In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Genocide

  • Introduction
  • Broad Overviews
  • Journals and Encyclopedias
  • Readers and Bibliographies

Anthropology Genocide
Jeff Benvenuto, Alex Hinton
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 January 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0065


Genocide is one of the most serious problems confronting humanity. It has produced extreme suffering, hundreds of millions of deaths, and the catastrophic shattering of families, communities, and cultures. While genocidal violence has a long history, dating from the Roman destruction of Carthage to ancient Assyria and beyond, the term “genocide” was coined as recently as the early 1940s by Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who spearheaded an international campaign to criminalize the destruction of human collectivities. This effort successfully delivered the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Mostly stagnated by the onset of the Cold War, the field of genocide studies did not begin to mature until the early 1980s. Its growth was catalyzed further in the 1990s and the early 2000s by the genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Having developed vigorously in the late 2000s, the constitution of the field now demands critical reflection. This bibliography surveys the field’s broad literature, with a particular focus on the concept of genocide, the genocidal process, and key issues in genocide studies.

Broad Overviews

The most comprehensive and reader-friendly overview is provided in Jones 2011. For more dated yet seminal contributions from the first generation of scholars that emerged from the 1980s, see Kuper 1982 and the autobiographical essays included in Totten and Jacobs 2002. While this cadre of scholarship is overly focused on totalitarian genocides in the 20th century, recent contributions have developed a richer historical and conceptual framework. The contributions in Stone 2008 indicate a generational transition in the field, but the volume suffers from a “one-genocide-per-chapter” approach that fails to integrate individual cases into a holistic framework. As a corrective, Levene 2005 develops a historiographical framework that situates the rise of genocide with the crystallization of the modern world system, thereby linking cases across space and time. This approach is reflected further in Bloxham and Moses 2010 and, to a lesser extent, in Kiernan 2007. Similarly, Hinton 2002 frames genocide in modernity, indicating key mechanisms and processes that appear across the historical record.

  • Bloxham, Donald, and A. Dirk Moses, eds. 2010. The Oxford handbook of genocide studies. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    With contributions by many leading second-generation scholars. Offers an interdisciplinary overview and ties together various cases in comprehensive historical framework.

  • Hinton, Alexander Laban, ed. 2002. Annihilating difference: The anthropology of genocide. California Series in Public Anthropology 3. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    DOI: 10.2307/book8

    Historicizes genocide and modernity through an anthropological lens, exploring the manufacture and crystallization of difference, the local dimensions in which genocidal violence is inscribed with cultural meaning, and the aftermaths of genocide.

  • Jones, Adam. 2011. Genocide: A comprehensive introduction. 2d ed. New York: Routledge.

    The primary textbook on the subject, providing a broad yet in-depth conceptual and historical overview. The second edition updates the first in significant ways, including a reframing of some of the case material and a focus on dynamics too often ignored in the field. First edition published in 2006.

  • Kiernan, Ben. 2007. Blood and soil: A world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

    Offers a global perspective with a broad historical range. Framed by four primary themes: the cult of antiquity, the fetish for agriculture, ethnic enmity, and imperial or territorial conquest.

  • Kuper, Leo. 1982. Genocide: Its political use in the twentieth century. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

    A pathbreaking study, global in scope. Argues that genocide stems from plural societies, whereby two or more ethnic groups compete at disparate levels of power.

  • Levene, Mark. 2005. Genocide in the age of the nation-state. 2 vols. New York: I. B. Tauris.

    Published as the first two volumes of a prospective four, establishes a rich historical framework that marks genocide as an inherent tendency in the modern world system.

  • Stone, Dan, ed. 2008. The historiography of genocide. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230297784

    With contributions from leading second-generation scholars, this volume lays out a fruitful conceptual framework, but its case study chapters are episodically isolated.

  • Totten, Samuel, and Steven Leonard Jacobs, eds. 2002. Pioneers of genocide studies. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

    A collection of autobiographic reflections from the first generation of scholars.

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