The origins of genocide : political culture, crisis, and the construction of victims / by Maureen S. Hiebert.
Drawing on comparative politics and international relations theory, this dissertation develops a constructivist analytical model to explain the origins of genocide. Through a comparative historical analysis of the Holocaust (an ethnic/racial genocide) and the Cambodian "killing fields" (a political/revolutionary genocide) it is argued that genocide involves a unique three-step reconceptualization process. First members of the victim group lose their (often marginal) status within the political community and are constructed as outsiders to whom rights and obligations are no longer owed. Next, they come to be seen as dangerous enemies whose continued physical presence is seen to pose an overwhelming threat to the political community. Finally, they are viewed as sub-humans who can be killed without compunction. This process of identity reconstruction as a whole is underpinned by an exclusionary and authoritarian political culture and is triggered by serious economic, political, and/or security crises. The dissertation is an attempt to bring both comparative theory construction to genocide studies while at the same time move the study of genocide beyond it's original disciplines of history, sociology, and psychology to political science. The overall goal is to contribute to the search for the underlying causes of genocide in the service of effective prevention.
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