons of its experience. It is an ontology confineo within
the structure of certain myths ano, as I have shown, it is an ontology which governs
the constitution ano reconstitution of being in some rituals. ,ibio.:¸q–8o,
Borrowing from Louis Dumont’s work, Kapferer oescribes Australian nationalism
as “inoivioualistic ano egalitarian,” that of Sri Lanka as “hierarchical ano en-
He also oescribes in both instances what these specific nationalisms
posit as potentially oestructive to the cosmic oroer of the state ano malevolent to
the person. In the Sri Lankan case, malevolence takes the form of resistance to
the hierarchical, encompassing Buoohist state. Tamils may live peacefully in Sri
Lanka but only as suboroinateo, encompasseo, internal others. In the Australian
case, malevolence takes the form of an arbitrary state contemptuous of, or inoif-
ferent to, issues of personal autonomy ano integrity ,ibio.:¸,.
Rwanoan nationalism more closely approaches the “hierarchical, encompassing”
type that Kapferer oescribes, oespite its frequent appeals to oemocratic values. In
.¸: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
monarchical Rwanoa, the state was a hierarchical ano encompassing oroer much of
whose potency was embooieo in the person of the Tutsi king or m.omt. After the
Hutu Revolution of :q6o, oictatorial power was vesteo in the person of the Hutu
presioent. Nevertheless, the ioeology of Rwanoa’s Hutu elite after :q6o emphasizeo
oemocracy ano egalitarianism. Of course what was implieo by this ioeology was
tyranny of the majority, at least the tyranny of a small clique within the majority, ano
systematic monopolization of the state apparatus by this clique ano its clients. Dur-
ing the political turmoil of the :qqos ano before, Hutu extremist politicians maoe fre-
quent use of the term to/oroo r,·lt, meaning the “popular mass” or “rule by
the popular mass”, ano all Rwanoans knew that Tutsi were excluoeo from that group.
As long as Tutsis oio not object to their “encompasseo” status, which was more po-
litically than economically prejuoicial to them, they were left alone. Although they
coulo not holo political office after :q6o, they coulo gain wealth ano status through
other avenues. It was not until Rwanoa’s experiment with multiparty oemocracy be-
ginning in :q8q that a few Rwanoan Tutsi began to holo significant political positions.
In early Rwanoa, rituals of the state were conoucteo unoer the aegis of the
Rwanoan sacreo king ,mwami, ano his college of ritual specialists ,o/ttto,. After the
Hutu Revolution, nationalist rituals in the mooern sense began to be celebrateo.
Although this was not my area of interest at the time, I occasionally witnesseo such
celebrations ouring my first fielowork in Rwanoa ouring :q8¸–8¸. The most com-
mon of these occurreo every Weonesoay afternoon ano were calleo “animation.”
Virtually all Rwanoans who were employeo by the state, ano incluoing some who
were employees in private enterprises, woulo be excuseo from work ano woulo
gather together in small groups to sing or chant. Organizeo into ccllolc· ano some-
times referring to themselves as gtoopc· oc cloc, the groups woulo compose ano re-
hearse litanies about the country’s oevelopment, the accomplishments ano quali-
ties of Fresioent Habyarimana, or those of the political party that he hao founoeo,
the Mouvement Revolutionnaire pour le Developpement ,MRND,, the country’s
only political party between :q¸¸ ano :q8q. On national holioays such as the July
¸ celebration of Habyarimana’s :q¸¸ coup o’état, such groups woulo perform pub-
licly, competing with one another in the expression of attachment to the nation ano
its leaoer. In these state rituals the values of oemocracy ano equality woulo be ex-
tolleo, ano the overthrow of the Tutsi monarchy ano rejection of o/ololc woulo be
evokeo by way of substantiating the Hutu government’s commitment to those val-
Nevertheless, it was clear to most Rwanoans that Fresioent Habyarimana helo
absolute power ano that political ano economic aovancement were largely oe-
penoent upon one’s proximity to the presioent ano his coterie. Northern Hutu, es-
pecially those who were officers in the Rwanoan Army, were the most favoreo un-
oer the regime, although some Tutsi ano southern Hutu hao become prosperous
in other ways. At the time of my first fielowork in :q8¸–8¸, Rwanoa was more oi-
vioeo by class ano region than by ethnicity, as the chasm between the military/mer-
chant bourgeoisie ,oominateo by northerners, ano the rural peasantry, q¸ percent
of the population, continueo to grow.
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸¸
Although it was ultimately along ethnic lines that the Rwanoan social fabric tore
asunoer ouring the genocioe of :qq¡, this was not a foregone conclusion. Rwanoa’s
history has inoeeo been markeo by other incioents of ethnic unrest, but in each
case the passions that have fueleo the violence have been far from primoroial, they
have hao to have been rekinoleo ano manipulateo by unscrupulous politicians ,cf.
Taylor :qqqb:¸¸–¸¸,. After :qqo many events orchestrateo by supporters of the
presioent ano the two political parties that were most avioly racialist in ioeology—
the MRND ano the more extreme CDR ,Coalition pour la Defense oe la Re-
publique,—subverteo existing political alliances between Hutu ano Tutsi oppo-
nents of the regime ano precluoeo others from forming that might have preventeo
the genocioe. Several key people who appealeo to both southern Hutu ano Tutsi
were assassinateo. One such assassination, that of Ielicien Gatabazi, arguably
Rwanoa’s most popular political leaoer ano heao of an ethnically mixeo party, the
Farti Social Democrate ,FSD,, occurreo one evening , January .¸, :qq¡, so close
to my home in Kigali that I hearo the three bursts of automatic rifle fire that killeo
him. My most informeo Rwanoan acquaintances at the time claimeo that mem-
bers of Habyarimana’s elite presioential guaro hao carrieo out the assassination.
Gatabazi’s party hao been attempting to forge an alliance between peasants in
southern Rwanoa ano liberal entrepreneurs ano intellectuals of both ethnicities in
the cities of Kigali ano Butare. The party vehemently opposeo the ethnic rift that the
MRND ano the CDR appeareo bent upon oeepening. Iollowing Gatabazi’s assas-
sination, the oepth of anger of FSD supporters was so profouno that the next oay,
Hutu peasants in southern Rwanoa pursueo the leaoer of the extremist CDR, Mar-
tin Bucyana, in his car en route to Kigali from Butare. Iurious over Gatabazi’s mur-
oer, they eventually manageo to stop the car. Then with hoes ano machetes, they mur-
oereo all three occupants: Bucyana, his brother-in-law, ano the car’s oriver. The
incioent unoerlineo the fact that many Rwanoans in the south were more incenseo
about regional favoritism ano oomination by the Habyarimana clique than they were
about ethnicity. Ior two full oays after the CDR leaoer’s oeath, supporters of the
regime fomenteo violence in Kigali in which Tutsi ano FSD party members were
specifically targeteo, virtually everyone in the city stayeo home from work ,ctllc mottc,.
A few people were killeo, many more were intimioateo into abanooning their houses
in Kigali or coerceo into paying “insurance” to Irtctolom.c militia members.
On the
thiro oay after Gatabazi’s oeath, normalcy abruptly returneo as if by commano, the
lesson to those who oio not support the ethnicist line of the MRND ano the CDR
hao been conveyeo.
I have liveo for several extenoeo perioos in Rwanoa. Ior eighteen months ouring
:q8¸–:q8¸, I stuoieo Rwanoan practices of popular meoicine. Later I returneo
there ouring the summer months of :q8¸ to oo follow-up work on popular meoi-
cine. In recent years some of my research in Rwanoa has taken an applieo oirec-
.¸¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
tion. In May of :qq¸, for example, I journeyeo to Rwanoa ano remaineo for one
month serving as a consultant to Iamily Health International, a subcontractor for
USAID. I participateo in organizing an AIDS prevention project that was to be
funoeo by USAID. It was again as an employee of IHI that I returneo to Rwanoa
in late October :qq¸ to begin AIDS-relateo behavioral research. Although I hao
hopeo to live in Rwanoa for at least two years ano to conouct research on sexual
behavior ano HIV transmission, that proveo to be impossible because of the re-
neweo outbreak of hostilities that followeo the assassination of Fresioent Habya-
rimana on April 6, :qq¡. On April q, most members of the American community
in Rwanoa were evacuateo by lano convoy to neighboring Burunoi. Irom Burunoi,
I then flew to Nairobi, Kenya, where I spent the next four months.
During my last perioo of fielowork in Rwanoa, I witnesseo the country’s slow
but inexorable slioe into chaos. After several attempts to install the broao-baseo
transitional government faileo, I became keenly aware that the Habyarimana
regime ano the MRND hao not been serious about the peace accoros signeo with
the Rwanoan Fatriotic Iront in Arusha ouring August of :qq¸. Encourageo by the
unwavering support of Irench backers, Habyarimana ano his supporters were treat-
ing the accoros as “just a piece of paper.” During the five months or so that I resioeo
in Rwanoa, the oogs of war were slowly unleasheo. Acts of terrorist violence be-
came more common, Interahamwe militia members grew boloer in their attacks
upon civilians, ano there were several assassinations.
It hao not been my intention to stuoy or to witness the oegraoation of the
political situation in Rwanoa. Originally I hao hopeo to further my explorations
into the popular perceptions of sickness ano, in particular, of sexually transmit-
teo oiseases. My job with IHI in Rwanoa was to help aoapt HIV prevention ano
intervention strategies to local social ano cultural realities. I hao been chosen for
this task because IHI was aware of my previous research on popular meoicine
ano, in particular, my research emphasizing the importance of booily fluios in
the local cognitive mooels of sickness. These were obviously important because
HIV is transmitteo by booily fluios, ano preventive strategies generally focus on
“barrier methoos” such as conooms. Irom previous research in Rwanoa, I hao
aovanceo the hypothesis that impeoing the passage of booily fluios between part-
ners was locally perceiveo as unhealthful, ano that this resistance woulo have to
be overcome in culturally appropriate ways in oroer to promote safer sexual prac-
tices ,Taylor :qqo,.
Although the connection between local cognitive mooels of illness ano ethnic na-
tionalism may appear oistant at first glance, their relateoness lies at the level of
myth ano symbol. The Rwanoan booy is, following Clastres, an imprinteo booy—
imprinteo with the conoenseo memories of history. Iollowing Kapferer, it is only
through myth ano symbol that we can grasp the logic of these conoenseo mem-
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸¡
ories ano their significance to Rwanoan Hutu nationalism, because the latter oe-
riveo much of its passionate force from a mythic logic constitutive of being ano
Broaoly, the legitimating ano emotional force of myth is not in the events as such but
in the logic that conoitions their significance. This is so when the logic is also vital in
the way human actors are culturally given to constituting a self in the everyoay rou-
tine worlo ano move out towaro others in that worlo. Mythic reality is meoiateo by
human beings into the worlos in which they live. Where human beings recognize the
argument of mythic reality as corresponoing to their own personal constitutions—
their orientation within ano movement through reality—so myth gathers force ano
can come to be seen as embooying ultimate truth. Myth so enliveneo, I suggest, can
become imbueo with commanoing power, binoing human actors to the logical move-
ment of its scheme. In this sense, myth is not suboroinateo to the interests of the in-
oivioual or group but can itself have motive force. It comes to oefine significant ex-
perience in the worlo, experience which in its significance is also conceiveo of as
intrinsic to the constitution of the person. By virtue of the fact that myth engages a
reasoning which is also integral to everyoay realities, part of the taken-for-granteo
or “habitus” |Bouroieu :q¸¸| of the munoane worlo, myth can charge the emotions
ano fire the passions. ,Kapferer :q88:¡6–¡¸,
Nevertheless, in oroer to get at these mythic ano prereflective oimensions of on-
tology, we neeo to move beyono Kapferer’s ano Dumont’s categories of “egalitar-
ian ano inoivioualistic” vs. “hierarchical ano encompassing.” We neeo to shift
analysis to an almost “molecular” level ano to consioer the structures of thought
that unoerlie the construction of the moral person in Rwanoa ano that constitute
a specific practical logic of being in the worlo. These structures must be seen both
in their formalist oimension ano in specific instances of their use ano enactment
in everyoay social life. Froceeoing in this fashion we may then be able to appreci-
ate that, lurking beneath the extraoroinary events ano violence of the genocioe,
one perceives the logic of oroinary sociality.
Much of this oroinary, practical logic can be oiscerneo in Rwanoan practices
relateo to the booy ano aimeo at maintaining it or restoring it to health ano in-
tegrity. Baseo on Rwanoan popular meoical practices that I observeo ouring the
:q8os, I have elsewhere aovanceo the hypothesis that a root metaphor unoerlies
conceptualizations of the booy ,Taylor :qq.,. Basically, these conceptualizations
are characterizeo by an opposition between oroerly states of humoral ano other
flows to oisoroerly ones.
Analogies are constructeo that take this opposition as their
base ano then relate booily processes to those of social ano natural life. In the un-
foloing of human ano natural events, flow/blockage symbolism meoiates between
physiological, sociological, ano cosmological levels of causality. Fopular healing
aims at restoring booily flows that have been perturbeo by human negligence ano
malevolence. Booily fluios such as blooo, semen, breast milk, ano menstrual blooo
are a recurrent concern, as is the passage of aliments through the oigestive tract.
.¸ó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
Fathological states are characterizeo by obstructeo or excessive flows, ano pertur-
bations of this sort may signify illness, oiminisheo fertility, or oeath.
Iluio metaphors suffuse Rwanoan popular meoical practices, yet healers ano
their patients oo not explicitly verbalize them in any local mooe of exegesis. The
mooel that I hypothesize for Rwanoan popular meoicine thus ooes not appear to
be a fully conscious one. This is in sharp contrast to similar “image schemata”
, Johnson :q8¸, founo elsewhere in the worlo. Ior example, in some forms of In-
oian popular meoicine, healers explicitly talk of illness in terms of interrupteo flows
of kunoalini ,Kakar :q8.,. Similarly, in many forms of Chinese popular meoicine,
concern is expresseo about the flow of Qi through the booy, therapeutic measures
are taken to oirect or unblock Qi flow ,Iarquhar :qq¡,. Despite an apparently less
than conscious quality in Rwanoa, flow/blockage metaphors are imageo ano en-
acteo in a oiverse array of oomains. Although they may be most commonly en-
countereo in popular healing, my research has revealeo that similar representations
are also present in myths, legenos, ano the rituals of sacreo kingship, ano that they
involve potencies of various types ,Taylor :q88,.
Because of the implicit quality of this symbolism, it is not possible to ascertain
the oegree to which Rwanoans from various regions ano of oiffering ethnicity, gen-
oer, or class have internalizeo it. Although it may be possible in some instances to ver-
ify how many people have knowleoge of a specific healing proceoure or belief, it is
impossible to affirm whether that specific knowleoge, or lack of it, implies aoher-
ence to an associateo mooe of thought. This means that at a secono level of unoer-
stanoing, attention neeos to be shifteo away from the stuoy of the formal properties
of the symbolism, to its various enactments in social life.
During my fielowork in Rwanoa in the :q8os, I founo that illnesses were often char-
acterizeo by perceiveo irregularities in fluio flows, ano that these tenoeo to have an
alimentary or reproouctive symptomatic focus. Concern with oroereo flows ano
their proper embooiment was not just implicateo in illness, however, it was also im-
plicateo in health. Irom the very moment that a human being enters this worlo,
these metaphors figure prominently in the cultural construction of the person. Frac-
tices associateo with chilobirth, for example, focus upon certain portions of the
chilo’s anatomy. Rural Rwanoans that I intervieweo in both northern ano southern
Rwanoa ouring the :q8os recounteo versions of the following practices.
After giving birth a new mother is secluoeo for a perioo of eight oays ,tooay this
perioo is often shorter,. On the ninth oay, the newborn chilo is presenteo to other
members of the family ano local community for the first time ,go·oloto om.oro,.
This rite of passage can be performeo only after the baby’s booy has been exam-
ineo ano founo to be free of anal malformations. Feople at this occasion receive a
meal, especially the chiloren present, who are given favorite fooos. These chiloren
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸,
in turn bestow a nickname on the newborn that will remain their name for the
chilo. A few months later the parents give the chilo another name, but the chil-
oren continue to call the infant by their name. The meal given to the chiloren is
termeo lot,o o/or,oro, which means “to eat the baby’s excrement,” for Rwanoans
say that a tiny quantity of the baby’s fecal matter is mixeo with the fooo. This ap-
pellation celebrates the fact that the baby’s booy has been founo to be an “open
conouit,” an aoequate vessel for perpetuating the process of “flow.” In a sense, the
baby’s feces are its first gift, ano the members of his age class are its first recipients.
The chiloren at the ceremony incorporate the chilo into their group by symboli-
cally ingesting one of his booily prooucts. Their bestowal of a name upon the in-
fant manifests their acceptance of the chilo as a social being.
The confirmation of the baby’s booy as an “open conouit” is a socially ano
morally salient image. If the booy were “closeo” at the anal eno, the baby woulo
still be able to ingest, though not to excrete. The baby woulo be able to receive,
but unable to give up or pass on that which it hao receiveo. In effect, its booy woulo
be a “blockeo” conouit or pathway. In social terms, such a booy woulo be unable
to participate in reciprocity, for while it coulo receive, it coulo never give ,see also
Beioelman :q86,. That gift-giving ano reciprocity are important aspects where
Rwanoan concepts of the moral person are concerneo can be oiscerneo from the
term for “man” in Kinyarwanoa, omogo/o, for it is oeriveo from the verb logo/o,
which means “to give.” The construction of the moral person among rural Rwan-
oans is contingent upon the social attestation that the person properly embooies
the physiological attributes that analogically evoke the capacity to reciprocate. This
entails the capacity to ingest ano the capacity to excrete, or, in socio-moral terms,
the capacity to receive ano the capacity to give. Consequently, two portions of the
anatomy ano their unobstructeo connection are at issue: the mouth ano the anus.
By analogical extension the concern with unobstructeo connection ano unimpeoeo
movement characterizes earlier Rwanoan symbolic thought about the topography
of the lano, its rivers, roaos, ano pathways in general.
Illnesses treateo by Rwanoan popular healers are often saio to be causeo by the
malevolent actions of other human beings.
Sorcerers act upon others by arrest-
ing their flow of generative fluios, they make women sterile ano men impotent.
They are also vampirish, anthropophagic beings who parasitically ano invisibly
suck away the blooo ano other vital fluios of their victims. In other instances sor-
cerers may inouce fluios to leave the booy in a torrent, causing symptoms such as
hemorrhagic menstruation, the vomiting of blooo, projectile vomiting, ano violent
oiarrhea. There are thus two basic expressions to symptoms in this mooel: “blockeo
flow” ano “hemorrhagic flow.”
One example of o/oto¸t ,spell, poisoning, that is quite commonly treateo by both
northern ano southern Rwanoan healers is that calleo lomortltto omoto·o ,“to sus-
peno blooo”,. In this poisoning, a fluio is taken from the intenoeo female victim:
either her menstrual blooo ,ttorgo,, her urine, or some of the fluio exuoing from
the vagina after parturition ,tgt·or¸o,. The sorcerer takes one of these fluios, aoos
.¸8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
meoicines to it, puts it in a packet, ano suspenos the packet from the rafters of a
house, or among rocks on the summit of a high hill where rain cannot touch it. If
menstrual blooo or urine has been taken from the woman, she will be unable to
conceive. If igisanza has been taken from the woman, she will be able to conceive
but unable to oeliver the baby. The fetus will become turneo transversally in the
womb, or it will move upwaro towaro the heart. In both variations of this poison-
ing, whether the woman is pregnant or not, the female victim’s reproouctive ca-
pacity is obstructeo. Another variation of this spell, sometimes calleo omoco, entails
throwing the packet with the woman’s menstrual blooo or urine into a fast-mov-
ing stream. In this case the woman’s menstrual flow becomes excessively abun-
oant or prolongeo.
In effect, by suspenoing a woman’s blooo or other fluios involveo in sexuality or
reproouction, the woman’s reproouctive functions are also suspenoeo. Either she
becomes unable to oeliver the baby alreaoy in her womb, or her menstruation stops
ano she becomes sterile. By suspenoing the woman’s booily fluios in a position be-
tween sky ano earth, or in a place where rain cannot touch them, the woman’s booy
becomes “blockeo.” When her fluios are put into a booy of fast-moving water, her
menses become oangerously abunoant, an example of “hemorrhagic flow.”
Healers vary in their treatment of this poisoning, nevertheless, these variations
possess features in common. One healer has the female victim of “suspenoeo
blooo” lie nakeo on her back. The healer then climbs onto the roof of the victim’s
house, parts the thatch, ano pours an aqueous mixture of meoicines through the
opening onto the woman’s aboomen. Another person insioe the house rubs the
woman’s stomach with the meoicinal mixture. In this treatment the blockage within
the woman’s booy is analogically positeo as a blockage between sky ano earth, for
it is counteracteo by someone’s actually moving to the sky position ,ascenoing to
the roof of the house, ano pouring fluios earthwaro. This time, however, the oown-
waro movement of fluios incluoes the woman’s booy in the circuit of flow from
sky to earth. The cure is a virtually one-to-one homeopathic reversal of the sym-
bolic operations accomplisheo in the poisoning, which removeo the woman’s booy
from the circuit of moving fluios by “suspenoing” her blooo between earth ano sky.
Another healer, Bauoouin, treateo kumanikira amaraso in a oifferent yet sym-
bolically comparable way. In one case that I observeo, he gave the afflicteo woman,
who was unable to oeliver oespite being pregnant, water with a piece of hip-
popotamus skin in it. In aooition, he aoministereo a remeoy concocteo from the
omoloorgo plant ,Iot·cl,o oc·cl,romcrotoc·, Iot·cl,o ·tttgo·o var. granoiflora, Moc·o
lorccoloto, , Jacob :q8¡:¡¡q,. The name of this plant comes from the verb goloorgo,
which means: ,a, to create, to restore, to invent, ,b, to occupy a place first, ,c, to ger-
minate, to blossom, ,o, to have one’s first menstrual perioo. He also gave her a plant
calleo omomorotorlo/o, a name that comes from the woros lomoroto—to make some-
thing oesceno, or to oepeno on, ano trlo/o—thunoer. The full meaning of the
name of this plant woulo be: “to make thunoer oesceno, to oepeno on thunoer,”
that is, to make rain fall.
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¸ç
Once again this is an image of restoring the sky-to-earth movement of rainfall,
ano by analogy, restoring oroerly flows to the woman’s booy. In restoring the flow,
the healer renoers the woman capable of creating, capable of blossoming. The
use of the hippopotamus follows the fact that it is an animal closely associateo with
terrestrial waters.
It is oifficult to assess accurately the percentage of Rwanoans whose thought
ouring illness conforms to the mooel of flow/blockage. Rwanoans among whom
I stuoieo popular meoicine ouring my first two perioos of fielowork incluoeo Hutu,
Tutsi, ano Twa of both sexes, ano urban as well as rural inhabitants. Many of these
consulteo only popular healers, while some, especially in cities, consulteo only bio-
meoical practitioners. In all probability, the majority of Rwanoans with whom I
interacteo consulteo both popular ano biomeoical specialists, ano even at times
acupuncturists ano Chinese herbalists. Similar to meoical systems elsewhere in the
oeveloping worlo, the one in Rwanoa is highly pluralistic. Rwanoan meoicine in
general, therefore, cannot be saio to be characterizeo by theoretical, symbolic, or
ioeological unity. Be that as it may, I believe that I am on safe grouno when I claim
that the implicit mooel of flow/blockage characterizes the meoical thinking of
many, if not all, Rwanoans. Attaining a higher level of precision than this, or con-
oucting a survey to oetermine the percentage of a population who ascribe to an
implicit mooel, strikes me as absuro. What can be affirmeo is that the practice of
kumanikira amaraso is encountereo in northern ano southern Rwanoa, even in ur-
ban areas. A substantial number of responoents also claimeo that “suspenoing
blooo” coulo be useo intentionally as a means of contraception ano was not always
a malevolent spell intenoeo to inouce sterility. A few female responoents even ao-
mitteo that their mothers hao “suspenoeo” their first menstrual blooo in oroer to
assure that they woulo not become pregnant out of weolock.
Another female fertility oisoroer encountereo in both northern ano southern
Rwanoa ano often treateo by popular healers is that calleo tgtlomo. A woman who
lacks breast milk is calleo igihama, as are women who lack vaginal secretions our-
ing intercourse. The noun tgtlomo is oeriveo from the verb golomo, which means
“to cultivate a fielo haroeneo by the sun, to have sexual relations with a woman
who lacks vaginal secretions” ,ibio.:¡¸¸–¸8,. Women who lack breast milk after
chilobirth ano those who lack vaginal secretions ouring intercourse are similar, for
in both cases their fertility is threateneo.
Both women lack an essential booily
fluio, in one case the fluio that will nourish a chilo, ano in the other case the fluio
that is oeemeo necessary for the woman to have fruitful sexual relations ano, by
consequence, to conceive.
Close to the southern Rwanoan town of Butare, I eliciteo the following illness
narrative in :q8¡ from a woman nameo Vereoiana who hao consulteo a healer
nameo Matthew. This narrative is remarkable in that it illustrates the imagery of
perturbeo menstruation, perturbeo lactation, reouceo fertility, ano interruption
ouring the course of a journey. At the time, however, I hao little ioea that the events
relateo in this woman’s story were connecteo in any other way than that which she
.¡o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
persistently emphasizeo: these were persistent misfortunes whose seriality proveo
that they were oue to the malevolent influence of sorcerers.
Vereoiana came to Matthew convinceo that she hao been poisoneo. This time
she hao been sick since July :q8¸, approximately one year before I met her. Her
primary symptom consisteo of prolongeo, abunoant menstruation. Although she
hao visiteo a hospital ano receiveo injections that stoppeo her hemorrhagic peri-
oos, she still felt intensely afraio. She often hao trouble eating. Recently she ano her
husbano hao separateo. Immeoiately after their separation her symptoms im-
proveo, then they began to worsen anew.
Accoroing to Vereoiana, it was the oloer brother of her husbano ano his wife who
were her poisoners. She believeo that this man afflicteo others through the use of
malevolent spirits. In previous years she hao been suspicious of another brother of
her husbano, a man who was suspecteo of sorcery ano later killeo by a group of his
neighbors. She also felt that her husbano was in league with his brothers, all of whom
were eager to have her out of the way.
In recounting earlier misfortunes, Vereoiana explaineo that her thiro pregnancy
hao been interrupteo by the baby’s premature birth at eight ano a half months. Some-
how the chilo manageo to survive oespite her reouceo lactation. Before this occur-
rence, she hao lost a chilo. During the troubleo events of :q¸¸—reviveo tensions be-
tween Hutu ano Tutsi ano the government’s inability to oeal with the situation hao
leo to a military coup—she was being transporteo to the hospital in labor. She re-
calls that there were numerous roaoblocks ano barriers erecteo on the roaos. De-
spite these barriers, she finally arriveo safely at the hospital. Her chilo was born alive
but oieo the next oay. When I suggesteo to her that her oifficulty in reaching the
hospital may have hao more to oo with national events in Rwanoa than with actions
of her persecutors, she replieo, “Yes, but why oio I go into labor at just such a time?”
Matthew’s oiagnosis was that Vereoiana was suffering from omogc¸o affliction, a
spirit illness that can cause excessive blooo flow from the vagina.
Notice that in this narrative, Vereoiana speaks of oisoroerly booily flows: hem-
orrhagic menstruation, premature birth, ano oiminisheo lactation. She also men-
tions physical obstructions encountereo while en route to the hospital in :q¸¸. The
backgrouno to this incioent, the political events of :q¸¸, constitutes a moment when
political relations between Rwanoa’s two most numerous ethnic groups, the Tutsi
ano the Hutu, hao oegenerateo into violence.
Many of the oetails that Vereoiana employs in her narrative are images of in-
completion, partial arrest, or obstruction: oifficulty in eating, oiminisheo lactation,
barriers on the roaos, a chilo who oies soon after birth, or a baby who was born
prematurely—that is, it left her womb before it hao been completely formeo by the
process of intensifieo mixing of husbano’s semen ano wife’s blooo that is supposeo
to occur ouring the final stages of pregnancy ,golotolo¸o,. Other oetails are images
of excessive flow: menstrual perioos that are prolongeo ano hemorrhagic.
She implicates several oomains of problematic social relations that merge to-
gether in her story: oifficulties with her husbano in the context of a polygynous
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¡.
householo, relations with her affines, political conflict between Tutsi ano Hutu our-
ing :q¸¸. This woman’s story is remarkable in touching so many levels at once. Al-
though the symptomatic focus is her booy, an analogy is constantly being orawn
between it ano other oomains of social life.
Vereoiana’s complaint weaves a web of concentric circles composeo of pro-
gressively more encompassing relational oyaos. At the most personal level these
consist of husbano ano wife, mother ano chilo. At a more encompassing level: wife
ano cowives, consanguines ano affines, ano finally at the level of the nation, Tutsi
ano Hutu. Her narrative moves from her booy, to the householo, to the extenoeo
family, to the nation in a seamless series of symbolically logical leaps, for all are
poseo in terms of booily ano social processes whose movement or obstruction are
causes for concern.
If flow/blockage symbolism can be oiscerneo in the narratives of inoivioual pa-
tients ano in the therapeutic means employeo by healers, it is logical to ask if sim-
ilar symbolism can be founo, as Vereoiana’s narrative suggests it might, at the level
of representations of the polity as a whole.
Although it is oifficult to fino clear evioence of this symbolism for the post-
colonial Rwanoan state ano its rituals of nationalism ,though it may exist,, there is
inoeeo strong historical evioence of it before inoepenoence at the time when
Rwanoa was a sacreo kingoom. Here, the principal sources of symbolic material
are texts of the royal rituals performeo by the king ano his college of ritualists, oy-
nastic poetry, ano popular narratives recounteo about Rwanoan kings.
As for the ritual texts, in the precolonial ano early colonial perioo these were
memorizeo by the king’s ritual specialists. Later ouring the :q¡os ano :q¸os, when
it appeareo that knowleoge of the rituals might be lost forever as the last genera-
tion of royal ritualists begin to oie off, the texts were transcribeo by Rwanoan ano
European scholars. In :q6¡, M. o’Hertfelt ano A. Coupez publisheo Kinyarwanoa
texts ano Irench translations of seventeen of the royal rituals in a book entitleo Lo
to,ootc ·octcc oc l’orctcr R.oroo.
Although Coupez ano o’Hertefelt oo not attempt to oate their versions of the
ritual texts precisely, it is quite likely that they go back at least to the precolonial
times of the nineteenth century. The last Rwanoan king who presioeo over the en-
actment of the rituals, the last king who coulo be truly oescribeo as “sacreo” in
terms of local perceptions, was Yuhi V Musinga whose reign ,:8q6–:q¸:, straooles
the eno of the nineteenth century ano the early perioo of Catholic evangeliza-
tion. Musinga ano his abiiru performeo the rituals until the late :q.os, at which
time they began to be neglecteo for fear that certain ritual practices might offeno
European ano Catholic sensibilities. Despite Musinga’s concession, Belgian colo-
nial authorities oeposeo Musinga in :q¸: ano replaceo him with his mission-eou-
cateo son. In the texts publisheo by o’Hertefelt ano Coupez, there are proceoures
.¡: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
in the rituals that Europeans woulo have founo oifficult to accept: ritual copulation
on the part of the king ano his wives, human sacrifice, ritual war, ano aoornment
of the royal orum with the genitals of slain enemies.
As for the ethnic origin of the rituals, although the central Rwanoan monarchy
was oominateo by a Tutsi king ano many of his closest associates were Tutsi, many
scholars claim that similar rituals were being performeo in Hutu polities prior to
the central kingoom’s existence ,o’Hertefelt :q¸::¸.,. It is probable that the exis-
tence of the state in central Rwanoa preceoeo its becoming a Tutsi-oominateo in-
stitution. Therefore the rituals ano their attenoant symbolism cannot reaoily ano
simply be ascribeo to later Tutsi oominance. In aooition, although the Rwanoan
king was Tutsi, the rituals he enacteo hao to aooress the preoccupations of the Hutu
majority, particularly the concern for oroerly rainfall ano an abunoant sorghum
harvest. Moreover, in material terms the king performeo a reoistributive function,
concentrating wealth ano then reoisbursing it.
Careful reaoing of the ritual texts inoicates recurrent preoccupation with main-
taining oroerly fluio flows ano implicitly that of tmooro. The term, tmooro, although
often translateo as “Goo,” only occasionally referreo to a supreme being. More fre-
quently, imaana was a generalizeo creative or transformative force, or, as o’Herte-
felt ano Coupez have translateo the term, a “oiffuse fecunoating fluio” of celestial
origin. Gaining access to the powers of imaana ano keeping the fluios of proouc-
tion, consumption, ano fertility in movement were arguably the most important rit-
ual functions of the Rwanoan king ,mwami,. The mwami was the ultimate human
guarantor of the fertility of bees ,for honey,, cattle, women, ano lano. In times of
orought, famine, epioemic, or epizootic, he coulo be oeposeo or calleo upon to offer
himself ,or a close relative, as a sacrificial victim ,omoto/o¸t,, so that the sheooing of
his blooo woulo conjure away collective peril. The king meoiateo between the sky
ano the earth. He was the most important rainmaker for the kingoom. He receiveo
the celestial gift of fertility ano passeo it oownwaro to his subjects. In some instances
this beneficence was conceptualizeo as milk, as is expresseo in this oynastic poem:
The King is not a man,
O men that he has enriched with his cattle . . .
He is a man before his designation to the throne . . .
Ah yes! That is certain:
But the one who becomes King ceases to be a man!
The King, it is he Imaana
And he dominates over humans . . .
I believe that he is the Imaana who hears our pleas!
The other Imaana, it’s the King who knows him,
As for us, we see only this Defender! . . .
Here is the sovereign who drinks the milk milked by Imaana,
And we drink that which he in turn milks for us!
,from Lo poê·tc o,ro·tt¸oc oo R.oroo, pp. ¸¸–¸¸, citeo by \. k\o\xr |in Irench| in
Lo pltlo·opltc /orto-t.oroot·c oc l’cttc, :q¸6::¸ |my translation|,
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¡¸
The Rwanoan king, mwami, coulo be compareo to a hollow conouit through
which celestial beneficence passeo. He was the kingoom’s most giving or “flowing
being.” The image of his booy as conouit can be oiscerneo in a legeno that is some-
times recounteo about Ruganzu Noori, one of early Rwanoa’s most important
kings. This particular version of the story was relateo to me by a certain Augustin,
the garoener at the Institut National oe Recherche Scientifique in Butare ouring
my fielowork there in :q8¸. Here fertility is restoreo to the earth by first passing
through the mwami’s oigestive tract:
Ruganzu Noori was living in exile in the neighboring kingoom of Noorwa, to the
north of Rwanoa. There he hao taken refuge with his father’s sister who was mar-
rieo to a man from the region. In the meantime, because the Rwanoan throne was
occupieo by an illegitimate usurper, Rwanoa was experiencing numerous calamities.
Rain was not falling, crops were oying, cows were not giving milk, ano the women
were becoming sterile. Ruganzu’s aunt encourageo him to return to Rwanoa ano re-
take the throne ano in this way, to save his people from catastrophe. Ruganzu agreeo.
But before setting forth on his voyage, his aunt gave him the seeos ,tm/oto, of several
cultivateo plants ,sorghum, gouros, ano others, to restart Rwanoan cultures. While
en route to Rwanoa, Ruganzu Noori came unoer attack. Iearing that the imbuto
woulo be captureo, he swalloweo the seeos with a long oraught of milk. Once he re-
gaineo the Rwanoan throne, he oefecateo the milk ano seeo mixture upon the grouno
ano the lano became proouctive once again. Since that time all Rwanoan kings are
saio to be born clutching the seeos of the original imbuto in their hano.
The image of the king’s booy as exemplary of a flowing process is implieo in
the verb l.omtto, from which the noun m.omt, is oeriveo. Kwamira has both a for-
mal sense ano a popular one. Its formal meaning is “to make, to create, or to ren-
oer fertile,” but another meaning is “to lactate” ,Vansina, personal communica-
tion,. In some parts of interlacustrine Bantu-speaking Africa, the sacreo king was
calleo mwami. In many other parts, such as Bunyoro, the sacreo king was termeo
molomo from the verb golomo, which means “to milk.” Sometimes even the Rwan-
oan king was referreo to as mukama. When the Bunyoro Mukama oieo, a man
woulo asceno a laooer, pour milk onto the grouno, ano say: “The milk is spilt, the
king has been taken away!” ,Beattie :q6o:.8,. The terms m.omt ano molomo thus
encompass several semantic oomains that are central to Rwanoan symbolic
thought: proouction, reproouction, the labor associateo with extracting the aliment
of highest esteem, milk, ano their metaphorization in the popular imagination as
a flowing process, lactation.
The assertion that the mwami was supposeo to be the most “flowing being” of
the kingoom, a hollow conouit through which fluios passeo, is how I oepict the con-
cern on the part of traoitional Rwanoans that the mwami keep the rain falling reg-
ularly, the cows giving milk, the bees prooucing honey, ano the crops growing. Of
the seventeen royal rituals recoroeo ano annotateo by o’Hertefelt ano Coupez, two
concern rainfall, one concerns the proouction of honey, another conjures away cat-
.¡¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
tle epizootics ,assuring the proouction of milk,, ano one celebrates the sorghum
harvest ,most sorghum was breweo into beer,. One of the most important rituals,
“The Watering of the Royal Heros,” which was accomplisheo only once every four
reigns ano which was intenoeo to renew the oynastic cycle, oeploys virtually the
entire gamut of fluio symbols, incluoing those concerning the two most important
rivers of the kingoom, the Nyabugogo ano the Nyabarongo, rivers that oelineateo
sacreo time ano sacreo space.
The person of the mwami embooieo flow/blockage imagery with regaro to his
physiological processes as well, for every morning the king imbibeo a milky liquio
calleo t·o/,o, which was a powerful laxative ,Bourgeois :q¸6,. Although the osten-
sible purpose of this matinal libation was to purge the mwami’s booy of any poi-
son he might have absorbeo, the reasoning behino the custom goes oeeper than
that, for the mwami’s enemies were oepicteo as the antithesis of “flowing beings”,
they were beings who interrupteo proouction, exchange, ano fertility. They were
“obstructing beings.” When seen from this perspective, the practice of kurya ubun-
yano ,oiscusseo above with regaro to newborn chiloren, makes eminent sense.
The Rwanoan mythical archetype of the “blocking being” was a small olo
woman ,ogolcccoto,. A legeno recounts how Death, while being pursueo by the
mwami, Thunoer, ano Goo, sought refuge with this agakeecuru, while she was gath-
ering gouros in a fielo. The tiny olo woman sheltereo Death in her uterus ,Smith
:q¸¸::¸.,, where he remaineo to subsist on her blooo. Later in eating with her oe-
scenoants, the agakeecuru communicateo Death to them ano they, in their turn, to
the rest of the worlo. In this tale we see that Death is associateo with beings whose
fluios oo not or no longer flow, for olo women oo not menstruate. The origin of
Death is also the origin of sorcery, for the olo woman passes the contagion of Death
on to others by eating with them.
One of the mwami’s responsibilities was to eliminate beings who lackeo the ca-
pacity “to flow.” Two such beings incluoeo girls who hao reacheo chilo-bearing age
ano who lackeo breasts, calleo tmpcrc/ctc, ano girls who hao reacheo chilo-bearing
age ano who hao not yet menstruateo, calleo tmpo ,o’Hertefelt ano Coupez
:q6¡:.86,. In both cases, the girls were put to oeath for want of the apparent ca-
pacity to proouce an important fertility fluio, in one case, blooo, in the other, milk.
Obstructeo in their perceiveo capacity to reproouce, the girls were thought to be
potential sources of misfortune ano arioity to the entire kingoom.
Although it might appear that the person of the mwami catalyzeo flows ano
eliminateo symbolic obstruction, in fact he embooieo this metaphor in its entirety.
While he was extolleo as the being who “milkeo” for others, the being who acteo
as the conouit of imaana, the being who embooieo the powers of both genoers as
a “lactating” male, the king was as much a “blocking being” as a “flowing” one. He
was not simply a passive conouit through which beneficence passeo, he was an ac-
tive agent who possesseo the power of life ano oeath over his subjects. He coulo
enrich his followers with gifts of cattle ano lano or he coulo impoverish them. Like
a sorcerer who impeoes fertility or inflicts oeath upon victims by invisibly sucking
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¡¡
away their blooo, the manifestation of the king’s power was more likely to be felt
in all those ways by which the king coulo obstruct human movement, economic
processes, life, ano human reproouction. This aspect of Rwanoan sacreo kingship
was given less elaboration in ritual, poetry, or popular narratives, although there
are aspects in the ritual texts in which the obstructive function of kingship can be
oiscerneo, albeit inoirectly. This connecteoness of the well-being of the polity with
processes that can be promoteo or inhibiteo can be oiscerneo in the rituals associ-
ateo with sacreo kingship.
Iirst let us take the Kinyarwanoa ritual lexicon ano examine the use of the term
flo.. In the “Fath of the Watering,” the royal ritual performeo only once in every
oynastic cycle of four kings ano intenoeo to revivify the entire magico-religious
oroer of Rwanoan kingship, there were several instances when a group of eight
cows, representing all the oeceaseo kings of the two previous oynastic cycles, along
with one bull were presenteo to the living king. Occasionally this group of eight
cows was referreo to as t·t/o ,“a flow”, ,ibio.::¡.,. Examining the full meaning of
the term t·t/o, we see that in other contexts it was useo to oesignate: ,a, a group of
cattle rushing towaro a watering trough, ,b, ,in war poetry, a flow of living beings,
a swarming multituoe, ,c, force, élan, flight, impetuosity, as in goco isibo ,especially
when speaking of the trtootc |warrior| oances,, which means, literally, “to cut the
flow” in the context of oance—that is, to jump very high while oancing , Jacob
:q8¸::6q,. But the verb from which t·t/o is oeriveo, go·t/o, means: ,a, to plug, to fill
up, to obstruct, to fill a hollow or empty space, ,b, ,neologism, to erase, to clear off,
,c, to oecimate, to eliminate, to make something oisappear, ,o, to hoe the earth with-
out taking care to remove weeos, ,e, to reouce an aoversary to silence by an ir-
refutable argument, ,f , ,when speaking of mammary glanos, to be obstructeo, ,g,
,when speaking of a path, to become covereo over with plants. Other usages in-
cluoe: gusiba trloto—to oo grave harm to someone, ano gusiba tr¸tto—,lit.: “to
block the path”, to lose one’s oaughter through oeath ,ibio.::6¸,.
Notice, therefore, that the noun t·t/o ano its root verb, go·t/o, appear to encom-
pass two apparently contraoictory meanings. One fielo of meaning seems to cen-
ter on the ioea of living beings in movement. Another set of meanings seems to
crystallize arouno the ioeas of obstruction ano loss. A single verbal concept in Kin-
yarwanoa thus appears to encompass the ioea of flow ano its opposite, the ioea of
blockage. Iurthermore, in this secono instance, the notion of “blockage” is relateo
to the ioea of ooing harm to someone, as in gusiba inkaru, as well as to the ioea of
losing one’s oaughter, as in gusiba inzira. With regaro to gusiba inzira, an analogy
is orawn between “blocking the path” ano “losing one’s oaughter.” In effect, when
one loses a oaughter, oeath blocks the “path” between one’s own family ano that
of another family—that is, the alliance relation that coulo have resulteo from the
gift of one’s oaughter to a man from another family, it is preemptively extinguisheo.
With regaro to gusiba inkaru, an analogy is orawn between the action of “block-
ing” ano the action of ooing serious harm to someone, an ioea that comes very
close to Rwanoan notions of sorcery.
.¡ó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
This apparent antinomy between the fielos of meaning oenoteo ano connoteo
in the woros t·t/o ano go·t/o might appear illogical to someone situateo outsioe the
context of Rwanoan social action. Within this context, however, this contraoic-
tion was nothing less than an ineluctable corollary to the workings of social life it-
self. It was its internal oialectic. Just as imaana coulo “flow” or be “blockeo,” just
as the sky coulo yielo its fertilizing liquio in the right measure ano at the right time,
so coulo the booy flow properly in health or improperly in illness. The woros t·t/o
ano go·t/o embooy part of this recognition, the recognition that one cannot have
“flow” without “blockage,” just as one cannot “milk” ,gukama, without incurring
the risk of oepleting the environment, ano one cannot give to some without with-
holoing one’s gifts from others. Fower in early Rwanoa grew as much from the ca-
pacity to obstruct as from the capacity to give.
It was through obstruction, impoverishment, strangulation, muroer, ano sorcery
that the Rwanoan king manifesteo the coercive aspect of his power over subjects
ano aoversaries. The precolonial Rwanoan polity, through its king, unabasheoly
proclaimeo its expansionist intent in the five royal rituals oirectly concerneo with
warfare. In one such ritual, Ir¸tto ,o Irgomo ,“The Fath of Aoorning the
Drum”,, the genitals of important slain enemies were ritually prepareo in oroer to
be placeo within containers ano then hung upon Iottrgo ,the most important royal
orum,. Early Rwanoan warriors carrieo a special curveo knife that was useo to re-
move the genitalia of slain enemies. During this ritual the king ano his ritualists
woulo shout:
^go t.olotot U/otorot loo rgomo
^’omolorg oootoot om.omt .’It.oroo
T.o,olototo loo rgomo

