CCGL9055 Global Issues

Genocide: Mass Violence and the Quest for Justice

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘The Universe and the Question of Meaning’.]


Course Description

[The teaching modality of this course is a weekly three-hour class session integrating 10-15-minute lectures with individual and group activities (think-pair-share, small-group focus discussions, and breakout sessions with larger groups) in each class period.]

The twentieth century has been a century of massive and ever more destructive wars, but more people have actually perished in acts of state-sponsored violence than in these wars. People are outraged when crimes against humanity are being perpetrated, yet the response of the international community at the current apparent ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is half-hearted at best. How do we reconcile this contradiction? If we want to do more than dream of a peaceful world, we must not think of genocide and mass violence as some vast evil beyond comprehension, and we must not think of the perpetrators as inhumane and monstrous. Rather, we need to explore and assess what drives people to actively engage in, or passively support, such acts of violence. We need to study how these acts of violence were and are possible, and we need to assess the strategies through which people have sought to avert and to come to terms with such violence. In this vein, this course seeks to explore the origins, development, and effects of instances of mass violence and genocide in the light of the global human community. It asks about victims and perpetrators, about justice and retribution, about legal responses and their absence, and about the (in)ability to prevent genocide, on an individual, state, and international level.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate critical understanding of instances of mass violence and genocide as a global issue, and the broader implications of genocides past and present for individuals and societies.
  2. Critically assess questions of cultural/ethnic belonging in relation to cases of genocide; identify power hierarchies and instances of scapegoating and ‘othering’.
  3. Reflect on their roles as members of the global human community, and articulate their awareness of associated rights and responsibilities.
  4. Acknowledge and respect the value of their own and others’ humanity, and articulate responses to genocide demonstrating the social, moral, and political responsibilities incumbent upon a global citizen.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 36
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 46
Total: 122

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Project 50
Written reflections 20
Participation in classroom activities 30

Required Reading

  • Bartrop, P. (December, 2002). The relationship between war and genocide in the twentieth century: a consideration. Journal of Genocide Research 4, 4, 519–32.
  • Bowen, J. R. (2002). The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict. In A. L. Hinton (Ed.), Genocide: An Anthropological Reader, pp. 334–43. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
  • Browning, C. R. (1992). Ordinary men: Reserve police battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland. New York: Harper Collins. [Initiation to mass murder: The Jósefów Massacre, pp. 55-70]
  • Browning, C. R. (2010). The Nazi Empire. In D. Bloxham & A. D. Moses (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, pp. 407–25. Oxford [UK]: Oxford University Press.
  • Cribb, R. (June, 2001). Genocide in Indonesia, 1965–1966. Journal of Genocide Research, 3(2), 219–39.
  • Goldstone, R. J. (1995). The international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: A case study in security council action. Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, 6(5), 5–10.
  • Harff, B., & Gurr, T. R. (2004). Ethnic conflict in world politics. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. [Ethnic groups in the international system, pp. 165-174]
  • Hovannisian, R. G. Denial of the Armenian Genocide in comparison with holocaust denial. In R. G. Hovannisian (Ed.), Remembrance and denial: The case of the Armenian Genocide, pp. 201–36. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press.
  • Quigley, J. (2000.) Introduction. In H. J. De Nike, J. Quigley, & K. J. Robinson Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary, pp. 1–18. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Rittner, C., Roth, J. K., & J. M. Smith (Eds.). (2002). Will genocide ever end? Laxton, UK; St. Paul, Minn.: Paragon House, [Chaps. 8 (pp. 65-71), 9 (pp. 73-76), 12 (pp. 91-97), 15 (pp. 113-116), 18 (pp.127-130)]
  • Spencer, P. (2012). Genocide since 1945. London: Routledge. [Perpetrators, bystanders, victims and rescuers, pp. 41-55.]

Required Viewing and Websites

Recommended Reading

  • Bloxham, D., & Moses, A. D. (Eds.). (2010). The Oxford handbook of genocide studies. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Gellately, R., & Kiermann, B. (Eds.). (2010). The specter of genocide: Mass murder in historical perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kiernan, B. (2009). Blood and soil: A world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur. New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press.
  • Robertson, G. (2006). Crimes against humanity: The struggle for global justice (3rd ed.). London: Penguin.
  • Totten, S., & Bartrop, P. R. (Eds.). (2009). The genocide studies reader. New York; London: Routledge.
  • Totten, S., & Parsons, W. S. (Eds.). (2013). Centuries of genocide: Essays and eyewitness accounts. New York: Routledge.

Recommended Websites

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor D.M. Pomfret
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2865
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr B. Schneider
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2873