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Genocidal Regimes and Their Perpetrators

General Programming

dateMarch 26, 2015 timeThursday, 6:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University

Abram de Swaan will talk about his new book The Killing Compartments; The Mentality of Mass Murder (Yale U.P., Jan 2015). Episodes of mass annihilation occur in societies that have gone through a process of compartmentalization, in which the target group is increasingly separated from the rest of the population at every level: culturally and institutionally, in everyday interaction and in personal experience. But the process of annihilation may proceed in different modes, such as a ‘conquerors’ frenzy’ or a self-destructive ‘losers’ triumph.’

There is almost complete consensus that genocidal perpetrators are ‘ordinary men,’ but this has blocked the insight that most perpetrators do differ in some decisive respects from most other people.

De Swaan will be in discussion with Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University.

  • Abram de Swaan Emeritus University Professor of Social Science University of Amsterdam
  • Ira Katznelson Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History Columbia University