nrn+rrrr+ \xn cotrrz :q6¡::¸6,
May we strangle Burunoi’s orum
Ano all countries who oo not pay tribute to Rwanoa’s king
May we strangle their orums.
Women were also victims of mutilation in earlier times. In oisputes between rival lin-
eages, for example, it was common for the victors to cut off the breasts of women be-
longing to the vanquisheo group, although these were not useo in the above ritual.
The Rwanoan monarchy manifesteo its control over flowing processes—rain-
fall, human fertility, bovine fertility, milk, ano honey proouction—through its rit-
ual capacity to catalyze or to interoict them. Kings thus encompasseo the qualities
of both “flow” ano “blockage” ano, in that sense, were ambiguous, “liminoio” be-
ings, the embooiment of evil as well as gooo. At times of oire calamity to the polity
as a whole, the king became the ultimate repository of ritual negativity, the ulti-
mate “blocking being,” ano in those instances it was his blooo that hao to be sac-
rificially sheo to reopen the conouits of imaana. Accoroing to Rwanoan oynastic
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¡,
legenos, many kings were saio to have oieo as ritual sacrifices. Inoeeo, the events
leaoing up to ano incluoing the :qq¡ genocioe incorporate many elements of the
“mythic logic” of king sacrifice.
Issues of personhooo ano the booy, all of which are generally implicateo in na-
tionalistic expressions of violence, oo not follow a universal logic. Likewise, this logic
is not limiteo to the common exigency to eliminate as many of the regime’s aover-
saries as possible. State-promoteo violence persistently oefies the state’s attempts to
rationalize ano routinize it. The psychologically oetacheo, oispassionate torturer
ooes not exist, the acultural torturer who acts inoepenoently of the habitus that he
or she embooies ooes not exist. Nor can the interposition of killing machines or tech-
nology efface what Kafka so perceptively recognizeo in Tlc Pcrol Color,, that soci-
eties “write” their signatures onto the booies of their sacrificial victims. As Ioucault
,:q¸¸, shows, power constructs human subjects, ano a certain homology obtains be-
tween the quotioian oisciplinary practices employeo by social institutions like the
army or the school to proouce “oocile booies” ano the more coercive measures em-
ployeo against criminals ano enemies of the state. Taking this observation further,
one might justifiably ask: Why oo the Irench guillotine, the Spanish garrote, the
English hang, ano the Americans electrocute, gas, or lethally inject those in their
miost whom they wish to obliterate from the moral community? Among the nu-
merous forms of state cruelty that Eowaro Feters examines in Tottotc, he notes that
“there seem to be culturally-favoureo forms of torture in oifferent societies”
,:qq6::¸:,. Not all methoos are useo everywhere. In Greece, for example, there ap-
pears to be a preference for folorgo ,the beating of the soles of the feet,, a torture that
is not as common in Latin America ano where electrical shock preoominates. In
Rwanoa of :qq¡ torturers manifesteo a certain proclivity to employ violent meth-
oos with specific forms. These forms betrayeo a preoccupation with the movement
of persons ano substances ano with the canals, arteries, ano conouits along which
persons ano substances flow: rivers, roaoways, pathways, ano even the conouits of
the human booy, such as the reproouctive ano oigestive systems.
Corttolltrg Flo.·
;.) Rtcct·. In other work I have analyzeo the ritual ano symbolic importance
of Rwanoa’s rivers in light of the generative scheme of flow vs. blockage. In the
kingship ritual known as the “Fath of the Watering,” for example, the Nyabugogo
ano Nybarongo rivers serveo to revivify the magico-religious potency of the oynasty
by recycling ano reintegrating the ancestral benevolence of oeceaseo kings ,Taylor
:q88,. Although in the postcolonial Rwanoan state these rivers appear to have lost
their previous ritual significance, Rwanoa’s rivers were conscripteo into the
.¡8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
genocioe. This is apparent in statements maoe by one of the leaoing proponents
of Hutu extremism, Leon Mugesera.
Well in aovance of the genocioe, Rwanoan politicians maoe statements inoicating
that elements in the presioent’s entourage were contemplating large-scale massacres
of Tutsi. One of the baloest pronouncements in that regaro came from the afore-
mentioneo Mugesera, an MRND party leaoer from the northern prefecture of
Gisenyi. On November .., :qq., Mugesera spoke to party faithful there. It was no ac-
cioent that a venue in Gisenyi Frefecture hao been chosen for such an inflammatory
speech, because this was the regime’s home turf. Gisenyi solioly backeo the Rwanoan
government ano its presioent, for following Habyarimana’s coup o’état in :q¸¸, the re-
gion hao always receiveo more than its allotteo share of state jobs, seconoary school
placements, ano so forth. Mugesera’s woros were not falling on oeaf ears:
The opposition parties have plotteo with the enemy to make Byumba prefecture fall
to the Ir,cr¸t. . . . They have plotteo to unoermine our armeo forces. . . . The law is
quite clear on this point: “Any person who is guilty of acts aiming at sapping the
morale of the armeo forces will be conoemneo to oeath.” What are we waiting for? . . .
Ano what about those accomplices ,t/,tt·o, here who are senoing their chiloren to the
RFI? Why are we waiting to get rio of these families? . . . We have to take responsi-
bility into our own hanos ano wipe out these hooolums. . . . The fatal mistake we maoe
in :q¸q was to let them |the Tutsis| get out. . . . They belong in Ethiopia ano we are
going to fino them a shortcut to get there by throwing them into the Nyabarongo
River |which flows northwaro|. I must insist on this point. We have to act. Wipe them
all out! ,Text citeo from Frunier :qq¸::¸:–¸.,
Shortly after this occurrence, Mugesera repeateo the same speech in other
Rwanoan venues, ano several violent incioents in which Tutsi were killeo can be
oirectly traceo to its instigation. Although the minister of justice at the time, Stanis-
las Mbonampeka, chargeo Mugesera with inciting racial hatreo ano gave oroers
to have him arresteo, Mugesera took refuge at an army base where police oareo
not enter ,ibio.,.
In this speech there are several important elements, some of which are more ap-
parent ano others less so. That Mugesera is calling for the extermination of all en-
emies of the regime ano especially Tutsi seems clear. The olo theme of Tutsi as
originators from Ethiopia or “invaoers from Ethiopia” has also resurfaceo in this
speech. The theme of Ethiopian origins, useo ouring the late colonial era by apol-
ogists of Tutsi oomination ,cf. A. Kagame :q¸q,, has become, in the hanos of Hutu
extremists, a means of oenying Tutsi any share in the patrimony of Rwanoa. Yet
also present in this speech is the first explicit postcolonial reference that I know of
to the Nyabarongo River as a geographic entity with symbolic ano political signi-
ficance. In this speech the Nyabarongo has become the means by which Tutsi shall
be removeo from Rwanoa ano retransporteo to their presumeo lano of origin.
Here, it shoulo be emphasizeo, the river is again to serve an important ritualistic
function—that of purifying the nation of its internal “foreign” minority.
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .¡ç
It is no accioent, then, that in the months of June, July, ano August of :qq¡, when
allegations of a massive genocioe in Rwanoa were just beginning to be taken seri-
ously in the international meoia, thousanos of booies began washing up on the
shores of Lake Victoria—booies that hao been carrieo there by the Nybarongo ano
then the Akagera rivers. So many Rwanoan corpses accumulateo in Lake Victoria
that consumers in Kenya, Tanzania, ano Uganoa avoioeo buying fish taken from
Victoria’s waters, ano the lake’s important fishing inoustry was seriously jeopar-
oizeo. In response, a publicity campaign was mounteo to assure people that Lake
Victoria fish species, such as tilapia ano Nile River perch, oo not feeo on human
corpses ano that human remains only aoo more organic material to the water ano
oo not oiminish the eoibility of the fish. Although these pleas aimeo at minimiz-
ing the commercial impact of the large numbers of accumulateo booies, it was
nonetheless clear that these latter were insalubrious to people living near the lake.
Very quickly, local, national, ano international efforts were mobilizeo to remove
the oecomposing corpses from the lake ano its shores.
Rwanoa’s rivers became part of the genocioe by acting as the booy politic’s or-
gans of elimination, in a sense “excreting” its hateo internal other. It is not much
of a leap to infer that Tutsi were thought of as excrement by their persecutors.
Other evioence of this is apparent in the fact that many Tutsi were stuffeo into la-
trines after their oeaths. Some were even thrown while still alive into latrines, a
few of them actually manageo to survive ano to extricate themselves.
;:) Go·t/o Ir¸tto, “Blocltrg tlc Potl.” Among the accounts of Rwanoan refugees
that I intervieweo in Kenya ouring the late spring ano early summer of :qq¡, there
was persistent mention of barriers ano roaoblocks. Like Nazi shower rooms in the
concentration camps, these were the most frequent loci of execution for Rwanoa’s
Tutsi ano Hutu opponents of the regime. Barriers were erecteo almost ubiquitously
ano by many oifferent groups. There were roaoblocks manneo by Rwanoan
government forces, roaoblocks of the oreaoeo Irtctlom.c militia, Rwanoan communal
police checkpoints, barriers set up by neighborhooo protection groups, opportunistic
roaoblocks erecteo by gangs of criminals, ano even occasional checkpoints manneo
by the Rwanoan Fatriotic Iront in areas unoer their control. Ior people attempting
to flee Rwanoa, evaoing these blockaoes was virtually impossible. Moreover,
participation in a team of people manning a barrier was a outy frequently imposeo
upon citizens by Rwanoan government or military officials.
Several Hutu informants who escapeo Rwanoa via an overlano route explaineo
to me that they hao hao to traverse hunoreos of roaoblocks. One informant esti-
mateo that he hao encountereo one barrier per hunoreo meters in a certain area.
Another counteo forty-three blockaoes in a ten-kilometer stretch on the paveo roao
between Kigali ano Gitarama. Leaving major highways was no solution, for one
woulo encounter barriers erecteo across oirt roaos ano footpaths manneo by local
peasants. At every barrier fleeing people were forceo to show their national ioen-
tity caro. Since the ID caro bore mention of one’s ethnicity, oistinguishing Tutsi
.óo \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
from Hutu was no problem, ano almost always, fleeing Tutsi, saio to be ibyitso, or
“traitors,” were robbeo ano killeo. When a refugee claimeo to have lost the ID caro,
his or her physical features were relieo upon as ethnic ioentification. It was to one’s
aovantage to look Hutu ,to be of mooerate height ano to have a wioe nose,. One
refugee that I intervieweo, classifieo as Tutsi because his father was Tutsi ano his
mother was Hutu, escapeo without showing his ioentity caro because his features
were typically Hutu. Another, classifieo as Hutu because his father was Hutu while
his mother was Tutsi, narrowly misseo being executeo in Gitarama because of his
Tutsilike physiognomy.
In oroer to traverse these barriers, even as a Hutu, it was often necessary to bribe
those who were in control. One prosperous Hutu businessman whom I hao known
in Kigali, ano who surely woulo have been killeo because of his political affiliation
,FSD, hao he been recognizeo, tolo me that he hao paio more than five thousano
oollars in bribes.
Barriers were ritual ano liminal spaces where “obstructing beings” were to be
obstructeo in their turn ano cast out of the nation. The roaoblocks were the space
both of ritual ano of transgression, following an ambivalent logic that Bouroieu
unoerlines: “|T|he most funoamental ritual actions are in fact oenieo transgres-
sion” ,:qqo:.:.,. There were scenes of inoroinate cruelty. Often the conoemneo
hao to pay for the quick oeath of a bullet, while the less fortunate were slasheo with
machetes or bluogeoneo to oeath with nail-stuooeo clubs. In many cases victims
were intentionally maimeo but not fully oispatcheo. Besioe the line of motionless
corpses awaiting pickup ano oisposal lay the mortally injureo, exposeo to the sun
ano still writhing, as their persecutors sat by calmly, orinking beer.
One refugee who hao maoe it to Kenya by the circuitous route of fleeing south-
waro to Burunoi, tolo me that he ano everyone else in his company hao been forceo
to pay an unusual toll at one barrier. Each hao been forceo to bluogeon a cap-
tureo Tutsi with a hammer before being alloweo to move on. Some in the party
hao even been maoe to repeat their blows a secono or thiro time for lack of initial
enthusiasm. The reasoning behino this can be clarifieo by consioering the logic of
sacrifice ano the stigma that inevitably accrues to the sacrificer, the person who
actually spills the victim’s blooo. As Bouroieu puts it:
The magical protections that are set to work whenever the reproouction of the vital
oroer requires transgression of the limits that are the founoation of that oroer, espe-
cially whenever it is necessary to cut or kill, in short, to interrupt the normal course
of life, incluoe a number of ambivalent figures who are all equally oespiseo ano
feareo. ,ibio.:.:¸,
Requiring those who were being spareo at the roaoblocks to kill a hapless captive
may seem unnecessary ano purely saoistic, yet it serveo a useful psychological func-
tion from the point of view of the genocioe’s perpetrators: that of removing the
ambivalence of the sacrificial act ano the stigma of the sacrificer/executioner by
passing these on to everyone. The ritual obfuscateo the bounoary between gcro-
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .ó.
ctotottc· ano those who were otherwise innocent Hutu. Not only were Tutsi ano
Hutu “traitors” being killeo at the barriers, innocent Hutu were also being forceo
to become morally complicit in the genocioe by becoming both “sacrificer” ano
“sacrifier” ,Hubert ano Mauss :q8:, ano sheooing Tutsi blooo.
Several Hutu refugees that I met in Kenya explaineo that they hao useo elabo-
rate ruses to avoio, or to be excuseo from, “barrier outy.” One of them, Jean-Dam-
ascene, tolo me that he hao been obligeo to speno two full oays ano nights at a bar-
rier before being alloweo to return to his nearby home. As he woulo have been
resummoneo for aooitional outy, Jean-Damascene ano his wife concocteo a per-
suasive alibi. Because she was alreaoy more than seven months pregnant ano visi-
bly so, his wife might be able to feign the onset of oifficult labor. After less than
twenty-fours of rest, Jean-Damascene returneo to the barrier with his groaning,
agitateo wife ano askeo for permission to take her to Kigali hospital. The youthful
Interahamwe in charge of the barrier seemeo convinceo by the charaoe ano let
them proceeo, but only after Jean-Damascene left his wristwatch as a guarantee.
Irom there the couple walkeo a few kilometers to the center of Kigali, to a large,
mooern builoing where Jean-Damascene oroinarily workeo. Gaining entrance into
the builoing through ooors that hao been forceo open by looters, the couple spent
several nights sleeping on the floor of an upper-story corrioor. During the oay Jean-
Damascene ventureo outsioe to procure fooo ano to ask people with vehicles if they
were heaoeo in the oirection of Cyangugu ,a city locateo on the southern eoge of
Lake Kivu ano very close to the boroer with Zaire,. Iinally he founo someone who
was going to Cyangugu ano who was willing to take him ano his wife. Once in
Cyangugu, the couple crosseo the boroer into Zaire. In Bukavu ,Zaire, they met a
frieno who gave Jean-Damascene enough money to buy a plane ticket to Nairobi.
When I met Jean-Damascene in Nairobi, he was staying in the Shauri-Moyo
Y.M.C.A., a place where many Rwanoan refugees were being temporarily houseo
by the UNHCR. While in Nairobi, Jean-Damascene manageo to raise enough
money from family ano frienos to buy a plane ticket for his wife, who was still in
Hutu who were fleeing Rwanoan government violence ano that of the Intera-
hamwe might traverse the barriers as long as they were not well-known opposition
personalities who might be recognizeo. Ior Tutsi, escape was next to impossible.
Most Tutsi refugees that I met in Nairobi hao fleo from Rwanoa by other means.
Several hao maoe their way to Kigali airport ouring the week or so following Fres-
ioent Habyarimana’s assassination, a time when Belgian ano Irench troops were
evacuating their citizens via Kigali airport. Several hao even been aioeo in their
escape by a few Rwanoan government army officers who hao been willing to help
them. Those who were saveo this way were extremely lucky, for only some Belgian
ano some Senegalese troops maoe much of an attempt to save threateneo Tutsi.
Irench troops, allies of the genocioal regime, cynically abanooneo Rwanoan Tutsi
to their fate, even those who hao been former employees of the Irench embassy
or the Irench Cultural Center.
.ó: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
One Tutsi man that I intervieweo in Nairobi recounteo that he, his wife, three
of his chiloren, ano several other Tutsi employees of the Irench Cultural Center
hao been oenieo evacuation by Irench troops who remaineo at the center for sev-
eral oays before abruptly oecioing to oepart.
Belgian troops later occupieo the
Cultural Center ano agreeo to evacuate them, the Rwanoans were placeo among
Westerners on Belgian Army trucks. Obligeo to traverse several military roaoblocks
en route to the airport, the Tutsis hio beneath benches upon which Western evac-
uees were seateo. Once at the airport, they were flown out of Rwanoa on Belgian
transport planes.
Although the barriers that fleeing Rwanoans hao to conteno with were effective
as a means of robbing ano killing Tutsi civilians, roaoblocks were next to useless
as a means of halting the slow but inexorable RFI aovance. In fact, the barriers
oefy military logic. Froliferateo in all oirections, they were counterproouctive in
any tactical sense, for they oiverteo manpower that coulo have been oeployeo in
the fielo ano they oecentralizeo resistance to the RFI. Rwanoan government forces
ano their associateo Interahamwe militias were like a heaoless, tentacular beast ex-
penoing its rage against Tutsi civilians ano Hutu mooerates while ooing little to
confront its real aoversary. Even from the point of view of the military ano militia
who controlleo the barriers, their utility oefies oroinary logic. With roaoblocks
placeo so close together, only one hunoreo meters apart in some instances, most
were clearly reounoant. Downstream barriers hao little hope of catching people
who hao not alreaoy been stoppeo ano fleeceo of their money ano belongings.
On April q, :qq¡, as part of the U.S. embassy’s overlano evacuation from
Rwanoa, I hao the opportunity to traverse many RGI barriers. At several roao-
blocks, soloiers coulo be seen openly orinking beer or whisky, there was a palpa-
ble sense of their frustration ano oisorientation. Yet they were very menacing. Sol-
oiers paceo suspiciously up ano oown the long line of stoppeo cars peering into
them ano asking questions whenever they saw a black face. Later that oay ano fol-
lowing it, subsequent evacuation convoys fareo very baoly at their hanos. Suspecteo
Tutsi or Hutu opposition party members were pulleo from cars ano summarily shot.
Simply looking Tutsi was sufficient grounos for execution. A Mauritanian frieno
of mine hao two of his chiloren pulleo from his car ano threateneo because of their
facial features. Only tense negotiation ano the showing of every possible ioentity
paper convinceo the soloiers that the chiloren were not Tutsi but Mauritanian. Ex-
penoing so much energy against the perceiveo internal enemy virtually ensureo oe-
feat for the Rwanoan government forces ano their allieo militias, for while they
wasteo their time trying to stop fleeing civilians, the RFI methooically presseo its
offensive, capturing one military base after another, one city after another.
If the movement of people coulo be obstructeo with barriers, it coulo also be
hinoereo by oirectly attacking the booy. The parts of the booy most frequently
targeteo to inouce immobility were the legs, feet, ano Achilles tenoons. Thousanos
of corpses oiscovereo after the violence showeo evioence of one or both tenoons
having been sectioneo by machete blows. Other victims later founo alive in parts
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .ó¸
of Rwanoa where humanitarian organizations were able to intervene hao also sus-
taineo this injury. Meoecins Sans Irontieres, when it entereo eastern Rwanoa in
late June of :qq¡, oeclareo in presentations to televiseo meoia that this injury was
the one most frequently encountereo in their area. Although MSI manageo to save
many lives among those so injureo, the organization warneo that in virtually every
case, costly surgery woulo be neeoeo to restore some mobility to the foot. This in-
jury, known in meoieval Irance as the coop oc }otroc, has sometimes been attrib-
uteo to the influence of Irench troops ano their allegeo training of Interhamwe
militia members ,Braeckman :qq¡,. While I have no evioence to refute that in this
specific instance, Braeckman’s assertion ooes not explain why the technique hao
been useo in Rwanoa ouring the violence of :q¸q–6¡ ano in :q¸¸. Moreover, in
previous episooes of violence, as well as in :qq¡, assailants also mutilateo cattle
belonging to Tutsi by cutting the leg tenoons. Although many cattle in :qq¡ were
killeo outright ano eaten, ano others were stolen, a large number were immobi-
lizeo ano left to oie slowly in the fielo.
This technique of cruelty has a certain logic to it where human beings are con-
cerneo. In the presence of a large number of potential victims, too many to kill at
once, Interahamwe might immobilize fleeing victims by a quick blow to one or both
of the Achilles tenoons. Then the killers coulo return at their leisure ano complete
their work. This makes sense, yet it ooes not explain why many who sustaineo this
injury were chiloren too young to walk, eloerly people, people who were crippleo
or infirm, ano people in hospital beos incapable of running away. It is here that the
pragmatic logic of immobilizing one’s enemies ano the symbolic logic of “block-
ing the path,” which are not contraoictory in many cases, are in conflict. Why im-
mobilize the immobile? As with barriers on paths ano roaoways, there is a oeeper
generative scheme that subtenos both the killers’ intentionality ano the message in-
scribeo on the booies of their victims, even though these techniques of cruelty also
involve a oegree of improvisation. Fower in this instance, in symbolic terms, oe-
rives from the capacity to obstruct. The persecutor “blocks the path” of human be-
ings ano impeoes the movement of the material/symbolic capital necessary to the
social reproouction of human beings—cattle. Even when it is apparently unnec-
essary to arrest the movement of the alreaoy immobile, the assertion of the ca-
pacity to obstruct is nonetheless the claim ano assertion of power.
;¸) Tlc Boo, o· Coroott. In aooition to the imagery of obstruction, numerous
instances of the booy as conouit can be oiscerneo in the Rwanoan violence of :qq¡.
This imagery tenos to center on two booily foci: the oigestive tract ano the
reproouctive system. Ior example, after spenoing several oays in Bujumbura,
Burunoi, following our lano evacuation from Rwanoa, my fiancée, a Rwanoan
Tutsi, ano I took a plane to Nairobi, Kenya. When we arriveo at the airport on
April :¸, :qq¡, we were surpriseo to see a group of about fifty or so Rwanoans,
mostly Tutsi, who hao been stranoeo there for oays. The Kenyan government,
allieo to the former Rwanoan regime ano alreaoy sheltering thousanos of refugees
.ó¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
from other countries in UNHCR camps, hao given instructions to immigration
personnel to refuse entry visas to all Rwanoans. Having been oepositeo in Nairobi
by Belgian or U.N. evacuation planes, the Rwanoans founo themselves with
nowhere to go ano nowhere to return. As my fiancée ano I were also oenieo entry
visas for several hours until we receiveo help from the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, we
hao ample time to talk to the stranoeo Rwanoans. Virtually all of them hao lost
numerous family members, or spouses, lovers, ano frienos. All were suffering from
their confinement at Nairobi airport. Unable to bathe, shower, or change clothes,
all lookeo haggaro ano unkempt. Their only permitteo amenity was sleeping at
night in tents put up by the UNHCR just outsioe the terminal builoing. We were
also surpriseo to learn that most of them also complaineo of constipation.
In effect, the Rwanoans were somaticizing their oroeal. Having narrowly es-
capeo oeath, the refugees now founo themselves at the eno of whatever affective,
familial, ano economic life they hao leo in Rwanoa ano at the beginning of a new
life as yet unoefineo in terms of where they woulo live or what they woulo oo. None
at the time hao much confioence that the situation in Rwanoa woulo be quickly re-
solveo. Most were resigneo to the probability that they woulo never return to
Rwanoa ano that all the other members of their family were oeao. In virtually all
ways that one can envision human existence, whether in social or psychological
terms, the lives of these refugees hao reacheo an impasse. Coupleo with this state
of suspenoeo animation was the fact that the Rwanoans were virtual captives at
the Nairobi airport, anxiously awaiting the results of oelicate negotiations between
the UNHCR ano the Kenyan government. It was thus appropriate that their boo-
ies express these various mooes of obstruction through symptoms that maoe sense
in terms of Rwanoan cultural experience.
The image of the booy as conouit was not oiscernible only in mooes of somati-
cizing psychological oistress on the part of victims, it coulo also be seen in the tech-
niques of cruelty useo by the perpetrators of violence. Ferhaps the most vivio ex-
ample of this ouring the genocioe was the practice of impalement. Recalling Liisa
Malkki’s observation concerning the :q¸. violence against Hutu in Burunoi, Rwan-
oan Tutsi men in :qq¡ were also impaleo from anus to mouth with woooen or bam-
boo poles ano metal spears. Tutsi women were often impaleo from vagina to mouth.
Although none of the refugees that I intervieweo in Nairobi spoke of having wit-
nesseo impalement, it was reporteo in Kenyan newspapers that I reao ouring the
summer of :qq¡. More recently it has been citeo in an African Rights report entitleo
“Rwanoa: Killing the Evioence” as a means by which perpetrators of the genocioe
still living on Rwanoan soil terrorize surviving witnesses ,Omaar ano oe Waal :qq6,.
Ior example, the report cites the case of a certain Makasi, a resioent of the Kicukiro
suburb of Kigali, who, several months after the genocioe, founo a leaflet shoveo un-
oer his ooor threatening his life ano that of several others: “You, Makasi are going
to oie no matter what. Ano it will not only be you. It will be Bylingiro as well. Let
your wife know that she will be killeo with a pole which will run from her legs right
up to her mouth. As for Charles’ wife, her legs ano arms will be cut off” ,ibio.::¸,.
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .ó¡
Even before the genocioe, impalement was occasionally oepicteo in the popu-
lar Rwanoan literature of Hutu extremism as one of the preferreo means of tor-
ture useo by the RFI ano other Tutsi to oispatch their Hutu victims. Notice that
in the cartoon oepicting Melchior Noaoaye’s oeath, in aooition to impalement there
are two other aspects that also require analysis: castration ano crucifixion.
explaineo above, one of the royal rituals involveo aoorning the royal orum,
Karinga, with the genitals of slain enemies. That is what is oepicteo in this scene,
as the captions show:
Ar orloolct: “Kill this stupio Hutu ano after you cut off his genitals, hang
them on our orum.”
^oooo,c: “Kill me, but you won’t exterminate all the Noaoayes in Burunoi.”
Iogomc ;ptomtrcrt RPF gcrctol, ro.
ptc·tocrt oro ocfcr·c mtrt·tct of R.oroo):
“Kill him quickly. Don’t you know that in Byumba ano Ruhen-
geri we oio a lot of work. With women, we pulleo the babies out
of their wombs, with men, we oasheo out their eyes.”
Tlc otom: “Karinga of Burunoi.”
There is perhaps no other pictorial image in the annals of Rwanoan Hutu extremism
in which so much violent imagery is conoenseo. At one level we see a clear reference
to the often repeateo charge of Hutu extremists that the RFI were “feuoo-monar-
chists” intent upon restoring the king ano the royal rituals, incluoing the monarchy’s
principal emblem—the orum nameo Karinga. Another ioeological claim is aovanceo
in oepicting Hutu victims of the RFI as Christlike martyrs, for Noaoaye is not just im-
paleo, he is also crucifieo. Yet at another level a complex synthesis has been forgeo.
Specifically Rwanoan symbols with oeep historical ano ontological roots have mergeo
with those that are the more recent proouct of Christian evangelization.
In precolonial ano early colonial times, Rwanoans impaleo cattle thieves. The
executioners inserteo a woooen stake into the thief ’s anus ano then pusheo it
through the booy, causing it to exit at the neck or the mouth. The pole with its ag-
onizing charge was then erecteo, stuck into the earth, ano left stanoing for several
oays. Dramatically gruesome ano public, this punishment carrieo a clear ano ob-
vious normative message intenoeo to oeter cattle thievery. In a more subtle way,
the message can be interpreteo symbolically. Because cattle exchanges accompany,
legitimize, ano commemorate the most significant social transitions ano relation-
ships, most notably patron-client relations, blooo brotherhooo, ano marriage, ob-
viating the possibility of such exchanges or subverting those that have alreaoy oc-
curreo by stealing cattle removes all tangible mnemonic evioence of the attenoant
social relationships. Diverting socially appropriate flows of cattle by means of thiev-
ery is a way of gusiba inzira, or “blocking the path,” between inoiviouals ano groups
uniteo through matrimonial alliance, blooo brotherhooo, or patron-client ties. It
.óó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
Iigure 6.:. L’assassinat oe Noaoaye. ,Cartoon from Chretien :qq¸:¸6¡–6¸.,
is symbolically appropriate, therefore, that people who obstruct the conouits of
social exchange have the conouit that is the booy obstructeo with a pole or spear.
Quite obviously, between the precolonial ano early colonial times, when Rwan-
oan executioners impaleo cattle thieves, ano :qq¡, when genocioal muroerers im-
paleo Tutsi men ano women, many things have changeo. The more recent victims
of the practice were clearly not cattle thieves. Were they in some sense like cattle
thieves in the minos of those committing the atrocities? My feeling is that they were,
although the more recent terms useo in Hutu extremist oiscourse to oescribe Tutsi
only occasionally make reference to the actual actions of which they might be guilty,
such as theft. Insteao, “Tutsi are invaoers from Ethiopia,” “cockroaches,” “eaters
of our sweat,” or “weight upon our back.” The Tutsi, much like the archetypal aga-
keecuru oiscusseo above, exert their malevolent influence on the social group not
so much by what they oo as by inherent qualities that they supposeoly embooy. In
that sense they approach being “blocking beings,” the mythical nemeses of Rwan-
oan traoition—the agakeecuru, impenebere, or impa—ano like those figures they
possess fearful powers. In this case they were obstructors of the cosmic unity of
the nation as that unity was imagineo by the Hutu extremist elite: a purifieo na-
tion with a purifieo, reifieo “Hutu culture” expungeo of all elements of “Tutsi cul-
ture” ano rio of all who woulo resist the encompassing powers of the state. The
torturers not only killeo their victims, they transformeo their booies into powerful
signs that resonateo with a Rwanoan habitus even as they improviseo upon it ano
enlargeo the original semantic oomain of associateo meanings to oepict an entire
ethnic group as enemies of the Hutu state.
Among other violence reporteo ouring the Rwanoan genocioe, there were frequent
instances of emasculation of Tutsi males, even those too young to reproouce. Attack-
ers also slasheo off the breasts of Tutsi women. These techniques of cruelty hao also
been employeo ouring earlier perioos of Rwanoan history. Both emasculation ano
breast oblation manifest a preoccupation with the reproouctive system, ano specifi-
cally with parts of the booy that proouce fertility fluios. In both cases, the symbolic
function interoigitates with ano reinforces the pragmatic function, but the symbolic
function cannot simply be reouceo to the pragmatic one of oestroying the future ca-
pacity of a group to reproouce. The torturers were assaulting specific ano oiverse hu-
man subjects as well as attacking a group’s capacity to reproouce. In oroer to convince
themselves that they were riooing the polity of a categorical enemy ano not just as-
saulting specific inoiviouals, they first hao to transform their victims’ booies into the
equivalent of “blockeo beings.” A logic, a posteriori, was operative: reclassify through
violence booies that oo not, a priori, manifest the imagineo inaoequacy. Reconfigure
specific booies through torture so that they become the categorical abomination.
In other instances Tutsi women were taken captive ano repeateoly rapeo by RGI
soloiers or Interahamwe militia members before being killeo.
Some Tutsi women
.ó8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
were referreo to as “wives” by their rapists, who kept them as sexual slaves ano even
brought them into the refugee camps in Zaire after the RGI was oefeateo. Among
Tutsi women who escapeo their captors, many became pregnant ano then subse-
quently sought abortions in Catholic Rwanoa, where abortion is illegal. Tooay in
Rwanoa there are many chiloren who are the prooucts of these rapes. In many
cases these chiloren have been rejecteo by their mothers ano are now in orphan-
ages run by international relief organizations ,Boutros-Ghali :qq6:6¸,.
There were also cases of forcing aoult Tutsi to commit incest with one of their
chiloren before killing them ,ibio.,. Here the image of misoirecteo flows is quite clear,
for incest causes blooo ano semen to flow backwaro upon one another in a closeo
circuit within the family rather than in an open circuit between families. Not only
were the victims brutalizeo ano oehumanizeo by this treatment but, in aooition,
their booies were transformeo into icons of asociality, for incest constitutes the pre-
emption of any possible alliance or exchange relation that might have resulteo from
the union of one’s son or oaughter with the son or oaughter of another family.
Not all of the violence or the metaphors associateo with it that occurreo ouring the
genocioe followeo the symbolic patterns that I have outlineo above. Many of the
explicit metaphors useo by promoters of the violence actually show little overt re-
lation to this symbolism. I oo not see this as problematic, there were many levels
to the genocioe, some quite conscious, others less so.
Ior example, the killers’ frequently maoe reference to the violence as olo¸t loco,
or “our work.” In my opinion, this reference aooresseo more the killers’ psycho-
logical oiscomfort with their unenviable social conoition of un- ano unoerem-
ployment rather than any implicit aspect of Rwanoan habitus. Just by becoming
an Interahamwe ano executing Tutsi, one coulo elevate oneself to the status of state
employee. One coulo even expect eventual compensation from the state for one’s
services, ano inoeeo that was sometimes given ano much more frequently prom-
iseo. In aooition, the genocioiaires frequently employeo horticultural imagery. Hutu
citizens were instructeo to cut the “tall trees” oown to size, an inoirect but easily
unoerstooo reference to the physiognomic stereotype of Tutsi height. In other cases
the nation-state became a garoen, as Hutu extremists calleo upon their followers
to clear away the “weeos.” Iollowing this metaphor, promoters exhorteo their fol-
lowers to remove both the “tall weeos” ,aoults, ano the “shoots” ,chiloren,.
The symbolization of Tutsi malevolence also orew upon other cultural sources.
Some of the Hutu extremist theories, for example, show the probable influence of
Nazi theories. Was this a coincioence, or was it a conscious appropriation of anti-
Semitic imagery? Ior example, the oiffering physiognomies of Hutu ano Tutsi were
saio to have moral implications, ano particular attention was paio to the nose. ,It
shoulo be recalleo that in Nazi Germany posters oepicteo various forms of the so-
calleo Jewish nose., One extremist theory that I hearo in Rwanoa maoe the claim
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .óç
that the oegree of human goooness that one possesseo was oirectly proportional
to the wioth of one’s nose. Hutu stereotypically have wioer noses than Tutsi.
In other instances the styles affecteo in the improviseo uniforms of the Inter-
hamwe militia, their gestures, ano booy language showeo the influence of James
Bono, Bruce Lee, Rambo, ano Arnolo Schwarzenegger films, all of which were
reaoily available ano popular in pregenocioe Rwanoa. Violence, it woulo appear,
has its fashions ano its styles, ano these are partly transnational in origin.
Although I believe that the imagery of flow ano obstruction was pervasive ouring
the genocioe, it woulo be wrong to concluoe from the above argument that Rwan-
oan culture is simply a mocltrc o ttopc· constantly replicating the same structures ano
hermetically sealeo off from all influences arising from within or beyono its bor-
oers. As Bouroieu ,:q¸¸, :qqo, maintains, people teno to reproouce the “structureo
ano structuring logic” of the habitus. Nevertheless, although oloer generations sub-
tly inculcate this logic to their juniors, the socialization process is never perfect or
complete. Transformeo objective circumstances always influence socialization. The
tenoency to reproouce a structureo logic thus shoulo not be seen as simple ano vo-
litionless replication. There is always improvisation ano innovation, even if many
of the basic patterns retain their saliency.
In the Rwanoan instance, colonialism ano concomitant transformations in eco-
nomic ano political conoitions influenceo the perception ano oepiction of evil. Be-
cause of these changes, the symbolism of malevolent obstruction coulo be applieo
to an entire ethnic group. This was a raoical oeparture from the past. During pre-
colonial times, the image of the menacing “blocking being” was confineo to a lim-
iteo number of inoiviouals. These incluoeo impa—women who hao reacheo chilo-
bearing age ano hao never menstruateo, impenebere—women who hao reacheo
chilobearing age ano hao not oevelopeo breasts, inoivioual enemies of the Rwan-
oan king, ano sorcerers. All these malevolent beings were mythically presageo in
the legeno about the agakeecuru ano the origin of Death. Occasionally, in the rit-
uals associateo with sacreo kingship, such inoiviouals were publicly sacrificeo to rio
the polity of their potentially nefarious influence.
It was not until Tutsi ano Hutu ethnic ioentities hao become substantializeo un-
oer colonialism, ano then privileges were awaroeo by the colonial rulers on the
basis of these ioentities, that an entire group of people coulo be thought of as a
source of obstruction to the polity as a whole. Tutsi coulo be easily assimilateo to
the category of “invaoers” because of their alliance with German, then Belgian,
outsioers ano the colonialists’ reliance on Hamitic theories. When Belgians quickly
shifteo their allegiance to Hutu in the late :q¸os, supporting the Hutu Revolution,
Tutsi were left to feno for themselves while retaining their substantializeo ioentity.
Tutsi assimilation to the imagery of malevolent others, “blockeo” or “blocking be-
.,o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
ings,” was facilitateo by the fact that a minority among them hao inoeeo been fa-
voreo socially ano economically unoer the colonial regime. Where once there hao
been a sacreo king whose actions were thought to ensure a religious ano material
reoistributive function—the oownwaro flow of celestial beneficence, wealth, ano
prosperity—unoer colonialism popular creoence in the ritual ano pragmatic func-
tions of kingship was unoermineo. In its place a privilegeo class of Tutsi, Tutsi ao-
ministrators in the colonial state apparatus, were perceiveo by other Rwanoans to
have become rich by subverting the reoistribution process, or, in a symbolic sense,
by impeoing the flow of imaana.
The :q¸q–6. revolution in Rwanoa was not anticolonial, Belgians were not en-
oangereo or forceo to flee the country, Tutsi were. Nor were Belgian economic
ano cultural interests seriously threateneo. Belgians continueo to enjoy privilegeo
status in Rwanoa until some time after :qqo, when Belgium withorew its military
support of the Habyarimana regime. The symbolism of obstruction is inoeeo pre-
colonial in origin, but its application to an entire group of people is a thoroughly
recent, mooern application reflecting transformeo consciousness of the polity ano
of the people composing it.
Secono, many of the actual ano symbolic forms of violence became syncretizeo
to Euro-American or transnational forms. This is apparent in the cartoon oepict-
ing Melchior Noaoaye’s oeath ano in other juxtapositions of transnational images
ano those of local vintage. Clearly, the violent imaginary looks for inspiration to
all possible sources. Accoroing to Jean-Fierre Chretien in Lc· mcoto· oo gcroctoc ,:qq¸,,
Nazi symbols were attributeo to the RFI by Hutu extremists. The Irench govern-
ment’s habit of referring to the RFI as “Khmers noirs” followeo in this pattern
ano echoeo their Hutu extremist allies. Nevertheless, it was Hutu extremists who
were more like Nazis ano Khmers Rouges in actual practice.
Methooological inoivioualists might very well object that atrocities occur in all vi-
olent conflicts, ano that they are at their worst in fratricioal oisputes ano civil wars.
The Rwanoan atrocities woulo then have followeo an instrumental logic baseo on
maximizing the number of enemies killeo, or maximizing the psychological effect
by the sheer horror of atrocity. Such an explanation might concur with what the
authors of the atrocities themselves claim was the reasoning behino their acts. Al-
though such an explanation is not inexact, it is incomplete. It cannot explain the
oepth of passion that clearly lay behino the Rwanoan violence, nor the fact that it
assumeo specific forms. But one type of logic to the cruelty ooes not precluoe all
others, pragmatism ano symbolism in a general way are not necessarily conflic-
tual ,cf. Sperber :q¸¸,. Killing one’s aoversaries while communicating powerful
messages about them ano oneself are not mutually exclusive. Fragmatic explana-
tions alone, however, cannot account for the sheer number of roaoblocks that
refugees reporteo to me that they hao encountereo. There was certainly a point of
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .,.
oiminishing returns where aooing new barriers was concerneo, ano it woulo ap-
pear that this point hao been more than surpasseo. Nor is impalement the only way
of making one’s victims enoure atrocious ano exemplary suffering. Does it make
sense to sever the Achilles tenoons of those who have very little chance of running
away? Does it make sense to castrate prepubescent boys? Does it make sense to
cut the leg tenoons of cattle rather than killing them outright?
This is where instrumental logic alone ooes not fully explain the Rwanoan vio-
lence. The forms of the violence encountereo here were enracinateo in Rwanoan
ways of booily experience ano booily preoispositions lurking beneath the level of
verbalization ano calculation. Although these preoispositions were political in the
sense that they influenceo thought ano action where power was concerneo, they
were certainly not political in the oroinary sense of symbols consciously useo by
one group to aovance its claims in opposition to another group ano its symbols.
This symbolism was logically prior to its instantiation in a political form ano not
the other way arouno.
Moreover, the use of the symbolism was ultimately contraoictory. The power of
the sacreo king in precolonial ano early colonial times emanateo as much from his
capacity to interoict flows as well as to catalyze them, but he was usually oepicteo
as a “flowing being” rather than a “blocking” one, even to the point of being rep-
resenteo as a lactating male. Similarly, it maoe symbolic sense ouring the :qq¡ vio-
lence to make the claim of power—when power was no longer clearly oefineo, no
longer in the hanos of a single hierarchical authority, when power was oiffuse ano
in the streets—by eliminating all who woulo subvert the encompassing oroer of the
Rwanoan state. This entaileo obstructing the obstructors, sacrificing the malevolent
“blocking beings” in the nation’s miost, as these latter representeo both potential
pathology to inoiviouals ano a threat to collective oroer. Sacrifice took the form of
interoicting the flight of Tutsi, obstructing the conouits of their booies, impeoing
their booies’ capacity for movement, subverting the ability of Tutsi to reproouce
socially or biologically, ano in some instances turning their booies into icons of their
imagineo moral flaw—obstruction. Yet it leo the muroerers into a paraoox: in or-
oer to parry the imagineo obstructor, they were forceo to obstruct.
Irom a purely pragmatic viewpoint, one might object that the imagery of ob-
struction ano its relation to power are quite general, even transcultural. A petty bu-
reaucrat manifests his power over petitioning citizens by impeoing the passage of
papers ano forms through the aoministrative conouits. But the same argument can
be maoe for many, if not most, other symbols. Many symbolic forms are univer-
sal. Nevertheless, the universality of “image schemata” ooes not really oetract from
the assertion that the Rwanoan violence shoulo be unoerstooo in terms of its cul-
tural specificity, for the question that really shoulo be askeo is not whether a cer-
tain symbolic image is transcultural or specific, but what oegree of elaboration ano
use a specific group makes of the image. That Rwanoans make extensive use of
“flow/blockage” imagery in relation to the booy seems clear from a stuoy of pop-
ular meoicine. That these images woulo reappear in the context of the genocioe
.,: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
makes sense in light of Kafka’s Tlc Pcrol Color, ano the comments of Fierre Clas-
tres, for it is the human booy that serves as the ultimate tablet upon which the oic-
tates of the state are inscribeo.
The Rwanoan genocioe was certainly about power, but not all aspects of power
are of the same nature. Although most of the events leaoing up to ano ouring the
genocioe involve power in their overt ioeological manifestation, something that was
openly oiscusseo ano contesteo, there were other potencies at work, those that social
actors ouring the genocioe possesseo less conscious awareness of. These potencies were
not of the kino that competing factions coulo argue about or reaoily explicate. On
the contrary, it is likely that many people in this conflict, whether they were Intera-
hamwe extremists or RFI soloiers, whether they were Hutu or Tutsi, shareo a simi-
lar habitus ano at least some of the same ontological preoispositions. That is also why
many Burunoian forms of violence perpetrateo by Tutsi against Hutu in :q¸. resem-
ble Rwanoan forms perpetrateo by Hutu against Tutsi in :qq¡. It is also why Hutu
extremists oepicteo forms of violence that Hutu woulo presumably suffer at the hanos
of Tutsi “feuoo-monarchists,” but yet actually representeo what Hutu extremists en-
visioneo ooing to Tutsi. As for the representations themselves, these were not Hutu
symbols any more than they were Tutsi symbols. This was a system of representa-
tions that permitteo Rwanoans to cognize potencies of oiverse sorts, potencies that in-
cluoe political power but yet are not confineo to it. The symbols that lie at the core of
Rwanoan culture cannot be reouceo to simple surrogates for political action ano strug-
gle, they must be examineo on their own right. Nor shoulo these symbols be seen as
antagonistic to human agency, for in many ways they were constitutive of it.
:. Before the genocioe, Rwanoa’s population numbereo in excess of seven million peo-
ple. Approximately 8o to 8¸ percent of that population was Hutu, :¸ to .o percent Tutsi,
ano less than : percent Twa. As many as 8o percent of the pregenocioe Tutsi population
may have oieo in the violence.
.. “Kafka oesigne ici le corps comme surface o’ecriture, comme surface apte a recevoir
le texte lisible oe la loi” ,Clastres :q¸¡::¸¸,.
¸. “Le corps meoiatise l’acquisition o’un savoir, ce savoir s’inscrit sur le corps” ,ibio.::¸¡,.
¡. “|La| societe imprime sa marque sur le corps oes jeunes gens. . . . La marque est un
obstacle a l’oubli, le corps lui-meme porte imprimees sur soi les traces o’un souvenir, lc cotp·
c·t orc mcmottc” ,ibio.::¸¸,.
¸. Kapferer is cognizant of the criticism often leveleo at Dumont’s scheme as reminis-
cent of unilineal evolutionism with its accompanying oichotomization of traoition ano
mooernity. Kapferer responos by explaining that both egalitarian ano hierarchical forms are
equally mooern, but that the contrast is justifieo in that the two incorporate oifferent no-
tions of the state, nation, society, ano the person. “In Ioucault’s sense the two ioeologies ar-
ticulate rather oifferent oiscursive ‘technologies of power’ ” ,Kapferer :q8q::6¸,.
6. Ubuhake is the name of the patron-client arrangement that emblematically charac-
terizeo Tutsi/Hutu relations ouring the colonial era. In this arrangement a Tutsi patron
+nr nv\xn\x orxocinr or :qq¡ .,¸
,omo·lc/o¡o, woulo give a cow to a Hutu client ,omogotogo, in exchange for the latter’s occa-
sional services in labor. All female offspring of the cow were to be returneo to the Tutsi pa-
tron, but the Hutu client coulo keep all male calves. Ferceiveo as exploitative by many Hutu,
the arrangement was proscribeo in the wake of the Hutu Revolution.
¸. Interahamwe means “those who attack together.” Most Rwanoan political parties hao
youth wings, ano for the MRND Farty, theirs was the Interahamwe. Recruiteo largely from
among un- or unoeremployeo young males who hao orifteo into Rwanoan cities, the Inter-
ahamwe receiveo political ano arms training from MRND party officials, Rwanoan govern-
ment soloiers, ano possibly also from Irench military aovisors. Virtually every urban neigh-
borhooo possesseo at least one Interahamwe member, ano in the rural areas, every hillsioe.
They aioeo the pregenocioal apparatus in keeping regularly upoateo lists of all Rwanoan op-
position party members ano all Tutsis. Before the outbreak of wholesale massacres, the In-
terahamwe intimioateo people on their lists with actual or threateneo violence ano extorteo
“protection” money from them. Even before the genocioe, Interahamwe were occasionally
given the authorization to set up roaoblocks ano to rob, beat, ano sometimes kill the people
they trappeo, or to steal or oamage their vehicles. During the genocioe Interahamwe weapons
of choice were the machete, the nail-stuooeo woooen club, ano the grenaoe.
8. This opposition is certainly not the only one that characterizes Rwanoan popular
meoicine, there are others, such as purity vs. pollution, hot vs. colo, ano wet vs. ory. How-
ever, the flow/blockage opposition appears to be the oominant one in healing ano may be
oominant as well in other oomains of Rwanoan symbolic thought. Its analysis has never-
theless been neglecteo in the earlier ethnographic writing on Rwanoa.
q. Irancoise Heritier’s work among the Ivory Coast Samo is quite germane here. Her
work aooresses some of the same concerns that I encountereo in Rwanoa: female sterility,
amenorrhea, analogies between human booily states ano natural phenomena such as ario-
ity ano orought. While her work emphasizes the opposition between “hot” ano “colo,” that
ooes not precluoe other oppositions, such as “flow” vs. “blockage.” Similar overall concerns
are likely to be encountereo elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa but with varying symbolic ex-
pressions. While among the Samo the hot/colo opposition may be the oominant metaphor,
among Rwanoans ano others in central Africa ,cf. De Mahieu, Devisch, the flow/blockage
opposition may be oominant.
:o. The oistinction between witchcraft ano sorcery is not applicable in Rwanoa. The
Kinyarwanoa verb lotogo refers to the introouction of poisons or other harmful substances
into a victim’s fooo or orink, or to the performance of ritual actions intenoeo to harm an-
other person.
::. Many rural Rwanoans say that conception is most likely to occur after both part-
ners have hao orgasm. Moreover, the ioeal, local form of making love, calleo lor,o¸o, which
means “to make urinate,” requires that the woman have profuse vaginal secretions ouring
:.. The Nyabarongo River eventually joins the Akagera River, which forms Rwanoa’s
eastern bounoary with Tanzania. The Akagera then empties into Lake Victoria, which is
where the Nile River begins. In :qq¡ Rwanoa’s rivers serveo as oisposal points for thousanos
of booies that then began to collect on the shores of Lake Victoria, creating a health haz-
aro. The importance of these rivers ouring the genocioe in an ioeological ano symbolic sense
will be oiscusseo below.
:¸. Mystical harm in Rwanoa is never an innate, congenital potentiality as it is among
some African peoples ,cf., E. E. Evans-Fritcharo, 1ttclctoft . . . omorg tlc A¸oroc,, insteao it is
.,¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
always what Evans-Fritcharo has termeo “sorcery,” involving the ioea of the ingestion of
harmful substances ,even when no substances may have actually been ingesteo by the vic-
tim,. “Les Rwanoais sont obséoés par les effets néfastes oe l’alimentation qui exige mille pré-
cautions, o’autant plus que la sorcellerie est toujours conçue comme un empoisonnement”
,Smith :q¸¸::¸¸,. ,Rwanoans are obsesseo by the possible harmful effects of eating, which
oemanos the observation of a thousano precautions, even more so because sorcery is always
conceiveo of as poisoning.,
:¡. It is interesting to note that among the news ano political magazines that came into
existence in the :qqos, there was one calleo I·t/o. Folitically speaking, I·t/o was an opposition
magazine representing the viewpoint of southern ano central Hutu allieo to the Twagira-
mungu faction of the MDR ano opposeo to the MRND ano the Habyarimana regime
,Chretien :qq¸:¸8¸,. Although I have been unable to oetermine the significance of the mag-
azine’s title to its promoters ano reaoers, it ooes seem to inoicate that the term t·t/o retains
cultural ano political significance in the mooern context ano possesses associations that go
beyono that of sacreo kingship.
:¸. During the several oays that Irench troops controlleo the center, this man hao occa-
sion to speak with the center’s oirector twice on the phone. When he explaineo that he ano
other Rwanoan employees marooneo at the center hao nothing to eat, she suggesteo that they
take the plantains from trees growing on the center’s grounos. ,None of the plantain trees
were bearing fruit at the time., When he expresseo his anxiety about the unwillingness of the
Irench troops to evacuate him ano others, she tolo him that maybe the RFI woulo rescue
them. ,The RFI oio not take this section of Kigali until almost two months later.,
:6. Melchior Noaoaye was Burunoi’s first oemocratically electeo presioent ano first Hutu
presioent. Electeo in June of :qq¸, Noaoaye was taken prisoner in late October ano then mur-
oereo ,though not by impalement, by Burunoian Tutsi army officers in a coup attempt. Al-
most universally conoemneo by other nations, the coup eventually faileo, but not before it
hao provokeo reprisal killings in which thousanos of Tutsi civilians oieo ano counterreprisal
violence in which thousanos of Hutu were killeo. The coup ano Noaoaye’s oeath serveo the
cause of Hutu extremism in Rwanoa quite well, ano extremists lost no time in exploiting it.
Unfortunately the extremists’ point that the Tutsi coulo never be trusteo as partners in a
oemocracy gaineo enormous creoibility in Rwanoa in the wake of Noaoaye’s tragic oeath.
:¸. Violence against women also characterizeo another recent fratricioal conflict where
genocioal acts occurreo—Bosnia. While the logic of violence against Tutsi women in
Rwanoa appears to have been motivateo largely by Hutu extremist fear of interethnic mar-
riages ,cf. Taylor :qqq,, there was an aooitional logic in Bosnia, though it too was of a cul-
tural nature. Among Meoiterranean societies characterizeo by strong notions of “honor”
,cf. Fitt-Rivers :q¸¸,, much is investeo in the perceiveo sexual purity of a group’s women.
Rape, as long as it is unavengeo, is not just an act that violates an inoivioual, it is an act that
subverts the honor of a family.
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———. :q8q. “Nationalist Ioeologies ano a Comparative Anthropology.” Etlro·
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Corootor }ootrol of Afttcor Stootc· .¡,.,:.¸¸–¡8.
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———. :q¸¸. Clotcl oro Rccolottor tr R.oroo. Manchester: Manchester University Fress.
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.,8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
Dance, Music, ano the Nature of
Terror in Democratic Kampuchea
Tort Sloptto-Pltm
On a woooen platform in front of hunoreos of weak, emaciateo people, oancers
oresseo in loose tops ano trousers, checkereo scarves arouno their necks or waists,
oark caps on their heaos, ano rubber tire sanoals on their feet, stano in formation.
Armeo Khmer Rouge soloiers patrol arouno the silent auoience. The oancers then
proceeo to march—walking in unison, arms swinging in rhythm with their legs—
in choreographeo linear ano circular patterns. Woooen guns in hano, the per-
formers oance to a song that makes explicit reference to Arglot, the Khmer Rouge
revolutionary organization:
We are young men ano women
protecting the coast.
Chiloren of the people of Kampuchea
receiving new tasks of great importance
to protect the integrity of our great country . . .
However much the rain falls, the waves roll, the wino blows,
Together we follow Angkar’s tasks forever.
We love our Angkar, homelano ano people,
along with the cooperative that makes our proouce plentiful.
Such woulo have constituteo part of a typical performance of revolutionary song
ano oance in Democratic Kampuchea, the official name of the Khmer Rouge rev-
olutionary regime ,:q¸¸–¸q,
heaoeo by Fol Fot.
In what follows I will oiscuss the conjunction of aesthetic practice with terror
unoer the Khmer Rouge, viewing terror as both strategy ano effect. Looking at
oance ano music as they were incorporateo into the Khmer Rouge’s exercise of
power, I hope to sheo light on one aspect of the nature of their evil. I am referring
to what Michael Taussig has calleo, regaroing the situation in Colombia, the “sin-
ister quality |that| oepenos on the strategic use of uncertainty ano mystery”
,:qq.::6,, which, at the receiving eno, resembles the terror experienceo by many
Cambooians unoer Khmer Rouge rule.
Khmer Rouge leaoers recognizeo the signifying power of songs ano oances.
They createo ano organizeo public oisplays of revolutionary songs ano oances
through which they attempteo to oefine reality ano inooctrinate accoroingly.
Meanwhile, they forbaoe the practice of oance as Cambooians hao known it ,in
all its variety, ano alloweo no performance of prerevolutionary popular, folk, or
ritual songs.
Iollowing a brief overview of Fol Fot’s regime, I will talk about the
new songs ano oances, ano then move on to stories that turn our unoerstanoing
of officially sanctioneo art ouring those years on its heao. Viewing both corpo-
real ano musical expression as loci of meaning-making, I aim to show how an ex-
amination of them as aesthetic practices may beclouo the picture of state terror.
Dance ano music contributeo to the fear-inspiring effects of Khmer Rouge rule,
not only through the literal messages of hatreo ano violence in some revolution-
ary pieces but also through the inconsistency of responses to nonrevolutionary
arts, evioence of a capriciousness that many informants reveal was unbearable.
Scholars ano survivors have oocumenteo the horrors experienceo by the country
ano people of Cambooia in the :q¸os.
As the oecaoe oawneo, civil war along with
spillover from the conflict in neighboring Vietnam resulteo in the oeaths of hun-
oreos of thousanos of people, the uprooting of millions, ano the oestruction of vast
amounts of arable lano. When the war enoeo in :q¸¸ with the Khmer Rouge oe-
feat of the Khmer Republic heaoeo by Lon Nol, many welcomeo what they
thought woulo be an era of peace ano rebuiloing. Insteao, Democratic Kampuchea
unleasheo unfathomable suffering upon the populace as the upheaval ano oe-
struction continueo, but on an unpreceoenteo scale.
The revolution’s leaoership, known by the appellation of Angkar, or “organi-
zation,” strove to be the sole focus of people’s loyalties. Folicies of mass relocation
ano family separation tore people from their communities. Religious worship, mar-
kets, ano free association were banneo. Constant surveillance was the norm for
the masses in this “great leap”
towaro a self-reliant, agrarian, socialist state. The
populace was oivioeo into two main categories: the “olo” or “base” peasantry,
which hao been unoer Khmer Rouge rule in its liberateo zones prior to :q¸¸, ano
the “new” or “April :¸th” people, who hao liveo in towns or villages unoer the con-
trol of the Khmer Republic.
Some “base” people helo positions of local author-
ity, while the “new” people were often subject to much more oeprivation ano ha-
rassment than the others. Iorceo haro labor, lack of access to mooern meoicine
ano aoequate fooo, ano brutal punishment leo to the oeath of close to two million
.8o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
people ,almost a quarter of the population,.
The victims oieo from overwork, star-
vation, oisease, torture, ano execution, in just unoer four years of Angkar rule.
Fossessing the power to capture imaginations ano emotions, ano thus to “trans-
port” people to other times ano places, oance ano music are sensually ano socially
impassioneo. Dance ano music are integral components of spiritual life ano rites
of passage, ano popular forms of entertainment for people the worlo over. In Cam-
booia, that is true as well.
As symbols of ioentity, they are particularly compelling,
social bounoaries are often manipulateo in the practice of performance.
In Democratic Kampuchea, oances ano songs became instruments of battle,
useo to implicate enemies in the context of an ongoing struggle. A Khmer Rouge
notebook from the :q¸os, containing what appear to be notes from political eou-
cation sessions, lists “Contemporary Frinciples of Cultural Folitics.” These incluoe
the notion that “every kino of art proouction among the masses is intenoeo to wipe
out the enemy’s art,s, ano to builo new art,s, |ano to| serve the people’s war
,·orglttcm ptoctccor, to the extent possible.”
Excerpts from an example of this new
art, “The Reo Ilag” song, follow:
Glittering reo blooo blankets the earth—blooo given up to liberate the people . . .
The blooo swirls away, ano flows upwaro, gently into the sky,
turning into a reo revolutionary flag.
Reo flag! reo flag! flying now! flying now!
O beloveo frienos, pursue, strike ano hit the enemy.
Reo flag! reo flag! flying now! flying now!
Don’t spare a single reactionary imperialist: orive them from Kampuchea.
Strive ano strike, strive ano strike, ano win the victory, win the victory.
,cn\xnrrn, kirnx\x, \xn rix :q8.:¸.6,
An examination of songs must take into account limits placeo on style ano con-
tent ,ano transgressions of such,, along with response by listeners. Unoerstanoings
of ethnic, social, ano political ioentities are enacteo through music ano song, ano
their reception ,Raoano ano Bohlman .ooo,.
One person recalls that “|singing ano listening to their songs| was the most effec-
tive tool of inooctrination. You starteo to believe in it” ,interview citeo in Um :qq8::¡8,.
At the worksite, in the communal eating hall, even while packeo in trucks ouring a re-
location, people were force-feo songs extolling the virtues of Angkar ano the new Cam-
booia. Flayeo on transistor raoios, blareo over louospeakers, ano even sung by the
workers, as expresseo in a novel: “This was one of the Angkar’s ways of killing us since
it maoe our imaginations oie by causing them to shrivel ano run ory” ,Oum :qq¸:.8,.
It was particularly important to Angkar that chiloren starteo to believe what the
faceless yet omnipresent Angkar was telling them. Ben Kiernan has noteo that
+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .8.
“|Democratic Kampuchea| coulo not trust those outsioe of its creation or control”
,:qq6:¡,. Chiloren—“pure,” clean slates in the eyes of the Khmer Rouge leaoer-
ship—were perceiveo to be pivotal in builoing, enforcing, ano continuing the rev-
olution, as they coulo ,potentially, be moloeo to fit the vision of a new society. There
was an entire repertoire of songs composeo for ano taught specifically to chiloren,
songs that revealeo not only the Khmer Rouge conceptions of their revolution but
also the place of chiloren in it.
During the Khmer Rouge regime, both attituoes towaro ano expectations of
young people were upturneo, factors that contributeo greatly to the oestabiliz-
ing of the general population. Whereas Cambooian chiloren hao always been
trusteo to be oeferential to their eloers, unoer the Khmer Rouge it was often
they who gave oroers ano meteo out punishment to people two ano three times
their age. Ano whereas ,biological, family hao been so key in people’s lives in
terms of ioentity ano loyalty, Angkar strove to take the place of parents ano
siblings. What oel Fino H. has saio about Feruvian communities unoer Shining
Fath control holos true for Democratic Kampuchea: “|R|evolutionary values
were to rule over affective ties, traoitional family relations, ano oaily life”
Songs were instrumental in the process of creating ano raising
Angkar’s ,young, revolutionaries.
Lyrics from the song “Chiloren of the New Kampuchea,” founo in a Demo-
cratic Kampuchea songbook, proclaim the battle-reaoiness of the boys ano girls
ano their gratituoe to be guioeo by the revolution. Here are excerpts:
We the chiloren have the gooo fortune
to live the rest of our time in precious harmony
unoer the affectionate care
of the Kampuchean revolution, immense, most clear ano shining.
We the chiloren of the revolution
make the supreme resolution to strive
to increase our ability to battle,
ano to make the stano of the revolution perfect.
,x\ns+ox :qq¡:::o–::,
Workers, young ano olo, often formeo the auoience for performances of revo-
lutionary art troupes, as part of a celebration of the anniversary of the Khmer
Rouge victory or in connection with other large meetings. There were, as well, sep-
arate performances explicitly for Khmer Rouge caores, foreign visitors, or resioents
of Fhnom Fenh. Someth May ,:q86::¸¸, recalls that after completion of a oam, a
performing group entertaineo the workers. Of the performers, he writes:
They sang of our love for the Angkar—it was as wioe as the sea, it hao no bounoary.
We were masters of our work. There was no more exploitation. We coulo oo what-
ever we wanteo. The canals were the veins of the Angkar.
We were no longer re-
liant upon rain. We coulo proouce as much rice as we wanteo.
.8: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
They sang to the workers who hao surviveo. Hunoreos hao oieo while laboring
on the project. This is one example of how “the official voice can so strikingly con-
traoict reality ano by means of such contraoiction create fear” ,Taussig :qq.:¸o,.
After a twelve-hour oay at a labor site, a work brigaoe might be marcheo, some-
times several kilometers, to a political gathering ano requireo to listen to speeches
ano songs, ano to watch the oances. Many were too exhausteo—ano too uninter-
esteo—to watch. But, saio a woman who was a little girl at the time, “We woulo
be punisheo if we oion’t pay attention. Many of us learneo to sleep with our eyes
open” ,personal interview, :qq.,.
In aooition to being instruments of battle, oances, in their enactment, also moo-
eleo ioeal revolutionary behavior ano attituoes. The efficacy of their kinesthetic
statements stemmeo in part from the formulaic pattern harnesseo as a means of
eoucating ano militarizing the populace in booy ano social space, thereby at-
tempting to oiscipline both.
In oance, the cultural significance of “the training ano oeployment of booies”
is far reaching ano incluoes “what it can tell us about the range of allowable rep-
resentations of the booy in motion ano the policing of booily form in a specific
time ano place” ,Koritz :qq6:q:,. The booy, as the “tangible frame of selfhooo in
inoivioual ano collective experience” ,Comaroff :q8¸:6,, possesses both “material-
ity ano . . . forces” ,Ioucault :q¸q:.6,, which can be manipulateo by power relations
that “invest |the booy|, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to
perform ceremonies, to emit signs” ,ibio.:.¸,. But that very materiality ano those
very forces, through the booily oiscourse of oance, can also actuate a creation of
meanings inoepenoent of the intentions of the powers that be, as we shall see.
When the lyrics in oance songs referreo to the glories of agricultural work, the
oancers carrieo, for example, hoes ano shovels, when the woros praiseo inoustrial
oevelopment, they wieloeo wrenches or other appropriate instruments. Lyrics asioe,
performers mooeleo ioeal revolutionaries through their militaristic oemeanor with
backs helo straight ano faces oevoio of emotion ano, as was often the case, by car-
rying a real gun slung over one shouloer. They also mooeleo this through a lack of
pronounceo genoer oifferentiation in gesture, although there were exceptions, ano
in oress, though women sometimes performeo in a ·ompot ,a long, straight skirt,.
Stageo “folk oances” meant to represent peasant lives ano activities hao been
createo by professional artists in Fhnom Fenh in the :q6os ano :q¸os, ano they be-
came very popular across Cambooia. Opposition of the sexes, incluoing flirtation,
is a central motif of many of these, a theme rarely invokeo in the Democratic Kam-
puchea–era creations. The comic elements of some of these theatrical folk oances
are also absent in revolutionary pieces.
Yet there was some variation in the revolutionary formula. A woman tells of being
brought to a fielo nightly for almost a week in :q¸6, along with all the other teenagers
in her area of Battambang province ,personal interview, .ooo,. There she ano the other
“new” youth stooo ano watcheo as the “base” chiloren performeo a song about the
work of a blacksmith. The boys who were performing remaineo in place, moving their
+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .8¡
arms ano hanos in imitation of the pumping of a bellows ano the hammering on an
anvil. The girls, in a separate corner, enacteo the fluio, circular motion of reaching for
ano cutting rice stalks with the scythes just fashioneo by the blacksmiths. The girls
ano boys oisplayeo oistinct, yet complementary, spheres of work ,ano movement,. All
present, incluoing those gathereo to watch, were instructeo to sing the lyrics that re-
proouceo the swoosh of the bellows ano the clanging of the anvil.
Many performers of revolutionary oances were of the “base” or “olo” peas-
antry, those the Khmer Rouge most trusteo. But some “new” youth were recruiteo
as well. Recalls one, “I took the job because they oion’t cut rations for oancers if
we were sick. Regular workers starveo if they coulon’t complete their tasks” ,per-
sonal interview, :qq¸,. Many were also soloiers who spent their time, when not per-
forming, transporting supplies ano attenoing eoucational or political inooctrina-
tion sessions. They hearo repeateoly that anyone who expresseo oistrust in or
oisloyalty to Angkar, even a member of one’s own family, was a traitor, an enemy
in neeo of elimination. Embooying the unoerstanoing of such teachings, the per-
formers were being eoucateo to hate, ano, in that aim, to oance.
Official speeches, as well as performances of the songs ano oances, inculcateo
the notion that the entire population was an army engageo in combat with the el-
ements—rain, the earth—ano with human foes. Inoeeo, much of the way the leao-
ership aoministereo the country “appeareo |to be| a oirect continuation of . . . meth-
oos . . . employeo in war” ,Um :qq8::¡., see also Marston :qq¡,. Haing Ngor wrote
in his autobiography that at the conclusion of one performance, oancers pounoeo
their chests with clencheo fists ano repeateoly shouteo at the top of their lungs:
“Blooo Avenges Blooo.” On the woro occrgc· they
stuck their arms out straight like a Nazi salute, except with a closeo fist insteao of an
open hano. . . . They shouteo other revolutionary slogans ano gave the salutes ano
finally enoeo with “Long live the Cambooian revolution!” It was a oramatic perfor-
mance, ano it left us scareo. . . . Blooo avenges blooo. You kill us, we kill you. We . . .
hao been on the other sioe of the Khmer Rouge in the civil war . . . they were going
to take revenge. ,:q8¸::¡o–¡:,
The enmity towaro perceiveo/accuseo traitors workeo through the booy by
means of reounoant brusque gestural ano verbal pronouncements evocative of bat-
tle, ano even of killing, reinforcing oivisions between people ano instilling fear. Such
staging of Angkar’s vision of the booy politic at once separateo “base” from “new,”
while creating an illusion of unity, just as Manning ,:qq¸::q¸, notes about some
Nazi spectacles involving oance, by “seemingly incluo|ing| all, performers ano spec-
tators alike,” in the event.
While state-sanctioneo practices, examineo above, offer one view of the Khmer Rouge
relationship to oance ano music, those re-createo or enacteo from “below” present a
notably oifferent oimension of that connection. The stories that follow bring to the
.8¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
forefront the effect of that relationship on the overall sense of terror engenoereo in
Democratic Kampuchea. I will begin with the story of a young man nameo Dara.
As part of a mobile youth work brigaoe in Battambang province in northwest-
ern Cambooia in :q¸¸, Dara liveo in a hut in the mioole of the forest. Nights were
engulfeo in silence, ano in fear. Because at night people were taken away ano never
seen again, “I prayeo,” saio Dara, “that nights woulo never come”:
At four A.M. they woulo wake us. The rice fielos were a one ano a half hour walk from
our base. Feople were so hungry ano weak when they were harvesting or builoing irri-
gation paths that they woulo collapse. If they oion’t work, they receiveo no fooo, or
worse, they were killeo. So many of us became sick, especially with night blinoness.
Mine lasteo three months. We neeoeo to be leo out into the forest from our huts to fino
a place to go to the bathroom. But because everyone was exhausteo ano sick, nobooy
hao the strength to help anyone else. We hao to crawl through excrement ano garbage
to fino a place to relieve ourselves. I hao given up hopes of surviving ano oecioeo I
neeoeo to oo something to soothe my soul until my time came. I founo some bamboo
ano, using a small knife I hao carrieo with me since I hao been evacuateo from Fhnom
Fenh, I carveo a lllo, |bamboo flute|. When I hao first left the city, I carrieo several
flutes with me, of plastic, of metal, of bamboo, my favorite possessions. But I left them
along the roao as I became afraio they woulo mark me for punishment. Then, eventu-
ally, I felt the neeo to play once more. I hao no instrument to measure the proportions,
ano the bamboo I useo was the wrong kino, but I maoe a cruoe flute one night ano sat
oown ano playeo. The souno of the flute carrieo through the silence of the forest. The
local cllop hearo.
He came to fino me ano calleo me in for questioning.
Dara’s oormitory mates ano work partners hao been oisappearing nightly. Each
evening he changeo the position ano place in which he woulo sleep so as to eluoe those
who might come for him as they hao come for the others. But once calleo in for ques-
tioning, he felt his time was up, ano, even though he hao hearo that “they were killing
artists in another area just because they were artists,” he oecioeo to tell the truth. He
hao been a stuoent of the arts. Yet, counter to what Dara expecteo, after aomonish-
ing him for making ano playing the flute, the chlop tolo him that if he agreeo to ser-
enaoe him with the khloy every night, his life woulo be spareo. So he oio.
One night, months later, they helo a big meeting at about 8:¸o. There must have been
thousanos of people there, from many villages. They talkeo to us about socialism ano
how we shoulo give up all our possessions so as to benefit the whole society. After the
meeting they askeo me to play |my flute| for everyone. I playeo |an improviseo meo-
ley of | lullabies. Everyone starteo to cry. The leaoers were furious. “How oare you
sabotage our meeting?!” they shouteo. They hao wanteo to create an atmosphere of
trust in the revolution, ano I hao maoe the people cry. But I haon’t really oone any-
thing. It’s the power of the music ano people’s memories.
Inoeeo, these were the very memories that revolutionary music aimeo to oestroy.
The man who hao originally sanctioneo Dara’s performances rescueo him from
the grip of the enrageo officials present. His fate is unknown.
+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .8¡
Also in Battambang province, a young woman nameo Dani was likewise living
in fear of the night, just as Dara was, ano struggling to keep up with her workloao
ouring the oay. She hao been a member of the court ,or classical, oance troupe of
Cambooia in Fhnom Fenh.
The official history of Cambooian classical oance is linkeo with that of tem-
ples ano monarchs. Inscriptions from as early as the seventh century tell us that
oancers were important in temple life ,Groslier :q6¸:.8¸,. Ano for centuries it was
through the meoium of the oancers that royal communication with the oivinities
was effecteo to guarantee the fertility of the lano ano the well-being of the people
in the king’s oomain. In Cambooia tooay, such a ceremony involving sacreo oance
ano music is still helo unoer royal auspices at least once a year.
Girls ano boys start training at a very young age, when they are supple enough
to be moloeo into the seemingly unnatural poses ,hyperextenoeo elbows, flexeo
toes, archeo backs, ano so on,, which require tireless oiscipline to master. When a
certain virtuosity is attaineo, a classical oancer in the capital city becomes integral
to particular royal rituals ano national celebrations, as well as stage performances
for oignitaries, tourists, ano the local population.
It has been assumeo that because of their intimate association with the state,
ano therefore, with previous regimes, classical oancers were a particular target of
the Khmer Rouge. Inoeeo, the post–Democratic Kampuchea Cambooian gov-
ernment estimateo that 8o to qo percent of the country’s professional artists per-
isheo. The high oeath toll resulteo, perhaps, from a number of factors in aooition
to the artists’ high-profile relationship with the state.
What we know more con-
cretely is that this kino of oance tt·clf was a target.
In Battambang in :q¸¸, Dani woulo awaken oaily at ¡:oo A.M., missing her par-
ents ano feeling that it “woulo have been easier to be oeao. We workeo haro all oay,
then liveo in fear all night.” Inoeeo, the oarkness ano silence that might have pro-
vioeo shelter from the “panopticon” that ruleo the oays insteao brought increaseo
terror, as it oio for Dara.
At one point Dani became seriously ill ano coulon’t work for several months.
She was feverish ano woulo shake uncontrollably every evening, then start singing
ano oancing. “It was as if I hao gone crazy,” she saio.
Dani ano her cousin, both from Fhnom Fenh, hao been relocateo to a village
populateo mainly by peasantry most trusteo by the Khmer Rouge—as opposeo to
people from the cities or unliberateo parts of the countrysioe before their national
victory in :q¸¸. Some local inhabitants took pity on her, leaoing a series of traoi-
tional healers to her one after the other.
“I oon’t know why they oion’t just kill me
or let me oie, as, in my conoition, I was worthless to them.” Eight healers hao not
been able to cure her. The ninth, for reasons unknown, suspecteo that Dani might
be in offense of the spirits of the oance. Those present askeo her cousin whether
Dani hao been a oancer before. When her cousin answereo that Dani hao oanceo
with the royal troupe, there was an auoible sigh.
.8ó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
The resioents of that region were familiar with court oance from the trips that
then-Frince Sihanouk hao maoe a oecaoe earlier to a local temple to ask for bless-
ings from the oeities, ouring which oancers woulo perform as a means of com-
munication with the heavens. Sacreo oances connecteo heaven with earth, bring-
ing, it was hopeo, rain, prosperity, ano well-being. Villagers hao been involveo in
the preparation of offerings for those rites, ano for Dani, they starteo the same sorts
of preparations for a ceremony to appease the spirits that hao been offenoeo.
After they hao maoe the offerings they brought in an exorcism orchestra. The musi-
cians playeo half the night, but their music oion’t seem to help. Someone then saio,
“This woman neeos a ptr pcot orchestra.”
I oon’t know where they founo the in-
struments ano the people, but soon there was a full orchestra, just like we use tooay.
Ano they starteo playing . . . ano even though I oion’t “know” myself, I sat up ano
oemanoeo a certain kino of oance shirt ano pantaloons ano a silver belt. When I
was properly attireo, the music starteo again, ano I oanceo.
Dani oanceo ano oanceo, her energy reaching to her extremities ,fingers curveo
back ano toes almost constantly flexeo upwaro,, in measureo, controlleo, yet lyri-
cal movements oevoio of haro eoges ano sharp oisplacements of weight. The mu-
sic continueo until oawn, with incense ano canoles continually lit. “In the morn-
ing I was able to go to work again” for the first time in months.
Before getting sick, Dani hao entertaineo her cousin at night by oancing. One
time she oanceo the role of the powerful ano sacreo character Moni Mekhala, a
role passeo oown from teacher to pupil in a special ceremony ,see Shapiro :qq¡,.
Dani hao never receiveo permission through the sacreo ritual to practice or per-
form this role, she hao only watcheo others in the palace from afar. But here in Bat-
tambang she hao oareo to perform. Traveling corporeally to a familiar ano beloveo
locale from the new ano torturous life she founo herself leaoing, she believes the
spirits of the oance hao seen her ano hao registereo their oispleasure at her au-
oacity to assume the role of Moni Mekhala by inflicting illness upon her.
The fact that any of this took place—the burning of incense ano canoles, a pin
peat orchestra performance, a calling to the spirits, the execution of classical oance—
might seem remarkable in itself, as each of these practices was forbiooen. Ano in
combination, with the participation of many, incluoing the tacit consent of the lo-
cal Khmer Rouge authorities ,who neither protesteo nor stoppeo the proceeoings,,
it might appear truly extraoroinary. However, I conteno that it is rather more pro-
saic than it seems. It is exactly the unexpecteo that kept everyone in suspense ano
maintaineo the ever-present possibility of arbitrary violence ,ano arbitrary benev-
olence,. Even the positive surprises strengtheneo the overall sense of terror.
Across the country in Kompong Thom province, a man nameo Bun hao also
been sick for months. He was so weakeneo by malaria that he hao to crawl to get
water. “I coulo haroly even stano up.” Then, one oay, seemingly from out of
nowhere, Khmer Rouge soloiers “captureo me at gunpoint, ano forceo me into a
+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .8,
boat. . . . I was crying.” He was taken to a prison, he hao no ioea why. About sixty
men were being helo captive, chaineo ano lockeo in by their feet. The first thing
Bun noticeo was the stench. Unoer each plank ,useo as a beo, was a box for ex-
crement ano urine.
At night, prisoners were taken for questioning. Some returneo from the oroeal
ano fainteo. Others were tortureo ,he hearo their cries, ano never came back. When
Bun was interrogateo, he tolo the truth, that he hao been a classical oancer ano
oance teacher at the University of Iine Arts, ano that he hao traveleo abroao to
perform in Inoonesia, Thailano, ano the Uniteo States. “I tolo him that I oio every-
thing following the authorities at the university. Then he askeo me what my spe-
cialty was. ‘Hanuman,’ I replieo.” ,Hanuman is the monkey general in the Rcomlct,
the Cambooian version of the Ramayana epic of Inoian origin.,
The interrogator grew silent. He eventually askeo Bun to oemonstrate a few
oance moves. Skinny ano balo ,he hao shaveo his heao when he was so sick, a cus-
tomary form of prayer for the seriously ill,, Bun struggleo to lift his arms, to posi-
tion his legs. The caore was impresseo with this wretcheo “monkey.” He tolo Bun
to perform that evening for all the guaros ano prisoners. So weak he coulo barely
lift a foot to step over the sharp weeos on the grouno, he oanceo in the prison court-
yaro. On his knees, he manageo to push one leg back ano turn the sole of that
foot skywaro, taking the position that represents flight in the classical oance.
Irom that oay on, Bun was secretly supplieo with fooo ano calleo “To |Eloer|
Hanuman” by the Khmer Rouge. About a month later, the twenty men who were
still alive were releaseo. Why these particular prisoners hao been taken, ano why
those surviving were set free remaineo oestabilizing mysteries.
Given the Khmer Rouge’s claim to have eraseo thousanos of years of history
ano their excoriation of perceiveo feuoal ,incluoing royalist, thought ano action,
as well as their neeo to orchestrate people’s every move, one may wonoer how it is
that in the above examples the peasantry ano the local caores helpeo a sick or im-
prisoneo person who woulo have been expecteo to be expenoable simply because
he or she oanceo—ano in the royal traoition, no less. Ano one may wonoer why
someone who maoe ano playeo a flute without permission wasn’t punisheo. ,It was
quite often such seemingly small, inoivioual actions that got people killeo in De-
mocratic Kampuchea., Only :o to .o percent of the country’s professional artists
surviveo the regime. Yet here are some who are alive /ccoo·c of their art.
These stories, which muoole the public picture usually presenteo by ano of the
Khmer Rouge, in no way minimize the horrors ano crimes they committeo. The
evil becomes even more inexplicable if they coulo save Hanuman ano continue to
kill those on either sioe of him in the prison. Such inhumane ano oisorienting capri-
ciousness forms part of the very complicateo canvas unoer stuoy. It was the very
nature of some Khmer Rouge violence to be completely arbitrary.
Being confronteo with things that we now recognize to be symbols of prerevo-
lutionary “Khmerness”—Hanuman, classical oance, a series of lullabies playeo on
a khloy, ano so on—peasants in the gooo steao of the Khmer Rouge or caores
.88 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
themselves maoe choices about how to react. The choices they maoe in these cases
were politically ano “aesthetically orienteo commentar|ies|” ,Bull :qq¸:.¸o, that
contraoicteo expectations ano that illustrate a key feature of Fol Fot’s totalitarian-
ism. Certain tales or characters, such as Hanuman, as well as physicality, spiritual-
ity, or music of a specific sort resonateo with some members of the Khmer Rouge.
Lafreniere ,.ooo::¸¡, relates the experience of Daran Kravanh, a musician who,
in Democratic Kampuchea, happeneo upon an accoroion, the instrument of his
expertise. The Khmer Rouge soloiers came to know him as the accoroion player:
A soloier came to me one oay ano saio, “There is a girl I love ano I want to fino out
if she loves me. I oroer you to play your accoroion for us.” This was an unusual re-
quest from a soloier, but of course I agreeo. . . . I playeo my accoroion while sitting
on the floor between them. As I playeo, they lookeo at each other. After a time I sug-
gesteo they oance ano they oio. . . . Then they began to sing a question ano answer
song back ano forth.
The accoroion is not a particularly common instrument in Cambooia. Inoeeo, it
is known to be a foreign import, something Khmer Rouge ioeology might paint as
anathema to the purity of the new society. But the music it helo the possibility of
creating kept it ano Daran in oemano, ano gave Daran access to the personal, emo-
tional worlo of his oppressors, a worlo, at least as far as romance was concerneo,
oenounceo by official rhetoric.
Frerevolutionary resonances coexisteo with the Khmer Rouge contention that
history hao starteo anew with their rule. It is here that we can locate the proouc-
tion of the contraoictions so essential for the maintenance of a state of terror.
Were we to try for an ethnography that brings to light more such contraoictions,
our unoerstanoing of the Khmer Rouge regime woulo be all the richer.
Terror haunts the constantly shifting grouno upon which the inexplicable ano
the unspeakable owell sioe by sioe.
The extreme confusion ano intimioation ex-
perienceo unoer the Khmer Rouge helpeo lay the grounowork for the emotional,
physical, social, ano spiritual scars loogeo in Cambooia ano her people.
An earlier version of this essay appeareo as Artltopologtc· of tlc Ilmct Roogc Pott .: Tcttot oro
Ac·tlcttc·, Genocioe Stuoies Frogram Working Faper GS o6 ,New Haven: Yale Center for
International ano Area Stuoies, :qq8,. I woulo like to thank Davio Chanoler, George Chi-
gas, Alexanoer Hinton, Ben Kiernan, Eowaro Kissi, Sally Ness, Sally Nhomi, Niti Fawaka-
pan, Thavro Fhim, Fuangthong Rungswaoisab, Sek Sophea, Anne Sheeran, ano Michael
Vickery for their insightful comments ano suggestions.
:. This oance was performeo for me by a former Khmer Rouge oancer who also pro-
vioeo the lyrics.
.. Frince Norooom Sihanouk became king in :q¡: ano then, taking the title of prince,
steppeo oown in the mio-:q¸os to become heao of state until the :q¸o coup o’état. He nameo
+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .8ç
Cambooia’s communist movement the “Khmer Rouge” in the :q6os. “Khmer Rouge” is
commonly useo both as a plural ano a singular term.
¸. Norooom Sihanouk hao also recognizeo ano manipulateo the power of oance ano
music, as hao Frime Minister Lon Nol in the early :q¸os. See Shapiro :qq¡.
¡. Some revolutionary songs retaineo traoitional melooies while oiscaroing olo lyrics.
See Davio Chanoler’s note in Chanoler, Kiernan, ano Lim ,:q8.:¸.6,. Ry Kea ,personal
interview, .ooo, has ioentifieo some songs she hearo in Democratic Kampuchea as being of
Chinese origin. In a private Chinese school in Fhnom Fenh a oecaoe earlier, she hao learneo
songs celebrating Mao Tse Tung’s greatness. In revolutionary Cambooia, she hearo the same
songs—ioentical melooies with lyrics that were, accoroing to her, oirect translations from
the Chinese—with one oifference. Insteao of honoring Mao—“When the sun rises a lotus
appears with the face of Mao Tse Tung upon it, shining over the people. . . . Wherever there
is Mao, there is freeoom”—the songs revereo Angkar. Henri Locaro ,:qq8, estimates that
:o percent of the Khmer Rouge revolutionary songs he has stuoieo over the years employ
melooies originating in the Feople’s Republic of China.
¸. Examples incluoe Chanoler :qq:, :qqq, Dith :qq¸, Him .ooo, Hinton :qq¸, Kiernan
:qq¸, :qq6, Lafreniere .ooo, May :q86, Ngor :q8¸, Oum :qq¸, Um :qq8, Vann :qq8.
6. See references to a “great leap” in the journal of the Ministry of Ioreign Affairs
:qq¸–q8, ano in Chanoler, Kiernan, ano Boua :q88.
¸. The Khmer Rouge took control of the capital, Fhnom Fenh, on April :¸, :q¸¸.
8. Scholars’ estimates range from ¸¸o,ooo ,Vickery :q8¡,, to :.¸ million ,Kiernan :qq6,,
to . million ,Heuveline :qq8,, out of a pre-:q¸¸ population of between ¸ ano 8 million.
q. Ior a cultural analysis of what he terms “genocioal practices,” see Hinton :qq¸.
:o. Along with Sally Ann Ness, who stuoies oance of the Fhilippines ano Inoonesia, I
woulo like to “attempt to return booily experience o· o fotm of cor·ctoo·rc·· oro oroct·torotrg
to a central place within the oiscipline of ethnographic inquiry, recognizing that to oeny
the interpretive potential of booily/choreographic phenomena is to oeprive ethnography
of unoerstanoing an activity that may be as central to the human experience of another cul-
ture as it is marginal to that of mainstream U.S. society” ,:qq.:.¸q, |emphasis in original|.
::. This is one of several hunoreo such hanowritten notebooks in the collection of the
Documentation Center of Cambooia, in Fhnom Fenh.
:.. The same article presents a chilling account of Shining Fath’s attempt to incorpo-
rate chiloren into its “war machine” ,oel Fino H. :qq8::¸¡,, an attempt in many ways rem-
iniscent of Khmer Rouge practice.
:¸. Ben Kiernan ,personal communication :qq8, has suggesteo that the concept of the
embooiment of the country in Angkar coulo be extenoeo to encompass the embooiment of
Cambooia in the leaoer, Fol Fot, if we look at aspects of the use of the term Arglot by mem-
bers of the Khmer Rouge. “ ‘|T|he Organization’ . . . has a home aooress, watches movies,
is sometimes ‘busy working,’ but can be askeo favors if one oares” ,Chanoler, Kiernan, ano
Boua :q88:.¸.,. See Shapiro :qq¡ for preliminary work on Khmer notions of carrying
“Cambooia” within themselves.
:¡. Ior more on Cambooian folk oance, both ceremonial ano theatrical, incluoing the
relationship of folk oance to Norooom Sihanouk’s vision of mooern nationhooo, see Fhim
ano Thompson :qqq.
:¸. Such resonances with the role of spectacle in the Nazi propaganoa machine are ev-
ioent, but the analogy can be taken only so far. See Manning’s examination of Nazi spec-
.ço \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
tacle in her stuoy of oancer/choreographer Mary Wigman’s life ano work in Germany
:6. The following narratives employ pseuoonyms ano are from personal interviews con-
oucteo by the author in Cambooia between :qqo ano :qq¸, ano in :qqq.
:¸. A chlop hao the power to arrest suspecteo transgressors on behalf of higher au-
:8. A report from the Feople’s Revolutionary Tribunal ,conveneo in :q¸q to try Khmer
Rouge leaoers in absentia for genocioe, incluoes testimonies from survivors about the bru-
tal killings of some inoivioual performing artists. The report claims that it was Khmer Rouge
policy “to massacre or at least to mistreat the artists” ,Tribunal Fopulaire Revolutionnaire
:q¸q:.,. My own interviews suggest that status as a “new” person ,from the city, or being a
spouse or sibling of an official of the Lon Nol regime were among the various other rea-
sons that people who happeneo to be oancers or musicians or actors were executeo.
:q. As with so many aspects of the regime, meoical care varieo by time ,early or late in
the regime, ano by location. Most practitioners of mooern ,nontraoitional, meoicine were
not alloweo to aominister to the sick. Some experienceo traoitional healers ano miowives
were able to continue practicing unoer the oirection of the local Khmer Rouge. Teenage
meoics, newly traineo as part of the revolution, were the norm.
.o. The pin peat orchestra accompanies, among other things, classical oances, Buoohist
temple ceremonies, ano shaoow puppet plays.
.:. The interrogator knew that Cambooian oancers have “specialties.” Ferhaps he oio
not neeo an explanation of who Hanuman is, as he oio not ask for one. There are some
cultural cues that Khmer Rouge ioeology oio not overrioe.
... This is most likely a reference to repartee singing ,o,ot ,, in which a man ano a woman
improvise an often flirtatious, comic, ano suggestive oialogue.
.¸. Similar contraoictions in Nazi rule are oescribeo by Laks: “When an esman |SS man|
listeneo to music . . . he somehow became strangely similar to a human being. . . . Coulo peo-
ple who love music to this extent . . . be at the same time capable of committing so many
atrocities on the rest of humanity?” ,:q8q:¸o,. See also “The Rosner Iamily” chapter in
Brecher ,:qq¡, on music, the Nazis, ano concentration camp inmates.
.¡. Terror manages to take holo of those in power as well as the oppresseo. Hanna
Arenot points out that “the ultimate consequence of rule by terror |is| . . . that nobooy, not
even the executioners, can ever be free of fear” ,:q¸q:6,, which certainly helo true in this
case, as many members of the Khmer Rouge were eventually purgeo.
Arenot, Hanna. :q¸q|:q¸:|. Tlc Ottgtr· of Totolttottort·m. New York: Harcourt Brace Jo-
Brecher, Elinor J. :qq¡. Scltrolct’· Lcgoc,. New York: Flume/Fenguin Books.
Bull, Cynthia Jean Cohen. :qq¸. “Sense, Meaning, ano Ferception in Three Dance Cul-
tures.” In Mcortrg tr Mottor, ^c. Coltotol Stootc· of Dorcc. Jane C. Desmono, eo. Fp.
.6q–8¸. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Fress.
Chanoler, Davio F. :qq:. Tlc Ttogco, of Com/ootor Ht·tot,. New Haven: Yale University Fress.
———. :qqq. Votcc· ftom S-:.: Tcttot oro Ht·tot, tr Pol Pot’· Scctct Ptt·or. Berkeley: University
of California Fress.
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Chanoler, Davio F., Ben Kiernan, ano Chanthou Boua. :q88. Pol Pot Plor· tlc Fototc: Cor-
fiocrttol Lcooct·ltp Docomcrt· ftom Dcmoctottc Iompoclco .ç,ó–.ç,,. Monograph Series ¸¸.
New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Stuoies.
Chanoler, Davio F., Ben Kiernan, ano Muy Hong Lim. :q8.. “The Early Fhases of Liber-
ation: Conversations with Feang Sophi.” In Pco·ort· oro Poltttc· tr Iompoclco .ç¸:–.ç8..
Ben Kiernan ano Chanthou Boua, eos. Fp. ¸:8–.q. Lonoon: Zeo Fress.
Comaroff, Jean. :q8¸. Boo, of Po.ct, Sptttt of Rc·t·torcc. Chicago: University of Chicago Fress.
oel Fino H., Fonciano. :qq8. “Iamily, Culture, ano ‘Revolution’: Everyoay Life with Senoero
Luminoso.” In Sltrtrg oro Otlct Potl·. Steve J. Stern, eo. Fp. :¸8–q.. Durham, N.C.: Duke
University Fress, :qq8.
Dith Fran. :qq¸. Cltlotcr of Com/ooto’· Itlltrg Ftclo·. New Haven: Yale University Fress.
Ioucault, Michel. :q¸q. Dt·ctpltrc oro Port·l. New York: Vintage Books.
Groslier, Bernaro Fhilippe. :q6¸. “Danse et musique sous les rois o’Angkor.” In Fcltcttottor
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Heuveline, Fatrick. :qq8. “Between One ano Three Million: Towaros the Demographic Re-
construction of a Decaoe of Cambooian History ,:q¸o–¸q,.” Popolottor Stootc· ¸.:¡q–6¸.
Him, Chanrithy. .ooo. 1lcr Btolcr Glo·· Floot·. New York: W. W. Norton ano Company.
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Origins of Genocioe.” Fh.D. oissertation, Emory University.
Kiernan, Ben, eo. :qq¸. Gcroctoc oro Dcmoctoc, tr Com/ooto. Monograph Series ¡:. New
Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Stuoies.
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.ç,¡–.ç,ç. New Haven: Yale University Fress.
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Laks, Szymon. :q8q. Mo·tc of Arotlct 1otlo. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Fress.
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boogienne ou La Revolution triomphante.” In Ilmct Stootc·: Iro.lcogc of tlc Po·t oro It·
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+rnnon ix nrxocn\+ic k\xrtcnr\ .ç¡
Averteo Gaze
Gcroctoc tr Bo·rto-Hct¸cgoctro, .çç:–.çç¡
Torc Bttrgo
This chapter examines some of the social ano political structures that convergeo
in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina ,B-H, ano createo a framework that enableo
certain people to commit crimes against humanity at the eno of the twentieth cen-
tury in Europe. It argues that the particular kino of personalizeo violence oirecteo
towaro inoiviouals because they belongeo to, or were ioentifieo with, a specific
nationality or ethnic group was the expression of a politically organizeo attempt
at raoically reoefining categories of belonging.
This implieo the reorawing of
bounoaries of exclusion/inclusion ,that is, excluoing certain people with their
knowleoge ano their skills from a certain territory having a certain history, resources,
ano social fabric, while incluoing certain others,. These were new bounoaries both
in a physical ,political/territorial, ano in a symbolic sense. The criteria for who was
incluoeo ano who was excluoeo were new, too. The violence was oirecteo not only
towaro those who because of their nationality were reoefineo as “not belonging”
but also towaro anyone ,irrespective of nationality, who resisteo this reoefinition.
I shall argue that this forceo reorawing of bounoaries of exclusion was the even-
tual resolution of authority—a oelayeo transition of authority—after mooern Yu-
goslavia’s founoer ano post–Worlo War II leaoer, Tito, oieo in :q8o. This oelayeo
transition coincioeo with ano was influenceo by the eno of communist regimes in
Europe, while the criteria accoroing to which the new bounoaries were orawn were
a legacy of the political ano social structures of communist ,Titoist, Yugoslavia.
Several strategies were useo by the “new” power elites that came into power in
Yugoslavia after the eno of the Colo War in :q8q/qo in oroer to reoefine social cat-
egories of exclusion ano inclusion ,such as, for instance, “enemies” ano “frienos”,.
Some of these strategies were oirecteo towaro members of the group that the new
bounoaries were meant to incluoe, in oroer to convince them of the neeo to re-
oraw these bounoaries. Measures incluoeo the use of a “rhetoric of exclusion”
,such as the renaming of neighbors ano compatriots as foreigners/intruoers ano
enemies, ano the manipulation of fear ,on the “rhetorics of exclusion,” see
Stolcke :qq¸,. Other strategies were oirecteo towaro those people who were to be
excluoeo. Yet others were oirecteo towaro members of the incluoeo group who re-
sisteo the restructuring. ,Measures were a combination of those applieo to the first
group—that is, “the incluoeo”—ano the secono group—that is, “the excluoeo.”,
The most ferocious ano violent strategies were reserveo for the secono group. Mea-
sures incluoeo the rhetoric of exclusion ano the actual exclusion from positions of
power or influence, harassment, terror, ano the reoefinition of public space as the
“private” ethnic space of the group in power, ano, finally, the physical removal by
violent means of most or all members of the “excluoeo” group from their homes
in villages ano towns. The violent removal or expulsion was oone in such a way as
to make it very oifficult or even impossible for the expelleo ever to return. This is
the policy of “ethnic cleansing,” ano in some instances when it was pursueo to its
extreme logic—as in the case of Srebrenica—it turneo into genocioe.
On July .., :qq¸, I sat on the grass next to the tarmac at Tuzla airbase in North
Eastern Bosnia. I was listening to the story of a man from the Srebrenica region.
I was there with an UNFROIOR human rights team.
About a week earlier thou-
sanos of women ano chiloren hao starteo arriving in Tuzla from the Srebrenica re-
gion. These traumatizeo people hao been accommooateo in tents along the tar-
mac at the airbase where a Noroic U.N. battalion was stationeo, ano they were
oemanoing to know where their men where.
Women were crying for their hus-
banos, sons, brothers, ano fathers, who hao been forceo to stay behino at the mercy
of Serbian soloiers, while they themselves hao walkeo to Tuzla ano Bosnian gov-
ernment–controlleo territory after the Bosnian Serb Army commanoer, Ratko
Mlaoid, hao organizeo for them to be buseo to the front line. The camp was
crowoeo ano seething hot. This is where the U.N. human rights team turneo up to
take witness statements from refugees ano survivors. ,This was routinely oone in
the wake of any military offensive, or whenever there were reports or suspicion of
human rights abuses in U.N.-controlleo areas. However, access for the team was
not always forthcoming. Thus there was no human rights team in Srebrenica itself.,
An appeal was maoe over the louospeakers for witnesses to come forwaro. Suo-
oenly, I saw a man hurrying to the information oesk by the tarmac. Both his booy
language ano woros expresseo intense urgency: “I have to speak to them”, “I must
tell them.” He was agitateo. He hao come to look for his family but saio he hao to
tell us his story first. While the human rights officer was asking, through an inter-
preter, the specific ano oetaileo questions she is traineo to ask, I was listening in to
the man’s account in Bosnian. Ior the officer, this was a routine statement, ini-
tially, perhaps, she thought she hao listeneo to many similar stories ouring the wars
in Bosnia-Herzegovina ano Croatia—stories from people who were victims of what
hao become known as “ethnic cleansing.” It was perhaps haro to see that this man’s
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ .ç¡
story was any oifferent. Ano a human rights officer’s concern is always with creo-
ibility. She hao experienceo people who maoe up stories about atrocities, perhaps
this man’s story was one of those? As the man’s story unfoloeo, I hao the terrible
realization about the fate of the missing boys ano men of Srebrenica. A mass killing
of unimaginable proportions hao taken place, ano the man in front of me was
one of only a few survivors. I was in no ooubt whatsoever that his story was true,
ano that he was talking from personal experience. He was very concentrateo as he
spoke, ano his language was factual ano to the point. His oescriptions were oetaileo
ano specific, citing place names, giving an exact chronology of events, ano using
personal pronouns.
The Srebrenica survivor showeo us the marks arouno his wrists left by the rope
that hao been useo to tie his hanos behino his back. He hao been lineo up with
hunoreos of other men, who all oieo of gunshot wounos to their heao or other vi-
tal parts of their booy. The bullet that was meant for him just misseo ano toucheo
his chin. He surviveo because he was protecteo by the oeao booies on top of him.
He escapeo at night with one other survivor. More than seven thousano men of
all ages where executeo ouring a few hot July oays in :qq¸ in the picturesque fielos
ano forests arouno the town of Srebrenica, a town that hao been oesignateo a U.N.
“safe area.”
The story of the massacres of Bosnian Muslim men ano boys in the oays fol-
lowing the Bosnian Serb Army takeover of the U.N. “safe area” of Srebrenica on
July ::, :qq¸, is now accessible through some well-researcheo oocumentary books
ano films, as well as through the inoictments for genocioe ano crimes against hu-
manity issueo by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in
The Hague.
There are two main stories: on the one hano, what the Bosnian Serb
Army planneo ano executeo unoer the commano of Ratko Mlaoid, ano on the
other the complacency, incompetence, ano unwillingness to act to prevent geno-
cioe representeo by the international community through its U.N. peacekeeping
forces. The UNFROIOR human rights team fileo a cautiously woroeo report
which stateo that grave human rights abuses hao occurreo in the aftermath of the
Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica. It citeo testimonies from witnesses ano sug-
gesteo that assaults may have occurreo that resulteo in numerous oeaths, but that
those accounts were “as yet unconfirmeo.”
The report that faileo to ioentify the
enormity of the crimes that were taking place was transmitteo to the Uniteo Na-
tions Secretariat, but the heao of UNFROIOR oio not see any neeo to alert his
superiors or an international public of the team’s “unsubstantiateo finoings,” ano
in the meantime the killings in the hills arouno Srebrenica continueo.
The organizeo massacre was the worst in Europe’s history since Worlo War II.
But it was a crime that coulo have been preventeo, inasmuch as it coulo have been
preoicteo. Ior Srebrenica was the final push in a campaign of “ethnic cleansing”
.çó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
ano genocioe—an orgy in violence—that hao starteo three years earlier in North-
ern ano Eastern Bosnia in oroer to establish a Serbian state rio of all non-Serbs
,that is, Bosnian Muslims ano Croats,. In its final report, the U.N. Commission of
Experts for the International Criminal Tribunal researcheo the oevelopments in
the municipality ,Opsttro, of Frijeoor. Their finoings formeo the bases for the later
inoictments of inoivioual Serbs for crimes against humanity ano genocioe. The re-
port that was publisheo on December .8, :qq¡, concluoes: “It is unquestionable
that the events in Opsttro Frijeoor since ¸o April :qq. qualify as crimes against hu-
manity. Iurthermore, it is likely to be confirmeo in court unoer oue process of law
that these events constitute genocioe.”
The campaign of “ethnic cleansing” hao been preceoeo by a rhetorical cam-
paign of exclusion ,intolerance,, fear, ano hatreo. Ior instance, in Sarajevo in :qq.,
on the eve of the war, the Bosnian Serb nationalist leaoer Raoovan Karaozid ut-
tereo what was to become his personal mantra throughout the war wageo to carve
out an ethnically homogeneous Serbian state in ethnically oiverse ano complex
Bosnia-Herzegovina: “We cannot live with the Muslims ano the Croats, for there
is too much hatreo, centuries olo hatreo. Serbs fear the Muslims. They cannot live
together. Because of genocioe committeo against them ,the Serbs,, they have to oe-
feno themselves.” In a speech to the Bosnian parliament, he also threateneo peo-
ple with a war that might result in the oisappearance of the “Muslim people” ,Mo·-
ltmor·lt rotoo , shoulo they go aheao ano vote for inoepenoence.
His woros were
echoeo by General Ratko Mlaoid when he gave a casually chosen Muslim school-
teacher the responsibility for oisarming Muslim men in Srebrenica in the wake of
the Serbian takeover: “The Muslim people can oisappear ,rc·tott , or survive ,op-
·tott ,: it’s up to you.”
The former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia ano Croatia hao oeclareo their
inoepenoence in June :qq:. Within five months of Croatia’s oeclaring its inoe-
penoence from Yugoslavia, the JNA ,Yugoslav Feople’s Army, ano local Serb para-
militaries occupieo more than one-thiro of Croatia. ,These were areas with a Ser-
bian ano a Croatian population., Iifteen thousano people were killeo, ano more
than .¸o,ooo were oriven from their homes. While war rageo in Croatia, the mainly
Bosniac ,ethnically Muslim, leaoership of Bosnia-Herzegovina ano many of its cit-
izens hopeo that war coulo be averteo. However, with the majority of its popula-
tion being non-Serb, Bosnia-Herzegovina woulo not want to stay in a Yugoslavia
that woulo be no more than Greater Serbia. In a referenoum helo on Iebruary .q
ano March :, :qq., Bosnia-Herzegovina voteo in favor of inoepenoence, although
Serb-controlleo areas oio not participate. More than two months earlier, warlike
martial law conoitions hao been reigning in numerous cities ano townships in North-
ern ano Eastern Bosnia, areas boroering on Serbia ano/or with large Serbian set-
tlements. Here the Serb Nationalist Farty, the SDS, leo by Raoovan Karaozid, hao
not gaineo a majority in the :qqo elections but organizeo a parallel Serb aominis-
tration consisting of so-calleo Crisis Committees. These committees were secretly
arming local Serbs with guns coming from Belgraoe ano the JNA.
In November
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ .ç,
of :qq:, the SDS organizeo a referenoum in those areas they consioereo Serbian on
whether the Serbs wanteo to remain in Yugoslavia ,with Montenegro, the Krajina,
ano Eastern Slavonija, the latter two areas in Croatia,. This was in effect a vote for
Greater Serbia, ano an overwhelming majority of those who voteo, voteo “yes.” ,We
have no reliable figure for how many Serbs actually voteo., On January q, :qq., when
the SDS oeclareo the founoation of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia ano Herze-
govina, later renameo Republika Srpska, the harassment ano violent terrorizing of
non-Serbs in SDS areas of control was alreaoy unoer way.
On April ¸, :qq., the oay before Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognizeo as an inoe-
penoent state by the EU, Serb snipers near the Hotel Holioay Inn ano in the nearby
neighborhooo of Grbavica fireo at a Sarajevo peace oemonstration, killing two
young women.
The Sarajevans hao been chanting “We want to live together” ano
“Feace”, hours earlier barricaoes hao been put up at various sites in the city. The
next oay, Sarajevans woke up to a partitioneo city unoer siege. It was the oay the
war reacheo Sarajevo. Irom that oate on, the Western meoia began to report al-
most oaily about the shelling of civilians, about massacres, forceo expulsions, the
heroing of civilians into camps, the burning of homes, mosques, ano churches, ano
the everyoay suffering of oroinary people in cities unoer siege ano constant bom-
baroment. While the attention of Western meoia was focuseo on the shelling ano
siege of Sarajevo, non-Serbs were being heroeo into oetention centers that serveo
as oeath camps outsioe of Sarajevo in Eastern ano Northern Bosnia. It was part
of the organizeo attempt at eliminating the non-Serb population from Serbian-
controlleo territory. The outsioe worlo became aware of what was going on only
after some brave British ano American journalists publisheo pictures ano stories
from the Serbian-run oeath camps in the oistrict of Frijeoor in Northern Bosnia:
Omarska, Keraterm, ano Trnopolje ,see Gutman :qq¸, Vulliamy :qq¡,. The camps
were part of a political ano military strategy to rio Northern ano Eastern Bosnia
,territory that either boroers with Serbia or hao a sizable Bosnian Serb population,
of all political opposition to a partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina ano the creation of
a separate Bosnian Serb state. Accoroing to the logic of ethnic politics in the for-
mer Yugoslavia, which I oiscuss below, a member of the opposite ethnic group or
“nationality” translateo into a political enemy.
The case of Frijeoor shows the graoual increase in acts of intimioation, provo-
cation, ano terror oirecteo towaro the non-Serb population. “The Iinal Report of
the UN Commission of Experts” oocuments how those ,non-Serb, Muslims ano
Croats—the greatest numbers were Muslim—in positions of leaoership or with
higher eoucation were systematically targeteo: these incluoeo political leaoers,
teachers, physicians, lawyers, religious instructors, journalists, ano intellectuals.
The obvious result of the organizeo targeting of the eoucateo ano powerful strata
of a community or “ethnic group” is the weakening, marginalization, ano possible
.ç8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
oestruction of the community’s economic ano political capability to prosper ano
to influence society. By killing or humiliating men ano women through trespassing
their most intimate sphere ,that is, entering ano oestroying their homes, raping or
mutilating them,, the effect was not only to oestroy the person physically ano men-
tally but also to break their community by oestroying persons who contributeo to
its social, moral, ano economic strength. Iurthermore, the community or targeteo
nationality’s ability to reproouce members woulo be ,at least in the short term, re-
ouceo. These effects were in aooition to the immeoiate ano obvious one of elimi-
nating or pacifying ,potential, enemy soloiers.
The Convention for the Frevention ano Funishment of the Crime of Genocioe,
or, for short, the Genocioe Convention, was aoopteo by the U.N. General Assem-
bly in :q¡8. It states that genocioe consists of killing, serious assault, starvation, ano
measures aimeo at chiloren “committeo with the intent to oestroy, in whole or in
part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Raphael Lemkin, who
first coineo the term gcroctoc, suggesteo a oefinition that is more elaborate ano ex-
planatory: “a cooroinateo plan of oifferent actions aiming at the oestruction of es-
sential founoations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the
groups themselves.” The objective of such a plan was “the oisintegration of the
political ano social institutions of culture, language, national feelings, religion ano
the economic existence of national groups ano the oestruction of personal security,
liberty, health, oignity, ano even the lives of the inoiviouals belonging to such groups”
,quoteo in Schabas :qqq:.,. With the rich oocumentation that exists about the crimes
committeo against the non-Serb population in Eastern ano Northern Bosnia, the
International Criminal Tribunal baseo in The Hague has alreaoy chargeo inoivio-
ual Serb commanoers with genocioe. The main challenge for the International
Criminal Court will be to prove the perpetrators’ intent to commit genocioe.
By the summer of :qq., Serbian forces hao taken control over ano “ethnically
cleanseo” ¸o percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina. An alliance of ill-prepareo Croat ano
mainly Bosnian Muslim Army units ,but incluoing Serbs ano others who sioeo with
the Sarajevo government ano supporteo an integrateo ano unoivioeo Bosnia-
Herzegovina, helo out against the militarily superior Serb forces until January of
:qq¸, when it became obvious that the Bosnian Croat forces ,HVO, were working
hano in hano with the political forces that wanteo an inoepenoent Croatian Re-
public of Bosnia ano Herzegovina. Although a majority of the Bosnian Croat pop-
ulation voteo for an inoepenoent ano unoivioeo Bosnia-Herzegovina at the refer-
enoum in Iebruary/March :qq., the Bosnian Croat sister party of the Croatian
Nationalist Farty—the HDZ, leo by Iranjo Tuojman—hao alreaoy on November
:8, :qq:, oeclareo “The Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosna” at their Herzegovinian
heaoquarters in Gruoe. The Bosnian government forces were now fighting a two-
front war against Serb ano Croat separatists. There was more “ethnic cleansing”:
oestroyeo houses, prison camps, refugees, ano oeaths.
In April :qq¸, Muslim settlements in Kiseljak ano other towns ano villages in
central Bosnia were attackeo by the HVO ,Croatian Defense Iorce, as part of what
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ .çç
has become known as the “Lasva Valley Offensive.” The offensive is oescribeo in
several U.N. Criminal Tribunal oocuments in connection with inoictments of HVO
soloiers who are believeo to have helo commano responsibilities ouring the offen-
sive. In :qqq, General Tihomir Blaskic was sentenceo to forty-five years in prison
by the court at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for “having or-
oereo the commission of a crime against humanity for persecution of the Muslim
civilians of Bosnia in the municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca ano Kiseljak.” Fartic-
ularly aggravating was the massacre of ::6 inhabitants, incluoing women ano chil-
oren, in Ahmidi, a small village in the municipality of Vitez, an area believeo to
be unoer the commano of General Blaskid. ,Iive other Croat military ano politi-
cal leaoers have been inoicteo on the same accounts., Although the HVO initially
hao consioerable military ano political success in carving out a Croatian “statelet,”
by the summer of :qq¸ the HVO was losing grouno to Bosnian government forces
,ABiH—Armija Bosne i Hercegovine,, who were also engaging in revenge attacks
in central Bosnia ano expelling Croats ano burning ano looting their homes. In Za-
greb, politicians ano intellectuals were becoming increasingly critical of Fresioent
Tuojman’s policies in Bosnia. At a point when oomestic ano international criticisms
against Tuojman’s war in Bosnia were running high, ano the HVO continueo to
lose grouno to the Bosnian government forces, the Uniteo States took the initia-
tive to create a feoeration between the Croats ano the Bosniacs in B-H.
The Washington Agreement was signeo in March :qq¡. The agreement set the
framework for a future common aoministration ano state structure, ano provioeo
for an immeoiate cessation of hostilities between the two parties. The war between
the HVO ano the ABiH ,ano by extension between the Croat ano the Muslim com-
munities, starteo almost a year later ano enoeo a year ano a half before the war
enoeo between the Bosnian Serb Army ,BSA, ano the ABiH with the signing of
the Dayton Agreement in November :qq¸. It hao several of the characteristics of
the war in Northern ano Eastern Bosnia that the Bosnian Serb Army was waging
against non-Serb civilians, but it was also oifferent in many respects. It was pre-
ceoeo by a public rhetoric of exclusion portraying Muslims first in oemeaning ano
oehumanizing ways, ano then as attackers out to oestroy the Croats. Muslim in-
habitants were persecuteo through campaigns of terror, expulsions, ano the oe-
struction of homes ano mosques. The ferociousness of the campaign to force Mus-
lims from territory controlleo by the Croat separatists ,HVO/HDZ, varieo quite
consioerably from area to area, ano particularly between Herzegovina ano parts
of central Bosnia. The HVO oo not appear to have organizeo or committeo mass
killings on a scale comparable with that of the Bosnian Serb Army. This may be
explaineo by several factors, though I will suggest only a few. Iirst, the Bosnian
Army was better equippeo ano better prepareo for combat at the time when war
broke out with the HVO ,inoeeo, when the BSA attackeo there was no Bosnian
Army,. Secono, there was a vocal opposition among Croats within Bosnia, but more
important within Croatia, against the war with the Sarajevo government ano “the
Muslims” in Bosnia. Iurthermore, Croatian popular opinion as well as that of the
:oo \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
government was susceptible to international pressure. Also, the absence of a his-
tory of violent conflict between Croats ano Muslims, combineo with the fact that
both were victims of Serbian aggression at the beginning of the war, provioeo the
Croat separatists with less fuel in their manipulation of fear ano memory ,although
plenty has been proouceo in the recent war,.
More than five years passeo after the signing of the Washington Agreement
before people expelleo from their homes in the municipality of Kiseljak ano other
central Bosnian municipalities in :qq¸ coulo return home safely. ,Both the Wash-
ington Agreement ano the Dayton Agreement ensureo the right for refugees ano
oisplaceo people to return to their homes., In central Bosnia, Bosniacs ano Croats
are again living together in towns ano villages. This oevelopment in large parts of
the Bosniac-Croat Ieoeration ,one of two entities in the state of Bosnia ano Herze-
govina constituteo by the Dayton Agreement, is strikingly oifferent from the one
,or lack of one, in the Serbian-controlleo part of Bosnia-Herzegovina ,the Re-
publika Srpska entity,. Here a much smaller number of Bosniacs ano Croats have
moveo back. The two oevelopments reflect both the oegree of ferociousness in the
ethnic cleansing campaigns ,the fact that genocioe—incluoing mass rape—was the
oefining crime against non-Serbs in the Serbian entity,, ano the oifferent policies
pursueo in central Bosnia ,the Bosniac-Croat Ieoeration, ano in Eastern ano North-
ern Bosnia ,Republika Srpska,. Changes in policies in central Bosnia that facilitate
refugee return are oue to, first, the absence of certain key military ano political
leaoers from positions of influence, ano, secono, continuous political pressure from
the international community combineo with aio for reconstruction. The national-
ists oio not, in other woros, succeeo in erasing the physical trait of “the other”,
houses are being rebuilt ano so are mosques.
The war in Bosnia probably cost about .¸o,ooo lives.
Thousanos remain un-
accounteo for. Out of a prewar population of more than ¡ million, :.8 million peo-
ple were oisplaceo or became refugees ,:,.¸q,ooo were exileo outsioe B-H,, ano
about ¸o percent of all resioential builoings were oamageo or oestroyeo ,6¸ per-
cent of those are in the Bosniac-Croat Ieoeration, ¸¸ percent in the Republika
Srpska entity,.
In aooition, public ano civilian institutions were oestroyeo, such
as schools, libraries, churches, mosques, ano hospitals—in Sarajevo the hospital
was frequently targeteo by shelling, ano the National Library was one of the first
builoings to go up in flames. Cultural monuments such as mosques ano libraries
associateo with the Ottoman Muslim heritage were also prime targets for shelling,
both by the Bosnian Serb ano the Bosnian Croat armies.
The two phrases “centuries-olo hatreo” ano “they cannot live together,” ano the
term gcroctoc, all referreo to in the above-mentioneo speech by the Serb national-
ist leaoer Karaozid ,a few weeks before the barricaoes were set up in Sarajevo ano
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :o.
a Serb-controlleo Sarajevo separateo from the rest of the city,, became a staple of
Karaozid’s public speech repertoire. Inoeeo, it frequently appeareo in speeches
maoe by the top brass of the Serbian leaoership. The two phrases were quickly
pickeo up by many representatives of the Western meoia ano woulo shape policy
makers’ unoerstanoing of the conflict. With some honorable exceptions, interna-
tional meoiators woulo parrot this Serbian propaganoa. They became simultane-
ously an explanation both for the war ano one excuse for Western inaction in the
face of atrocities ,such as the oeath camps in Northern Bosnia ano the siege ano
oaily shelling of Sarajevo,.
The implication behino the “centuries-olo hatreo” mantra was that the war
coulo not be stoppeo but hao to run its natural cause, or, as E.U. meoiator Loro
Owen suggesteo, that “the warring fractions woulo have to fight it out.” ,Other
prominent believers of the “centuries-olo hatreo” explanatory mooel were Dou-
glas Huro, the British foreign minister at the time, ano Fresioent Bill Clinton, al-
though the latter later changeo his views., The war was, in other woros, portrayeo
as a natural oisaster at best, or as biologically oetermineo at worst: oriven by a pe-
culiarly primoroial or instinctive “Balkan” hatreo. By implication, the international
community coulo only try to alleviate some of the suffering by making sure that
fooo ano meoicines were oelivereo to the survivors.
By the eno of four years of
atrocities ano war committeo in the name of one people against another ,mem-
bers of all three groups—Croats, Muslims, ano Serbs—hao been victimizeo,, many
Bosnians woulo finally agree that Karaozid was right: “|We| cannot live together.”
Genocioe was a favorite rhetorical oevice for the nationalist policy makers ano ha-
treo mongers. They maoe it souno more scientific ano factual by prefixing it with
specific aojectives. Such imaginative use of the term may be traceo back to the :q86
“Memoranoum” of the Serbian Acaoemy of Science ano Arts: “The physical,
political, legal, ano cultural genocioe of the Serbian Fopulation in Kosovo ano
Metohija is a worse oefeat than any experiences in the liberation wars wageo by
Serbia from the Iirst Serbian Uprising in :8o¡ to the uprising of :q¡:.”
ing to Roger Cohen, gcroctoc was the most overuseo woro in Serbian ,ano later Yu-
goslav, presioent Slobooan Milosevid’s vocabulary. He referreo to the “oemographic
genocioe against the Serbs” ,in Kosovo the natality of the Albanians was much
higher than that among any other people in the former Yugoslavia, incluoing the
Serbs,. He talkeo about “the Croatian genocioe against the Serbs” ,a reminoer to
Serbs of what happeneo ouring Worlo War II, when Serbs living unoer the Croa-
tian Ustasha regime were victims of the regime’s genocioal policies against Jews,
Serbs, ano Gypsies, ano set up a oirect association between the former Ustasha
regime ano the contemporary Republic of Croatia run by Iranjo Tuojman ano his
nationalist party, the HDZ. He spoke of “the international embargo on Yugoslavia
as the last genocioal attack against the Serbs” ,the international embargo |sanc-
:o: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
tions| was imposeo on Yugoslavia ano the Milosevid regime by the U.N. Security
Council in :qq. for engaging in aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina,.
The frequent use of the term gcroctoc ,not as an absolute term, but in combina-
tion with various aojectives, hao at least three implications: Iirst, the repetitive use
in public propaganoa instilleo fear in Serbs about threats ,from neighbors, to their
own existence. Secono, the Serbian leaoers thus presenteo their own aggressive
project towaro non-Serb neighbors in oefensive terms.
Thiro, by the time the
non-Serb victims of genocioe ,or their spokespersons, in Bosnia were presenting
their plight to the outsioe worlo, their claims were oismisseo as propaganoa.
To many policy makers in Europe ano the Uniteo States it was convenient to
oescribe what was going on as “ethnic cleansing.” Describing the crimes against
non-Serb civilians as genocioe woulo carry an obligation to intervene—although
there may not exist a legal obligation to intervene, either to prevent genocioe from
happening or to stop it while in progress. It is not clear unoer the :q¡8 U.N. “Con-
vention for the Frevention ano Funishment of the Crime of Genocioe” what pre-
vention entails, ano whether it implies an obligation to intervene ,see Schabas :qqq,.
However, I believe there woulo have been a moral obligation ,pusheo by public
opinion, for the international community ,ano primarily the West, to intervene hao
“genocioe” ano not “ethnic cleansing” become the oefining crime of the wars in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is not to say, however, that “ethnic cleansing” in all cases
became a euphemism for “genocioe.” The systematic muroer of Muslim ano Croat
civilians that took place in Eastern ano Northern Bosnia was not the pattern every-
where in Bosnia ,“ethnic cleansing” ooes, however, entail crimes punishable as grave
breaches of the Geneva Conventions ano as crimes against humanity,. But at least
ouring the first half of the war the phenomenon of ethnic cleansing exoticizeo
the war in Bosnia, ano, I believe, maoe it more oifficult for people to engage. The
concept also contributeo to blurring the lines in people’s minos between perpetra-
tor ano victim, between attacker ano attackeo. The term is vague in that what con-
stitutes “ethnic cleansing” is often vague, so it was easier to accuse all sioes in the
conflict of ethnic cleansing ,ano thus treat them as equally guilty,.
Etlrtc clcor·trg is not a legal term, ano while genocioe is oefineo as a crime of in-
tent in legal terms, ctlrtc clcor·trg was originally useo to oescribe the expulsions of
unwanteo populations ,in oroer to create an ethnically pure territory, through ter-
ror tactics such as intimioation, oiscrimination, rape, torture, muroer, looting ano
burning of homes, ano the oestruction of religious ano cultural objects. However,
through overuse ano politically motivateo misuse, the term was watereo oown. It
was even useo about the consequences of negotiateo changes of political-military
boroers. ,One example woulo be when Serb inhabitants, who in many cases set fire
to their own houses first, fleo areas of Sarajevo that were returneo to the control
of the Sarajevo government unoer the Dayton Feace Agreement.,
Gcroctoc ano ctlrtc clcor·trg have been useo as powerful polemic terms by local
political players in the war ano by international observers ano commentators. Yet
while gcroctoc was useo mainly by the Serbian nationalists in a propaganoa strategy,
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :o¸
ctlrtc clcor·trg was useo polemically ano accoroing to varying criteria ,often oe-
penoent on the political point the speaker wanteo to make, by foreign commenta-
tors as well.
In the Iinal Report of the Uniteo Nations Commission of Experts, ctlrtc clcor·trg
is oefineo as “renoering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimi-
oation to remove from a given area persons from another ethnic or religious group.”
This is a very general oefinition that ooes not specify the violent means involveo.
However, the report is more specific in referring to actual campaigns of “ethnic
cleansing”, it continues: “ ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ has involveo means, such as the mass
killing of civilians, sexual assault, the bombaroment of cities, the oestruction of
mosques ano churches, the confiscation of property ano similar measures to elim-
inate or oramatically reouce, Muslim ano Croat populations that lie within Serb
helo territories.” The report states that Croat forces, too, have engageo in ethnic
cleansing against Serbs ano Muslims, ano that “while Bosnian Muslim forces have
engageo in practices that constitute ‘grave breaches’ of the Geneva Conventions
ano other violations of international humanitarian law, they have not engageo in
‘ethnic cleansing operations’ ” ano that “the forceful population removal of Serbs
by Bosnian Muslims has happeneo but not as part of a policy.” Inoeeo, the or-
ganizeo ano systematic character of the “ethnic cleansing” campaigns, ano the fact
that they were backeo up with a propaganoa leo by a political leaoership, shoulo
encourage us always to preface references to ethnic cleansing with “the policy of ”
or “campaign of.”
It is not clear how the term ctlrtc clcor·trg originateo. However, Bosnians have
tolo me that to·ct·tttt, the woro for “to clean up” or “to cleanse” ,or ctsdcr¡c, the woro
for “cleaning”, was useo in the vernacular ouring Worlo War II to oescribe a mil-
itary action akin to “mopping up,” as in the term to·ct·tttt tctcr ,“mopping up the
terrain”,. I suggest that the term ctlrtc was aooeo on by foreign journalists or hu-
man rights rapporteurs. To my knowleoge, ctlrtc ;ctrtclt) was not a term wioely
known or useo in Bosnia except by sociologists. But oloer people were familiar with
the use of the term ctsdcr¡c ,or to·ct·tttt , from armeo attacks on villages ouring Worlo
War II ,incluoing by Tito’s Fartisan forces,. Although the abhorrent practices as-
sociateo with ethnic cleansing are not new, the term that has become a general-
izeo expression of them is.
However, “ethnic purification,” which is the English translation of ctrtclt ctsdcr¡c,
may better convey the Nazi era ioeas behino the violent ano bigoteo practices the
term is meant to stano for ,see also Letica :qq¸,. It coulo be argueo that the wioe use
of ctlrtc clcor·trg ,usually leaving out a clarifying “policy of ”, in the meoia coverage
of the war in Bosnia ouring the first few years blurreo the international public’s con-
ceptions of what was going on. “Ethnic cleansing” sounoeo like something pecu-
liarly “Balkan,” ano inoeeo for some Balkan scholars who were applying their po-
:o¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
litical views ano acaoemic analysis of the Greek experience with Turkey between
the two Worlo Wars, “ethnic cleansing” seemeo familiar, ano akin to, “population
The suggestion is that “organizeo” or superviseo “ethnic
cleansing” woulo have reouceo war casualties ano even avoioeo the war ano en-
sureo a long-lasting peace. In this instance ctlrtc clcor·trg is given a positive conno-
tation, in accoroance with the “ethnic cleansers’ ” own evaluation. This view, how-
ever, is problematic for several reasons. Iirst, it perceives multiethnicity itself as a
problem. Secono, the population transfers early in the last century raiseo significant
moral, political, ano social concerns ano resulteo in significant human suffering.
Thiro, there is no reason to believe that social engineering elsewhere in the worlo
at the start of the twentieth century is usefully applicable to Bosnia-Herzegovina in
the :qqos. Last, it ignores the fact that the practices entaileo in campaigns of ethnic
cleansing are war crimes ano in many cases will qualify unoer international law as
crimes against humanity. Inoeeo, to start using ctlrtc clcor·trg to mean population
transfers intenoeo to protect people from war is to sanitize atrocities committeo un-
oer the banner of “ethnic cleansing” ,the same is true when ctlrtc clcor·trg is useo to
oenote any kino of human rights abuses of ethnic minorities,. Thiro, it assumes that
the cause of the problem ,the political ano military orive for ethnically “pure” ter-
ritories, is also the solution to the problem. This view, in other woros, takes for
granteo that a majority of people ,of their own free will, wanteo to live not in Bosnia
but in politically ano militarily engineereo “ethnically pure” statelets. I will argue
that the very personalizeo violence that is the hallmark of ethnic cleansing ano the
wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina proves that a majority of people oio not want the new
social oroer that was being imposeo on them.
The personalizeo violence, oirecteo towaro inoiviouals because of their associ-
ation with a certain ethnic community was poignantly conveyeo by a Bosnian frieno
of mine. We were sitting in her home in a village ano hearing shells falling a few
kilometers away. I askeo her whether she was afraio. She tolo me: “I oo not fear
shells for they oo not ask me my name. I fear only the shock troops, they enter
your house ano oo all sorts of things to you. Shells fall on you by chance ano oeath
is instant. They oo not ask me my name.” ,It shoulo be aooeo by way of explana-
tion that in Bosnia one can usually tell a person’s ethnic ioentification by her or his
first ano last name or a combination of the two., The level of terror ano violence
neeoeo to force Bosnians to separate is a testimony, first, to the lack of fit between
the ethnically homogenous political ano geographical space oesireo by the “eth-
nic cleansers” ano their engineers ano the ethnically heterogeneous reality on the
grouno, ano, secono, ano perhaps more important, to the lack of fit between the
ioeological ano totalitarian view of ethnicity ano the practical ano flexible per-
ception of ethnicity on the grouno.
Inoeeo, the fact that a very high level of co-
ercion was neeoeo is a clear inoication that most people wanteo to continue to live
Yet what many people say ano want at the eno of ten years of hatreo ano fear
propaganoa, ano almost four years of war with neighbors, is not necessarily what
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :o¡
they saio or wanteo at the outset. To suggest otherwise woulo be to oisregaro so-
cial processes completely. Ior instance, many ,if not most, Bosnian Serbs who live
in the Republika Srpska entity of B-H “justify the ‘homelano war’ as righteous ano
necessary, as an ultimately oefensive measure to rescue Serbs from an Islamic state
reminiscent of Ottoman Turkish rule unoer which Serbs languisheo for cen-
Surely, a crucial question to try to answer is: What where the frameworks,
the social ano political structures, that not only alloweo ano encourageo some peo-
ple to commit crimes against their neighbors but also resulteo in those people be-
ing seen as heroes by many of those who shareo their ethnic affiliation?
Ior the Socialist Ieoerative Republic of Yugoslavia, the eno of communism meant
that parts of the country suffereo an almost five-year-long war that has completely
oevastateo the country ano its peoples. It was the bloooiest regime transition in cen-
tral ano eastern Europe at the eno of the Colo War. This is ironic, as Yugoslavia
was also the most open towaro the West in terms of traoe, foreign policy, less reg-
ulateo markets, ano the possibility for Yugoslavs to travel ano work in Western Eu-
rope. Yugoslavia’s transition from a one-party state socialist system shoulo have
been the least traumatic of all countries that rejoineo oemocratic Europe after the
fall of the Berlin Wall. Insteao, the opposite was true.
Volumes have been written about the “fall,” “oestruction,” “oisintegration,”
“eno,” ano so forth of Yugoslavia since :qq:, ano I am sure new titles will be aooeo.
Different authors stress oifferent aspects of the oevelopments that leo to the wars:
the economic crisis, the stifling of oemocratic movements, the rise to power of one
man—Slobooan Milosevid—ano his brano of nationalism, olo ethnic antagonisms
oormant through communist times being reactivateo, the role of the international
community ,primarily Europe, or lack of such a role, ano even a “clash of civi-
Certainly, however, the breakup of Yugoslavia ano the ensuing wars
cannot be explaineo by one factor, but only as the result of a combination of fac-
tors—a series of circumstances whereby oomestic ano international structural
changes ano certain political players came together at the eno of the century in Yu-
I woulo like to examine one element in this web of factors that I believe has re-
ceiveo less attention than it shoulo: namely, the problems entaileo in the transition
from one form of authority to another. The premise for my oiscussion is that is-
sues of succession ano political legitimacy following the oeath of Tito in :q8o were
not properly aooresseo by the Yugoslavs, ano that no mooe of authority other than
the one embooieo by Tito was alloweo to oevelop.
This was the “Tito we swear
to you” ,Ttto mc tc lorcmo, mooel of paternal authority that Tito passeo on, not to
:oó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
one successor but to six in a rotating presioency. ,Each successor representeo the
special interests of his or her republic ano its people—with the exception of the
representative from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who hao to represent the interests of all
three peoples living within it., The issue of the successors to Tito oeals with the
macro level of the beginning of the eno for Yugoslavia. The challenge is to con-
nect events on the macro level to what eventually happeneo locally in villages, town-
ships, ano urban neighborhooos. This is an area where research is still neeoeo.
But I woulo like to propose some possible connections.
After the eno of the Colo War, both the institutions at the base of the Yugoslav
state structure ano the ioeological organizing principles were oiscreoiteo ,became
illegitimate,, maoe irrelevant, or were restructureo. I will look at these in turn: The
two main institutions were the league of Yugoslav communists ,the party, ano the
Yugoslav Feople’s Army , JNA,. The ioeological pillars were Self-Management,
Nonalignment, ano Brotherhooo ano Unity.
After Tito’s oeath in :q8o, the Yugoslav Communist Farty was further propelleo
into a process of oecentralization ,which hao begun with the :q¸¡ constitution,.
Decisions were increasingly being maoe at the local/republican level, ano the Croa-
tian, Serb, Slovenian branches of the party were representing the interests of the
republics ano not those of a unifieo Yugoslavia ,see Denitch :qq¡,. With the fall of
the Berlin Wall ano the oiscreoiting of communism, the era of the communist party
in Yugoslavia, too, was coming to an eno. In some areas communists reinventeo
themselves as nationalists ,for example, Milosevid in Serbia,. This was not neces-
sarily a raoical ioeological change, as communism ano nationalism have some im-
portant traits in common. Accoroing to Zwick ,:q8¸,, both communism ano na-
tionalism emerge in transitional societies ano are as such an “expression of social
collective grievances.” Iurthermore, he argues, they have both “quasi-religious
characteristics,” ano they are “millenarian worlo views in that they promise secu-
lar oeliverance ano salvation in the form of a perfect worlo oroer ano their fol-
lowers are willing to justify virtually anything in the name of their millenarian
goals” ,ibio.:::–:.,. Both movements arise as a reaction to an ,imagineo, enemy or
enemies. Although in the case of communism another class ano the capitalist “for-
eign” Western worlo are oepicteo as the enemy, in the case of nationalism the pri-
mary enemy is the other nation ,see ibio.:::,. The oissolution of the Colo War po-
larization between the capitalist West ano the communist East ,ano the
oisappearance of a so-calleo Soviet threat, not only removeo traoitional enemy cat-
egories from the repertoire of the Yugoslav state, it also oepriveo it of the ration-
ale for its geopolitical status ano ioentity—its “non-aligneo” status. Backeo up by
nationalism as the new ioeology of the Yugoslav republics, the successors to Tito
reoefineo the enemy from being the outsioe foreign capitalist or Soviet powers to
becoming the other competing “Yugoslav” nations within.
“Self-management” was the oistinguishing feature of Tito’s own brano of so-
cialism, permeating all levels of official institutions ano work places. The self-man-
aging system “meant the installation of a multiple hierarchy of assemblies, from
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :o,
the communities to the republic ano the feoeration.” There was self-management
in the workplace, on ownership to property ,so-calleo social property,, ano in the
area of military ano oefense, which meant “a network of civilian oefense militias
in every workplace ano community” ,Thompson :qq.:¸.,. Self-management as a
system for managing the economy hao alreaoy been oiscreoiteo by the severe eco-
nomic crisis ano the ineffectiveness of the state apparatus in oealing with the cri-
sis. Self-management as a principle in organizing ano oecentralizing Yugoslavia’s
military ano oefense forces, however, hao critical importance for the military struc-
ture of the recent wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina ano in Croatia. When the princi-
ples of self-management were applieo to oefense ano military forces, it meant oe-
centralizeo commano structures ano that citizens were involveo on all levels in the
oefense of the country. It also meant that the access to arms was oecentralizeo. A
central element of this oecentralizeo military structure was the Territorial Defense
Units. Chairman Bassiouni of the U.N. Commission of Experts gives a clear analy-
sis of the implications of this military oefense system for the structure ano oynamics
of the wars in the former Yugoslavia:
The governments of the various republics would participate with the federal govern-
ment for regional defense. This strategy required universal military service and coor-
dinated training in guerrilla warfare. This ensured that cadres of soldiers, trained in
guerilla warfare, would be available nationwide and capable of operating in decen-
tralized command fashion. Training facilities, weapon caches, and supply stores were
placed throughout the country. The military also organized reserve units or so-called
Territorial Defense Units around workplaces to ensure the wide distribution of weapons.
Thus, with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, trained soldiers were available for
mobilization, and weapons and ammunition were also available for distribution to na-
tional and local political or military leaders and their followers. These leaders some-
times used these resources to further their own political, military, or personal goals.
When the Yugoslav communist party oisintegrateo, only one state institution re-
maineo: the Yugoslav Feoples Army. When Slovenia oeclareo inoepenoence, the
JNA moveo in, the same happeneo in Croatia a few months later. The JNA gen-
erals were loyal to Yugoslavia ano saw their role as preventing it from oisintegrat-
ing. But as non-Serbs starteo to realize that the JNA was useo against Yugoslav com-
patriots ano that it was a tool of Milosevid ano his new Serbian nationalist regime,
they starteo to pull out of the JNA. It lost its last remnant of creoibility ,as became
clear with JNA’s siege of Vukovar, among non-Serbs when it shelleo the olo town
ano Aoriatic port of Dubrovnik in :qq:. In Bosnia the JNA pulleo out when the
republic oeclareo inoepenoence, but it hanoeo all its weaponry over to the Bosnian
Serb insurgents ano officers switcheo uniforms. The JNA oio not even preteno to
be protecting the Yugoslav state ano all its peoples anymore, it hao become the tool
of Milosevid ano his project of creating a greater Serbia.
Subsequently, new armies were establisheo that fought for one nation ano one
state ,except in the Bosnian case, where the Bosnian Army in the first half of the
:o8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
war fought for one state but for all nations within it, ano were the military arm of
ethno-nationalist political parties. Tito, who hao formeo ano heaoeo both of the
state-bearing institutions, the communist party ano the JNA, hao been oeao for
more than ten years when both of them oisintegrateo. It was the eno of his state.
His image, which hao been religiously kept alive for ten years, was not only faoing
into the backgrouno but hao also suffereo from years of being oebunkeo by the
popular meoia ano opposition forces. The allegiance to a oeao Tito ano the slo-
gan “Tito we swear to you, we will not stray from your path” was no longer strong
enough to withstano the forces of oisintegration—forces that were very much
helpeo by structures Tito himself hao put in place. But what happeneo to the last
of Tito’s three ioeological pillars—namely, Brotherhooo ano Unity?
This was the key transcenoent of Titoist Yugoslavia: it was the ioiom for solioarity
ano cooperation between the oifferent nations ano nationalities of Yugoslavia. The
basis for this unity of the South Slav peoples was the common struggle ,which cut
across ethnic affiliation, against fascism ,German, Italian, ano Croatian, leo by
the partisans. It was the heartbeat of Tito’s creation. This ioea, however, both
glosseo over the animosities createo by the communal fighting ouring Worlo War
II ano, as far as Bosnia is concerneo, was a Titoist appropriation of its long traoi-
tion of cooperation between the oifferent ethno-religious communities. The new
regimes hao to establish legitimacy ,ano a popular base of support, through oe-
stroying the legitimacy of the previous regime, so multiethnicity was conveniently
seen by the new nationalist ano separatist leaoers as a communist legacy. Multi-
ethnicity woulo unoermine their power base: the ethnically oefineo region or re-
public. Its most poignant expression—interethnic marriage—was portrayeo as the
ultimate communist invention. Inoeeo, it was consioereo ,ano probably rightly so,
as a threat to the mobilizing effect of nationalism. It so happens that Bosnia was
the region of the former Yugoslavia where so-calleo intermarriage was the most
common. Not only was multiethnicity portrayeo as another woro for Brotherhooo
ano Unity, but it was also an obstacle to creating homogenous nation states, both
in terms of oemography ano geography—villages ano towns all over B-H were eth-
nically heterogeneous—ano from a political perspective. To better unoerstano why
multiethnicity ,or ethnically heterogeneous communities, were perceiveo by the
new ethno-nationalist leaoers as a political obstacle to creating their oesireo new
nation-states, it is helpful to examine the way in which the political ano the ethnic
were intertwineo in Titoist policies.
In Tito’s single-party state, the only opportunity to express oiversity was through
ethnicity. Inoeeo, in many instances political representation was baseo on ethnic-
ity. That is, every governmental booy hao to be representeo by a member from each
of the ethnic groups in that republic ,for example, in the rotating presioency that
Tito hao oesigneo, all seats were allocateo on the basis of ethnic or national ioen-
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :oç
tity,. Tito regime’s hao an ambivalent attituoe towaro ethnic relations. On the one
hano, it encourageo national ioentities through the political ano aoministrative sys-
tem, since political representation ano allocation of resources were on the basis of
ethnic ioentification ,this system is still in force in Bosnia through the government
structures laio oown by the Dayton Agreement,. On the other, it ethnicizeo polit-
ical opposition: oemanos for more oemocracy were branoeo as outbursts of na-
tionalism ano an anathema, a threat to the very existence of Yugoslavia ,baseo on
the principle of Brotherhooo ano Unity,, ano therefore consioereo antistate ano
prosecuteo. ,Several crackoowns ano court cases involveo current leaoers who were
sentenceo to prison terms for nationalist activities ouring Titoist rule., Ten years
after Tito’s oeath, ano a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, all the Yugoslav re-
publics oecioeo to holo oemocratic multiparty elections.
The founoation for a political system baseo on ethnicity was alreaoy in place,
ano thus it shoulo have come as no surprise that the :qqo elections in the Yugoslav
republics swept to power nationalist parties ano their leaoers. During the elections,
a critical theme was the relations between majority populations ,or so-calleo con-
stituent peoples, ano ethnic minorities. Feople were worrieo about the outcome of
the free elections ano the new oivisions of power it woulo create. Since there was
no political traoition of oemocracy or pluralism, ano resources ano political office
traoitionally hao been allocateo on the basis of ethnic or national ioentity, people
feareo that to be a minority in a local community or political-aoministrative area
coulo mean having no rights or having reouceo access to resources. ,Unoer one-
party rule, only those who supporteo the party—that is, the majority—hao politi-
cal rights, so nobooy wanteo to be a minority., The new nationalist leaoers repre-
senting aggressive nationalist parties playeo on these fears. Thus on the eve of the
elections there were the legacy of totalitarian one-party rule combineo with the
ethnification of political representation ano allocation of resources, plus a worry
about the change in status from a constituent people to a minority unoer the new
In a process that starteo with the :q¸¡ Yugoslav constitution ,resulting in the
oevolution of power to the republics,, the “people-as-one” principle character-
istic of totalitarian rule was moveo from the Yugoslav ,feoeral, to the ethnona-
tional level ,see Bringa, forthcoming,. This element, together with the fact that
there was a traoition of viewing political conflict or competition in ethnic terms,
accounts for the branoing of all people ioentifiable as belonging to a particular
ethnic group as political opponents. In the case of Milosevid’s political project
for a Greater Serbia ,ano later Tuojman’s for a greater Croatia,, all non-Serbs
,or non-Croats, in Tuojman’s HDZ-controlleo areas, were consioereo enemies
that hao to be removeo. That the war was primarily motivateo by political ioe-
ology ,of which nationalism was the main ingreoient, is clear from the fact that
Serbs who opposeo the project ,for example, who publicly expresseo solioarity
with non-Serb neighbors, were targeteo too, anyone who was against the na-
tionalist project was targeteo. This meant that Bosnian Muslims ,ano other non-
:.o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
separatists, such as people of ethnically mixeo backgrounos, became particularly
There was yet another aspect of the Tito regime’s ambivalent attituoe towaro eth-
nic relations ano ethnic communities. It was its reluctance to oeal with past injus-
tices, such as atrocities towaro civilians of a specific ethnic ioentification, for fear
of stirring things up. The civil wars that ran parallel to ano intertwineo with Worlo
War II in Yugoslavia were never properly oealt with in the official history after :q¡¸.
It operateo with two mutually exclusive categories: the fascists ,the evil perpetra-
tors, ano the partisans ,the heroic victors ano the victims of the fascists,.
The suf-
fering ano injustices experienceo by anyone falling outsioe these categories were
never publicly acknowleogeo. Civilians who hao been caught in between, or those
who hao suffereo at the hanos of the partisans, oio not have a place in the official
account. No memorial was ever erecteo over the graves of those victims. In the late
:q8os ano early :qqos, “the nameless oeao” were in many cases exhumeo ano given
a religious burial, a burial that imbueo these victims with an ethnic ioentity ,see
Veroery :qqq,. They became Serb victims of the Croat Ustasha or Croat victims
of communists ,Serbs,.
Iinally, there was public acknowleogment of the suffer-
ing ano loss that hao been silenceo unoer Tito, but the public acknowleogment was
only to those living members of the victims’ ethnic/national groups. It was there-
fore not a ritual that coulo be part of a process of reconciliation, on the contrary,
there was another, hiooen message: a collapsing of time ioentifying the victims with
all other members of the same ethnicity ano the perpetrators with all other living
members of the group they were seen to represent. As argueo by Veroery ,ibio.,,
the unoerlying message was, “They may oo it to you again.”
Cultivation of the oeath cults was a central element in the politics of memory
ano the manipulation of fear ,see Borneman, forthcoming,. ,It shoulo be noteo,
however, that the leaoers of the Muslim community oio not engage in exhuma-
tion ano reburial rituals, as that woulo have run contrary to both Muslim traoition
ano Islamic belief: oesecration of consecrateo graves is believeo to result in oivine
punishment. In aooition, Alija Izetbegovic, the leaoer of the Bosnian Muslim Farty
|SDA|, was reluctant to use inflammatory ano oivisive rhetoric. After all, at least
in the first half of the war, Izetbegovic saw himself as the leaoer of a multiethnic
Bosnia—when there was still a multiethnic B-H to consioer.,
So there were atrocities ano injustices at the hanos of co-Yugoslavs that Tito
hao not wanteo to oeal with ano therefore hao burieo unoer the slogan of Broth-
erhooo ano Unity. But the public process of remembering those events from :q8q
onwaro oio not form part of a process of reconciliation, since it was not owneo by
the local communities where the events hao taken place, insteao, it was hijackeo
by nationalist leaoers as a tool to manipulate fear ano create a social climate in
which supporters woulo rally behino them for “protection.”
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :..
The violent breakup of the Socialist Ieoeral Republic of Yugoslavia into na-
tional,ist, republics was both a revolt against the Titoist regime ano the result of
conoitions createo by that regime, conoitions that shapeo oevelopments ano lim-
iteo the number of possible outcomes. The most significant break with the olo
regime was the change in the transcenoent from Brotherhooo ano Unity to its an-
tithesis, ethnonationalist “purity.” But structural ano ioeological traits of the olo
regime remaineo, among which the ethnification of political life was crucial. In-
oeeo, the new ethnonationalist leaoers relieo on some of the previous regime’s key
political controlling mechanisms for their own holo on power.
As state structures crumble, institutions lose their legitimation, ano there is no
money left, people feel lost ,a way of life is oisappearing,, they worry about the
immeoiate future, which seems to holo only uncertainties. Insecurity ano fear about
the present ano the future motivates people to withoraw into safe “we groups” in
which you neeo not qualify to become a member—it is your birthright, ano loy-
alty ano protection are taken for granteo. This may be your kin group or your eth-
nic group or your nation ,the largest group of people using the ioiom of kinship,.
As persecution, assaults, ano violence become personal experience, the inoivioual’s
fear turns into hatreo for the enemy ano all the members of his or her group. Iear
ano war help to coalesce populations into clearly oefineo nations. ,I oo believe that
for most people when this kino of manipulateo fear oisappears, the hatreo goes.
The fear oisappears when people feel safe again.,
The war experiences of inoiviouals in turn serve to confirm the nationalist pro-
paganoa of the neeo for “ethnic unity” ano the threat from the “ethnic other.” War
experiences change the way people ano communities think ano feel about their
own ioentity ano that of others. Inoeeo, the experience of violence ano war seems
crucial for the strong ethnic ano national ioentification people in most of the for-
mer Yugoslavia oevelopeo ,Fovrzanovid :qq¸,. In Bosnia in :qq¸, you coulo no
longer choose if you wanteo to be a Bosnian rather than a Croat, or if you wanteo
to be a Yugoslav rather than a Muslim ,or Bosniac,. Any category other than Croat,
Serb, or Muslim fell outsioe the oominant oiscourse ,that is, the oiscourse of power,.
This oevelopment towaro closeo ano rigio nationality-oefineo communities in
Bosnia, shoulo, as Gagnon has argueo, be unoerstooo in the context of political
elites pursuing a strategy for restructuring political circumstances so that the only
way to obtain anything is by ioentifying oneself exclusively with one ethnic/na-
tional community ,see Gagnon :qq¸, :qq6,.
Opposition ano resistance became impossible. If you opposeo the harassment
or expulsion of your neighbor with, say, a Muslim name, you were a traitor, you
riskeo being killeo ,or were killeo,, or, even worse, the “ethnic cleansers” threateneo
to kill ,or killeo, your son or another close relative. The brave persons who resisteo
ano opposeo were, in other woros, given impossible choices. The methoo the Ser-
:.: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
bian paramilitaries in particular were applying were very efficient. Serbs who pro-
tecteo their Muslim frienos ano neighbors or voiceo opposition to the mistreatment
of non-Serbs in any other way were effectively oealt with: tortureo ano killeo ano
left in view for others to contemplate. Inoiviouals who refuseo to be separateo from
their frienos or neighbors along ethnic lines were oealt with, too.
A Sarajevo journalist tolo me what happeneo in his neighborhooo in Dobrinja ,a
resioential area by the Sarajevo airport that hao a high number of professionals ano
people who ioentifieo themselves as Bosnians or Yugoslavs among its resioences,. Feo-
ple were heroeo out of their apartments by Serbian paramilitaries, lineo up in front
of the builoing, ano those with Serbian names were askeo to step out of the line ano
join the paramilitaries. This hao happeneo before elsewhere, ano two of the Serbs
knew that they might be askeo to shoot ano kill their non-Serb neighbors. They re-
fuseo, ano were killeo on the spot. Fotential witnesses to massacres were silenceo by
implicating them in the acts. Davio Rhooe, the journalist who was captureo by Serb
forces while researching the Srebrenica massacre ano then wrote the book Erogomc,
a comprehensive account of the political ano military circumstances surrounoing the
Srebrenica massacre, tolo me that one of the bus orivers who hao been oroereo to
bus Muslim men to the fielo where they were executeo was himself forceo to shoot
ano kill. In other woros, a witness was turneo into an accomplice. In this fashion, even
if a person wanteo to oisassociate himself from acts of violence committeo in the
name of the ethnic or national group he ioentifieo with, it woulo be oifficult, since
every attempt was maoe to implicate everybooy. Thus whatever opposition there was
to oivioe Bosnians along so-calleo ethnic lines was effectively oealt with. Bosnians
quickly learneo the lesson: you oo not argue with a gun. “Ethnic cleansing” then
was not only, ano perhaps not even primarily, about “ethnic purification.” It was pri-
marily, to borrow a term from Goroy ,:qqq,, about the “oestruction of alternatives”
ano the elimination of people who representeo those alternatives by virtue of ioen-
tifying or being ioentifieo with another ethnic or political community.
The fact remains that the main victims in the war ,in terms of number of oeao,
oestroyeo homes, ano cultural ano religious monuments, were Bosnian Muslims.
The Bosnian Muslims were the largest group in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but their
losses were oisproportionately large relative to the size of the their population. The
oestruction of cultural monuments, mosques, ano so forth associateo with Bosnian
Muslim culture ano traoition was also oisproportionally large. I have argueo above
that “ethnic cleansing” was not just “ethnic” but also about the elimination of cit-
izens who were believeo to be hostile to the new political oroer that was being im-
poseo on them. But why were the Muslims perceiveo as hostile by Serb ano Croat
nationalists ano subsequently by their electorate?
It was clear that an overwhelming majority of Bosnian Muslims oio not want
to live in a Greater Serbia ,or a Greater Croatia, but wanteo to continue to live in
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :.¸
Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is what they voteo for ano that is what most Bosnian
Army soloiers fought for. They opposeo the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina into
a Serbian Belgraoe-ruleo half ano a Croatian Zagreb-ruleo half. There were also
Serbs ano Croats who opposeo them, but they hao few representatives in public
ano, most important, oio not control any armies, consequently, international peace
negotiators were not interesteo in talking to them. In aooition, Bosnians of no clear
Serb, Croat, or Muslim ethnic ioentification also opposeo such a oivision. They
hao something in common with Bosnians who oefineo themselves as ethnically
Muslim. They hao no other homelano than Bosnia to aspire to, feel connecteo to,
or ioentify with—multiethnic Bosnia was their homelano.
It is telling that after the Serb-Croat nationalist war for territory ano political ano
economic control spreao to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the overwhelming number of those
who continueo to oeclare themselves to be Bosnians ano supportive of a multina-
tional state of Bosnia-Herzegovina were Muslims ano those of an ethnically mixeo
origin. Bosnia-Herzegovina was the only republic in the former Socialist Ieoeral Re-
public of Yugoslavia that was not oefineo as the national home of one particular
rotoo—that is, people or nation.
Insteao it hao three—Muslims, Serbs, ano
Croats—ano none of them carrieo an ethnonym that ioentifieo them with the Re-
public of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the same way as Serbs were or coulo be ioentifieo
with Serbia ano Croats with Croatia ,see Bringa :qq¸:.¸,. The Bosnian Muslims as
a people ,naroo, were blocking a simple two-way partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
both politically ano by their numerically strong presence in all parts of Bosnia-Herze-
govina, both rural ano urban, where they liveo among Serbs ano Croats. They were
not geographically confineo to any particular region.
The project of getting rio of the “opposition” hao to be presenteo by the Serb
ano Croat nationalists to their electorate in oefensive terms in oroer to be accepteo.
The wartime leaoer of Croatia, Iranjo Tuojman, suggesteo to Western oiplomats
that he was fighting a war on behalf of the West to protect it from Muslim funoa-
mentalism ,that is, Islam,. In making peace with the Bosniacs, he saw that, too, in
terms of helping the West to reouce the influence of Islam ano Muslims in Europe.
To what extent nationalist leaoers actually believeo their own rhetoric is irrelevant
to my present argument. It is clear, though, that this rhetoric hao the oesireo effect
of turning the Bosnian Muslims into the “other,” “the intruoer,” “those who oo not
belong,” “those who threaten our well-being, power, ano prosperity”, in oroer to
pacify them, they hao to be oominateo or eliminateo.
The rhetoric of exclusion, which orew on oemeaning, anti-Muslim imagery, was
followeo by physical exclusion by violent means. A great part of the imagery useo
by Serb separatist/nationalist leaoers in public speeches ano by the meoia that sup-
porteo them was orawn from Serbian folklore ,epics, folk songs, ano traoitional folk
perceptions,. A close examination of the imagery ano vocabulary that was chosen
by Serbian nationalists to justify exclusion of non-Serbs ,ano in particular Bos-
nian Muslims, ano the violent reorawing of bounoaries may help us better unoer-
stano the process of oehumanization of the Muslims ano the brutality they suffereo
:.¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
at the hanos of Serbs ,see Sells :qq6,. A favorite theme of Serbian folktales ano
epics is the fight between gooo ano evil, expresseo in the fight between Serbs ano
,Ottoman, Turks—Christian ano Muslim. Some of the most popular ano well-
known Serbian epics incite Serbs ,ano Montenegrins, to kill Muslims in the most
bestial ways. The best-known example is “The Mountain Wreath” by the Mon-
tenegrin poet Njegos. ,Ior a oetaileo analysis of this epic, the anti-Muslim iconog-
raphy of Serbian epics more generally, ano their reactivation at the eno of the twen-
tieth century in Serbia, see Sells :qq6., However, we can fino prejuoice ano even
oehumanizing images about “other” people in folklore, epics, songs, myths, ano lit-
erature in many parts of the worlo. The presence of such images ,ano even of such
attituoes, is not a sufficient explanation for the cruel treatment of Muslims in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. The critical issue is the public appropriation of such images
to serve political enos—that is, their use ,primarily by elites, in public oiscourse.
Bosnian Muslims hao an awkwaro position in both Serbian ano Croatian na-
tionalist historiography: both claimeo that the Bosnian Muslims were ethnically re-
ally one or the other but hao switcheo sioes politically ano religiously ouring Ot-
toman Turkish rule. There were times in the history of Yugoslavia when Croat or
Serb leaoers hao founo it opportune to stress the commonality of ethnicity between
Muslims ano Croats or Muslims ano Serbs, respectively ,as with the Ustasha our-
ing Worlo War II,. But ouring the recent conflict, nationalist leaoers founo it op-
portune to stress the “conversion” part of Bosnian Muslim history. Both Serbian
ano Croatian nationalist propaganoa presenteo the “war against the Muslims” as
a fight against the establishment of an Islamic state in B-H. The Bosnian Serb na-
tionalist leaoer Raoovan Karaozid ano his then-patron in Belgraoe ,Slobooan Milo-
sevid, are only two examples of Bosnian Serb leaoers who woulo use overt associ-
ations between present-oay Bosnian Muslims ano their rise to political office after
the :qqo elections ano the Turkish Ottomans ano their rule in Bosnia ano Serbia,
which enoeo in the secono part of the nineteenth century after having lasteo for
more than four hunoreo years. “Turk,” the oerogatory folk term for Bosnian Mus-
lim, was elevateo to a quasi-official term of reference.
In communist times oissioents ano political opposition were branoeo “comin-
formists” or “nationalists” ,that is, traitors, or as “fifth columnists” ,foreign agents
or spies,. In a speech given in early .ooo, Yugoslav Fresioent Milosevid stresseo that
“|we| have no opposition, but rather contemporary janissaries. These latter-oay
turncoats ,potottcc, are at the service of foreign masters.”
In other woros, Fresi-
oent Milosevid branoeo his political opponents as janissaries ano potottcc. Both terms
are associateo with Muslims ano refer to the Ottoman perioo. Potottcc literally means
“those who have become Turks.” The term refers to those South Slavs who con-
verteo to Islam ouring Ottoman rule in the Balkans. But in some contexts it is useo
as a synonym for “traitors” or “turn-coats.” The term is often useo in that way in
Serbian folklore. Janissaries were soloiers ano members of the Sultan’s guaro ano
were often recruiteo from among young Christian boys in the Ottoman Empire. In
Milosevid’s usage it is another term for fifth-columnists. The communist turneo na-
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :.¡
tionalist has changeo his label ano the targets for repression, but the rhetorical strat-
egy remains the same: a twenty-first-century nationalist is using sixteenth-century
terms to express his twentieth-century communist worloview.
A comparison between the iconography in Serbian ano Croatian folklore in re-
lation to the Muslims is calleo for. On the basis of such an analysis, can we specu-
late that the iconography in Croatian folklore is not sufficiently oehumanizing ano
violent towaro Muslims to move Croats to commit genocioe against the Muslims?
I believe that ultimately the vocabulary of such epics ano traoitions of hatreo oo
not motivate people’s actions per se. It is the activation of the images that matters,
the reconnection of those historic images ano attituoes with the present ano their
translation into contemporary action. Feople have to be maoe to act upon them—
but how?
In all societies at all times there exist both the potential for conflict ano the poten-
tial for peaceful coexistence. At all times what becomes oominant is oepenoent on
what the economically ano politically powerful in a society choose to stress. Soci-
eties in raoical transition, where state structures ano the institutions regulating law
ano oroer oisintegrate, as was the case in the former Yugoslavia, have a greater
potential for conflict, ano they are more vulnerable to inoiviouals ano organiza-
tions that seek to exploit the potential for conflict. The political leaoership who in-
stigateo ano orove the war in Bosnia ,aioeo by the meoia they controlleo, con-
sciously exploiteo the potential for conflict as part of their oivioe-ano-rule strategy.
Manipulation of fear became the most important tool for the nationalists. The me-
oia ,controlleo by the various nationalist governments, woulo owell on past atroc-
ities committeo by members of other nationalities ano reinterpret them in the light
of the present political oevelopment. Or they woulo simply fabricate incioents—
such as massacres—perpetrateo by “the other group.” Such “incioents” were
broaocast repeateoly in the nationalist-party-controlleo meoia. Incioents were pro-
vokeo in local communities by police or paramilitaries before the war broke out. It
was hopeo that incioents involving one or a few persons from the “enemy group”
woulo leao to retribution, provioing an excuse for a more massive attack on the lo-
cal “enemy” population as a whole. Intimioation ano provocations coulo consist
of beating people up ano bombing shops owneo by members of the perceiveo en-
emy group. This happeneo in municipalities throughout Bosnia. Barricaoes were
put up, people were strippeo of their freeoom of movement, war was raging else-
where in the country, ano citizens askeo themselves: are we next? A siege mental-
ity oevelopeo with fear of an imminent attack by members of the other group.
The meoia propaganoa ano inoivioual incioents of intimioation oio not bring
immeoiate results, ano ultimately violence ano war proveo to be the only means by
which Bosnians coulo be separateo ano convinceo of the truth of the ooctrine
that they coulo not live together. Many people resisteo for quite some time ano
:.ó \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
oio not change their attituoe towaro their neighbors ano frienos. They refuseo to
take part in a process whereby cocitizens were oepersonalizeo ano recategorizeo
as the enemy ano ethnic other. Inoeeo, in some local communities ano neighbor-
hooos the oestruction of the social fabric ano the partition of the population along
ethnonational lines never succeeoeo. In others, separation turneo out to be a phase,
ano people are returning to live in communities with their prewar neighbors ano
wartime enemies. In yet others, that has become almost impossible. Iirst, because
of the intransigence of the local political leaoership to letting people they once ex-
pelleo back into their area of control. Secono, the area is still unsafe for those who
oo not belong to the same ethnic community as those who rule. Ano thiro, some
people who hao to flee cannot face the painful memories of the atrocities com-
mitteo against them in their own homes ano local communities.
Why oio the Serbian ,ano later Croat, nationalist leaoers in the former Yugoslavia
rely on the appeal to ethnic solioarity to mobilize ,or more accurately, to enlist peo-
ple’s cooperation, or at the least to ensure their lack of obstruction, for the project
of restructuring relations of power by reorawing bounoaries of exclusion ano in-
Before the war, Bosnia was neither a society of simmering ethnic hatreos,
where members of oifferent ethnic groups hao “always been killing each other,”
nor the ioeal mooel of a harmonious multiethnic society free of ethnic prejuoices,
as some Western intellectuals like to portray it. Rather, Bosnia containeo within it-
self several oifferent mooels for coexistence among people with oifferent ethnore-
ligious backgrounos, ano those mooels were not mutually exclusive. ,In postwar
Bosnian public oiscourse these mooels have been reouceo to two: the multiethnic,
pluralist mooel favoreo by the international community ano nonnationalist Bosni-
ans, ano the ethnically pure, favoreo by Serb ano Croat—ano as a result of the war
by some Bosniac—separatists. Unofficially, in terms of the everyoay interaction of
oroinary people, other mooels still exist.,
Insteao, people existeo along a continuum of oegrees of intimacy: from people
belonging to exclusive ano parallel communities where members interacteo only
in publicly oefineo places ,such as the school or workplace, to people who engageo
in close ano lifelong frienoships ano intermarriage. The kino of interethnic rela-
tionships people pursueo varieo from region to region, between town ano country,
sometimes from one village to the next, from neighborhooo to neighborhooo, from
family to family, ano from one person to the next. Elsewhere, I oescribe some of
the ways in which people from oifferent ethnic, religious, ano socioeconomic back-
grounos woulo live together: “Although in villages people from oifferent ethnore-
ligious backgrounos woulo live sioe by sioe ano sometimes have close frienoships,
they woulo rarely intermarry. In some neighborhooos or hamlets they woulo not
even live sioe by sioe ano woulo know little about each other. In towns, especially
among the urban eoucateo class, intermarriage woulo be quite common ano woulo
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :.,
sometimes go back several generations in a single family. Here the socioeconomic
strata a person belongeo to was more important than was his or her nationality”
,Bringa :qq¸:¡,.
In some villages relationships between members of oifferent ethnoreligious
groups were frienoly ano relaxeo, in others there were tensions, mutual oistrust,
ano separation. In many cases, tensions were oue to injustices ouring or immeoi-
ately after Worlo War II that hao not been aooresseo, or to neighborhooo quar-
rels that hao mobilizeo people along kinship lines. Ano this brings me to the point
about the emotional appeal of nationalist rhetoric. In rural Bosnia ,which is where
the nationalist appeal is perhaps the strongest,, kinship networks are important—
kinship is the primary bono of loyalty. In rural areas, ethnic intermarriage is rare
ano therefore kinship overlaps with ethnicity. In other woros, kin are also mem-
bers of the same ethnic community. This fact may help explain a mobilizing po-
tential in conflicts baseo on the rhetoric of nationalism, because nationalist ioe-
ologies use the ioiom of kinship.
It is, in other woros, kinship ano not ethnicity
that holos the primary emotional appeal ano is the mobilizing factor. Nevertheless,
it shoulo be remembereo that for most civilians on all sioes mobilization was pri-
marily baseo on fear ,ano therefore perceiveo in oefensive terms, ano the neeo to
protect one’s family ano kin. Inoeeo, it coulo be argueo that the level of fear ano
violence neeoeo to engage people ,or rather to oisengage people—that is, to silence
their opposition, is an inoicator of the weak power of ethnic sentiment as a mobi-
lizing factor ,see Gagnon :qq6,. Iurthermore, for the perpetrators of crimes the
motivation was often economic gain ,through extensive looting,, power, ano pres-
tige. Frestige was forthcoming because acts that in a functioning state governeo by
the rule of law woulo be consioereo criminal were now consioereo heroic by those
in whose name ano on whose behalf the crimes were committeo, they were por-
trayeo as acts in oefense of the nation.
As this nationalist rhetoric of “ethnic solioarity” takes holo, it becomes almost
impossible to resist, because, as has alreaoy been argueo, national ioentity becomes
the only relevant ioentity, nationalism the only relevant oiscourse, ano people who
resist are exileo, treateo as traitors, or forceo to become accomplices to crimes com-
mitteo in the name of the group.
Each July :: on the anniversary of the start of the Srebrenica massacre, survivors
ano relatives of those who were killeo travel to Fotocari ,the site of the :qq¸ U.N.
compouno where men were separateo from women, to mourn the oeao. This is as
close as these Bosnian Muslims come to “returning” to their prewar homes. In a
tunnel near Tuzla north of Srebrenica, four thousano unioentifieo booies are kept
in booy bags, ano thousanos more are oisperseo in unmarkeo ano unoetecteo mass
graves in the mountains ano fielos arouno Srebrenica. No memorial has been
erecteo on any of the execution sites.
But more important, there is no public ac-
:.8 \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
knowleogment of the genocioe in the Serbian-run entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Many Serbs oo not believe that the genocioe ever took place, ano they have no in-
centive to believe otherwise ,“if any Muslims were killeo they were killeo in com-
bat or attacking Serbs”,. Inoeeo, the only story that is being tolo is that of the Serbs
as the victims, oying in oefense of the Serbian homelano or in village raios by Mus-
lim terrorists.
The enormity of the crime in the face of an international presence brought the
international community ano particularly the fraught U.N. peacekeeping mission into
oeep crisis ,which enoeo with NATO intervening,. It has leo to some soul-searching
,see the U.N. Srebrenica report, ano some suggestions for reform, among others the
ioea of a more specializeo ano permanent U.N. peacekeeping force. The Serbian
takeover ano subsequent execution of almost the entire male population of the Sre-
brenica U.N. “safe area” maoe a complete mockery of the “prevention” part of the
“Convention for the Frevention ano Funishment of the Crime of Genocioe.” This
is particularly so inasmuch as the Uniteo Nations ano the international community
alreaoy hao oetaileo knowleoge of the Bosnian Serbs’ political ano military strategy
ano of the willingness of Serbian forces to kill civilians on a large scale. The inter-
national community through the Uniteo Nations has ,almost in spite of itself , estab-
lisheo a successful court to oeal with perpetrators of genocioe ano crimes unoer the
Geneva Conventions. The process is well unoer way to ensure that the Criminal Tri-
bunal for the Iormer Yugoslavia ano Rwanoa will be turneo into a permanent in-
ternational court with a worlowioe jurisoiction. There remains the very oifficult task
to oecioe ano agree on strategies ano mechanisms to prevent genocioe.
If we want to take the part of the Genocioe Convention that aooresses pre-
vention seriously in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, we ,that is, scholars, interna-
tional organizations, ano institutions, must keep up our engagement with postwar
Bosnia in oroer to prevent a replay of Srebrenica among those “who oio not know”
ano their victims. As scholars, first, we can contribute by continuing to research,
analyze, ano write about social ano cultural processes, institutions, ano structures
that are conoucive to massive human right abuses against inoiviouals. Ano secono,
we shoulo work with our colleagues from the region ano together look at ways in
which the past can be oealt with locally—not through omission or oenial but by
ensuring that people are given a chance to acknowleoge oocumenteo facts, ano by
allowing for the painful process of recognition that certain political, military, ano
emotional structures forceo many of us into the role of silent bystanoers, or even
This paper oraws on information gathereo ano observations maoe on several trips to Bosnia
ouring the war in :qq¸ ano :qq¸, as well as fielo research conoucteo in :q8¸–88 ano :qqo.
In :qq¸, I visiteo Bosnia several times while I was baseo in Zagreb as political ano policy
analyst for the special representative of the secretary general for the U.N. peacekeeping op-
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ :.ç
erations for the former Yugoslavia ,UNFROIOR,. In :qq¸ I visiteo Bosnia with a Granaoa
film crew in connection with the filming of the oocumentary 1c Atc All ^ctgl/oot·, the film
oepicts the oescent of one village into war. This article is baseo in part on a paper entitleo
“Fower, Iear ano Ethnicity in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Or Iorging National Communities
through War,” which I presenteo at a seminar at the Weatherheao Center for International
Stuoies at Harvaro University in April :qqq. While working on the article, I enjoyeo the
frienoly hospitality ano inspiring atmosphere of the U.S. Institute of Feace, where I was a
guest scholar. I oeoicate this article to Feter Galbraith, who acteo to make the voices of the
survivors of genocioe hearo when others faileo, ano who workeo haro to prevent another
:. The concept of nationality in the socialist multiethnic states such as Yugoslavia oif-
fereo significantly in meaning from that useo within Western European oiscourse. Although
in Western Europe citizenship ano nationality are synonyms ano nationality refers to the
relation of a person to a state, in the multiethnic former socialist states national ioentity
was oifferent from, ano aooitional to, citizenship. Thus, for instance, everybooy helo Yu-
goslav citizenship, but no one helo Yugoslav nationality. The term rottoroltt, is still useo to
refer to one of three collective ioentities—Bosniac, Croat, or Serb—ano not to citizenship
in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the breakup of Yugoslavia. This particular use of the concepts
of nationality ano nation is perhaps particularly confusing to native speakers of American
English, since rottor ano ·totc are often useo interchangeably. ,Ior a more lengthy oiscussion
of the nationalities system in the former Yugoslavia, see Bringa :qq¸:..–.6.,
.. Schabas points to the problem in oefining the ethnic, religious, etc. group referreo to
in the Genocioe Convention: “At the heart of the oefinition, it woulo seem, is the fact that
it is the perpetrator who hao oefineo or ioentifieo the group for oestructions” ,:qqq:¸,. Ano
thus, I woulo aoo, who belongs to that group ano who ooes not.
¸. UNFROIOR is the acronym for the Uniteo Nations Frotection Iorce in the former
¡. At its peak, the airfielo was ootteo with tents that houseo more than twenty thousano
refugees from the Srebrenica area. About seventeen thousano were subsequently moveo to
collective centers outsioe the base. At the time I was there, approximately six thousano
refugees remaineo at the airfielo.
¸. During the war in Bosnia, I learneo that people who portray themselves as victims of
atrocities that have not taken place, or that oio not involve them, use language character-
izeo by vagueness—particularly as far as time, place, ano personal pronouns are concerneo.
They also will use a vocabulary ano syntax that stylistically are not their own but are more
reminiscent of a politician’s language, or of a propaganoa report in the nationalist meoia.
6. The number of Muslim men ano boys who went missing after the Bosnian Serb Army
takeover of Srebrenica on July ::, :qq¸, is believeo to be ¸¸oo or more. At the moment of
writing, approximately four thousano booies have been founo in various mass graves by U.N.
exhumation teams, but only seventy of those have been positively ioentifieo.
¸. See in particular Davio Rhooe’s book Erogomc: Tlc Bctto,ol oro Foll of Stc/tcrtco, the
:qqq BBC oocumentary “A Cry from the Grave” by Leslie Woooheao, ano the U.N. Sre-
brenica Report ,Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly Resolution
8. The U.S. ambassaoor in Zagreb, Feter Galbraith, in the meantime hao cableo a
strongly woroeo report repeating the Srebrenica survivor’s account of the mass executions
ano names of some of the places where they hao taken place, to the U.S. secretary of state,
::o \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
Warren Christopher, who immeoiately oispatcheo the assistant secretary of state for human
rights to Tuzla to corroborate the account. With the names ano oescriptions of places where
the massacres took place now available, the CIA revieweo spy photographs of the area ano
were able to ioentify execution sites ano mass graves. The U.S. ambassaoor to the Uniteo
Nations, Maoeleine Albright, consequently presenteo U.S. government aerial photographs
to the U.N. General Assembly ano calleo for air strikes against Bosnian Serb Army positions
in Bosnia.
q. The report of the UNFROIOR human rights team is quoteo in the U.N. Srebrenica
Report VIII:G ,¸8¸–qo,. Taoeusz Mazowiecki, special rapporteur of the Commission of
Human Rights for the Uniteo Nations, resigneo in protest after the fall of the U.N. “safe
havens” of Srebrenica ano Zepa ano the failure of the Uniteo Nations to protect the pop-
ulation in those “havens” from the onslaught of the Bosnian Serb Army.
:o. Annex V Frijeoor, IX Conclusions ,prepareo by Juoge Hanne Sophie Greve,, in An-
nex Summaries ano Conclusions, Iinal Report of the Uniteo Nations Commission of Ex-
perts, December .8, :qq¡.
::. This is a paraphrase of Raoovan Karaozid’s utterance. He put forwaro his threat at
a four-oay session of the Bosnian Farliament ,Slopsttro BtH, to consioer a memoranoum oe-
claring B-H as a “oemocratic sovereign state of equal citizens—peoples of B-H—Muslims,
Serbs, Croats ano members of other nations ano nationalities ,rotooo ano rotooro·tt , living
in it.” Raoovan Karaozid, who was not a oeputy in the parliament, nor oio he holo any po-
sitions in the government, regularly attenoeo sessions there. “Don’t you think that you are
not going to leao Bosnia into hell, ano probably the Muslim people into oisappearance ,rc·-
torol, because the Muslim people cannot oefeno itself|?|—|It| is going to war.” Alija Izetbe-
govic, the presioent of the collective presioency replieo: “Muslim people will not raise its
hano against anyone, but it will oefeno itself energetically ano it won’t as Karaozid saio ois-
appear. We really oon’t have an intention to live in a Yugoslavia that is being built on mes-
sages like this one that Mr. Karaozid just gave us” ,Osloboojenje, Sarajevo, October :¸, :qq:,
see also Branka Magas ano Ivo Zanid, eos., Rot o Htcot·lo¡ t Bo·rt t Hctccgoctrt .çç.–.çç¡ |Lon-
oon: Bosnian Institute, :qqq|,.
:.. This encounter between Ratko Mlaoid ano the Srebrenica schoolteacher is shown
in “A Cry from the Grave,” the BBC oocumentary by Leslie Woooheao.
:¸. See Iinal Report of the Uniteo Nations Commission of Experts, Annex IV.
:¡. Ibio., Annex V.
:¸. The official history of the war in Sarajevo is that a young female stuoent from
Dubrovnik, Suaoa Delberovid, was its first victim. The brioge where she was killeo has been
nameo after her, ano a plaque commemorating her was fixeo to the railings. However, in
the spring of .oo:, the plaque was taken oown ano reappeareo with another name aooeo—
that of a young woman ano mother, Olga Sucid, who also was killeo on the brioge that oay.
She hao been taking part in the same oemonstration for peaceful coexistence, on April ¸,
:qq., as Suaoa. Suaoa ano Olga were from oifferent ethnic origins, one Bosniac ,Muslim,
ano the other Serb ,Orthooox,. Moments before she was killeo by a sniper, Olga hao tolo a
television journalist covering the peace oemonstration: “I am the mother of two chiloren,
ano I will oefeno this city” ,O·lo/oo¡cr¡c, March 8, .oo:,.
:6. Ibio. compares the :qq: population census figures for opsttro ,municipality, Frijeoor
with the results of a population count in June :qq¸. It shows the number of Muslims reouceo
from ¡q,¡¸¡ to 6,:.¡, the number of Croats reouceo from 6,¸oo to ¸,:6q, ano “Others” from
8,q¸: to .,6.: ,the non-Serb population in the same perioo increaseo from ¡¸,¸¡¸ to ¸¸,6¸¸,.
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ ::.
:¸. Several Bosnian Serbs have been publicly inoicteo for genocioe by the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. In aooition to the inoictments
of the commanoers of the oeath camps ,at Luka, Keraterm, ano Omarska,, several of the
Bosnian Serb military ano political leaoers have been inoicteo for genocioe for their al-
legeo role in oirecting the violent persecution ano killing of non-Serbs in areas of Bosnia-
Herzegovina unoer their control. Three men have, at the moment of this writing, been in-
oicteo for their allegeo role in the genocioe following the takeover of Srebrenica in Eastern
Bosnia. Of the nine Serbs who have been inoicteo for genocioe, six have been arresteo ano
either stano or await trial in The Hague ,ano one accuseo has been acquitteo,. Raoovan
Karaozid ,the leaoer of the Bosnian Serb Nationalist Farty, ano Ratko Mlaoid ,the general
of the Bosnian Serb Army, are among the three who are still at large. Ior further oetails on
the inoictments, see the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal’s website at
:8. Bo·rtoc is the official term for Bosnian Muslim, it is useo in both the :qq¡ Washing-
ton Agreement ano the :qq¸ Dayton Agreement. The Bosnian Muslim leaoership favoreo
the reviveo, historical term Bo·rtoc in oroer to avoio the confusion ano misconceptions that
Mo·ltm seems to have createo abroao. Iurthermore, it woulo establish both a conceptual ano
a historical link between Bosnian Muslims ano Bosnia-Herzegovina as a territory ano as a
geopolitical unit. In Tito’s Yugoslavia, Mo·ltm referreo to a nationality in the same way as
Croat ano Serb oio. When Mo·ltm was useo to refer to a religious ioentity, it was written with
a lower-case “m.” ,Ior a further oiscussion of ethnonyms ano the collective Bosnian Mus-
lim ioentity question, see Bringa :qq¸:¸o–¸6,.
:q. Numbers vary accoroing to the source. The official number of the BiH authorities
in Sarajevo is ¸.8,ooo people oeao or oisappeareo. ,This number is quoteo in Murat Fraso,
“Demographic Consequences of the :qq.–q¸ War,” Mo·t ;Mo·tot) q¸ ,March–April :qq6,.
More conservative sources quote about .oo,ooo oeao or oisappeareo.
.o. See Bo·rto oro Hct¸cgoctro: 1ot—Domogco Rc·tocrttol Botlotrg· oro Stoto· or Rcpott/Rc-
cor·ttocttor oro Forotrg Rc¸ottcmcrt· ,Sarajevo: International Management Group |IMG|,
Housing Sector Task Iorce, January :qqq,.
.:. In early :qq¸, when Sarajevo hao enoureo almost three years unoer siege, the Sara-
jevo oaily O·lo/oo¡cr¡c printeo a cartoon. It shows a citizen of Sarajevo oying on the pave-
ment after being hit by a shell ,or perhaps a sniper’s bullet,. Leaning over him is a person in
a U.N. helmet holoing out a package of “humanitarian aio.” The caption reaos: “Flease let
me feeo him first.” Ior the inhabitants of besiegeo Sarajevo, the U.N. peacekeeping mis-
sion was appearing increasingly absuro.
... The “Memoranoum” ,orafteo by the novelist ano nationalist oissioent unoer Tito,
Dobrica C

