CCGL9055 Global Issues

Genocide: The Nightmare from History

This course is under the thematic cluster of:

  • The Quest for a Meaningful Life / The Universe and the Question of Meaning (UQM)


Course Description

Genocide, defined as the use of state-sanctioned power to pursue the eradication of a minority group in a non-military context raises fundamental questions about co-existence, morality, viability, security and survival within the modern world system. Known as the “nightmare of history,” Genocide is arguably the most disturbing of all of the innovations of modernity. Emerging in the 20th Century, Genocide has been perpetrated upon adherents of almost all major world religions and continents and its occurrence has repeatedly challenged the outside world to adequately recognize, represent, understand and judge this distinctly modern crime that constitutes an assault on human life itself. On a case by case basis, drawing from the main examples of Genocide globally recognized by scholars (Nama/Hereo, Armenian/Assyrian, Jewish/Roma, Cambodian/Chinese/Cham, Hutu/Tutsi), we shall pursue a comparative analysis of this topic. In our exploration we shall highlight what is fundamental and common to each case, namely, the role of media propaganda in the demonization of victim groups by perpetrators and the unsatisfactory search for justice in the aftermath. Finally, our class will meditate upon what brings humans to participate in the destruction, preventive measures that might be possible, and which narratives on this topic may be more easily accessible to a wider public.
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 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. 
  • 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

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr A.J. Sacks
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2897
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr A.J. Sacks
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2897