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Genocides by the Oppressed

Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice

Edited by Nicholas A. Robins and Adam Jones

Publication Year: 2009

In the last two decades, the field of comparative genocide studies has produced an increasingly rich literature on the targeting of various groups for extermination and other atrocities, throughout history and around the contemporary world. However, the phenomenon of "genocides by the oppressed," that is, retributive genocidal actions carried out by subaltern actors, has received almost no attention. The prominence in such genocides of non-state actors, combined with the perceived moral ambiguities of retributive genocide that arise in analyzing genocidal acts "from below," have so far eluded serious investigation. Genocides by the Oppressed addresses this oversight, opening the subject of subaltern genocide for exploration by scholars of genocide, ethnic conflict, and human rights. Focusing on case studies of such genocide, the contributors explore its sociological, anthropological, psychological, symbolic, and normative dimensions.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v-vi

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INTRODUCTION: Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice

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pp. 1-24

Between 1780 and 1782, Peru and Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia) were ravaged by an Indian uprising in which over 100,000 people perished, and which would haunt the land with the specter of race war for years to come. Long exploited, the Indians had been subjected to mounting economic pressures ...

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1 SYMBOLISM AND SUBALTERNITY: The 1680 Pueblo Revolt of New Mexico and the 1780–82 Andean Great Rebellion

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pp. 25-46

The study of subaltern genocides in history poses special challenges. Sources are often quite limited and contradictory, especially in cases where the dominant group is successful in reestablishing authority. Nevertheless, primary sources may indicate that subaltern perpetrators of genocide speak not only directly through their actions, ...

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pp. 47-57

This short chapter builds on those preceding by examining the genocidal strategies and motifs deployed in diverse genres of subaltern mass violence. I examine slave rebellions, indigenous uprisings, peasant revolts (jacqueries), and modern anti-colonial revolts. ...

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3 ETHICAL CLEANSING?: The Expulsion of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe

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pp. 58-83

The defining historical event of the twentieth century for Central and Eastern European countries, and for their mutual interaction, remains World War II and the Holocaust. During this period, Nazi Germany waged genocidal total war, killing millions of civilians, including 6 million Jews. ...

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pp. 84-102

In April 2000, the Phnom Penh Post, an English-language newspaper, published an interview with a former Khmer Rouge cadre who had studied in Paris with Pol Pot and helped to found the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). When asked why Pol Pot killed millions of people, the former cadre, who chose to remain anonymous, replied, ...

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5 FROM JASENOVAC TO SREBRENICA: Subaltern Genocide and the Serbs

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pp. 103-121

In cases of subaltern genocide, oppressed and victimized groups employ genocidal strategies against their oppressors. What, though, of instances where a group’s victimization and its adoption of genocidal strategies are separated by decades or even centuries? ...

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pp. 122-137

On April 6, 1994, the flames of the twentieth century’s last genocide were ignited when Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana, was killed when his plane was downed by a shoulder-held missile. I was present in Rwanda and working as a behavioral research specialist for Family Health International (a contractor to USAID). ...

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7 GENOCIDE, HUMILIATION, AND INFERIORITY: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

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pp. 138-158

This chapter argues that the root of genocides does not lie in ethnic fault lines, dwindling resources, “rational” conflicts of interest, or any general “evil” of human nature or modernity, but rather in complex psychological mindsets and behavioral clusters that exhibit their own homicidal—and also often suicidal—”rationality.” ...

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pp. 159-184

The incident took place in February 1974 and marked the beginning of the end of the Kahama community. A raiding party of three adult males and one adult female from the Kasakela community hiked for over half an hour into Kahama country, where they happened upon a member of the Kahama community. ...

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9 “WHEN THE RABBIT’S GOT THE GUN” Subaltern Genocide and the Genocidal Continuum

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pp. 185-208

In seminal essays published in 2002 for collections edited by Jeanette Mageo and Alexander Hinton, the anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes described her provocative concept of a “genocidal continuum.” Derived from her longstanding anthropological research—“a concern with popular consent to everyday violence” ...


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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-217

E-ISBN-13: 9780253002976
E-ISBN-10: 0253002974
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353092

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 5 b&w illus., 2 figures, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2009