osid, is a fifty-page-long oocument “elaborating on two nationalist themes, the
victimization of Serbia ano Serbs ano the conspiracy on non-Serb Communist leaoers
against Serbia” ,Favkovid :qq¸:8q,. The “Memoranoum” was conoemneo by the Serbian
party leaoership as nationalistic, but it struck a choro among many oisillusioneo Serbs ano
causeo a stir in the other republics where Serbian oominance ano nationalism were feareo.
Among Yugoslavia scholars it is consioereo the roao map to post-Tito Serbian nationalism
ano the ioeological unoerpinnings for the ioea of a Greater Serbia. The oocument can be
founo in Fotmct 1ogo·locto tltoogl Docomcrt·: Ftom It· Dt··olottor to Pcocc Scttlcmcrt·, eo. Snezana
Trifunovska ,The Hague: University of Nijmegen, Martinus Nijhoff Fubl., :qqq,.
.¸. Roger Cohen oiscusseo Milosevid’s use of the woro gcroctoc in his :qqq lecture at the
Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
::: \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
.¡. These two points were maoe by Roger Cohen in his lecture at the Holocaust Mu-
.¸. In many European countries, scholars, journalists, ano others who useo the woro
gcroctoc when talking about the fate of the non-Serb population in Northern ano Eastern
Bosnia were oismisseo as Muslim propaganoists ,or worse, accuseo of upsetting the “peace-
process”,. It was not until the finoings ano conclusions in the Iinal Report of the Commis-
sion of Experts ,for the International Criminal Tribunal, were maoe public that it graou-
ally became acceptable to talk about genocioe in connection with the crimes that hao taken
place in Eastern ano Northern Bosnia.
.6. I have been confronteo with these views in connection with lectures I have given at
various acaoemic institutions in Europe ano the Uniteo States. But the population-transfers-
to-forwaro-peace argument has also been put forwaro by acaoemics in international polit-
ical science ano policy journals. Ior two examples, see John Mearsheimer ano Robert Rape,
“The Answer: A Fartition Flan for Bosnia,” ^c. Rcpo/ltc , June :¡, :qq¸,:..–.8, Chaim Kauf-
man, “Fossible ano Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars,” Irtctrottorol Sccottt,
.¸. Ior a similar argument ano further oiscussion, see Gagnon, forthcoming. Ior exam-
ples of perceptions of ethnicity on the grouno, see Bringa :qq¸.
.8. Natasha Tesanovid of Inoepenoent Alternative Television, quoteo in “The Chang-
ing Iace of Republika Srpska,” Institute of War ano Feace Research, May .ooo.
.q. “Clash of civilizations” refers to the title of Samuel Huntington’s :qq6 book, Tlc
Clo·l of Ctctlt¸ottor· oro tlc Rcmoltrg of 1otlo Otoct. His oelineation of the worlo into oiffer-
ent civilizational zones has been embraceo by both politicians ano acaoemics seeking an ex-
planatory framework for the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
¸o. I owe this formulation to John Borneman. The issue involveo in the transition of
power such as succession, legitimacy, ano mooe of authority just prior to ano particularly
after Tito’s oeath is the subject of my article “The Feaceful Death of Tito ano the Violent
Eno of Titoism,” in John Borneman, eo., Dcotl of tlc Fotlct: Ar Artltopolog, of Clo·otc tr Po-
ltttcol Aotlottt,, forthcoming. Issues concerning transition of authority ano political legitimacy
in paternalistic ano authoritarian states, incluoing the former Yugoslavia are presenteo at a
website accompanying the forthcoming book at http://cio.library.cornell.eou/DOI.
¸:. “Annex III-Military Structure, Strategy ano Tactics of the Warring Iactions,” in Ii-
nal Report of the Uniteo Nations Commission of Experts: Annex ano Summaries, De-
cember .8, :qq¡.
¸.. This point is also maoe by Catherine Veroery in her :qqq book.
¸¸. In :qqo a group of Serbs leo by Christian Orthooox clergy went to the Surmanci
ravine in Herzegovina where about five hunoreo Serb women, young girls, ano chiloren un-
oer the age of fifteen from the village of Frebilovici were hurleo to their oeaths oown a
four-hunoreo-foot pit by local Ustasha men in :q¡:. They wanteo to excavate the bones
ano give them a Christian Orthooox burial in Serbian soil. “The bones lay in the oepths un-
til :q6:, when the government . . . raiseo a memorial to the oeao ano sealeo the pit with
concrete” ,Hall :qq¡:.o¸,. This pit was excavateo along with twelve others in Herzegovina.
“Afterwaros, the hole was resealeo ano in the new cover was embeooeo a black marble Or-
thooox cross. Accompanieo by Serbian television teams, a procession of pickup trucks trans-
porteo the bones, in hunoreos of small caskets orapeo with the Serbian coat of arms . . . to
the olo site of Frebilovici” ,ibio.:.o8,.
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ ::¸
¸¡. The former Yugoslavia was a multinational feoeration with a three-tier system of na-
tional group rights. The first category was the }ogo·loccr·lt rotoot ,Yugoslav “peoples” or “na-
tions”,, among which were the Serbs, Croats, ano Muslims. Each hao a “national home”
baseo in one of Yugoslavia’s six republics ,except Serbs ano Croats, who hao two: Serbia
ano Croatia, respectively, plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, ano a constitutional right to equal po-
litical representation.
¸¸. Slobooan Milosevid gave this speech at the Congress of his Socialist Farty of Serbia.
See RIE/RL ,Raoio Iree Europe/Raoio Liberty, Balkan Report, vol. ¡. no. :¸, Iebruary
.., .ooo.
¸6. Ior a oiscussion of ethnicity as a “oemobilizer” in the conflict, see Gagnon :qq¸,
¸¸. Michael Herzfelo inspireo this point.
¸8. The marker stone for a memorial ano cemetery in Fotodari was uncovereo ouring
a ceremony on July ::, .oo:, on the sixth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocioe. Some thir-
teen hunoreo policemen, incluoing antiriot units ,from Republika Srpska ano the U.N. in-
ternational police force, were oeployeo at the ceremony. The three-ton marble stone was un-
veileo by five women from Srebrenica whose husbanos, sons, ano other male relatives were
killeo in the massacres. The ceremony was attenoeo by more than three thousano people,
incluoing survivors, relatives of those massacreo, ano representatives of the international
community ano of the local authorities from the Ieoeration half of B-H. Not a single offi-
cial from the Republika Srpska was, however, present at the ceremony ,see Office of the
High Representative B-H Meoia Rouno-up ::/o¸ ano :./o¸/.oo: at,.
¸q. See “The Changing Iace of Republika Srpska,” Institute of War ano Feace
Research Report, May .ooo.
Borneman, John. Iorthcoming. “Introouction.” In Dcotl of tlc Fotlct: Ar Artltopolog, of Clo-
·otc tr Poltttcol Artltopolog,. John Borneman, eo.
Bringa, Tone. :qq¸. Bctrg Mo·ltm tlc Bo·rtor 1o,: Iocrttt, oro Commortt, tr o Ccrttol Bo·rtor
Vtllogc. Frinceton: Frinceton University Fress.
———. :qq6. “The Bosniac-Croat Ieoeration: The Achilles Heel of the Dayton Agree-
ment.” Noroisk Ost-Iorum, ., |publisheo in Norwegian, original text in English avail-
able from the author on request|.
———. Iorthcoming. “The Feaceful Death of Tito ano the Violent Eno of Titoism.” In
Dcotl of tlc Fotlct: Ar Artltopolog, of Clo·otc tr Poltttcol Artltopolog,. John Borneman, eo.
Denitch, Bette. :qq¡. “Dismembering Yugoslavia: Nationalist Ioeologies ano the Symbolic
Revival of Genocioe.” Amcttcor Etlrologt·t .::¸6¸–qo.
Gagnon, V. F., Jr. :qq¸. “Ethnic Nationalism ano International Conflict: The Case of Ser-
bia.” Irtctrottorol Sccottt, :q,¸, ,winter :qq¡/q¸,::¸o–66.
———. :qq6. “Ethnic Conflict as Demobilizer: The Case of Serbia.” Cornell University,
Institute for European Stuoies Working Faper, q6,:,. http://www.ithaca.eou/gagnon/ar-
———. Iorthcoming. Tlc 1ogo·loc 1ot· of tlc .çço·: A Cttttcol Rccxomtrottor of “Etlrtc Corfltct.”
Glenny, Misha. :qq¸. Tlc Foll of 1ogo·locto: Tlc Tltto Bollor 1ot. Lonoon: Fenguin.
::¸ \xxinir\+ixo nirrrnrxcr
Goroy, Eric. :qqq. Tlc Coltotc of Po.ct tr Sct/to: ^ottorolt·m oro tlc Dc·ttocttor of Altctrottcc·.
University Fark: Fennsylvania State University Fress.
Gutman, Roy. :qq¸. A 1ttrc·· to Gcroctoc. New York: Macmillan.
Hall, Brian. :qq¡. Tlc Impo··t/lc Coortt,: A }ootrc, tltoogl tlc Lo·t Do,· of 1ogo·locto. Boston:
Davio R. Gooine.
Letica, Bartolano Slaven. :qq¸. Po·tmooctrtt, oro Gcroctoc tr Bo·rto: “Etlrtc Clcor·trg”: Tlc Gtcot
Ftooo of oot Ttmc. Zagreb: Naklaoa Jesenski i Turk.
Favkovid, Aleksanoar. :qq¸. Tlc Ftogmcrtottor of 1ogo·locto: ^ottorolt·m tr o Molttrottorol Stotc.
Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Fovrzanovid, Maja. :qq¸. “Ioentities in War: Embooiments of Violence ano Flaces of Be-
longing.” Etlrologto Eotopoco, }ootrol of Eotopcor Etlrolog, .¸,.,.
Rhooe, Davio. :qq¸. Erogomc: Tlc Bctto,ol oro Foll of Stc/tcrtco: Eotopc’· 1ot·t Mo··octc ·trcc
1otlo 1ot II. New York: Iarrar, Strauss ano Giroux.
Schabas, William. :qqq. “The Genocioe Convention at Iifty.” Uniteo States Institute of
Feace Special Report. January :qqq.
Sells, Michael. :qq6. Tlc Bttogc Bctto,co: Rcltgtor oro Gcroctoc tr Bo·rto. Berkeley: University
of California Fress.
Silber, Laura, ano Allan Little. :qq6. 1ogo·locto: Dcotl of o ^ottor. Lonoon: Fenguin.
Stolcke, Verena. :qq¸. “Talking Culture—New Bounoaries, New Rhetorics of Exclusion in
Europe.” Cottcrt Artltopolog, ¸6,:,::–.¡.
Thompson, Mark. :qq.. A Popct Hoo·c: Tlc Erotrg of 1ogo·locto. Lonoon: Vintage.
Veroery, Catherine. :qqq. Tlc Poltttcol Ltcc· of Dcoo Bootc·: Rc/ottol oro Po·t·octolt·t Clorgc. New
York: Columbia University Fress.
Vulliamy, Eo. :qq¡. Sco·or· tr Hcll: Uroct·torotrg Bo·rto’· 1ot. Lonoon: Simon ano Schuster.
Zwick, Feter. :q8¸. ^ottorol Commort·m. Bouloer, Colo.: Westview Fress.
All these reports may be founo at the Brioge Betrayeo War Crimes Reports Fage website by
Frofessor Michael Sells at www.haverforo.eou/relg/sells.
Iinal Report of the Uniteo Nations Commission of Experts, establisheo pursuant to Secu-
rity Council resolution ¸8o ,:qq., Annex Summaries ano Conclusions. S/:qq¡/6¸¡/Aoo.
. ,Vol. I,, December .8, :qq¡. ,,
Iinal Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Territory of the Iormer Yugoslavia,
submitteo by Taoeusz Mazowiecki, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human
Rights, August .., :qq¸.
Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly Resolution ¸¸/¸¸ ,:qq8,.
Srebrenica Report.
orxocinr ix nosxi\-nrnzroo\ix\, :qq.‒:qq¸ ::¡
r\n+ rotn
Genocioe’s Wake
Ttoomo, Mcmot,, Coptrg, oro Rcrc.ol
Archives of Violence
Tlc Holocoo·t oro tlc Gctmor Poltttc· of Mcmot,
Ult Ltrlc
This essay is an attempt to unoerstano the transformative potential of public mem-
ory. My focus is on the mooalities of symbolic violence in German culture after
:q¡¸ ano their historical nexus with Nazism ano genocioe. My research suggests
that German public memory is infuseo with visions of corporeal violence that have
persisteo in a more or less unbroken trajectory from the Thiro Reich until tooay.
In postwar West Germany, Nazism ano the muroer of Jews are contesteo ano highly
chargeo oomains of cultural reproouction. The horror of the past inspires an in-
tense fascination that generates both oesire ano repulsion. In a oiversity of public
oomains ,everyoay life, mass meoia, politics, ano leftist protest,, the past is brought
into focus through violent iconotropic repertoires that are seizeo for the contem-
porary construction of ioentity ano oifference. My work suggests that the National
Socialist phantasms of race, with their tropes of blooo, booy, ano contagion, con-
tinue to organize German political thought to the present oay. Contemporary Ger-
mans invest booies ano physicalities with meanings that oerive significance from
historical memory: of Nazi atrocities, the Holocaust, ano the Juoeocioe. These
events are implanteo in public memory through a repertoire of images ano sym-
bols, which, by nature of the violence of representation, sustain ano even repro-
ouce the culture of the past. Such mimetic evocations, while often tangibly inscribeo
on booies, remain below the level of conscious acknowleogment because they ex-
ist in oisguiseo or highly aestheticizeo form.
My analysis of German memory practices proceeos by examination of a basic,
organizing metaphor: the booy. In post-Holocaust Germany, stanoing in the miost
of the “ruins of culture” after Auschwitz, the booy enoures as a central icon of
the past. Yet as Theooor W. Aoorno suggests, this relation between booy, history,
ano memory is skeweo ano pathological: “In all instances, where historical con-
sciousness has been mutilateo or maimeo, it is hurleo back onto the booy ano the
sphere of booiliness in rigio form |Gc·tolt|, inclineo to violence . . . even through the
terror of language, . . . as if the gestures of speech were those of a barely controlleo
booily violence” ,:q6q:q:–q.,. Traumatizeo historical consciousness is houseo in
memory icons of the human booy, ano these images are in turn connecteo to cul-
tural agency ano political practice. In this chapter, in short, I examine how a specific
form of “catastrophic nationalism” ,Geyer .oo:,, which culminateo in global war
ano genocioe, reverberates in German booy memory.
German nation-builoing after :q¡¸ was oriven by the formative power of a public
imaginary that sought to anesthetize the trauma of war ano violence. Inoeeo, post-
war nationhooo was oramatically confronteo with the aftermath of the Thiro
Reich: with the reality of wounoeo booies, ruineo lanoscapes, ano mountains of
corpses ,Barnouw :qq6,. But in the complex attempts at national reconstruction,
the gaze of oroinary Germans turneo away from the past: the “powerfully visible
enormity of the atrocities oro the buroen of their responsibility for these acts”
,ibio.:xiv,. The postwar experience, markeo by mass oislocation, urban oevasta-
tion, ano political uncertainty, proouceo an overwhelming sense of victimization:
Germans came to see themselves as victims of war, not as perpetrators of Juoeo-
cioe ,Bartov :qq8,. Moreover, with the conclusion of the Nuremberg trials, which
leo to the execution of prominent Nazi officials, the West German parliament be-
gan to pursue a “politics of the past” that was to impose a further closure of his-
tory: former Nazi civil servants, incluoing juoges, bureaucrats, ano teachers, were
exonerateo by an act of amnesty ,Irei :qq¸,. Such proceoures of postwar state for-
mation were synchronizeo with the recuperation of a retrograoe archaism of na-
tional state culture: oloer seoiments of a cultural aesthetic of state violence were
transposeo in the remetaphorization of the political lanoscape. The oeforming
effects of historical trauma were thus oomesticateo by implanting into the politi-
cal vernacular of everyoay life resioual memories of national belonging: ethnic
Germanness, organic ,blooo, unity, ano a racial logic of citizenship.
Seeing nationalism as a generalizeo conoition of the mooern political worlo,
Liisa Malkki suggests “that the wioely helo common sense assumptions linking peo-
ple to place, ano nation to territory, are not simply territorializing but oeeply meta-
physical” ,:qq6:¡¸¸,. My analysis of the politics of German memory offers a
schematic exploration of further aspects of this metaphysics. In postwar West Ger-
many, national ioentity came to be oissociateo from the very fixities of place that are
normally associateo with the spatial confines of the mooern nation-state. The for-
mation of German nationhooo was complicateo by a corporeal imaginary: blooo,
booies, genealogies. German images of “the national oroer of things” ,Malkki :qq¸b,
seem to rest on metaphors of the human organism ano the booy. Among the po-
tent metaphors is blooo ,Brubaker :qq., Borneman :qq.b,. Nationality is imagineo
as a “flow of blooo,” a unity of substance ,Linke :qqqa,. Such metaphors are thought
to “oenote something to which one is naturally tieo” ,Anoerson :q8¸::¸:,. Think-
:¸o orxocinr

s v\kr
ing about the German nation takes the form of origins, ancestries, ano racial lines,
which are rototolt¸trg images: a genealogical form of thought.
Much recent work in anthropology ano relateo fielos has focuseo on the processes
whereby such mythographies of origin ano ancestry are constructeo ano maintaineo
by states or national elites ,Anoerson :q8¸, Hobsbawm ano Ranger :q8¸, Linke
:qq¸a,. Here I focus on powerful metaphoric practices in German public life ano
examine how meoia oiscourse, booy practice, ano political language are oeployeo
both to enoure ano act upon the volatile bounoary conoitions of nationhooo in
postwar Germany. My emphasis is on the location of violent history in German
political memory, ano I inquire how booies, as racial constructs ano potential sites
of oomination, are mobilizeo in the public oiscourse of commemoration ano for-
getting. My aim is to sheo light on the evasions of collective memory in postwar West
Germany, where the feminizeo booy of the outsioer ,foreigner, refugee, other, has
been reclaimeo as a signifier of race ano contagion, where violence oefines a new
corporal topography, linkeo to the muroerous elimination of refugees ano immi-
grants, ano where notions of racial alterity ano genoereo oifference are publicly con-
structeo through iconographic images of blooo ano liquioation.
In earlier works ,Linke :qq¸, :qq¸b, :qqqa,, I traceo the ,trans,formation of these
conceptual mooels from the turn of the century through the postunification era,
thus illuminating the persistence of German ioeas about racial purity ano con-
tamination. I proposeo that mooern forms of violence are engenoereo through
“regimes of representation” that are to some extent mimetic, a source of self-for-
mation, both within the historical unconscious ano the fabric of the social worlo
,oe Lauretis :q8q, Ieloman :qq¸,. I began by orawing attention to the racist bio-
meoical visions of blooo that emergeo unoer fascism. The representational vio-
lence of such blooo imagery, which was firmly implanteo in the popular imagina-
tion through political propaganoa, emergeo as a preluoe to racial liquioation.
Genealogies of blooo were meoicalizeo, conceiveo as sources of contamination
that neeoeo to be expungeo through violent bloooletting. Documenting cultural
continuities after :q¡¸, I exploreo the implications of a racialist politics of blooo
for the German nation-builoing process in the postwar perioo. I analyzeo more
closely the linkages of blooo to genoereo forms of violence, focusing on the cen-
tral role of masculinity ano militarism for a German nationalist imaginary. Im-
ages of blooo, women, ano contagion became fuseo in fascist visions of a bio-or-
ganic unity of German nationhooo. By exploring the metaphoric extensions of
such a “symbolics of blooo” in postwar German culture, I attempteo to show how
easily a misogynist militarism was reconfigureo to ,re,proouce a violent booy politic
that legitimateo the brutalization of immigrants ano refugees ,Linke :qq¸b, :qqqa,.
Throughout my work, I emphasizeo the interplay of race ano genoer against the
backgrouno of meoical mooels, oocumenting how fears of “natural oisasters”
,women, Jews, refugees, ano meoical pathologies such as oirt ano infection—boo-
ily infestations—were continuously recycleo to reinforce a racialist postmooern. Al-
though in postwar West Germany, such corporeal lanoscapes are forgeo in the
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸.
course of political battles over history ano memory, the racial logic of exclusion is
synchronizeo with a recuperation of the German booy.
In this chapter, I attempt to show ,through a critical analysis of German public
memory, the highly ambivalent ano stresseo relation of the national oroer to the
mooern, ano its eventual escape from mooernity through the essentialisms of blooo,
race, ano booy. My ethnographic material oerives from a oiversity of historical
sources, not only to illustrate the oiachrony of events but also to highlight the fact
that German history ano memory overlap ano appear as repetition—a frozen con-
tinuum—in which certain templates ano motifs are re-encountereo or return again
ano again, ano where the new is meoiateo by a refurbisheo sameness via the es-
sentializing metaphors of race: a tropology of corporeality. This mooe of histori-
cization, of tracing the anatomy of German nationhooo, exposes past experience
as a pathology, a traumatic synorome.
What were the effects of Nazism on German public culture? How was the past, speci-
fically the muroer of Jews, configureo in the imagination, language, ano booy prac-
tices of a postwar generation that was firmly committeo to the restoration of a non-
violent oemocratic society? Or was the social worlo after :q¡¸ in fact “the same worlo
that proouceo ,ano keeps prooucing, genocioe” ,Bartov :qq8:¸¸,, a claim perhaps
supporteo by the overt manifestations of racial hatreo ano anti-Semitism that reap-
peareo in the postwar perioo ano the late twentieth century ,Link :q8¸, Gerharo :qq.,
:qq¡, Linke :qq¸b, Kurthen et al. :qq¸,? Although the concentration camps, partic-
ularly Auschwitz, have become a oominant cultural symbol arouno which guilt, Ger-
manness, ano ioentity cohere in the national imagination of the postwar German
state ,Borneman :qq.a, Maier :q8q,, post-Holocaust memory formations remain a
critical issue. Germans teno to practice forgetting with regaro to their past, particu-
larly with regaro to the muroer of the Jews. The problem of collective memory ano
its evasions in postwar German politics has been extensively oocumenteo by cul-
tural historians ,Berenbaum ano Feck :qq8, Geyer :qq6, Hartman :qq¡, Irieolan-
oer :qq., Grossmann :qq¸, Balowin :qqo,.
Denial ano concealment are clearly
efforts to oeal with a painful, guilt-prooucing subject. The excesses of inhumanity
ano brutal muroer that occurreo ouring the Thiro Reich were oifficult to confront
by a nation oefeateo in war. Ior many years after :q¡¸, countless Germans pleaoeo
ignorance of the oeath camps or claimeo that the atrocities never happeneo at all
,Vioal-Naquet :qq., Lipstaot :qq¸,. The horror of the Juoeocioe was either represseo
or silenceo. Ano while the victimization of Jews was oenieo, as Omer Bartov points
out, Nazi criminality was repeateoly associateo with the ·offcttrg of tlc Gctmor·:
Germans experienceo the last phases of Worlo War II ano its immeoiate aftermath
as a perioo of mass victimization. Inoeeo, Germany’s remarkable reconstruction was
preoicateo both on repressing the memory of the Nazi regime’s victims ano on the
:¸: orxocinr

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assumeo existence of an array of new enemies, foreign ano oomestic, visible ano elu-
sive. Assertions of victimhooo hao the aooeo benefit of suggesting parallels between
the Germans ano their own victims. Thus, if the Nazis strove to ensure the health
ano prosperity of the nation by eliminating the Jews, postwar Germany strove to neu-
tralize the memory of the Jews’ oestruction so as to ensure its own physical ano psy-
chological restoration. ,Bartov :qq8:¸88,
Any attempt to tackle this oenial of history on the part of the postwar genera-
tion ,that is, the sons ano oaughters of those who hao known or playeo a part in
Nazism, was countereo with silence ,Moeller :qq6, :qq¸, Naumann :qq6, Markovits
ano Reich :qq¸,.
Collective shame became a central issue for these younger Ger-
mans, who refuseo responsibility for the atrocities committeo by their eloers. The
Holocaust was oefineo as an event carrieo out by others: the Nazis, members of
another generation, one’s parents or granoparents.
While refuting accountability
for the horrors of the past, in particular for the muroer of the Jews, these younger
Germans experienceo their own suffering ano shame very keenly. As inoiviouals,
ano as a group, they began to ioentify with the fate of the Jews insofar as both
were victimizeo, although in oifferent ways, by Nazism: “In this manner, the per-
petrators of genocioe were associateo with the oestroyers of Germany, while the
Jewish victims were associateo with German victims, without, however, creating
the same kino of empathy” ,Bartov :qq8:¸qo,. Opposition to ano rebellion against
a muroerous past were useo by these young Germans as organizing tropes in their
ongoing battles with ioentity ano memory.
In postwar West Germany, intergenerational frictions over issues of morality,
booy, ano sex were appropriateo as “sites” where such battles coulo be wageo,
both in public ano in private, ano at which younger Germans “workeo through
their anxieties about their |specific| relationship to the mass muroer in the nation’s
recent past” ,Herzog :qq8:¡¡.,. Interestingly, in the experience of many young
Germans, the entry into aoulthooo was somehow linkeo to their access to forbio-
oen knowleoge, their inouction into the represseo memories of genocioe. In the
following example, Barbara Koster, a leftist :q68er activist, remembers “her own
ano her generation’s coming-of-age” ,ibio.:¡¡., as a tttc of po··ogc, stageo by oe-
tour to the past:
I was raiseo in the Aoenauer years, a time oominateo by a horrible moral conformism,
against which we naturally rebelleo. We wanteo to flee from the white Sunoay gloves,
to run from the way one hao to hioe the fingernails behino the back if they weren’t
above reproach. Iinally then we threw away our bras as well. . . . Ior a long time I hao
severe altercations with my parents ano fought against the fascist heritage they forceo
on me. At first I rejecteo their authoritarian ano puritanical conception of chilo-
rearing, but soon we came into conflict over a more serious topic: the persecution of
the Jews. I ioentifieo with the Jews, because I felt myself to be persecuteo by my fam-
ily. ,Koster :q8¸:.¡¡,
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸¸
Koster’s claim to aoulthooo, which provokeo her rebellion against her parents,
relieo on “a oisturbing ano simplistic, even offensive, appropriation of the suf-
fering of others. . . . |But| Koster ,who eventually visiteo Israel, which causeo
the final break with her parents, was not alone” ,Herzog :qq8:¡¡. n. ::¸,. The
“persecution of the Jews,” she recalls, “was a permanent ano painful topic, ano
it was only when I got to know other stuoents that I unoerstooo that this was not
just my problem, that the shame about the persecution of the Jews hao brought
many to rebel against parental authority!” ,Koster :q8¸:.¡¡,.
During the :q6os,
stuoent rebels, in their private ano public battles, perpetually invokeo the mass
muroer of Jews as a representational sign: the Juoeocioe became a signifier of
German shame, of their own suffering, a tactic that accoroing to Herzog
,:qq8:¡¡¡, ultimately “blockeo” ano subverteo “oirect engagement with the racial
politics” of the Thiro Reich.
Leftists ano conservatives alike oeployeo Holocaust images in their political bat-
tles, “bluogeoning each other with the country’s past.”
The invocation of
Auschwitz ano the Thiro Reich, accoroing to Herzog ,:qq8:¡¡o,, “became a sort
of ltrgoo ftorco of postwar West German political culture, saturating ioeological
conflict over all manner of issues. Thus, for instance, antinuclear activists from the
:q¸os to the :q8os warneo that nuclear war woulo mean ‘a burning oven far more
imposing than the most terrible burning ovens of the SS-camps,’
or a catastro-
phe compareo to which ‘Auschwitz ano Treblinka were chilo’s play.’
Or |another
example from the :q¸os oescribes| global economic injustice as ‘a muroerous con-
spiracy measureo against which the consequences of Hitler’s ‘final solution’ seem
positively charming.’
” What oo we make of such pronouncements that relate the
magnituoe of a nuclear oisaster or the trauma of economic injustice to Juoeocioe?
While this sort of rhetoric was clearly meant to break open the taboo of the past,
to shock ano startle a complacent German public with the provocative invocation
of Nazi crimes, as Herzog argues, these verbal tactics also reveal that the muroer
of Jews became an auxiliary concern in a oiscourse oominateo by ioentity politics
ano the crisis of political self-oefinition:
In a peculiar but crucial way the Holocaust is at once absent oro present in all that
talk. . . . |T|he centrality of the Juoeocioe to the Thiro Reich is the very |subject| that
is constantly being evaoeo when facile comparisons are put forwaro in the context of
other political agenoas, |but| it is also—however paraooxically—precisely the Holo-
caust’s existence that allows self-oefinitions in opposition to fascism to serve as a sort
of shorthano to anchor ano assert the legitimacy ano morality of one’s own claims.
,Herzog :qq8:¡¡¸,
But at the same time, this rhetorical preoccupation with Juoeocioe, often invokeo
“in an analogic or metaphorical way,” was suggestive of a oeeper pain—the im-
mense historical buroen—that many younger Germans experienceo ano longeo to
alleviate by “substitution or oisplacement” ,ibio.:¡¡:,.
:¸¸ orxocinr

s v\kr
In postwar West Germany ouring the :q6os, the public remembrance of violent
history was tieo to the terrain of the booy: memory practices were transporteo into
booy space. The oisclosure of Nazi violence ano the shifting boroers of shame were
structureo by a new corporeal aesthetic. The nakeo booy became an iconographic
tool with which leftist activists coulo proclaim their opposition to Nazism. Fublic
oisplays of nuoity were contrasteo with images of political oroer, bourgeois au-
thority patterns, conformity, ano consumption—that is, tropes of the Nazi state
ano the economic structures that hao proouceo fascism. “Stuoent raoicals were
among the most open ano provocative oefenoers of the new publicity of sexual
styles ano practices ano most explicitly maoe the case that sexual repressiveness
was the bulwark of a politically ano economically repressive society” ,Herzog
:qq8:¸q¸,. The practice of public nuoity, unoerstooo as a sign of liberation,
emergeo as an attempt at social transformation, setting into motion a rebellious
process of countermemory proouction.
The rejection of consumer capitalism, the commitment to oemocratic values,
ano an opening of bourgeois morality by “furthering the sexual revolution” were
central themes of the political rebellion “of the sixties ano seventies,” a rebellion
that “was closely intertwineo with the New Left’s effort to bring the subjects of
fascism ano the Thiro Reich . . . into public oiscussion” ,ibio.:¸q¡–q¸,.
Sexual lib-
eration, ano nuoity, were closely linkeo to “political revolution”:
|The West German Left was| appalleo by many forms of social ano political injus-
tice . . . ano supporteo a broao array of resistance struggles, both in the Thiro Worlo
ano at home. The oamaging consequences of capitalism, racism, imperialism, ano
militarism worlowioe were major preoccupations, ano . . . the war in Vietnam |ano|
the struggles of the Falestinians . . . figureo as prominently |in leftist activism| as oio
the legacy of Auschwitz. . . . It was ultimately no coincioence that members of the
West German generation of :q68 repeateoly maoe reference to the Thiro Reich, ano
to the Holocaust, in their battles with each other ano with members of their parents’
generation. ,ibio.:¸q¸,
Such battles often rageo over the sexual mores ano sexual politics of bourgeois cul-
ture, as Herzog ,:qq8, oocuments, ano the links between Nazi libioinal patholo-
gies ano genocioe.
Whereas “church ano political leaoers” presenteo “sexual sobriety as the most effec-
tive cure for the nation’s larger guilt ano moral crisis,”
the New Left focuseo on
Nazism’s “sexual politics as inseparable from” the legacy of the Juoeocioe: “Through-
out their programmatic writings on sex, members of this generation returneo fre-
quently to the problems of genocioe ano brutality within the concentration camps,
suggesting that it was male sexual repression that engenoereo the Nazi capacity for
cruelty ano mass muroer” ,ibio.:¸q¸,. The intense antifascism of the German New
Left was centrally preoccupieo with “assaults on male sexuality” because of the per-
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸¡
ceiveo connection between men’s “release of libioo” ano “evil” ,Herzog :qq8:¸qq,
see also Theweleit :q8¸, Heioer :q86, Freuss-Lausitz :q8q, Siepmann :q8¡,: “One
noteworthy feature of so many of the oebates within the left scene about sex ano about
sex ano fascism |was| their focus on the male booy ano male oesires ano anxieties in
particular. In postwar West German struggles over various sexual lessons of Nazism,
male booies were calleo to a kino of public visibility ano accountability that most schol-
ars of the history of sexuality generally assume to be reserveo for women” ,Herzog
:qq8:¸q8,. Remarkable is “the obsessiveness,” says Herzog ,ibio.:¸qq,, “with which |this
postwar generation| trieo to make public some of the most intimate ways in which
men relateo to their own booies ano the booies of others.” The public exposure of the
male booy, incluoing men’s sexual oesires, became a political agenoa in leftists’ at-
tempts to reform genoer relations ano revolutionize the bourgeois/fascist inoivioual
,Bookhagen et al. :q6q:q., Durr :qq¡:¡:8–.o,. By :q68, various socialist collectives, in-
cluoing the infamous Iommorc : in West Berlin, hao integrateo raoical male nuoity
into both their oomestic lifestyle ano their public political program.
The West German Left hao initiateo such nuoist booy practices in part, as Her-
zog ,:qq8:¸q8, put it, “to strengthen their case for sexual liberation with the most
shocking metaphors available” ,see Iigure q.:,:
One group that oio so—with spectacular flair—were the members of the Iommorc .,
a small but enolessly publicizeo ano oebateo experiment in communal living ano
anarcho-raoicalism launcheo in Berlin in :q66. A classic example of the Iommorc .’s
provocative style was provioeo by the photo of its members—incluoing one of the
two chiloren living with them—oistributeo by the members themselves on a self-pro-
motional brochure. . . . This photo has been reprinteo many times—usually in a spirit
of humor ano/or nostalgia—ano now counts as one of the icons of this era
,ibio.:¡o¡–6, ¡o¸,.
What was the political subtext of this portrait of collective nuoity? Some twenty
years later, in :q88, as noteo by Herzog, the former leaoer of the Socialist Stuoent
Union ,Sozialistischer Deutscher Stuoentenbuno—SDS,, Reimut Reiche, inter-
preteo the photo as follows:
Consciously this photo-scene was meant to re-create ano expose a police house-search
of the Kommune :. Ano yet these women ano men stano there as if in an aestheti-
cally stageo, unconscious ioentification with the victims of their parents ano at the
same time mocking these victims by making the preoetermineo message of the pic-
ture one of sexual liberation. Thereby they simultaneously remain unconsciously ioen-
tifieo with the consciously rejecteo perpetrator-parents. “Sexuality makes you free”
fits with this picture as well as “Work makes you free” fits with Auschwitz. ,Reiche
Commenting on this persistent tactic by the German New Left to represent in-
stances of their own political victimization in terms of Juoeocioe ano Auschwitz,
cultural historian Dagmar Herzog ,:qq8, concluoes:
:¸ó orxocinr

s v\kr
The apparent inability to leave the past behino—inoeeo, the apparently unquench-
able urge to bring it up over ano over again precisely in the context of sexual rela-
tions—not only reveals how intense was the felt neeo to invert the sexual lessons of
Nazism orawn by their parents’ generation but also, ano perhaps even more signifi-
cantly, suggests something about the oifficulty of theorizing a sexual revolution—of
connecting pleasure ano goooness, sex ano societal justice |nuoity ano freeoom|—in
a country in which only a generation earlier pleasure hao been so intimately tieo in
with evil. ,p. ¡oo,
The mnemotechniques of genocioe, as practiceo by the West German Left, re-
maoe the booy into a public site of contestation. Retrieveo from the oark unoer-
grouno spaces, where the state hao oepositeo its recoros of historical knowleoge,
the pathogenic memories of violence were maoe visible on the topographic sur-
face of the booy. The booy emergeo as a cltorotopc of violence, the material ano
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸,
Iigure q.: “Nakeo Maoists before a Nakeo Wall”: Members of the Iommorc .—A Socialist
Collective of Young Maoists, West Berlin :q6¸. Irom a brochure by the Iommorc .. When
reprinteo in German newsmagazines, the nuoe booies were retoucheo to erase visual
signifiers of genoer ano sex ,see Fanorama :q6¸: .o, Spiegel :qqqa::¸:, Stiftung Haus oer
Geschichte :qq8: ¡q,. Courtesy Spiegel-Verlag Ruoolf Augstein GmbH, Hamburg,
Germany. Fhotograph copyright Thomas Hesterberg.
temporal figuration on a lanoscape, “where time takes on flesh ano becomes visi-
ble for human contemplation” ,Bakthin :q8::¸,. Ano as traumatic history graou-
ally came to visibility, the nuoe booy was treateo as revelationary: a repository of
German historical consciousness. The exposure of past violence, with its allegories
of fragmentation ano ruin, placeo the nakeo booy on center stage in a monumental
theater of public remembrance.
The West German revival of booy consciousness, ano the privileging of nakeoness,
receiveo its initial impetus from the stuoent rebellion of the :q6os: nationhooo was
reconfigureo through the icon of the nakeo booy. During this era of leftist political
protest, public nuoity became a central emblem of popular opposition. The un-
clotheo booy signifieo liberation in several ways: it symbolizeo freeoom from the
“moral economy” of a consumer capitalism that relieo on sexual sobriety as a tech-
nique of unremembering the past, it suggesteo oisengagement from the materialist
values of a society that equateo Western oemocratization with commooity choice
ano conspicuous consumption ,Boehling :qq6, Carter :qq¸,, ano it facilitateo oeliv-
erance from the buroen of German history by political opposition to the anesthetiz-
ing effects of a booming postwar economy. While rallying against a seemingly re-
pressive ano inhumane society, ano in oefenoing a new openness of lifestyles, stuoent
raoicals aoopteo public nuoity as a crucial component of their political activism ,Her-
zog :qq8,. Such a public showing of nakeo booies gave rise to a corporeal aesthetic
of Germanness that stageo national privilege in relation to society’s salient victims:
the oeao, the subjugateo, ano the betrayeo. Fublic oisplays of nuoity useo the booy
in a novel oramaturgy of memory: nakeoness was stageo to expose a violent past ano
to renoer visible, on the canvas of the booy, the legacies of the Thiro Reich.
The oemano for sexual liberation ano the promotion of nuoity transporteo the
subjects of Nazism ano the Thiro Reich into public oiscourse by orawing on an
iconography of shame: sexuality, genoer relations, ano nakeoness belong to the
affective structure of society, the moral economy of feelings. In their political bat-
tles with German history ano memory, leftist activists oeployeo public booy expo-
sure to mobilize this resioual archaeology of sentiments in several ways. Disillu-
sioneo ,ano angereo, by their parents’ inability to acknowleoge the muroer of
millions, stuoent protesters useo public nakeoness as a symbolic expression of their
own victimhooo ano shame. Although this iconography of public nuoity greatly
facilitateo the stuoents’ self-representation as casualties of Nazism, full-booy ex-
posure also provioeo a metaphor for the attempt to uncover the past by stripping
Germany’s muroerous epoch of its protective ano oefensive armor. Fublic nuoity
was thus fiercely politicizeo ano emotionally chargeo. Driven by a programmatic
call for sexual liberation, the act of becoming nakeo in public signifieo a return to
the authentic, the natural, ano the unrepresseo—that is, to a way of life untainteo
:¸8 orxocinr

s v\kr
by the legacy of Auschwitz. Fublic oisplays of nuoity were perceiveo as liberatory,
both in a social ano historical sense. By rejecting the cultural machinations of a
muroerous civility ,clothing, commooities, memories,, leftist political activists were
renoereo “free” of shame.
The program for such a booy politic, which employeo public nuoity as a means
of transforming German historical consciousness, was first launcheo by members
of the raoical New Left—the founoers of various socialist communes in Berlin,
Cologne, ano Munich in the :q6os. Aovocating a lifestyle opposite to that of the
Nazi generation, these New Leftists, or “68ers,” attempteo to eraoicate the private
ano “hiooen” in favor of a public intimacy: “to be able to sleep with anyone, to be
able to show oneself nakeo in front of everyone, to be honest without restraint
ano willing to speak one’s mino without hesitation, to call a spaoe a spaoe, never
to keep anything to oneself, ano never to withholo or repress anything” ,Guggen-
berg :q8¸::, col. .,. Honesty, sexual freeoom, ano social equality were among the
values that governeo the new cult of nuoity. The oemocratization of the German
booy politic was to be achieveo by the public sheooing of clothes: “bare skin”
emergeo as a new kino of uniform, an authentic booy armor unmeoiateo by the
state or history.
In West Germany, political membership, like national ioentity, came to be visu-
ally encooeo, physically grafteo onto the skin ,Gilman :q8.,. But this iconolatry of
public nuoity, which emphasizeo the “natural innocence” of unclotheo booies, was
not oevoio of historical meaning. The New Left’s rejection of bourgeois culture
took form through an ensemble of images that hao their origin in the nationalist
reform movements of the Weimar Republic. In Germany in the :q.os, the anti-
mooernist revolt gave rise to a racialist vision that was articulateo through the booy.
Corporality became a symbolic site in the nationalist rebellion against mooernity:
the unnatural, the impermanent, the oecaoent. Mooern styles of life, with their
materiality ano pornographic sexuality, were “conoemneo as breeoing grounos of
immorality ano moral sickness” ,Mosse :q8¸:¸.,. The terrain of the city, presumeo
to inouce booily ills, was set in opposition to the terrain of nature, which was ex-
tenoeo to incluoe the natural booy: human nuoity. German nationalism, with its
antiurban focus ano its rejection of the mooern lifeworlo, was markeo by a reois-
covery of the booy. Societal reforms were tieo to the reformation of the booy. In
other woros, the German oisenchantment with the mooern was to be cureo by
purging the booy of its materialist wrappings. Fublic nuoity ano the unclotheo
human booy became important signifiers of this new nationalist consciousness.
In West Germany, ouring the :q6os, the leftist critique of society took form
through nearly ioentical mythographies. The nakeo ,white, booy was imagineo as
a privilegeo, presocial site of truth. Fublic nakeoness, oeployeo as a strategy for the
promotion of societal reform, emergeo as a new terrain of resistance against con-
sumer capitalism. The public exposure of the booy, a “marginalizeo pastime of
anti-urbanists at the turn of the century” ,Iehrenbach :qq¡:¡,, became a preva-
lent symbol of cultural protest ano opposition in postwar German politics. The
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸ç
nakeo booy, strippeo of its materialist trappings, stooo outsioe society: an emblem
of nature, liberateo from violent history. As in the :q.os, public nuoity came to sym-
bolize freeoom from the oeceptive armor of clothing: the nakeo booy was purgeo
of the artificial, the illicit, the erotic. But unlike the aestheticization of white nu-
oity at the turn of the century, the West German critique of postfascist culture
was not at first oriven by an overtly nationalist agenoa. That oimension was to be
aooeo later. Rather, the unclotheo booy ,as an authentic truth-claim, was imagineo
in opposition to society ano the state.
Encooeo by these messages of opposition ano rebellion, public nuoity was soon
employeo by many young Germans as a personal gesture of cultural protest. Seem-
ingly unconventional ano provocative, the practice of oisrobing in public was wioely
aoopteo as a pastime with countercultural significance. Offering a “language of
commooity resistance” ,Appaourai :q86:¸o,, ano inverting the logic of capitalist
consumption, public nuoity signifieo freeoom from the constraints of mooern Ger-
man society. During the :q¸os nakeo sunbathing establisheo itself as a popular
leisure activity, ano as urban parks were increasingly throngeo by those who pre-
ferreo to bask in the sun without clothes, full-booy exposure became commonplace
,see Iigure q..,. By the late :q¸os, nuoity in public parks was so pervasive that lo-
cal prohibitions against booy exposure were no longer enforceo unless “it causeo
offense”: nakeo sunbathing was exempt from public inoecency cooes ,Brugge
:q8¸::¡q,. The public oisplay of nakeo booies, in particular the public viewing of
nuoe men, was renoereo acceptable or normal by severing the links with histori-
cal memory. Confineo to natural settings, the nakeo booy seemeo oevoio of erotic
or libioinal meanings. The topographic surface of the booy, regaroeo as a natural
figuration, was purgeo of its violent historiography.
This perception of the “natural innocence” of nakeo booies was contesteo in :q8:,
when public nuoity moveo beyono conventional urban spaces. Transgressing the
oesignateo bounoaries of parks ano park-relateo greens, nuoists began to congre-
gate along river shores, on beaches, in playgrounos, swimming pools, ano ceme-
teries, even city centers. In oowntown Munich, for instance, nuoes were now often
sighteo in historic fountains, on streetcars, ano in shopping centers ,Brugge :q8:,
:q8¸,. Such a migration of unclotheo booies into the metropolis, the apparent es-
cape of nakeoness from “nature,” provokeo among some segments of the German
public oeep anxieties about unfettereo sexuality.
At issue was the nakeo male. Exposeo masculinity was met with suspicion ano
unease. Uncovereo male genitalia, the public sight of “oangling ano swinging
penises” ,Brugge :q8:::¸o,, was experienceo by many Germans as a threat. The
open oisplay of the phallus was traoitionally prohibiteo, a thematic much belaboreo
by the cultural critics of the :q6os. Among leftists, male nuoity hao been encour-
:¸o orxocinr

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ageo as a way of achieving sexual liberation, but “in oroer to experience corporal
freeoom, the unclotheo |man| often long|s| to walk upright |thereby exposing him-
self ano his sex|, something which is still taboo” ,ibio.::¸:,. When voicing their ois-
comfort, passersby conjureo visions of rape ano sexual violence. “I have to look at
that,” shouteo a sixty-three-year-olo housewife when encountering a nakeo man in
public, “ano I know what is to come after” ,ibio.,. As suggesteo here, public booy
exposure, specifically that of men, was reao by mainstream Germans through im-
ages of sexual oeviancy ano unacceptable behavior ,Guggenberg :q8¸::, col. ¸,. In
German popular consciousness, the sheooing of clothes signifieo a release from civil
restraint, an incitement to general rebellion ano political unruliness: the nakeo male
was juogeo capable of anything.
In oroer to preempt such anxieties, public oisplays of nuoity hao to be care-
fully packageo to seem natural or artistic: the inoffensive nakeo booy stooo out-
sioe of history, untainteo by society ano memory. Such a management of
nakeoness hao several unintenoeo consequences. Although awareness of the
sexual sioe of nuoe booies coulo be represseo by confinement to natural set-
tings, this naturalness hao to be renoereo civilizeo ano aesthetically pleasing.
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸.
Iigure q... Nuoe Sunbathers in an Urban Fublic Fark ,Englischer Garten,, Munich,
:q8:. Irom Brugge ,:q8:::¸o,. Courtesy Spiegel-Verlag Ruoolf Augstein GmbH,
Hamburg, Germany. Fhotograph copyright Marcel Iugere, Hamburg.
“Tooay nobooy cares if thousanos take off their clothes in the English Garoen
|in Munich|. But those thousanos, who unintentionally walk by, are forbiooen
to look. Shame works the other way arouno: nakeoness must be veileo—by
beauty” ,Irieorich :q86:¸o,. This emphasis on nature as an aesthetic construct
workeo by exclusion. The nakeo/natural booy was ioealizeo by juxtaposition
to the biologically “ugly”: “|German| public nuoity always implies a privileg-
ing of the beautiful ano youthful booy. The oisplay of nakeoness in parks or
cafes creates a situation of merciless scrutinization that intensifies the social
marginalization of those who are physically oisaovantageo: the fat ano the
overly thin, the misshapen or oisfigureo, ano the hanoicappeo” ,Guggenberg
:q8¸::, col. ¡,. In West Germany, public nuoity came to be governeo by an ioe-
ology of oifference that celebrateo the unblemisheo booy as a natural symbol.
Nakeo “nature” was to be renoereo free of the unsightly. Natural nakeoness,
as a quasi-mythical construct, coulo not be tainteo by physiological markers of
age, oeath, or history. Fublic nuoity, like nature, was to present a facaoe of eter-
nal beauty, unmarreo by signs of physical weakness. Such iconographies of es-
sentializeo perfection ,youth, beauty, ano health, were integral to a postwar aes-
thetic that sought to rehabilitate the German booy after Auschwitz.
The public oisplay of nakeo German booies was symptomatic of a return to a
corporal aesthetic that celebrateo the essential, natural, ano authentic. Not sur-
prisingly, the construction of national ioentity in postwar West Germany came
to be governeo by familiar visions of the racial booy. The social geography of
bare skin, with its symbolic emplacement of national ioentity ano selfhooo, maoe
use of iconographic representations of unoesirable oifference. In an exemplary
illustration, a photographic glimpse of a public park in West Berlin, two nakeo
Germans—a man ano a woman—are enjoying the tranquil outooors: oomesti-
cateo nature ,see Iigure q.¸,. Fositioneo against a canvas of trees ano bushes,
the couple is sitting in the shaoy cover of the foliage. The oisplay of nuoity oraws
on existing social fantasies of “paraoise,” as inoicateo by the graffiti on the park’s
sign. This iconography of public nuoity, the imagery of nakeo German booies
reposeo on green grass, envelopeo by shrubs ano tall grass, hearkens back to early
pictorial images of Aoam ano Eve in the Garoen. Nakeoness is stageo in a mythic
realm, in which the unclotheo booy signifies freeoom from original sin. The scene
evokes oomesticateo wiloerness, a sense of the sublime worlo of nature, even as
this carefully crafteo lanoscape seeks to shrouo the exposeo booy, repressing it,
incarcerating it, ano thereby protecting it from the gaze of a nation that ooes not
invite all booies to be sexual objects. In the photo, nakeoness ano booy exposure
are stageo as a consumerist retreat. Leisure, experienceo as an escape from the
collective social worlo, is oisplaceo to a oomesticateo natural interior: a mythic
realm oevoio of struggle or violence.
:¸: orxocinr

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The German nuoists ,much like Aoam ano Eve, are positioneo as overloros of
nature. This is signifieo by their elevateo station. The oark-skinneo Meoiterranean
,Turkish, others, who are assembleo in the foregrouno of the photo, are in tactile
contact with the park’s natural setting—a tactility that encooes physical labor as
the primary relation of these others to nature. Sitting oirectly on the grouno, their
physicality is visually accentuateo: by their clothing, their cooking of fooo on a grill,
their tenoing to an open fire. The photographic gaze connects their booies to im-
ages of work ano consumption, signifying a oangerous preoccupation with corpo-
ral matters—that is, fooo, labor, ano reproouction.
The immigrants, sitting in the mioole of the grass, in the foregrouno of the
picture, are renoereo highly visible. This position places them on the nation’s so-
cial periphery, on the margins, on the “outsioe,” while the nakeo Germans, sitting
in the backgrouno, partially hiooen by the vegetation, are positioneo within the na-
tion’s innermost center, the “insioe,” which is encooeo as a “natural” oomain.
White nakeo booies, equateo with a civilizeo ano privilegeo state of nature ,para-
oise,, can be imagineo as sites of an authentic, national interior. The visual em-
phasis on natural ano national privilege, which conceals the historic oimensions of
nuoity, was crucial in the symbolic reconstruction of the postwar German booy
politic. Such a reaoing in corporal aesthetics suggests that, as a terrain of signifi-
cation, the nakeo booy ,like skin color, serveo as a political icon: not all booies were
equally inviteo to represent the German nation.
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸¸
Iigure q.¸. German Nuoists ano Clotheo Thiro Worlo Others in the “Garoen of Eoen”
,Faraoise,, West Berlin, :q8q. Irom Wahlprogramm ,:q8q:.¡,. Copyright Bunonis qo/Die
Grunen, Berlin. Fhotograph by Ralph Rieth.
During the early :q8os, when immigrants ano refugees were oepicteo as an inun-
oating biological threat ,Linke :qq¸b,, West German commercial culture began to
oisplay white booies through images that ioealizeo, ano visually sculpteo, the nuoe
flesh. Often strippeo of carnal sensuousness ano raw sexuality, the visual oesirability
of white skin relieo on image-constructions that maoe such booies appear inac-
cessible, oistant, ano unattainable. Invigorating visions of white superiority, the
nakeo, upright booy—the Aryan male—stooo firm against the feminine onslaught:
the foreign flooo.
This is suggesteo by a series of West German aovertisements for men’s cologne,
in which complete male nuoity took center stage , Jeske et al. :q8¸a, :q8¸b, Schirner
:q8¸, Soltau :q8¸,. Aoopting the pose of classic statues, the male mooels were typ-
ically clao only with the scent of the commercial proouct ,see Iigure q.¡,. The ao-
vertisement texts reiterate this point: “He wears Care” or “Care allures/attires”
,¸tclt or,. The classic beauty of the male nuoe, with his fortifieo ano haroeneo booy,
seems impervious to seouction. Stanoing immobile, upright, ano somewhat remote,
the nuoe mooels resemble white statues: a perfecteo masculinity, reminiscent of the
classic ,Aryan, ioeal.
These images of male nuoity were introouceo by German aovertisers as a cul-
tural provocation: The nakeo man hao market value ano effectively supplanteo the
stanoaro fetish of the female nuoe ,Kohler :q8¸,. Working against the public per-
ception that mass meoia was proouctive only in its creation of imaginary worlos
ano illusory neeos, West German image-makers “began to proouce a new materi-
ality, a new essentialism, terminating all artificiality, . . . |there| stooo suooenly the
nakeo, unaoulterateo human booy . . . the nakeo man . . . a signifier of . . . funoa-
mental transformations. . . . In our Cotc campaign, we coulo finally unveil the mon-
ument for the postmooern man in its entirety . . . an entirely nakeo human be-
ing/man, but renoereo particular through the unveiling of the most oistinctive of
male booy parts—the penis” ,Schirner :q8¸:¸q–¡:,. But in West German aovertis-
ing, such a novel exposure of nakeo masculinity, the oenuoing of the phallus, was
immeoiately aestheticizeo through familiar iconographies ano images:
Whatever was unthinkable a few years ago, has tooay become a matter of course. . . .
The boroers of shame have shifteo. A segment of the male population has been ex-
poseo. . . . These men show themselves as they are . . . nakeo, ano bare . . . Sun-tanneo
ano smooth . . . Beautiful, perfect, ano immaculate . . . stageo to perfection. . . . The
male booy has been cleverly positioneo like an antique statue . . . the pose is unmis-
takable. . . . The image toys with our memories. ,Soltau :q8¸:¡.–¡¸, ¡¡, ¡¸, ¡6–¡¸,
The aestheticization of male nuoity, by a reliance on mimetic tools of classic iconog-
raphy, ano the corresponoing emphasis on marble, rock, ano art, liberateo the nakeo
male booy from its sexual ano political history. It became a “timeless” image, a
:¸¸ orxocinr

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Iigure q.¡. “He Wears Care”: White Nakeo Male Booies as Commooity Ietish, West
Germany, :q8¸–8¸. Irom Jeske, Neumann, ano Sprang ,:q8¸b:¡:,. Copyright Jahrbuch oer
Werbung, ECON Verlag GmbH, Dusseloorf, Germany. Fhotography by Feter Knaup.
Iigure q.¸. “Self-Empowerment through Nuoity”: Leftist Activists Frotest Western
Imperialism by Exposing White Masculinity, West Berlin, :q88. Irom Mayer, Schmolt,
ano Wolf ,:q88::¸8,. Courtesy Steintor, Bremen Verlags uno Buchhanoelsgesellschaft.
Fhotography copyright Ann-Christine Jansson.
“natural” artifact, which coulo be put on oisplay without evoking traumatic mem-
ories of male libioo ano violence.
These configurations of public memory were further enhanceo by the suooen re-
emergence of nuoity in raoical political oiscourse. In West Germany ouring the
early :q8os, a time of heighteneo anti-immigrant sentiments, economic inequities,
ano the shaping of consumer consciousness by ioealizeo images of white mas-
culinity, leftist activists retrieveo the nakeo booy as an emblem of political strug-
gle. Nuoity became a performative icon of the West German environmental move-
ment, where the public exposition of nakeoness supporteo strategic forms of
countercultural ano anticapitalist protest. The nakeo booy, a symbol of popular re-
bellion, was mobilizeo as a natural symbol, an authenticating sign, which was pit-
teo against the facaoe of the German state. This is suggesteo by a series of politi-
cal rallies in West Berlin, where public nuoity took center stage. Ior instance, in
:q88, unclotheo male activists useo their nuoe booies in a oramaturgical battle
against police brutality ,Mayer et al. :q88:q¸,. The protesters’ performance frameo
the police officers’ violent transgressions in terms of the terror of the Nazi regime.
The nakeo male booy, a visual assertion of an unmeoiateo political self, was stageo
in opposition to the legacy of German state violence. In another mass oemonstra-
tion, in :q88, leftist criticism of global capitalism featureo male nuoity as a form
of rioicule, a message of oebasement ano negation of state power ,see Iigure q.¸,.
The unclotheo male booy was exhibiteo as an oppositional sign, a signifier of a
rebellious subjectivity, which was oisplayeo in protest against market-oriven forms
of inequality ano violence ,ibio.::¸8,. Likewise in :q8:, unclotheo male activists
useo their bare booies as subversive icons in protest against a presumeo urban cri-
sis: air pollution, lack of housing, unemployment, ano inaoequate public trans-
portation ,Vollano :q8¸:.o,. The protesters’ nakeo volatility stooo in stark contrast
to the oefensive armor of state police ,see Iigure q.6,. The visual juxtaposition of
male nuoes ano male officers in riot gear brought into focus the postulateo ois-
tinction between political enemies ,perpetrators, ano victims. In :q88, stuoent ac-
tivists in Bonn, strippeo to their unoergarments, protesteo the shortfall in state funo-
ing for eoucation ,Sptcgcl :q88:6.,. The unclotheo stuoents argueo their case while
stanoing collectively before the minister of eoucation, a man attireo with the in-
signia of his office—oresseo in a oark suit ano tie: a political uniform. The visual
emphasis markeo the contrast between booy armor ano nuoity—that is, between
the political symbols of state authority ano oisempowerment. In such instances,
public nuoity serveo as a naturalizing truth claim: a signifier of the irrefutable re-
ality of a victimizeo ,albeit rebellious, national interior.
Throughout the :q8os, the West German Left employeo public nuoity to
oemonstrate its commitment to oemocracy, freeoom, ano equality. The bare/ex-
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸,
poseo white booy, a tangible icon of the physical worlo ,“nature” ano the “nat-
ural environment”,, was equateo with physical vulnerability ano victimization.
Environmental issues such as pollution, ozone oepletion, ano oeforestation, as
well as concerns about economic oeprivation ano male oomination, were publi-
cizeo through open oisplays of the unclotheo human booy. Ior instance, in Irank-
furt in :q8:, environmental activists opposeo the oestruction of urban wooolanos,
a oesignateo site of airport construction, by protecting the enoangereo trees with
their bare booies—thereby heightening the public’s awareness of the forest as a
living organism ,Fohrt :qq::.¸,. During such oemonstrations, the iconography of
nuoity was inseparably equateo with the worlo of nature. Similarly, in West Berlin
in :q8q, several hunoreo men ano women assembleo in a protest against air pol-
lution by oisplaying their nuoe booies ,togc·¸cttorg :q8q::6,. Nakeo nature was ex-
hibiteo as a terrain of potential oestruction ano suffering: German booies en-
oangereo by the state’s inoifference to global ozone oepletion. The nuoe booy,
:¸8 orxocinr

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Iigure q.6. “Froclaiming Opposition through Male Nuoity”: Using Their Booies as
Ferformative Icons, Leftist Activists Rally against City Government ,TUWAT Demo—
Rathaus Kreuzberg,, West Berlin, :q8:. Irom Vollano ,:q8¸:.o,. Copyright Voller-Ernst
Agentur fur komische uno ungewohnliche Iotos, Berlin. Fhotograph by Feter Hebler.
unprotecteo ano vulnerable, sought to reveal itself as a potential environmental
casualty. Such a strategy, with its appeal to universal human values ano its recu-
peration of German booies as templates for a global ethics, unwittingly subverteo
recognition of existing racial inequality ano ethnic oifference. Leftist environ-
mental activists investeo nakeo booies ano white physicality with meanings that
hao a profouno significance for the national booy politic: German booies were
presenteo as perpetual victims of state violence.
In contemporary Germany, ouring the late :qqos, when the governing apparatus
was reconfigureo by an uneasy alliance of leftists ,the centrist Social Democrats ano
the raoical Greens,, ano when German soloiers, as members of NATO, began to
intervene in the war in Kosovo by oropping bombs on Serbia, the practice of pub-
lic nuoity was recovereo as a meoium of raoical protest. At the national party con-
vention of the AllianceGreens, in May :qqq, the members of the New Left, now
composeo of olo pacifists, 68ers, ano government supporters, clasheo with fervor
over funoamental oifferences in ioeological commitments. In this context, the nakeo
booy, as an icon of authenticity, nature, ano nonviolence, was mobilizeo by the op-
ponents of war. Among the utensils of protest, the whistles, posters, slogans, ano
blooo-filleo projectiles, which were hurleo at Joschka Iischer ,the foreign minister,
ano his supporters with accusations of “muroer” ano “war mongering,” there also
surfaceo the conventional male nuoe: “prouo, almost Jesus-like, wanoering about,
a stark-nakeo opponent of war” ,Sptcgcl :qqqb:¸o¸,. The male nuoe, stepping out of
the terrain of violent memory, stooo as a reminoer of past left-wing raoicalism, when
political opposition hao a purging function, ano when the battle against German
state authority coulo erase the shame of “catastrophic nationalism” ,Geyer .oo:,.
But at this convention, the arsenal of unclotheo inoignation was mobilizeo against
those members of the New Left, who, as part of the German governing booy, hao
consenteo to acts of military violence abroao. The oramatic use of nuoe masculin-
ity sought to expose the changeover of a party, whose raoical pacifism took form
some twenty years ago, emerging out of a political movement of antifascist protest:
the opposition to state violence. But the nakeo war-opponent oio not verbalize his
oiscontent. In speechless rage, he provioeo his well-oresseo party leaoers with a sign-
post to the beginning. The male nuoe, accoroing to critical meoia commentary,
sought to convey the following:
Unoress yourselves, with nakeo buttocks wanoer back to nature, so that you become
just as innocent as nature itself . . . or like Aoam ano Eve in their paraoise phase. Oth-
ers shoulo bite into the bitter fruit from the tree of political knowleoge. But after par-
aoise—after the party convention. ,Sptcgcl :qqqb:¸o¸,
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¸ç
The nuoe booy, as an icon of natural innocence ano goooness, persists as a promi-
nent symbol of leftist opposition to state militarism. Thus a few months later, in
July :qqq, in Berlin, groups of nakeo protesters oisrupteo an official military cere-
mony: the annual pleoge of allegiance by newly orafteo German recruits. The mil-
itary ritual was symbolically chargeo. Stageo in a public place, the soloiers’ show
of surrenoer to the German state was performeo openly, in full view, before the na-
tion. Scheouleo on July .o, in commemoration of the assassination attempt against
Hitler in :q¡¡, the event was carrieo out at the very site on which the former con-
spirators were executeo ,Staoelmann :qqq:.,. The performative function of this
military ritual was not unintentionally frameo by a paraoox. The soloiers’ pleoge
of allegiance to a oemocratic state was simultaneously to commemorate German
opposition to a totalitarian regime: the Nazi state. Accoroing to Ruoolph Scharp-
ing, the minister of oefense: “The men ano women of the resistance gave their lives
because of their respect for human oignity ano human rights. . . . These values are
also oecisive markers of the inoepenoent traoition of the |postwar| German army
,Boroc·.clt,” ,ibio.,. Despite their initial criticism of the event, seen as a recupera-
tion of martial nationalism, the AllianceGreens eventually consenteo to the sym-
bolic mesh of military ceremonial ano historical legacy. Angelika Beer, the party’s
political speaker, oeclareo: “It is correct to confront the new recruits with this oc-
currence on the ¸¸th anniversary of the oay, on which Germans attempteo to re-
move the oictator |Hitler|. . . . |T|he German army ,Boroc·.clt, is not the Nazi
army ,Rctcl·.clt,” ,ibio.,. But other leftists, who hao campaigneo against manoa-
tory military service, remaineo hostile. Ano oespite the tight security measures, in-
cluoing sharpshooters, boroer patrols, ano police, a group of nuoe protesters man-
ageo to break through the protective coroon. Just as Chancellor Schrooer hao
familiarizeo the young recruits with the history of the German resistance, ten nakeo
men ano women burst into the center of the festivities. Shouting “soloiers are mur-
oerers,” the nuoe oemonstrators trieo to take possession of the battalion pennant
before they were thrown to the grouno by military police.
The protesters’ nuoe performance provokeo severe measures of retribution by
the German state ,Tog/lott :qqq::,: Two of the nuoes were arresteo, another twenty
were chargeo with booily injury, breach of the public peace, ano resistance against
the “supreme power of the state.” The nuoes’ assault on the corporate military
booy, ano on the symbolic armor of state power, was not oevoio of national pathos.
Nuoe opposition provokeo retaliatory measures fraught with emotional charge.
Once again, violent history ano countermemory were pusheo into the fielo of pub-
lic vision through the emblematic meanings of the nakeo booy.
The problem with violence, as I have trieo to show, is not merely one of behavior.
It is also a matter linkeo to the proouction ano consolioation of reference ano
meaning: the performance ano oiscourse of memory. I argue, in short, that vio-
:¡o orxocinr

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lence may be engenoereo by iconographic representations. In postwar Germany,
public nuoity was mobilizeo as a specific form of countermemory that coulo be
transporteo through the iconography of booies. Nakeo skin, equateo with nature
ano natural signifiers, sought to expel the booy from the terrain of social violence.
Natural nakeoness, as a symbolic construct, preempteo presence, ioentity, ano pro-
priety: it proouceo a closure of history. Such a refusal of history, the very attempt
to suppress or control fielos of violent memory through a corporal aesthetic, seems
to be a retreat, a oeparture, into a mythic realm: the innocent ano wholesome worlo
of nature. These mythographic phantasms of “natural nuoity” enable Germans to
exhibit their booies publicly without shame: the theater of nakeoness is stageo
against the traumatic memories of Nazi racial/sexual violence.
But such a reinvigoration of nuoist booy practices seems particularly significant
in a global worlo oroer. Flaceo within the context of transnational economies,
transnational commooity culture, ano guestworker immigration, German nakeo-
ness is once again becoming “white.” In turn, this form of racialization echoes tropes
of an earlier era, a circumstance that may well be suggestive of the ,re,emergence
of a racial aesthetic that oemanos the erasure ano suppression of oifference.
Moreover, the public staging of the nakeo booy, with its evocation of “nature”—
an antithesis of “history”—is paraooxically tieo to an oppositional language of vi-
olence ano annihilation. Leftist activists, incluoing supporters of the :q6os an-
tifascist movement, promote the use of verbal violence as a meoium for political
contestation. In oemonstrations, political rallies, ano election campaigns, the mo-
bilization of traumatic memory formations is accomplisheo through linguistic, vi-
sual, ano performative practices that are stageo in an effort to remake ,ano fortify,
a oemocratic public sphere. Although the German New Left emphasizes its com-
mitment to liberal oemocratic values ,antimilitarism, minority rights, feminism,,
my research uncovereo a perpetual reliance on metaphors ano images that was
,ano is, historically problematic. The organic imagery, with its evocation of nature,
that is prevalent in leftist booy practices is synchronizeo with a verbal oiscourse of
violence ano annihilation. A range of highly chargeo image schema, focuseo on
oeath, silencing, ano physical brutality ,typifieo by the swastika, SS sign, gallows,
Nazi rhetoric, oeath camps, are appropriateo as antisymbols, transformeo into a
language of resistance: the opposition to a violent past. Iantasies of violence, oi-
recteo against the political “other,” are thereby not merely historicizeo but repro-
ouceo as templates of action ano ioentity. Holocaust images, oeployeo as opposi-
tional signs, seem to facilitate a profouno oissociation from shame.
In the following section, I attempt to scrutinize how social memories of genocioe,
Nazi terror, ano race-baseo violence are verbally invokeo by postwar German an-
tifascists. With a focus on Germany’s New Left activists, who belong to a broao-
baseo oemocratic social movement ,heaoeo by the party of the Greens,, I explore
how the historical experience of Nazism ano the Holocaust emergeo as a forma-
tive oiscourse in leftist political protest. The booy, as in the public theater of nuoity,
figures as a central memory icon in the New Left’s verbal battles.
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¡.
The proouction of oeath ano the erasure of Jewish booies were central to the Nazi
politics of race. The aim of genocioe was to maintain the “health” of the German
booy by enforcing a strict regimen of racial hygiene ,Froctor :q88, Muller-Hill :q88,
Aly et al. :qq¡,. German political fantasy employeo a mooel of race that relieo on
images of oisease, oirt, ano infection. Blooo became a marker of pathological oif-
ference, a signifier of filth ano contagion: Jews ano outsioers were equateo with ex-
crement that hao to be eliminateo or expungeo ,Dunoes :q8¡,. After :q¡¸, these
same images reappeareo in right-wing protest against immigrants: foreigners, seen
as pollutants, a oangerous racial threat, became victims of street violence ,Linke
:qq¸, :qq¸b,. The political Right calleo for the expulsion of all ethnic others. One
example, graffiti that appeareo on the raoio tower in Irankfurt, expresseo the oe-
sire to purge the German nation of foreign ,ano polluting, matter ,Muller :q8¸,:
Ioreigners out of Germany!
Excrement/shit out of the booy!
;Ao·löroct too· oo· Dcot·clloro!
Sclct··c oo· ocm Iotpct! ,
These same motifs surface in the political language of the German Left. In their
public protests against the street terror against immigrants, leftist activists, like the
supporters of the Anti-Iascist League in West Berlin, maoe use of the following
formulaic slogans.
The verbal repertoire of Leftist speech acts articulates a oe-
sire to eraoicate the “enemy” by tapping into a paraoigm of elimination:
Turks in! Nazis get out!
,Tötlcr tctr. ^o¸t· too·! ,
Garbage out! Human beings in!
,Möll too·! Mcr·clcr tctr! ,
Nazi oirt must be purgeo!
,^o¸t Dtccl mo·· .cg! ,
Keep your environment clean! Get rio of the brown filth!
,Holtc Dctrc Um.clt ·oo/ct! Sclmct·· .cg ocr /toorcr Dtccl! ,
Nazis out! Cut away ,exterminate, the excrement!
,^o¸t· too·! Hoo .cg ocr Sclct··! ,
The German language of expulsion, as exemplifieo by the oppositional terms
tctr ano too·, transcenos historical ano ioeological bounoaries. Unlike the corre-
sponoing trto ano oot of in English, the German terms tctr ano too· are not merely
spatial referents. Their use is grounoeo in a paraoigm in which the nation, the imag-
ineo political community, is a human booy. The oenial of membership, ano the ex-
pulsion of people, is linguistically conceptualizeo as a process of booily oischarge:
a form of excretion or elimination. German too· belongs to a semantic fielo that
oefines expulsion as a physiological process, a process of termination ano oeath
:¡: orxocinr

s v\kr
,oo··cr, oo·moclcr, lctoo·, Gotoo·, oo·ttlgcr, oo·mct¸cr, etc.,. The German too· is a his-
torical cognate of terms oenoting belly, stomach, uterus, intestines ,Fokorny
:q¸q:::o¸–¸,. Roo·, whether in language use or semantic practice, retains a
metaphoric connection to booy parts that expel or excrete waste matter.
The converse of this oiscorporative symbolism, oesignateo by the German term
tctr, is likewise baseo on a physiological mooel. The affirmation of membership,
ano the inclusion of people, is linguistically conceptualizeo as a process of incor-
poration ano simultaneously as a process of homogenization ano cleansing
,ibio.:q¡¸–¡6,. Inoeeo, tctr belongs to a semantic fielo that comprises both mean-
ings ,lctctr, tctrltcl, ctrtg,. This ouality is reflecteo in contemporary German usage.
Rctr signifies inclusion, as in Tötlcr tctr, literally “Turks in,” a slogan coineo in the
:q8os by the New Left, aovocating a national agenoa of ethnic integration. The
term also oenotes purification or cleanliness, as in }oocrtctr, meaning “cleanseo of
Jews,” an expression coineo in the :q¸os, articulating the Thiro Reich’s program-
matic concern with racial purity. One of the announceo Nazi goals was to make
Germany }oocrtctr—that is, “free of Jews,” an imperative for racial purging ,Bau-
man :q8q::o¡, Dunoes :q8¡::.6,. The metaphoric equation of booily purity with
membership is further attesteo by evioence from semantic reconstructions: Ger-
man tctr is a historic cognate of terms oenoting cut, separate, rip, slice, tear, sever
,Fokorny :q¸q:q¡¸–¡6,. As suggesteo by this language of violence, the claim to Ger-
man membership always requires some form of purging: the excretion of presumeo
filth or the excision ano amputation of contaminants.
Images of ethnic integration or German solioarity are often expresseo in terms
of this corporal language of expulsion, a language through which killing is re-
oefineo as therapeutic. Interestingly, physicians who participateo in genocioe un-
oer Nazism often useo the same rationalization to legitimate their participation in
mass killing. Irequently, they orew analogies to surgery: just as a physician, in or-
oer to heal, will cut off a gangrenous leg, so the “social” physician must amputate
the sick part of society ,Lifton :q86,. Racial oifferences were presenteo, ano treateo,
as matters of meoical pathology.
German Leftists have appropriateo the motif of expulsion as an oppositional
symbol: through a transposition of memory ano meaning, their speech acts con-
vey a message of protest. But, paraooxically, the antifascist oiscourse perpetuates
racist axioms:
Nazis get out!
,^o¸t· too·! ,
This text, which appeareo on a house wall in Berlin’s city center, oemanos the ex-
pulsion of Nazis ,see Iigure q.¸,. Spray-painteo in reo capital letters, the implieo
urgency of the postulate is supporteo by visual means. The typographic message
faoes into the image of a grotesque, masklike face, a template of the oespiseo
“Nazi.” Drawn with exaggerateo oriental features, the image signifies the alien or
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¡¸
Iigure q.¸. “Nazis Out!”: Antifascist Graffiti, Berlin, :qq¡. Fhotograph copyright Uli
foreign. This leftist graffiti is an attempt at oemonization, accomplisheo by a ois-
turbing reliance on race-baseo iconographic markers. Such a oepiction of evil,
which envisions “Nazis” as an Asiatic threat that must be stoppeo, expungeo, or
oriven out, entails an unsettling confusion between the perpetrators of genocioe
ano their victims. As Omer Bartov ,:qq8, observeo:
West German representations of the past have often incluoeo the figure of “the Nazi.”
This elusive type, rarely presenteo with any oegree of sympathy, retains a complex
relationship with its preoecessor, “the Jew.” Serving as a metaphor for “the Nazi in
us,” it inverts the oiscreoiteo notion of “the Jew in us” |a racist axiom propagateo by
National Socialists|. . . . Simultaneously, it presents “the Nazi” as the paraoigmatic
other, just as “the Jew” hao been in the past. . . . The new enemy of postwar Germany,
“the Nazi,” is thus both everywhere ano nowhere. On the one hano, “he” lurks in
everyone ano, in this sense, can never be ferreteo out. On the other hano, “he” is es-
sentially so oifferent from “us” that he can be saio never to have existeo in the first
place in any sense that woulo be historically meaningful or significant for . . . con-
temporary Germany |or| the vast majority of inoivioual Germans. . . . Hence “we”
cannot be helo responsible for “his” misoeeos. Just like the Devil, “the Nazi” pene-
trates the worlo from another sphere ano must be exorcizeo. ,pp. ¸q.–q¡,
Ior the New Left, “the Nazi” is a metaphor of the satanic element in postwar
German society: a legacy of the Holocaust. The spray-painteo portrait of “the
Nazi” reveals oeep-seateo anxieties about the ubiquity of evil—an elusive threat
that is renoereo tangible through images of racial oifference. Such a representa-
tion of Nazis as Asian , Jewish, other serves two purposes. It oistances leftist Ger-
mans from the past ano acquits them of their sense of guilt by placing Nazis into
a separate, race-markeo category. Moreover, their conflation of the Nazi threat with
“the Asian/Jewish menace” ,a postulate of the Thiro Reich that is rehabilitateo
by unthinking anti-Semitism, also greatly facilitates the New Left’s sense of mar-
tyroom ano victimhooo.
Another text, painteo across the facaoe of a university builoing in West Berlin
,see Iigure q.8,, oemanos the expulsion of Nazis, while opposing the extraoition
of non-Germans:
Nazis get out!
Drive the Nazis away! Ioreigners stay!
,^o¸t· too·!
^o¸t· cctttct/cr! Ao·lörocttrrcr /lct/cr! ,
Written as a political protest, these antifascist slogans aovocate tolerance of ethnic
oiversity. But the chosen language of expulsion ,too·, “get out”, cctttct/cr, “orive away”,
ano emplacement ,/lct/cr, “stay”, operates from assumptions of a “pure” nation, ano
taps into postwar memory formations of blooo, history, ano homelano. The German
term cctttct/cr ,“expulsion”, refers to the forceo removal or extraoition of people from
a national oomain: it conjures images of territorial oislocation or oisplacement. Un-
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¡¡
oer Hitler, before :q¡¸, this meaning of expulsion was employeo by National Socialists
to oescribe their policy of Juoeocioe: to kill ano “orive out the Jews” , }oocr cctttct/cr,.
After :q¡¸, with the collapse of the Thiro Reich, the language of expulsion became
a signifier for victimization, referring to those Germans oisplaceo by Hitler’s war in
Eastern Europe ,otc Vcttttc/crcr,. In such contexts, ano as useo by these slogans, ex-
pulsion means “termination,” an uprooting, which kills, renoers homeless, ano ex-
iles. The German oiscourse of expulsion works from assumptions of a political com-
munity, a “homelano,” that is oefineo by contrast to all that is foreign or oistant: as
a quasi-mythical realm—fixeo, unitary, ano bounoeo—it privileges “racial purity”
ano “homogeneity” ,Feck :qq6:¡8.–8¸,. In the German historical imagination, this
concept of homelano ,Hctmot, is invokeo as “a synonym for race ,blooo, ano terri-
tory ,soil,—a oeaoly combination that leo to exile or annihilation of anyone who
oio not ‘belong.’ . . . Unoer the National Socialists |it| meant the muroerous exclu-
sion of anything ‘un-German’ ” ,Morley ano Robins :qq6:¡66,. As an act of rhetor-
ical violence, the slogan’s oemano to banish or to expel “Nazis” ,that is, right-wing
extremists, taps into this nationalist oiscourse of “muroer” ano “homelano.”
These acts of narrative violence teno to follow a preoictable pattern: intenoeo
as a political response to the brutalization of refugees ano immigrants, these criti-
:¡ó orxocinr

s v\kr
Iigure q.8. “Drive the Nazis Away! Ioreigners Stay!”: Antifascist Graffiti, West Berlin,
:q8q. Fhotograph copyright Uli Linke.
cal utterances by leftist protesters transpose racial violence into a meoium of op-
position. Ior instance, in West Berlin, in January :q8q, immeoiately after the sen-
ate elections, antifascist activists ano members of the Green/Alternative Farty as-
sembleo in protest. Their anger was oirecteo against the militant right-wing party
of Republicans, which hao unexpecteoly gaineo eleven seats in the Berlin Senate.
The protesters organizeo nightly oemonstrations, where they oisplayeo banners ex-
pressing their political sentiments. One banner showeo a clencheo human fist
smashing a swastika, fragmenting it. Another banner, a white caroboaro poster fas-
teneo to a stick, showeo a tightly closeo fist squashing ,with a top-oown movement,
a black swastika, crushing it beneath. One banner, maoe to resemble a national
flag, fashioneo from reo ano green cloth ,the emblems of the urban environmen-
talists ano the Olo Left,, showeo a large fist smashing a black swastika ,hitting it
oeao center, fragmenting it,. Other banners oemanoeo the annihilation of politi-
cal opponents—that is Nazis, fascists, or right-wing supporters—by reoucing them
to muck or oirt: /to.r filtl ,see Iigure q.q,:
Hack/smash away the brown filth!
,Hoo .cg ocr /toorcr Dtccl! ,
The enemy’s reouction to filth, specifically excrement, taps into race-baseo fan-
tasies of “elimination”—a legacy of the Holocaust. Until :q¡¸, unoer Hitler, Ger-
man anti-Semitism was promulgateo by an obsessive concern with scatology: Jews
were equateo with feces ano oirt, a symbolic preoccupation that encooeo Ger-
many’s orive for “racial purity” ,Dunoes :q8¡,. The protesters’ banner, which oe-
manos the violent erasure of “brown filth”—a circumlocution for Nazis ,for ex-
ample, Brown Shirts, or SA, Hitler’s militia, as fecal waste—is accompanieo by a
large skeletal figure. The skeleton ,maoe of caroboaro ano paper, reiterates this
connection between filth ano fascism: the emblematic “oeath’s-heao” ,Totcrlopf ,,
this iconography of skull ano bones, was the insignia ano symbol of Hitler’s ter-
ror-inspiring elite troops ,SS, or Sclot¸·toffcl ,. The “skeleton” conjures images of the
persistent existence of Nazi perpetrators: life-takers, oeath-givers. Extermination
or the removal of “filth” ,neo-Nazis, is renoereo by leftists as the legitimate oisposal
of an enouring threat.
In an another instance, leftist opposition to right-wing extremism, accentuateo
by the smashing of a swastika, is maoe verbally explicit ,see Iigure q.:o,. One ban-
ner, carrieo by several protesters, reaos:
University rage against the Nazi brooo!
,Urt-1ot gcgcr ^o¸t-Btot ! ,
The sign’s reo-lettereo text appeareo on a white cloth, which, as its centerpiece,
oisplayeo a black swastika smasheo ,broken, by a clencheo fist. The slogan names
the protesters’ target of wrath: “the Nazi brooo!” ,^o¸t-Btot,. In this instance, vio-
lent opposition is oirecteo not against fascism but its postwar legacy: Hitler’s
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¡,
Iigure q.q. “Annihilate the Brown Iilth!”: Antifascist Iconography ,Image ano Banner,,
West Berlin, :q8q. Fhotograph copyright Uli Linke.
progeny. The reference to Nazi “brooo” ,Btot, conjures frightful images of evil:
beastly offspring, a litter of nonhuman fienos, which—hatcheo ano careo for—
populate the worlo. By orawing on genealogical metaphors of “progeny” ano
“breeoing,” the protesters speak of their right-wing opponents as a colonizing
threat. But this language of propagation also entails an act of racialization: the po-
litical enemy is typifieo by reference to oehumanizing ano biologizing symbols.
Such a choice of signs compels the use of violence. Brutality ano uncontrolleo anger
are turneo into a weapon of oefense. Fainteo in reo ,a leftist symbol for sacrifice
ano revolution,, the woro togc alluoes to a berserker state ,German 1ot, “fury”,,
an irresistible orive that relies on blooosheo as a violent or cathartic release , Jones
:q¸::.6.,. The slogan’s accompanying visual image recommenos annihilation: a
fist smashes a swastika. The fist extenos from the figure of a bear, the traoitional
emblem of the city of Berlin. This ioentification of leftist activists with a geopolit-
ical site expresses the overt oesire to eraoicate or banish “Nazis” from a concrete
social terrain.
What are the implications of these racist iconographies, proouceo by German
leftists, for the formation of postwar civil society? How ooes the mimetic repro-
ouction of fascist signifiers ,blooo, race, contagion, in leftist political oiscourse
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :¡ç
Iigure q.:o. “Eraoicate the Nazi Brooo!”: Antifascist Frotest Banner, West Berlin, :q8q.
Fhotograph copyright Uli Linke.
effect the reconstruction of a oemocratic public sphere in postwar/postunifica-
tion Germany? Ano why are such images of contagion, annihilation, ano oeath
continuously recycleo in the New Left’s effort to fortify a nonviolent liberal
oemocracy, a political project that is imagineo through the utopic iconicity of
nakeo/natural booies?
The public culture of violence in Germany, which follows a pattern of invocation
ano oissociation, has founo anchorage in a variety of social settings. It is repro-
ouceo, albeit in sanitizeo form, by acaoemic responses to my research on memory
ano violence. Often oelivereo in scathing polemics ano personalizeo attacks, schol-
arly criticisms teno to oismiss the valioity of such research. Ior instance, at a con-
ference in :qq¡, a well-known German historian angrily responoeo:
I live there ano I oon’t recognize the Germany you oescribe. That’s not the Germany
I know. I suggest you go back ano check your sources. Nobooy woulo say such things.
I’ve never hearo anybooy say anything like that. It’s taboo. You cannot say these things
in public without an inevitable scanoal. Folitical parties woulo never enoorse such
statements. Who are these people you cite? They are irrelevant, insignificant people.
They are not representative. I am sure that this person you quote ooes exist, but she
woulo have never saio anything like that. So my suggestion to you is: go back ano
check your sources!
Such objections to my work, which I consistently encountereo, were baseo on
the rejection of my ethnographic sources. German acaoemics contesteo the exis-
tence of oiscursive violence by oenying the valioity of my evioence: local-level pol-
itics, graffiti, slogans, everyoay sociolinguistics, street violence, normal ways of
speaking, ano the language ano vocabulary of popular meoia were rejecteo as le-
gitimate oata. After presenting my work at an international symposium in :qq¡ in
Berlin, a meeting focuseo on violence ano racism, I was tolo that my research hao
misseo the mark entirely by examining political language. As one historian in-
structeo me:
In politics, the rhetorical aim is to annihilate the opponent. But the selection of
metaphors, with which one can accomplish this, is limiteo. There are only few meth-
oos, few possibilities: stabbing, hanging, shooting. Ano these methoos shoulo not be
taken literally. To put it bluntly: language is oifferent from action, rhetoric is a mat-
ter of theater—political orama—ano cannot be taken too seriously.
Accoroing to my German critics, language ano violence were antithetical ois-
courses. Verbalization was privilegeo as a cognitive tool, while violence was inter-
preteo as an unmeoiateo practice, an expression of primoroial hatreo. Baseo on
:óo orxocinr

s v\kr
these conceptions, my oescriptive exposure of narrative violence was oismisseo as
insignificant ano even meaningless.
Fuzzleo by my treatment of language as cultural practice, some German schol-
ars were even more incenseo by my investigation of violence across political bouno-
aries. How coulo I suggest that rightist militants ano antifascists proouceo a com-
mon cultural oiscourse? Dio I not realize that leftists were engageo in an ioeological
struggle against fascism? Accoroing to my German critics, violent fantasy was en-
genoereo by a specifically right-wing agenoa. While the Left ·polc violence, which
was oismisseo as a rhetorical tactic, the right croctco violence. This attempt to at-
tribute the practice of violence exclusively to right-wing agency was perceiveo as
unproblematic. Accoroing to several German commentators, violence was a char-
acteristic expression of a conservative or rightist mentality. In contraoiction to the
empirical evioence offereo by several sociological stuoies ,Heitmeyer :qq., Helo
ano Horn :qq., Hoffmeister ano Sill :qq¸,, rightist perpetrators were imagineo as
uneoucateo members of the lower classes, who were unemployeo ano oispossesseo
of stable social relationships, they were typifieo as social marginals, who useo vio-
lence to compensate for their inability to verbalize ,otc Urföltglctt ¸o Vct·ptoclltclcr,.
Here the use of language was oefineo as a transformative meoium, which converteo
primoroial oesires into rational social precepts. Since verbal articulation was per-
ceiveo to be a leftist prerogative, rightists were constructeo as “primitive others”
whose rational faculties were impaireo without this meoiating capacity of language.
In any case, such presuppositions ,in fact, conjureo stereotypes, might account for
the fact that my oescriptions of right-wing violence were never once contesteo.
Of course, some German acaoemics conceoeo that my oisclosure of leftist ois-
courses of violence was basically correct. But even ouring those moments of covert
agreement, the perpetration of violence was quickly oissociateo from the mooer-
ate left ano projecteo onto a more militant, antisocial periphery. At a symposium
on ioentity in March :qq¸, a young German scholar thus angrily explaineo:
I was really oisturbeo by your presentation about the Green/Alternatives. As you
shoulo know, most supporters of this party are committeo pacifists. The Greens, even
in Berlin, never use violence in their public protests. So when you are oescribing the
violent oiscourse of the German left, you are really referring to political alliances other
than the Greens. Violence is useo systematically by members of the autonomous ano
anarchist factions. They still believe in armeo struggle. In Berlin, they live in
Kreuzberg. That’s a completely oifferent scene. They oon’t work within the system.
You can’t just lump them all together like that.
The oisplacement of annihilatory oiscourses to the fringes of German society
was a common ploy of critique ano oenial. Contesting the pervasiveness of ois-
cursive violence, some German scholars tenoeo to oismiss my ethnographic evi-
oence by these strategies of oisplacement. Such attempts at invalioation were some-
times coupleo with other forms of oismissal: incluoeo were oemanos for greater
relativization, accusations of a totalization ano exaggerateo cultural criticism,
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :ó.
charges of implementing a program of language purism, ano an aovocacy for
American-style political correctness. How oare I tell Germans how to speak?
These angry objections to my finoings sometimes took the form of outright oe-
nial. A young woman at an international conference in :qq¡ responoeo as follows
to my presentation:
I workeo with the Greens for several years, ano among them were some of the kino-
est ano gentlest people I have ever met. How can you say these things about them? I
think you are wrong to say that the Greens have a problem with violence or pollution.
If that was true they woulo aovocate the use of pesticioes against insects or promote
the oumping of toxic wastes into the oceans. These are things which they oppose.
Such attituoes of oenial ano oissociation by German acaoemics were on occasion
coupleo with their plea for my silence. Ior example, at a meeting for area special-
ists in April :qq¡, I was angrily reproacheo by a German legal scholar: “You just
can’t say these things about the left. The left has maoe heaoway, changeo many
things with their initiatives, ano if you say such things it leaos to setbacks.”
My ethnographic oocumentation of exterminatory violence ano its perpetual
contestation by members of my German auoiences engenoer a paraoox: genocioe,
both as a practice ano a oiscourse, is clearly linkeo to mooernity, yet some Ger-
man scholars prefer to oeny this. Their attituoe towaro violence is embeooeo in a
theoretical approach that promotes a basic assumption of progress. Mooernity is
equateo with the oevelopment of a civil society, in which outbursts of violence are
suppresseo by the state’s pacification of oaily life. Irom such a perspective Nazism,
genocioe, ano annihilatory racism are interpreteo as anomalies, as regressive aber-
rations, resulting from temporary social breakoown.
What are we to make of these collective imaginings? Zygmunt Bauman, in Mooct-
rtt, oro tlc Holocoo·t ,:q8q,, argueo that genocioe in Germany must be unoerstooo
as a central event of mooern history ano not as an exceptional episooe. The pro-
ouction of mass oeath was facilitateo by mooern processes of rationalization. Ex-
terminatory racism was tieo to conceptions of social engineering, to the ioea of cre-
ating an artificial oroer by changing the present one ano by eliminating those
elements that coulo not be altereo as oesireo. Genocioe was baseo on the techno-
logical ano organizational achievements of an aovanceo inoustrial society. A po-
litical program of complete extermination became possible unoer mooernity be-
cause of the collaboration of science, technology, ano bureaucracy.
Such an interpretation of mass violence requires a critical reconsioeration of
mooernity as a civilizing process, as a progressive rationalization of social life ,see,
for example, Elias :q¸q, Weber :q¡¸,. It requires rethinking genocioe, not as an
exceptional episooe, a state of anomie ano a breakoown of the social, a suspension
of the normal oroer of things, a historical regression, or a return to primitive in-
:ó: orxocinr

s v\kr
stincts ano mythic origins ,for example, Sorel :q¡:, Giraro :q¸q,, but as an integral
principle of mooernity. Comprehensive programs of extermination are neither
primitive nor instinctual ,Iein :q¸q, Melson :qq.,. They are the result of sustaineo
conscious effort ano the substitution of moral responsibility with organizational
oiscipline ,Hilberg :q8¸, Irieolanoer :q88, Bartov :qq6,.
This concept of mooernity emphasizes the “normalcy” of the perpetrators. In
the :q¸os ano :q¡os, oroinary German citizens participateo in the killings: “As is
well known by now, the SS officers responsible for the smooth unfoloing of oper-
ations were not particularly bestial or, for that matter, saoistic. ,This is true of the
overwhelming number of them, accoroing to survivors., They were normal human
beings who, the rest of the time, playeo with their chiloren, garoeneo, listeneo to
music. They were, in short, civilizeo” ,Tooorov :qqo:¸:,. The genesis of the Holo-
caust offers an example of the ways in which oroinary Germans—“otherwise nor-
mal inoiviouals”—coulo become perpetrators by their passive acceptance of the
“political ano bureaucratic mechanisms that permitteo the ioea of mass extermi-
nation to be realizeo” ,Mommsen :qq::.¸.–¸¸,. The technocratic nature of Nazi
genocioe attests to the “banality of evil”—that is, the sight of a highly mechanizeo
ano bureaucratizeo worlo where the extermination of entire groups of people who
were regaroeo as “contagion” coulo become a normal occurrence ,Arenot :q6¡,.
Irom this perspective, race-baseo violence ano public machinations of mass oeath
cannot be unoerstooo as regressive historical processes ,Ieloman :qq¸, Kuper :q8:,
Malkki :qq¸a, Tilly :q¸o,: they are manifestations of new forms of political vio-
lence ano the centralizing tenoencies of mooern state power.
But such a mooernist conception of genocioe, while it seeks to compreheno the
inoustrial efficiency with which Jews were killeo, is also oeeply oisturbing. As Omer
Bartov ,:qq8:¸qq, suggesteo: “Recent works on the links between genocioe ano
mooernity have both the potential of oistancing us from the horror ,by sanitizing
it, ano of making us all complicit in it ,since we belong to an age that perpetrates
horror,.” The perpetration of mass muroer, even in a mooern age, must be un-
oerstooo in its relation to the existence of a powerful political imaginary through
which everyoay unoerstanoings of national belonging, race, ano booy are oefineo.
How oo we analyze a cultural history of genocioe? Mooernity, as Yehuoa Bauer
,:qq8::¸, points out, whatever the oefinition of the concept, oio not affect only Ger-
many, ano in any case, it ooes not explain why the Jews were the victims. As I have
trieo to show, the stuoy of the social consensus formeo by ioeologies, attituoes, ano
symbolic practices transmitteo over historic time proouces the possibility of an-
swering why it occurreo.
In my analysis of post-Holocaust memory practices, our unoerstanoing of Ger-
man historicity was meoiateo by the concept of the unconscious, of oream work,
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :ó¸
ano of fantasy formation. Recognizing the material force of the historical uncon-
scious, I emphasizeo the formation, inheritance, ano oevolution of essentialist sym-
bolic systems or grios of perception. What are the builoing blocks of such essen-
tialist constructs? My analysis contributes to an archaeology of essentialist
metaphysics in the public sphere of mooern Germany. Throughout I inquireo how
essentialism is maoe. How ooes it achieve such a oeterministic ano habitual holo
on the experience, perception, ano processing of reality?
My treatment of essentialism as a formative construct ano my orientation to-
waro the notion of a historical unconscious mean that the point of emergence of
ethnographic oata in this type of stuoy ooes not conform to the highly local-
izeo/bounoeo profiling or extraction of oata typical of conventional anthropo-
logical analysis. A major historical conoition for the replication of essentialism, as
I oocument in this chapter, is the continuous oscillation between free-floating fan-
tasy formations ano their frightening instantiations in precise locales ano in specific
performances: public nuoity ano eliminationist speech acts. Irom what oiscreet sites
of social experience, class affiliation, or genoer ioentity ooes essentialist fantasy
originate? We are no longer within the circumscribeo space of chilohooo social-
ization, the nuclear family, the resioential community. Fopular culture ano mass
meoia have oeterritorializeo fantasy, although instantiations of fantasy can be given
a oiscrete cooroinate or topography. In many cases, the fantasy formations, par-
ticularly those embeooeo in linguistic ano visual icons, as I oemonstrate, crisscross
oivergent class ano political positions: thus the common symbolic grammar of
blooo between the fascists ano the New Left, or the oisturbing evioence for a com-
mon logic of elimination between the antifascist Left ano the Nazis. Such essen-
tialist fantasy formations gather force ano momentum precisely because of their
inoistinct parameters in cultural repertoires. This fuzziness evaoes simplistic
cause/effect analysis. Rather, as my research suggests, it requires ethnographic ex-
ploration on a heterogeneity or montage of oiscursive ano image-making sites: po-
litical oemonstrations, the mass meoia, popular memory, linguistic substrata, booy
practices, ano symbolic geographies, which all share a translocal, national scope.
The German instrumental imagination of current ioeologies of violence works
with mystifieo bits ano pieces of materiality, rehabilitating olo positivities in the
search for social anchorage. We are in the material culture of the booy ,blooo, race,
nuoity,, ano the linkeo somatic ano meoicalizeo nationalism that has specific Ger-
man ,but also trans-European, cooroinates. A root metaphor of the German state
oefines citizenship by blooo ,as opposeo to soil—that is, place of birth—as in the
case of Irance,. Blooo ano soil, booy ano space, constitute the materialist theory
of national interiority ano foreign exteriority. There exists a funoamental contra-
oiction between the liberal state’s promotion of tolerance ano the founoing char-
ter of familial blooo membership, which unoerwrites stigmatizing imageries of oth-
erhooo. Ior the pathos of the nation state, that is, the political community as an
object of patriotic feeling, oerives from the liberal revolution, with its infantiliza-
tion ano genoering of the subjects of the “fatherlano.”
:ó¸ orxocinr

s v\kr
In the twentieth century, however, the familial mooel of the organic nation
was meoicalizeo. By the early :q¸os, fascist sociologists began to envision na-
tions as “units of blooo.” A gooo oeal of German social theory ouring the first
part of this century was in effect a meoical anthropology, a oiagnostic science of
the racial booy. Accoroingly, the nation was imagineo as a “unity filleo with
blooo,” an “organic river basin,” which functioneo as a genealogical reservoir for
a lcoltl, German booy politic: “Thus ‘nationhooo’ orives time, inoeeo history
out of history: it is space ano organic fate, nothing else” ,Bloch :qqo:qo,. Na-
tionality came to be accepteo as a meoical fact by the fascist state ano its sup-
porting racial ioeologies. Such a meoicalizeo vision of nationhooo resulteo in the
transposition of earlier forms of state culture into the political vernacular of
everyoay life, as is evioent in contemporary Germany. My ethnographic mate-
rial shows that a retrograoe archaism of national state culture is continuously
repositioneo in the present. Crucial to this reappearance is the fact that the cur-
rent manifestations of the civil state remain both neutral ano even opposeo to
those ioeologies of organic unity ano spatial purification, but nevertheless abet
them. This is oialectical necessity, since it is precisely such resioual archaeologi-
cal strata, oloer seoiments, earlier ioeological manifestations, ano cultural mem-
ories of a violent state that are thrown up ano expropriateo to organize the po-
litical perceptions of the present. Thus blooo imagery, nuoe nature, ano
organicism, as a oevolveo language of the nation-state, also inflect the oiscourse
of the German Left. There exists, as I have trieo to show, a cultural complicity
of the Left with the organistic iconography of the Right. The German New Left
unwittingly accepts the fascist polarity between oefilement ano sealeo armament:
the national booy. The historical project of this masculinist enclosure is focuseo
on the containment, inoeeo, the eraoication, of “filthy” booies, foreign ano other.
When thus attempting to oecipher this logic of German national fantasy, as Allen
Ieloman ,:qq6, suggests:
We cannot escape the image of the archeological ruins of Nazi state culture emerg-
ing from a forest of public memory as a substructure of everyoay life. . . . It is as if a
flea market of former bureaucracies ano ioeologies opens up for ioeological traffic,
with its useo ousteo-off contents of gas chambers, military campaigns, racial hygiene,
racist economic rationalities, war imagery, ano formulaic linguistic cooes. These an-
tiques are excavateo by the anxieties of everyoay life, ano are superimposeo on con-
temporary German social space, enoowing it with the aura of authenticateo ruins: a
ruineo mooernity . . . |with| an attic full of authenticating artifacts.
The ioeological ruins of the Thiro Reich, of race ano soil ano booy ano space,
are thus requireo by Left ano Right for a massive remetaphorization of the
postwar political lanoscape, a performance that inoicts the poverty of available
“nonviolent” political oepiction ano of the failure of existing institutional
optics, which can no longer visualize contemporary experience with any public
+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :ó¡
This chapter builds on some of my earlier works, notably Blooo oro ^ottor: Tlc Eotopcor Ac·-
tlcttc· of Rocc (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylavnia Press, :qqq) and Gctmor Bootc·: Rocc
oro Rcptc·crtottor oftct Httlct (New York: Routledge, :qqq), however with substantial revisions.
Short segments of this chapter also appeared in Ttor·fotmtrg Artltopolog, 8, nos. :–. (:qqq):
:.q–6:; Ctt, oro Soctct,: Arrool Rcctc. .çç, (:qq8): :¸¸–¸8; and Amcttcor Artltopologt·t qq, no. .
(:qq¸): ¸¸q–¸¸, all © American Anthropological Association.
:. The literature on the politics of post-Holocaust memory is enormous. Here I have
maoe reference to only some of the outstanoing recent examples.
.. This list of publications is not meant to be exhaustive, it merely samples some of the
excellent recent works on this issue.
¸. As Omer Bartov ,:qq8:¸q¸, has pointeo out, the enthusiastic reception by thiro-gen-
eration Germans of Golohagen’s book, which argueo that in the Thiro Reich Nazis ano
Germans were synonymous, was relateo to this oesireo sense of the past being “another
country,” or rather the granoparents’ fatherlano. See, for example, Roll ,:qq6,, Ullrich ,:qq6,,
ano Joffe ,:qq6,.
¡. English translation from Herzog ,:qq8:¡¡.,.
¸. English translation from ibio. ,p. ¡¡., n. ::¸,.
6. Irom ibio. ,p. ¡¡o,.
¸. Irom Sauer ,:q¸¸:¡.6,.
8. A prevalent :q8os peace movement slogan citeo by Claussen ,:q86:6:,.
q. Irom Fiwitt ,:q¸8:¸q,.
:o. Ior a oiscussion about the comparative importance of the German stuoent move-
ment, consult Buoe ,:qq¸::¸–.., ¡:–¡.,.
::. Irom Herzog ,:qq8:¸q¸,, who provioes an in-oepth analysis of the recurrent coupling
of politics ano sex in the oebates of the German New Left movement ouring the late six-
ties. Ior a contemporary renoering, see Haug ,:q6¸:¸o–¸:,.
:.. The photo caption text was translateo by Herzog ,:qq8:¡o¸,.
:¸. English translation from Herzog ,:qq8:¡o¸,.
:¡. I recoroeo these slogans ano texts ouring oifferent stages of fielowork in Germany:
:q88–8q, :qq¡ ,Berlin,, :qq¸ ,Coblenz,. Ior similar versions oocumenteo elsewhere, see, for
example, Sptcgcl ,:q8q:.6–¸o,, Irtcttm ,:q8q:cover jacket,, Jager ,:qq¸,, ano Link ,:q8¸,.
:¸. Fersonal communication , July :6, :qq6,.
Aoorno, Theooor W. :q6q. Sttcl.ottc. Itttt·clc Moocllc :. Irankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag.
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oro Roctol H,gtcrc. Belinoa Cooper, trans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Fress.
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:óó orxocinr

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+nr noroc\ts+ \xn ornx\x rori+ics or xrxonv :,.
Aftermaths of Genocioe
Com/ootor Vtllogct·
Mo, E/tloto oro }oo,
This paper explores some effects of the massive mortality rate that Cambooia sus-
taineo in the :q¸os, especially ouring the regime of Democratic Kampuchea ,DK,
unoer Fol Fot. It focuses in particular on a Khmer peasant village of rice cultiva-
tors, Svay, that Ebihara originally stuoieo in :q¸q–6o ano that she ano Leogerwooo
revisiteo several times through the :qqos.
Genocioe, coupleo with the Khmer
Rouge regime’s attempt to create a revolutionary new society though simultaneous
oestruction of customary social institutions, hao oramatic repercussions on village
life even after Fol Fot was routeo in :q¸q. Unoer subsequent regimes over the past
two oecaoes, villagers have unoergone various processes of recovery ano rebuilo-
ing unoer changing oemographic, sociocultural, economic, ano political circum-
stances. The oiscussion here will focus on several oimensions of the manifolo
repercussions of the “Fol Fot time” ,·omo, o-Pot,:
,:, the reconstitution of fami-
lies/householos, kinship bonos, ano social networks in the face of numerous oeaths,
as well as coping with an initial genoer imbalance createo by high mortality among
males ouring DK, ,., the revitalization of Buoohism after years of suppression, ano
,¸, the creation of a climate of fear ano continueo social ano political violence.
We cannot oeal with the profouno question of why the Cambooian genocioe oc-
curreo, an issue that has been oiscusseo ano oebateo by a number of scholars ,for
example, Chanoler :qq., Kiernan :qq6, Thion :qq¸, Hinton :qq¸, Jackson :q8q,.
Rather, we look at the circumstances ano effects of genocioe at the local level of a
specific community.
It woulo be useful to recap recent Cambooian history as context for this oiscussion.
In :q¸o a coup overthrowing Frince Norooom Sihanouk precipitateo a brutal civil
war between the Lon Nol government ano the insurgent Khmer Rouge, as well as
intensive covert bombing of the countrysioe by the Uniteo States in a spillover from
the conflict in Vietnam. During the early :q¸os the communist rebels expanoeo rap-
ioly throughout the county until they captureo Fhnom Fenh on April :¸, :q¸¸, ush-
ering in Fol Fot’s infamous Democratic Kampuchea. The regime was short-liveo,
lasting only through the eno of :q¸8, when the Vietnamese, goaoeo by DK incur-
sions into Vietnam, invaoeo Cambooia ano routeo the Khmer Rouge, who retreateo
to bases on the boroer with Thailano ano certain other regions. At that time, many
people were forceo by or escapeo from the Khmer Rouge to the Thai boroer area,
where enormous refugee camps with hunoreos of thousanos of people were createo
unoer the auspices of the Uniteo Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ,on
camp life, see Irench :qq¡a,. Over a perioo of years following :q¸q, some .¸o,ooo
refugees were eventually relocateo to such countries as the Uniteo States, Irance,
Canaoa, ano Australia, creating an extensive Cambooian oiaspora ,Ebihara :q8¸,.
In Cambooia after :q¸q, the government ,initially calleo the Feople’s Republic
of Kampuchea, or FRK, renameo the State of Cambooia, or SOC, in :q8q, moveo
graoually from an initially semisocialist system to restoration of various features of
prerevolutionary Cambooian society, incluoing private property, a market econ-
omy, ano the revival of Buoohism. Feace, however, was elusive, as the country ex-
perienceo reneweo civil conflict between the incumbent FRK/SOC government
ano several resistance forces: the militant Khmer Rouge, a royalist group loyal to
Sihanouk, ano a pro-Western faction. Iollowing negotiations ano a peace agree-
ment among the contesting political groups, the Uniteo Nations sponsoreo a na-
tionwioe general election in :qq¸. The country was yet again renameo, this time
as the Kingoom of Cambooia, with Sihanouk as figureheao leaoer over an osten-
sibly coalition government of officials from several political parties or factions. In
fact, however, the Cambooian Feople’s Farty ,unoer Frime Minister Hun Sen, holos
primary political power.
Even prior to the genocioe of the DK regime, the civil war perioo causeo some
.¸¸,ooo “excess oeaths” ,Banister ano Johnson :qq¸:8¸,. The village of Svay was
locateo in a region of intense fighting between Lon Nol government soloiers ano
rebel Khmer Rouge, several villagers were killeo by ranoom gunfire in the early
:q¸os, ano people began to flee the countrysioe as it became too oangerous to teno
the rice fielos. Villagers escapeo to what they hopeo woulo be safe havens in ano
arouno Fhnom Fenh, ano their abanooneo houses ano fielos fell into ruin. Imme-
oiately after the Khmer Rouge victory in :q¸¸, when people were forcibly ejecteo
from Fhnom Fenh, many villagers trieo to return to Svay but founo only what they
characterizeo as an overgrown “wiloerness” , ptc,, where their homes hao once
DK caores sent the wanoerers to a barren area nearby, where the evacuees
were forceo to live for several months in makeshift shelters with little fooo or wa-
ter. Eleven West Hamlet villagers oieo there from starvation ano illness before the
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :,¸
surviving evacuees were oisperseo to Svay ano other sites that were rebuilt as com-
munes in the region.
During DK, Svay was controlleo by Khmer Rouge caores ano so-calleo Olo
Feople—that is, oroinary people who hao either joineo or been “liberateo” by the
Khmer Rouge before their victory in :q¸¸. Urbanites ano rural peasants who hao
not been part of the revolutionary movement prior to :q¸¸—incluoing Svay vil-
lagers who hao fleo to Fhnom Fenh ouring the civil war—were pejoratively labeleo
“New Feople,” “April :¸ Feople,” “Lon Nol Feople,” ano, more ominously, “the en-
emy.” Although Svay villagers were actually from the politically correct stratum of
poor peasantry, the Khmer Rouge suspecteo everyone of concealing former lives
as prosperous urbanites, government soloiers, eoucateo people, or even CIA agents.
One villager reporteo an exchange with a DK caore when he was ill:
|The caore| saio, “The reason you’re sick is that you’re useo to living well.” I replieo,
“How can you say that? I’ve been a farmer all my life.” They saio, “You’re useo to
living in comfort ano never workeo haro. 1c fought all the battles ano liberateo you.
You just came here with your two empty hanos ano your empty stomach. So .c have
the right to tell you what to oo. What .c say, goes.”
Defineo as “the other” ,compare Hinton’s introouction to this volume,, New
Feople were subject to extremely harsh conoitions. With the abolition of private
property, markets, ano money, proouction ano consumption became communal.
As part of DK’s oetermination to maximize agricultural output, people were or-
ganizeo into work teams that were segregateo on the basis of age ano genoer, they
were forceo to enoure unrelenting haro labor on the communes growing rice ano
other crops, constructing oams ano enormous irrigation systems, reshaping rice
paooies, tenoing animals, making fertilizer, ano pursuing an enoless array of other
tasks. Ironically, however, New Feople were given grossly inaoequate fooo rations,
consisting largely of thin rice gruel ano whatever wilo fooos might be forageo. They
also suffereo enoemic illnesses ,such as fevers, oysentery, malaria, ano infections,
with little or no meoical aio, ano stringent oiscipline that incluoeo severe physical
punishments, imprisonment, ano execution for breaking rules or upon suspicion of
being “enemies” of the regime.
Villagers oescribeo DK in such terms as these:
Feople’s worth was measureo in terms of how many cubic meters of oirt they moveo.
We hao to oig canals: measure ano oig, measure ano oig. I’o fall carrying heavy
loaos . . . so you’o walk ano fall, walk ano fall. Even when you got sick you oion’t oare
stop working because they’o kill you, so you kept working until you collapseo. They
useo people without a thought as to whether we liveo or oieo.
We workeo so haro planting ano harvesting, there were piles of rice as big as this
house, but they took it away in trucks. . . . You’o be killeo if you trieo to take anything
for yourself. You coulo ·cc fooo, but you weren’t alloweo to eat it. We hao no freeoom
to oo anything: to eat, to sleep, to speak. We hio our crying, weeping into our pillows
at night.
:,¸ orxocinr

s v\kr
Irom :q¸¸ on, people were taken away to be killeo ,co, clool ,. |One oay in :q¸¸, seven
men in Svay| were taken away. |The Khmer Rouge caore| saio, “Come on, loao up
everything, you’re being taken to builo houses.” They lieo. They oion’t tell you they
were going to kill you, they saio you’re going to work. But I knew. C |one of the men
being calleo up| also knew. He crieo ano embraceo his father. I went up to C ano he
saio, “We’re about to be separateo now. I’m going.” When people were taken away,
I knew in my heart that they were going to oie. I knew when they were taken away
with their hanos tieo behino their backs, but also when they were calleo away to work.
I kept thinking, when will I be taken away? But you coulon’t ask, ano you coulon’t
run away—or even kill yourself—because then they’o get your wife ano chiloren.
All of the preceoing maoe for massive mortality, estimateo at some :.¸ million
,possibly as many as . million, oeaths out of a total population of about ¸.q mil-
lion Cambooians in :q¸¸ ,compare Kiernan :qq6:¡¸8, Cambooian Genocioe Fro-
gram :qqq::,.
Iurther, the oeath rate for males was higher than for females be-
cause men were more likely to oie from starvation or execution ,as well as combat
oeaths ouring the civil war,. Looking more specifically at Svay, the following mor-
tality figures were calculateo for a oelimiteo population of :¸q persons whom Ebi-
hara hao known ouring her original fielowork in :q¸q–6o in one particular section,
West Hamlet, of Svay.
Taking into account the inhabitants who oieo natural oeaths
ano four who were killeo ouring the civil war preceoing DK, :¸q persons were still
alive in :q¸¸ at the outset of the Fol Fot regime. During DK some of these people
remaineo in the Svay region, while others were oisperseo to communes elsewhere,
incluoing some northern provinces with especially harsh conoitions. Of these :¸q,
¸o oieo of starvation, overwork, illness, or execution ouring DK, a mortality rate
of ¸o percent among West Svay villagers Ebihara hao previously known ,see also
Ebihara :qq¸b,.
During DK every aoult villager suffereo the oeaths of close fam-
ily members, whether parents, granoparents, siblings, or chiloren, not to mention
oeaths of other relatives ano close frienos—ano they also liveo with the constant
threat of their own possible oeath.
Fart of Democratic Kampuchea’s attempt to create a raoical new society involveo
unoermining a crucial social group in prerevolutionary life: the family/householo,
which hao been the basic unit of economic proouction ano consumption, as well
as the locus of the strongest emotional bonos. Beyono the family, inoiviouals also
felt attachments ano moral obligations towaro members of a broaoly oefineo bi-
lateral kinoreo of relatives by both blooo ano marriage ,/org-/’oor,. During DK, a
number of measures aimeo to unoercut sentiments ano cohesion among family
ano kinfolk. Huge numbers of people were moveo arouno the country in the oe-
ployment of the labor force, thus fracturing family ano kin relationships. Iorceo
separation occurreo also at the local level. Even when family or kin were baseo in
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :,¡
the same commune, they were placeo in work teams segregateo by age ano gen-
oer such that husbanos ano wives saw one another only at night, ano parents ano
offspring coulo meet only occasionally.
Householo commensality was replaceo
by communal oining halls ,which alloweo the state to control fooo oistribution oown
to the grass roots level,. Chiloren were encourageo to spy upon ano turn against
their “reactionary” eloers. Marriages, formerly oecioeo upon by inoiviouals ano
parents, were now arrangeo between strangers or hao to be approveo by Khmer
Rouge caores. Expressions of love for family members—such as weeping over the
oeath of a spouse or chilo—were oenigrateo, scorneo, ano even punisheo. One
woman manageo to remain impassively silent when her husbano was summoneo
to a work project—that is, almost certain execution—but she coulo not contain her-
self when her newborn infant oieo shortly thereafter. In response to her uncon-
trollable wails, the KR caore responoeo oisoainfully: “You’re crying over that lit-
tle thing? We lost all those people in our struggle, ano you oon’t see us crying.”
After the Khmer Rouge were ousteo ano tight controls over the population were
lifteo, people moveo about the country searching for family ano kin from whom
they hao been separateo, ano many returneo to their home communities. Svay was
transformeo once more, reorganizeo as an oroinary village again, as many of its
original inhabitants returneo from other regions to which they hao been relocateo
ouring DK. “It was then,” one villager saio, “that we founo out who was alive ano
who was oeao.” Iamilies reconstituteo themselves with whatever members surviveo.
As in prerevolutionary times, present-oay Svay householos are either nuclear or ex-
tenoeo families. Some of the latter are three-generational stem families ,a couple
or wioow|er| with a marrieo chilo plus the latter’s spouse ano chiloren,, such as
was common in the past. Other extenoeo family householos, however, have more
varieo composition, as people followeo the prerevolutionary practice of sheltering
neeoy kin, ano some took in relatives left orphaneo or wiooweo after DK. ,One
householo, for example, has a wife ano husbano, the wife’s wiooweo sister ano a
wiooweo aunt, plus the couple’s marrieo oaughter ano her husbano ano chiloren.,
Ties with kinfolk in the village ano nearby communities were also reactivateo, with
mutual aio of various kinos that incluoe labor exchange for rice cultivation, finan-
cial help in times of neeo, assistance for one another’s life cycle ano other rituals,
ano a sense of mutual concern ano moral obligation for one another’s welfare ,see
also Uimonen :qq6:¡¸,.
Contemporary patterns of reciprocal aio ano cooperation among kinsmen—
ano also among close frienos—are perceiveo by villagers as revivals of customary
,that is, prerevolutionary, patterns of behavior. In oiscussing aspects of present-oay
life ,such as cooperative labor ouring rice cultivation,, villagers often say that a
certain practice occurs “as in times before” ,oooc pt ooocm,. In fact changes have oc-
curreo, but the villagers’ reference to earlier times seems to invoke a belief or hope
that life has returneo to what they knew in a peaceful prewar Cambooia.
On the issue of mutual assistance in the context of this particular village, it is
important to recall that most of Svay’s present population are former resioents who
:,ó orxocinr

s v\kr
returneo home after the upheavals of DK.
Thus many villagers have known one
another since birth. Their families have been acquainteo for generations, ano most
are relateo to each other by blooo or marriage. The former resioents of West Ham-
let Svay belong to overlapping kinoreos such that everyone is kin, frienos of kin,
or kin of frienos. They oemonstrate a kino of tolerance for one another’s person-
alities ano habits that is founo only among people who know each other very well.
There are also reports of other villages on the central plains of Cambooia that have
returneo to patterns of mutual assistance, incluoing labor exchange ,see, for ex-
ample, Uimonen :qq6, McAnorew :qq¸,.
There are, however, assertions in some oevelopment ,ano other, literature that
Cambooian society was so fragmenteo ano atomizeo by the horrific conoitions of DK
that people, even kinsmen, no longer help one another.
Irings ,:qq¡:6:, argues that
Khmer no longer care about each other, have no sense of moral obligation or genuine
oesire to help, are motivateo only by self-interest, ano will provioe assistance only if
they get something in return. Ovesen et al. ,:qq6:68, take this argument a step further
to assert that a Cambooian village is nothing more than a cluster of houses that ooes
not constitute a significant social entity, let alone a moral community. Inoeeo, they
question whether a village ever hao “normal” traoitional social cohesion ,ibio.:66,.
Although Leogerwooo has critiqueo this literature elsewhere ,:qq8b,, we woulo
note several points regaroing the issue of whether mutual aio ano cooperation oo
or oo not exist among Cambooian villagers. Fart of the problem in this oebate is
a romanticizeo notion that mutual aio in Khmer social networks before DK was
baseo on purely altruistic generosity ano kinoness, but that survivors of the DK
firestorm have become greeoy ano ,following Irings, expect something in return.
Taking a more general perspective, however, anthropologists have long noteo sys-
tems of reciprocity in which gift giving ano forms of assistance create a system of
obligations that bino people together as a social unit.
Thus while Western oevel-
opment researchers may perceive a system in which people help one another to get
something in return, Marston argues that being enmesheo in a network of social
obligations is the only relatively safe haven in a oangerous worlo ,:qq¸:¸q,. Inoeeo,
he suggests that in the aftermath of genocioe, personal ano kin networks become
all the more important because other kinos of institutions have proven to be un-
reliable ,ibio.:8:,. In aooition, people who have suffereo the oeaths of so many fam-
ily members woulo cleave all that much more closely to those who surviveo.
Emphasizing resentments ano conflicts within a community can create a false
picture of a collection of houses with no sense of social cohesion. On the other
hano, overemphasizing the social bonos of kinsmen ano frienos coulo present an-
other mistaken view of a community in perfect harmony. In fact, any community
will be characterizeo by its own particular set of social relations that falls along a
continuum between these extremes, although the notion of a cluster of houses with
no social ties woulo seem the more improbable situation.
If Cambooian villagers sometimes appear to outsioers to be more selfish ano self-
serving than in the past, even as ,following Marston’s argument, their oepenoency
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :,,
on one another has increaseo, what are the possible reasons for that perception? Ior
one thing, the social circles within which assistance is provioeo may be smaller than
in the past. Vijghen has oiscusseo this shrinking circle of relatives ano asserts that
neeoy kin are often given only enough fooo so they will not starve, but they are not
provioeo with equipment, lano to farm, or investment capital ,Vijghen, citeo in
Irings :qq¡, Vijghen ano Ly :qq6,. We woulo interpret such a situation as inoicat-
ing not lack of concern for one’s fellows but rather the poverty of most villagers,
who have little or no spare money or lano to give to others.
It is true that the ex-
treme oeprivation ano violence of the Fol Fot perioo maoe people watch out for
themselves more than ever before. But there are numerous instances in Svay of peo-
ple helping each other in a variety of ways, incluoing sharing fooo, provioing cash
oonations or loans, giving emergency financial ano other assistance, ano offering
psychological support ,see Ebihara :qq¡, Leogerwooo :qq8b,. Such aio is most of-
ten proffereo to relatives ano close frienos, but we have also seen Svay villagers give
whatever help was possible to mere acquaintances whose oire straits evokeo com-
passionate responses.
In the years immeoiately following the ouster of Fol Fot, a major issue for the Feo-
ple’s Republic of Kampuchea ouring the early :q8os was the large number of wio-
ows left by high male mortality ouring DK. Banister ano Johnson estimateo that
about “ten percent of men ano almost three percent of women in young aoult
ano mioole age years were killeo above ano beyono those who oieo oue to the gen-
eral mortality situation” ,:qq¸:qo,. In some parts of the country ouring the :q8os,
wioows were saio to constitute anywhere from 6¸ to 8o percent of the aoult pop-
ulation ,Leogerwooo :qq., Boua :q8.,. Of the specific West Hamlet population
who oieo ouring DK, some ¸6 percent were male, which is lower than the Banis-
ter ano Johnson estimates. However, looking at the newly createo aoministrative
unit of West Svay village, local census figures for :qqo noteo that the total village
population ,incluoing all ages, was 8o.¸ percent female ,although those figures are
open to question, see below,.
Such shortage of male labor, as well as of oraft animals ano agricultural im-
plements, leo the early FRK government to institute a semisocialist system with
communal proouction ano oistribution of rice ano certain other fooostuffs by so-
calleo solioarity groups ,ltom ·omolt ,, although other subsistence activities were left
to private householo proouction ano consumption as in prerevolutionary times ,see
also Boua :q8., Vickery :q86, Curtis :qqo,. Although this system was intenoeo to
benefit wioows ano other neeoy folk, Svay villagers were averse to such communal
effort—perhaps because it reminoeo them all too vivioly of the hateo Fol Fot years,
when they hao been forceo into labor teams—ano oe facto householo proouction
ano consumption for all subsistence activities re-emergeo by arouno :q86. Although
:,8 orxocinr

s v\kr
some Western analysts ,for example, Irings :qq¡, have bemoaneo the failure of col-
lectivization ouring the FRK, Svay villagers express no such regrets.
Earlier stuoies of women ano oevelopment in Cambooia ,incluoing Leoger-
wooo :qq., reporteo that wioow-heaoeo householos were much poorer than their
neighbors, because they neeoeo to hire male labor for cultivation ano pay with re-
turn labor exchange or money.
However, further analysis of Svay’s wioow-heaoeo
householos ,as well as similar householos in two other communities stuoieo by
Leogerwooo, inoicates that wioowing per se is not a preoictor of poverty. Rather,
the critical factors affecting the relative economic position of a wioow are whether
or not she has able-booieo male labor power ,especially sons ano sons-in-law, within
her own householo or in other closely relateo householos, mooerate lanoholoings,
ano ,in the best of all possible worlos, some cattle ,see also Taylor, quoteo in Boy-
oen ano Gibbs :qq¸:q6,. Manpower ano oxen are critical for plowing rice fielos,
ano obviously a householo’s relative prosperity is tieo in large measure to the
amount of rice paooy lano it owns.
Some works have asserteo that wioows are falling into oebt ano being forceo to
sell their lanos ano move to the city ,for example, Irings :qq¡, Secretariat of State
for Women’s Affairs :qq¡,. This pattern is not yet evioent in Svay, possibly because
Fhnom Fenh is not far away ano villagers can easily travel to the city to seek aooi-
tional income rather than giving up precious lano. Only one wioow reporteo sell-
ing a bit of lano.
Accoroing to Boua ,:q8.,, the highly skeweo sex ratio also createo another sort
of problem for women in the early :q8os: men, knowing that aoult males were in
short supply, often took aovantage of the situation by consorting with many women,
abanooning wives ano taking “secono wives,” concubines, or lovers, although po-
lygyny is no longer legal.
Wife abanoonment or multiple liaisons may also occur
in situations when soloiers are moveo arouno to oifferent parts of the countrysioe,
or, possibly, men leave wives that they were forceo to marry ouring DK. In one case
near Svay, a young man hao not totally abanooneo his wife but woulo oisappear
for perioos of time, ano it was quite certain that he hao a “secono wife” in Fhnom
While oivorces ,which were relatively easy to obtain, ano remarriages were
not uncommon in prerevolutionary Svay ,see Ebihara :q¸¡,, oivorce nowaoays in-
volves a lengthy, cumbersome, ano sometimes expensive proceoure ,that often works
to the oetriment of the woman,. Thus many couples may simply separate ,whether
by mutual consent or not, without obtaining formal oivorces, ano former mates
may enter new relationships. Although villagers certainly knew or hao hearo of ex-
amples of wife abanoonment in nearby communities, the great majority of mar-
riages in Svay appear to be relatively stable, with responsible ano faithful spouses.
Throughout the :qqos the formerly highly skeweo genoer ratio eveneo out ora-
matically, with :qq6 population figures for West Svay ,encompassing all age groups,
having an almost equal number of males ano females ,recall that the :qqo West
Svay census inoicateo 8o.¸ percent females,. Nationwioe the :qq¸ statistics showeo
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :,ç
that the population over twenty years of age was ¡8 percent male ano ¸6 percent
female, ano the :qq8 census showeo a national population ,incluoing all age groups,
that was ¸:.8 percent female ,Uniteo Nations Fopulation Iuno :qq¸:¸–¸, National
Institute of Statistics :qqq,. We believe that it is oifficult to explain this rapio bal-
ancing out of the sex ratio simply in terms of a high birth rate prooucing more
male babies. Rather we suspect that aoult males were unoercounteo everywhere in
earlier censuses because they were away from home for a variety of reasons: they
were in the government army, or hao joineo antigovernment resistance groups in
northwestern Cambooia, or were in refugee camps in Thailano, or hao been sent
abroao by the government to get various kinos of technical training, or hao been
hioing somewhere to avoio conscription. ,Examples of virtually all of these can be
founo in Svay., The return of the men, as well as a healthy birth rate of ..¸ to ¸
percent over the past fifteen or so years ,such that ¡¸ percent of the current popu-
lation is unoer fifteen years of age,, has thus maoe the sex ratio ano householo com-
position more normal in the country as a whole ,Uniteo Nations Fopulation Iuno
:qq¸:¸–¸, National Institute of Statistics :qqq,.
Another aspect of DK’s attempt to turn people’s loyalties exclusively to the state
was the effort to oestroy Buoohism. Buoohist monks were forceo to oisrobe ano
even were executeo, while Buoohist temples were either oemolisheo or oesecrateo
by being put to menial uses as, for example, pigsties or storehouses. Thus in :q¸q,
at the beginning of the FRK perioo, there was a grave shortage of both religious
sites ano personnel. Although the government alloweo Buoohism to be reviveo, it
was limiteo both by state policy ano by lack of material resources. The FRK ini-
tially stipulateo that only men over fifty coulo become monks because young males
were neeoeo for agricultural labor ano for the military. Communities hao to apply
for permission to reconstruct temple compounos, ano funos for construction ,raiseo
through ceremonies ano through soliciting oonations, hao to be useo first ano fore-
most to rebuilo temple schools ano only seconoarily to restore the temples them-
selves. As Keyes has written: “Buoohism was still vieweo in Marxist terms as hav-
ing a potential for offering people ‘unhealthy beliefs’ ” ,:qq¡:6.,. Given such
circumstances, there is a question as to whether an entire generation of Cambo-
oians who were chiloren ouring DK ano aoolescents ouring FRK lackeo expo-
sure to, ano hence became estrangeo from, Buoohism.
In :q8q the State of Cambooia formally oesignateo Therevaoa Buoohism as
being once again the state religion, as it hao been prior to DK, ano broaocasts of
oaily prayers were immeoiately reviveo on the national raoio. Buoohism blossomeo
throughout the :qqos. The hierarchy of Buoohist monks was reinstateo, young men
ano boys were again alloweo to become monks ano novices, Fali schools for monks
reopeneo arouno the country, ano Buoohist texts are being reprinteo ano oistrib-
uteo with the help of Japanese ano German funoing. The number of monks, esti-
:8o orxocinr

s v\kr
mateo at 6,¸oo to 8,ooo in :q8¸–8q ouring the FRK, jumpeo to :6,¡oo in :qqo,
about .o,ooo in :qq: ,ibio.:6.–6¸,, ano ¸o,o8: in :qq8–qq, affiliateo with ¸,68¸
temples ,Ministry of Cults ano Religion :qqq,.
Iearing that events of the recent past oisrupteo people’s relationship to the spir-
itual realm ,see also Mortlano :qq¡,, rural communities have expenoeo consioer-
able effort towaro rebuiloing local temples that were oestroyeo, oamageo, or ne-
glecteo ouring the Khmer Rouge ano FRK perioos. Iamilies across the country
useo whatever small amounts of surplus they may have accrueo to make oona-
tions for restoring temples, builoing or repairing clcoc, ,repositories for ashes of
the oeao,, ano performing ceremonies for the spirits of relatives who oieo ouring
DK. Many overseas Khmer returning to their homelano or senoing money from
abroao have also contributeo large sums to this process, as have wealthy Fhnom
Fenh resioents who sometimes support a specific temple in the region where they
or their forebears were born. Iurthermore, contributions to temples ,whether in
the form of money, material gooos, labor, or attenoance at ceremonies, are con-
sioereo highly virtuous oeeos, ano oonors earn much religious merit.
Svay’s temple compouno suffereo consioerable oestruction ano oeterioration
ouring the civil war ano DK perioos. The central temple ,ctlcot,, which was a beau-
tiful structure with the graceful curving roof characteristic of Khmer temples, was
completely oestroyeo with explosives by the Khmer Rouge.
In :qqo the builoing
that hao been useo as a oormitory for the monks was still stanoing, but its walls
were pockmarkeo with holes from bullets ano artillery, the ·oloo, or open-sioeo
meeting hall, was in shabby conoition after having been useo as a hospital by the
Khmer Rouge. After DK, villagers continueo to worship in the salaa, but there was
oeep oesire to construct a new vihear. Beginning in :qqo with the erection of a gate
ano wall that oefineo the sacreo space of the temple compouno, work on the vi-
hear proceeoeo slowly in graoual steps over many years, because there were few
funos for rebuiloing ano construction oepenoeo largely on the voluntary labor of
local villagers. By :qq¸ the vihear was largely completeo ,ano lookeo in many ways
more resplenoent than it hao in the past,, ano several cheoey hao also been newly
erecteo. Work was still progressing on some smaller structures in the compouno.
Each rebuilt temple has a group of resioent monks who are critical for celebra-
tions of the full rouno of annual Buoohist rituals, as well as essential participants
in familial ceremonies such as weooings ano funerals. Buoohism is especially im-
portant in offering people a means to renew the social ano moral oroer of society.
Through ritual, villagers can formally reconstruct the proper oroer of relationships
between the worlo of the living ano the spiritual realm. At the same time they may
make peace with their own feelings of guilt ano remorse over the suffering of their
fellows ouring the past twenty years. As Meas Nee has written:
Lookeo at from the outsioe, religion, the teaching of the monks, music, traoitional
games, ano traoitional skills are a way to strengthen the culture. But I see them as
not just that. They are the way to builo unity ano to heal hearts ano spirits. They help
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :8.
to create a community where everything can be talkeo about, even past suffering.
They help create a community where the poorest are careo about. They help to re-
store oignity. ,:qq¸:¸o,
Impressions from contemporary village life suggest that chiloren born after :q¸q
are once again being socializeo into religious practices, ano contingents of monks
at local Buoohist temples incluoe novices who are young aoolescents.
Survivors of DK live with an unoercurrent of fear ano uncertainty. One of the
legacies of genocioe is that people’s confioence in personal safety is strippeo away.
As Myerhoff has written about the experience of Jewish holocaust survivors, the
self-assurance that
it can never happen to me, comforts on-lookers, but not survivors. They know by what
slenoer threaos their lives are oistinguisheo from those who oieo, they oo not see in
themselves soothing virtues or special merits that make their survival inevitable or
right, to these people complacency is forever lost. ,:q¸8:.¡,
Ior many years after :q¸q, the fear most commonly ano fervently expresseo by
rural villagers was that the Khmer Rouge woulo return to power. Memories of DK
were inoelibly etcheo in the minos of survivors, ano Democratic Kampuchean re-
sistance forces remaineo active in certain regions. In the early :qqos, although there
were no Khmer Rouge in the immeoiate vicinity,
villagers ,ano Leogerwooo ano
Ebihara, sometimes hearo explosions, whether muffleo thumps coming from moun-
tains to the southwest where DK camps were locateo, or frighteningly louo blasts
from unexplooeo oronance left burieo in nearby fielos that was accioentally oeto-
nateo. Some families hao oug trenches alongsioe their houses to serve as foxholes
in case of suooen attack. Svay resioents oeclareo emphatically that they coulo not
survive a secono DK regime ano woulo fight to the oeath before succumbing again
to Khmer Rouge rule. Such sentiments were strongly encourageo by the FRK gov-
ernment, whose legitimacy was baseo in large part on its having liberateo Cam-
booia from Fol Fot. Vivio reminoers of the DK’s horrors containeo in photographs
of victims, paintings of killings, ano implements useo for torture are on oisplay at
the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocioal Crimes, a former school that hao become
a oeaoly interrogation center ouring DK ,see Leogerwooo :qq¸, Chanoler :qqq,,
as well as in a monumental oisplay of skulls ano bones at Chhoeung Ek, a former
killing fielo where one can still see bits of bone ano cloth in the soil of what hao
been mass graves. The FRK also instituteo an annual observance calleo The Day
of Hate, in which people were gathereo at various locales to hear invectives heapeo
on the Khmer Rouge.
State propaganoa playeo on this theme with such slogans
as: “We must absolutely prevent the return of this former black oarkness,” ano “We
must struggle ceaselessly to protect against the return of the Fol Fot, Ieng Sary,
:8: orxocinr

s v\kr
Khieu Samphan genocioal clique.” These formulaic ano state-sanctioneo expres-
sions were genuine ano often expresseo in conversations among oroinary folk.
Cambooians tooay have a secono generalizeo fear about violence within their
miost. Although violent outbursts occurreo periooically in pre-:q¸o Cambooia ,for
example, a street crowo in Fhnom Fenh battering a thief ,, acts of violence have be-
come much more commonplace. After nearly thirty years of war, there are now
many more armeo men than in prewar times. Iear focuses in particular on sol-
oiers ano former soloiers who still move through the countrysioe, ano there is also
apprehension about police or even oroinary people with weapons who may engage
in robbery, extortion, or hostile confrontations that result in injury or oeath ,see
also Ovesen et al. :qq¸:.8, Boyoen ano Gibbs :qq¸:q¸–q¡, :.¸,. Military units ex-
propriate lano from peasants ano sell it for themselves, forest areas are also taken
over by force ano loggeo for the personal profit of officials. Abuse of military power
incurs no consequences in contemporary Cambooian society, ano police often vi-
olate laws with impunity.
Another kino of weapon, lano mines, creates an extremely serious ano frighten-
ing problem in various regions of Cambooia that experienceo fighting after DK. With
several contenoing forces laying oown scores of lano mines over more than a oecaoe
of civil conflict, large portions of lano remain uninhabitable or oangerous even to
cross. Despite oemining efforts, great numbers of people are still wounoeo by mines
ano suffer not only physical ano psychological traumas but oftentimes problems of
economic survival ano social marginalization as well ,see also Irench :qq¡b,.
Iinally, oomestic violence, especially wife abuse, is saio to be a serious problem
in contemporary Cambooia ,see Zimmerman, Men, ano Sar :qq¡, Nelson ano
Zimmerman :qq6, that has oevelopeo because of the brutality to which people
were exposeo in DK.
The precise extent of abuse, however, is uncertain, because
it is virtually impossible to know exactly how wioespreao oomestic violence may be
at present or was in the past. So far as Svay is concerneo, Ebihara saw no evioence
of wife or chilo abuse in her original fielowork, ano present-oay villagers state that
oomestic violence is not a problem within the community.
Our impression is that there was a general oecline in fearfulness across the cen-
tral plains of Cambooia from the late :q8os through the U.N.-sponsoreo elections
of :qq¸. Aio workers report that in the early :q8os villagers hesitateo to plant sugar
palm trees ,ooom troot, because they take so long to mature, ano there was no way to
know whether one might have to flee the area again, or even if one woulo live long
enough to benefit from the effort. But when we visiteo Svay in the early :qqos, we
founo that sugar palms as well as coconut, mango, ano many other trees hao inoeeo
been planteo ano were bearing fruit, ano that living conoitions graoually improveo
for most ,if not all, villagers. Arouno the time of the :qq¸ elections, people hao high
hopes that there woulo finally be peace ano with it increaseo prosperity.
This hopefulness, however, was muteo by periooic political instability after
:qq¸, Frime Minister Hun Sen’s coup in :qq¸, which ousteo a co–prime minis-
ter with whom he was supposeo to share power, ano brutal attacks on antigov-
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :8¸
ernment protesters in :qq8–qq. Although with the oeath of Fol Fot ano the oe-
fections of Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, ano other leaoers in :qq8–qq the Khmer
Rouge themselves ceaseo to constitute a serious threat, continueo political in-
fighting among top officials of the ostensibly coalition government perpetuates
a climate of general political uncertainty ano recurring violence. Cambooians
feel that there is always the possibility that society coulo collapse again into war-
fare ano oestruction.
Some people regularly consult a work calleo the Boool
Domrco,, which is believeo to contain prophecies by the Buooha about events that
will occur at the miopoint of the next lolpo, or cycle of time before the coming
of the next Buooha. The text speaks of multiple wars ano oevastation, ano many
Cambooians believe that the horrors of the DK perioo fulfilleo those prophe-
cies ,see also Smith :q8q,. However, they cannot be certain that the time of oe-
struction is over ano that the reign of the new ano righteous ruler is at hano. Thus
they consult the text ano wait, still fearful.
The Cambooian genocioe unoer Fol Fot orew international attention for its mas-
sive oeath toll, which occurreo in a small population within a short perioo. In ao-
oition, the DK regime was infamous for its attempt to oestroy cultural institutions
as well as people in its heaolong plunge to “leap” into a revolutionary new society
more quickly than any other society in history ,Chanoler, Kiernan, ano Boua
:q88:¸6,. DK obviously hao a number of profouno ano oisruptive effects on Cam-
booian life, only some of which have been oiscusseo here. What has particularly
struck us, however, is the remarkable strength of the Cambooian survivors we know,
who, after experiencing oevastating social upheavals ano personal traumas,
nonetheless got on with their lives. Also, possibly because the DK regime was so
short-liveo, its effort to crush certain funoamental aspects of Cambooian society
ano culture oio not take holo. Thus after :q¸q various elements of prerevolution-
ary life—for example, families, Buoohism, private property, a market economy—
were reviveo, albeit with mooifications causeo by changing socio-political-economic
circumstances ,see Ebihara :qq¸a,.
Svay villagers remain peasant rice cultivators who leao a rather precarious ex-
istence, with their harvests often oiminisheo by oroughts or flooos ano their small
savings suooenly oraineo by illness. As one man remarkeo with a sigh: “It’s still a
struggle to live, you still have to work haro to grow rice.” Some villagers may get
aooeo income from other sources, such as nonagricultural jobs ,for example, as
schoolteachers,, financial assistance from offspring or relatives working in Fhnom
Fenh, or remittances from relatives who became refugees abroao. Accoroing to vil-
lagers, relatively few householos are “rich,” but most families have aoequate re-
sources, ano impoverisheo householos are few ,see ibio.,. Over the course of peri-
ooic visits to Svay between :q8q ano :qq¸ we have seen many visible improvements
:8¸ orxocinr

s v\kr
in people’s oaily lives. We were struck in particular by the increasing number of
families builoing woooen houses raiseo on piles above the grouno in the traoitional
Khmer style, after having liveo since Fol Fot times in rather shabby thatch houses
built oirectly on the grouno with oirt floors. No one looks malnourisheo, people
have nicer clothes, virtually every householo has a bicycle, ano increasingly over
time, some have acquireo motorcycles, most families have raoios, ano nowaoays
some even have tiny black-ano-white television sets that run ,in the absence of elec-
tricity, on car batteries.
,On some other aspects of contemporary village life, see
Ebihara :qq¸a ano :qq¸b, Meas Nee :qq¸, Uimonen :qq6.,
Despite some material improvements to their lives, present-oay villagers obvi-
ously bear scars, both physical ano emotional, from the horrors of the Fol Fot regime.
Feople believe that the harsh conoitions of DK causeo the oeaths of several villagers
in the years following :q¸q, ano many survivors are plagueo by profouno fatigue,
lack of strength, weak limbs, faulty memories, ano other problems that are thought
to be the consequence of overly arouous work, severe oeprivations, ano beatings
ouring DK. Villagers report such oifficulties as: “My legs are still weak from all the
work, sometimes they collapse ano I fall oown.” “They beat me on my heao ano
shouloers ano back . . . ano now I can’t lift heavy things.” “I’ve forgotten how to reao
ano write Khmer since Fol Fot.” Only one person aomits that she hao a mental
breakoown ouring DK, now, she says, “Sometimes I laugh or cry for no reason.”
But she has manageo to holo oown a job ano functions quite capably in oaily life.
We founo no other evioence of serious psychological problems, although it is quite
possible that some of the villagers’ physical ailments coulo be somaticizations of
emotional reactions to past horrors. Although it is certainly true that numerous
Cambooians enoureo intense psychological traumas ouring DK ano that some con-
tinue to suffer emotional oistress, we oo not agree with periooic statements ,largely
in journalistic meoia, that Cambooia has become a nation of the mentally unbal-
,See Leogerwooo :qq8c for fuller oiscussion of this issue.,
The present-oay life of Svay villagers remains oifficult in many respects. But
in listening to people speak of their horrenoous experiences ano profouno losses
ouring the “Fol Fot time,” ano in watching transformations in their lives through-
out the :qqos, we are oeeply moveo above all by their astonishing fortituoe, re-
silience, courage, ano enourance. As is probably true of humankino almost every-
where, the villagers are oroinary people with cxttooroinary strength ano spirit.
They are survivors.
:. Ebihara’s original fielowork was sponsoreo by a Ioro Iounoation Ioreign Area Training
Iellowship, subsequent research ouring the :qqos was supporteo by the Social Science Research
Council, the Wenner-Gren Iounoation for Anthropological Research, ano the FSC/CUNY
Iaculty Research Awaros Frogram. Leogerwooo’s work has been funoeo by the Social Science
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :8¡
Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Iounoation, UNICEI, ano the East-West Center. We are
grateful to all these sources. We conoucteo research in Svay in the :qqos both inoivioually ano
collaboratively. ,Note: In earlier publications, Svay was given the pseuoonym Sobay.,
.. The prefix o- appenoeo to a name or term is pejorative, in this case connoting a mean-
ing such as the “loathsome Fol Fot.”
¸. Some refugees were relocateo earlier, in the late :q¸os ,see Ebihara :q8¸,. About
¸6o,ooo people, however, remaineo in Thai refugee camps until :qq., when they began to
be repatriateo back to Cambooia, creating resettlement problems ano internal oislocation
,Boyoen ano Gibbs :qq¸::¸8–¡o,.
¡. In the summer of :q¸¸, the region arouno Svay was also one of the areas subject to
intense “strategic bombing” by the Uniteo States, which was attempting to oestroy Khmer
Rouge bases. Iortunately, Svay’s resioents hao alreaoy fleo, but some houses were oestroyeo
ano there are still outlines of bomb craters in the rice fielos. On Cambooian conceptions of
ptc,, see Chanoler :qq6 |:q¸8| ano Ebihara :qq¸a::¸o.
¸. Vickery :q8¡ points out that conoitions varieo in oifferent parts of Cambooia ano
over time, with some places being less harsh than others. Svay, however, was locateo in
a region where conoitions ano oiscipline were stringent from the outset. On conoitions
ouring DK, see also Toni Shapiro-Fhim’s chapter in this volume ano Ebihara :q8¸, :qq¸a,
6. There has been oebate over the number of oeaths, with estimates ranging from less
than a million to three or more million. Kiernan :qq6:¡¸8 ,Table ¡, notes :,6¸:,ooo oeaths,
the :.¸ million figure comes from the most recent report of the Cambooian Genocioe Froj-
ect at Yale, which has been conoucting oetaileo stuoies of the mortality toll.
¸. At that time Svay was oivioeo into three hamlets, ano Ebihara’s most intensive re-
search focuseo on so-calleo West Hamlet of Svay, which was somewhat separate from
the other hamlets ano in some ways like a small community in itself. Ebihara’s research
in the :qqos concentrateo specifically on survivors from West Hamlet ano some of their
8. This oeath toll ooes not incluoe spouses ano offspring from marriages that occurreo
after Ebihara left Svay in :q6o.
q. Chiloren were taken from their parents at about the age of six or seven ano placeo
in their own work teams. Aoolescents ano other young unmarrieo aoults were put in mo-
bile labor teams sent to various parts of the country, they sometimes saw their parents only
once or twice a year.
:o. Similar forms of householo composition ano mutual aio occur also among refugees
,see Ebihara :q8¸,. In aooition, refugees often feel a strong sense of obligation to seno re-
mittances to close kin in Cambooia, even though refugees in the Uniteo States are them-
selves often very poor, contacts between kin are maintaineo through exchange of letters,
tape cassettes, ano vioeos. In recent years, some refugees have maoe visits to or returneo to
work in Cambooia. See also Boyoen ano Gibbs :qq¸, Breckon :qq8, Smith-Hefner :qqq,
Leogerwooo :qq8c.
::. Ior patterns of mutual aio in prerevolutionary Cambooia, see Ebihara :q68. On con-
temporary social relationships, see Ebihara :qq¸a ano :qq¡, on economic organization, see
Leogerwooo :qq.. The latter notes that in a :qq. survey, Svay villagers voiceo a preference
for hiring fielo labor rather than practicing labor exchange ,ibio.:¸¸–6o,, but actual obser-
vation of cultivation in :qq¡ inoicateo that few villagers can afforo hireo help.
:8ó orxocinr

s v\kr
:.. During the FRK perioo following DK there was a territorial aoministrative change
in Svay, such that the former Mioole ano West Hamlets were joineo together ano nameo
West Svay, while East Hamlet became a separate ,if contiguous, community. After DK, many
former resioents of West Hamlet establisheo new homes on sites oifferent from their prewar
locations, but social relationships with one another were maintaineo.
:¸. Such claims often go along with arguments that the DK perioo irrevocably shattereo
the entire society ano that Khmer culture is oeao or oying, for oiscussion of such asser-
tions, see the introouction to Ebihara, Mortlano, ano Leogerwooo :qq¡, ano Leogerwooo
:¡. The most famous work on reciprocity is, of course, Marcel Mauss’s Tlc Gtft. Ior ois-
cussion of these issues as applieo to exchange in the Khmer context, see Marston :qq¸:chap.
¡, Kim .oo:.
:¸. Similar conclusions are reacheo by Uimonen :qq6:¡¸, Boyoen ano Gibbs :qq¸, ano
Davenport, Healy, ano Malone :qq¸:¡8–¡q. The latter, writing about families limiting as-
sistance to relatives returning from refugee camps on the Thai boroer, write: “|It| seems that
most families, unless they are wealthy, can ill afforo to oo more |than provioe emergency
:6. The term .too. is a oirect translation of the Khmer term mcmot, which oenotes
women whose husbanos are known to be oeao. Mcmot is also useo to refer to oivorceo
women, as well as those who are separateo from or have been abanooneo by their husbanos
ano may not know if the latter are alive.
:¸. In the lano reoistribution of :q86 ,formalizeo by constitutional restoration of private
property in :q8q,, each villager receiveo approximately o.:6 to o.:8 hectare of rice paooy
lanos. While there is inoivioual ownership of lano, members of a householo generally pool
all the paooies ano cooperate in their cultivation. Holoings in Svay now range from a low
of about o.¸ hectare for an eloerly couple to almost . hectares for a large extenoeo family.
Leogerwooo conoucteo a survey of Svay in :qq. that inoicateo that ¸o percent of families
hao less than : hectare of lano, which was somewhat below the national average of :.. citeo
by Curtis :q8q.
:8. Folygyny was legal in prerevolutionary Cambooia, although it was practiceo mainly
by men in higher socioeconomic strata. See Ebihara :q¸¡, however, for a situation in which
a Svay villager’s attempt to take a secono wife was quasheo by his irate ,first, wife.
:q. There is a case in Svay in which a man hao left a wife of more than twenty years
stanoing to live with another woman ,the wioow of a frieno who hao oieo ouring DK,. The
first wife certainly fclt abanooneo because she got no economic help from her former mate
ano was quite poor ,she manageo with help from marrieo oaughters,. Ebihara feels, how-
ever, that this man was not a heeoless philanoerer but someone who hao oevelopeo a strong
attachment to another woman with whom he has continueo to live for the past two oecaoes.
.o. These statistics inoicate that the number of monks ano temples has rebounoeo al-
most to prewar figures for :q6q, which noteo ¸,¸6q temples ano 6¸,o6. monks ,Cambooia
Report :qq6,.
.:. Another temple compouno several kilometers oistant was also blown up with ex-
plosives, ano any sections of wall or founoation that remaineo intact were broken up by
hano ano taken to provioe steel roos ano filler for a huge oam that was constructeo on a
nearby river ouring DK. While the DK hao ioeological reasons for oestroying temples as
symbols of Buoohism, in this case the remnants of a religious builoing were incorporateo
ano transformeo into a secular structure ,a oam, that hao enormous practical importance
c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :8,
for a major concern of DK: builoing irrigation systems to maximize agriculture. Remains
of the Svay temple were useo to fill in a bathing pono so that the space coulo be useo for
growing fooo plants.
... It is important to note that Khmer religion also incluoes a variety of animistic be-
liefs, practices, rituals, ano religious specialists ,such as healers, spirit meoiums, ano other
practitioners,, all of which surviveo DK ano continue to be active.
.¸. In the early :q¸os, when the Khmer Rouge began to make forays into the area ano
the civil war began to rage, a few Svay families evioently oecioeo to go to Khmer Rouge
base camps rather than move to Fhnom Fenh. Some years after the fall of DK, a few fam-
ilies of these former Olo Feople eventually moveo back to Svay. Villagers say that it woulo
be against Buoohist morality ano civil law to take revenge on those people, but the latter
are helo in scorn ano largely ostracizeo.
.¡. At one such gathering of local officials, schoolteachers, ano stuoents near Svay, the
chiloren burneo an effigy of Fol Fot. There is also a huge pile of skulls ano bones heapeo
up in a ruineo school several kilometers from Svay that hao been useo as a prison ano killing
grouno ouring DK ,see Ebihara :qq¸b,. Similar local oisplays are scattereo throughout the
country. Craig Etcheson ,personal communication, recently tolo Leogerwooo that the skele-
tal remains at a former prison in this region were removeo in :qqq–.ooo, but we are not cer-
tain if he is referring to the same place that we visiteo.
.¸. See the Uniteo Nations Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary Gen-
eral on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambooia, :qq8.
.6. The Svay region was not mineo ouring the post-DK civil conflict as were some regions
of Cambooia, but one Svay resioent lost a leg to a lano mine when he was sent to northwest-
ern Cambooia to labor on a FRK government work project. There have been periooic prob-
lems, however, with unexplooeo shells ano the like from the civil war of the early :q¸os left in
the fielos arouno Svay.
.¸. Ior a oiscussion of this issue, see Zimmerman, Men, ano Sar :qq¡, Boyoen ano Gibbs
:qq¸:q¸–q¸. The problem is shareo with other countries emerging from extenoeo perioos
of warfare ,compare Enloe :qq¸:chap. ¡,.
.8. Some women tolo Leogerwooo that prior to the :qq¸ general election they hao their
IUDs removeo because if society collapseo again, meoical services woulo not be available
to remove the oevices, ano they wanteo to be able to bear chiloren again after the turmoil.
.q. Leogerwooo, who has traveleo wioely throughout Cambooia, believes that although
Svay is not a prosperous village, it is nonetheless better off than many communities else-
where, especially those that are oistant from Fhnom Fenh. Cambooia as a whole still suffers
from a relatively low stanoaro of living with respect to such criteria as infant mortality ano
chilo malnutrition ,see, for example, Boyoen ano Gibbs :qq¸,.
¸o. There is consioerable literature on psychological problems among Cambooians in
refugee camps ano resettlement communities ,to give but a few examples, see Eisenbruch
:qq:, Mollica :q86, Kinzie :q8¸,. While we have not conoucteo psychological research, we
believe that many Cambooian refugees have generally suffereo more severe oisruptions in
their lives after DK—incluoing harsh conoitions in refugee camps followeo by oifficult ao-
justments to alien environments abroao—than oio Cambooians who remaineo at home.
Svay villagers, oespite their relative poverty ano the insecurities of an agricultural life, stayeo
in a familiar cultural setting with kin ano other support systems. ,See also Boyoen ano Gibbs
:qq¸, Meas Nee :qq¸, Ebihara :q8¸, Smith-Hefner :qqq.,
:88 orxocinr

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c\xnoni\x \irr\orns :ç.
Terror, Grief, ano Recovery
Gcroctool Ttoomo tr o Mo,or Vtllogc tr Gootcmolo
Bcottt¸ Mor¸
In the hot, humio afternoon of Saturoay, Iebruary :¸, :q8., a long column of sol-
oiers moveo with an angry, oeliberate gait oown a muooy path towaro Santa Maria
Tzeja, a small, isolateo village in the rain forest of northern Guatemala. As the
troops approacheo, the terrifieo inhabitants scattereo in every oirection into the
surrounoing forest, having hearo that the military hao massacreo the people of a
nearby village two oays before. When the military unit arriveo, it founo an eerily
quiet, oeserteo community. Only one woman inexplicably remaineo. The soloiers
beat, repeateoly rapeo, ano muroereo her. They then oumpeo her battereo booy
near the builoing housing the village’s cooperative. This heinous act was only the
preluoe to the horrors to come.
Over the next two oays, the soloiers looteo ano torcheo every structure in the
village. Then, as the flames consumeo more than a oecaoe’s worth of haro work
ano oreams, a long line of troops hikeo oown a path that skirteo an area where two
terrifieo groups, a total of fourteen women ano chiloren, were quietly hioing.
Crouching in fear in the oense foliage, mothers hao stuffeo rags into the mouths of
their infants so they woulo not cry. As the last soloier passeo, a little oog suooenly
began to bark. The unit halteo ano then returneo to scan the area more closely.
They soon oiscovereo the first group, a pregnant woman, her infant, ano two boys
left in her care. A young boy, who was running to warn his siblings of the ap-
proaching army, hearo the soloiers say something to the terrifieo woman, ano then
the troops openeo fire upon them, after which a soloier threw a grenaoe to final-
ize the carnage. The unit then moveo on, locating the secono group of eight chil-
oren, their pregnant mother, ano a granomother. As they oio with the first group,
the troops methooically ano mercilessly slaughtereo everyone. Some were shot, oth-
ers hackeo to oeath, some oecapitateo. Soloiers slit open the stomach of the preg-
nant woman, killing mother ano chilo. Others, laughing, threw babies into the air.
The only survivor was a six-year-olo boy who ran ano hio behino a tree, a silent
witness to the bloooletting that oestroyeo the only worlo he knew.
When news of the massacre reacheo the hioing places of those who hao es-
capeo, the stunneo villagers took further precautions to save their lives—among
them the gruesome task of killing their own oogs, about fifty in all. There is no
ooubt that the army woulo have slaughtereo every villager hao they founo those
who hao eluoeo them—as they oio in nearby villages oays before ano oays after
this massacre. After several months in hioing, more than half the families maoe the
arouous ano emotionally oevastating journey to fino refuge in Mexico, where they
stayeo for more than a oecaoe. The army eventually placeo those who remaineo
behino—about fifty families—unoer military control, literally on the ashes of the
original village, ano brought in new peasants to occupy the lanos of those in refuge.
Santa Maria Tzeja was part of the much larger trageoy enoureo in Guatemala.
Governments, at various times ano in various places, have unleasheo state-
sponsoreo terrorism across a wioe swath of territory, at times engulfing a region or
even orenching an entire nation in blooo. On occasion the intensity, extent, ano
purpose of the violence is so extreme that it becomes genocioe. In Guatemala, the
Commission for Historical Clarification ,CEH,—as the Truth Commission is offi-
cially calleo—was createo in June :qq¡ as part of the Oslo Accoros between the
Guatemalan government ano the umbrella group of insurgent forces, the
Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity ,URNG,. “Truth commissions are born
of compromise between two extremes: institutional justice vs. silence ano sancti-
fieo impunity,” Amy Ross ,:qqqb:¸q, observes. There was little equivocation, how-
ever, in the commission’s conclusions. In a stunning juogment, the CEH chargeo
the Guatemalan military with genocioe: “|T|he CEH concluoes that agents of the
State of Guatemala, within the framework of counterinsurgency operations car-
rieo out between :q8: ano :q8¸, committeo acts of genocioe against groups of
Mayan people” ,CEH :qqqb:¡:,. Accoroing to its finoings, 8¸ percent of the vic-
tims were Maya. “After stuoying four selecteo geographical regions,” the commis-
sion concluoeo “that between :q8: ano :q8¸ the Army ioentifieo groups of the
Mayan population as the internal enemy, consioering them to be an actual or po-
tential support base for the guerrillas, with respect to material sustenance, a source
of recruits ano a place to hioe their members.” Baseo on that assessment, “the
Army, inspireo by the National Security Doctrine, oefineo a concept of internal
enemy that went beyono guerrilla sympathizers, combatants or militants to incluoe
civilians from specific ethnic groups” ,ibio.:¸q,.
As if to confirm the charge, a spokesman for the regime of oe facto presioent
General Rios Montt confioeo the military’s thinking to an American journalist in
the summer of :q8.. “The guerrillas won over many Inoian collaborators, there-
fore, the Inoians were subversives, right? Ano how oo you fight subversion? Clearly,
you hao to kill Inoians because they were collaborating with subversion. Ano then
they woulo say, ‘You’re massacring innocent people.’ But they weren’t innocent.
orxocinr ix ot\+rx\r\ :ç¸
They hao solo out