Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

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University of California Press, 2005 - History - 360 pages
2 Reviews
Of all the horrors human beings perpetrate, genocide stands near the top of the list. Its toll is staggering: well over 100 million dead worldwide. Why Did They Kill? is one of the first anthropological attempts to analyze the origins of genocide. In it, Alexander Hinton focuses on the devastation that took place in Cambodia from April 1975 to January 1979 under the Khmer Rouge in order to explore why mass murder happens and what motivates perpetrators to kill. Basing his analysis on years of investigative work in Cambodia, Hinton finds parallels between the Khmer Rouge and the Nazi regimes. Policies in Cambodia resulted in the deaths of over 1.7 million of that country's 8 million inhabitants--almost a quarter of the population--who perished from starvation, overwork, illness, malnutrition, and execution. Hinton considers this violence in light of a number of dynamics, including the ways in which difference is manufactured, how identity and meaning are constructed, and how emotionally resonant forms of cultural knowledge are incorporated into genocidal ideologies. Of all the horrors human beings perpetrate, genocide stands near the top of the list. Its toll is staggering: well over 100 million dead worldwide. Why Did They Kill? is one of the first anthropological attempts to analyze the origins of genocide. In it, Alexander Hinton focuses on the devastation that took place in Cambodia from April 1975 to January 1979 under the Khmer Rouge in order to explore why mass murder happens and what motivates perpetrators to kill. Basing his analysis on years of investigative work in Cambodia, Hinton finds parallels between the Khmer Rouge and the Nazi regimes. Policies in Cambodia resulted in the deaths of over 1.7 million of that country's 8 million inhabitants--almost a quarter of the population--who perished from starvation, overwork, illness, malnutrition, and execution. Hinton considers this violence in light of a number of dynamics, including the ways in which difference is manufactured, how identity and meaning are constructed, and how emotionally resonant forms of cultural knowledge are incorporated into genocidal ideologies.
  

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Review: Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

User Review  - Ozzie - Goodreads

People reviewing this and deriding as jargony and dispassionate are missing the point. It's an anthropological study of a genocide, without the trappings and drawbacks of emotion. Emotions play a big ... Read full review

Review: Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

User Review  - Noelle - Goodreads

Dense anthropological look into the Cambodian genocide. Hinton translates gruesome details into symbolic actions. Good academic read. Read full review

Contents

In the Shadow of Genocide
1
Preamble
39
Power Patronage and Suspicion
96
In the Shade of Pol Pots Umbrella
126
The DK Social Order
182
Manufacturing Difference
211
The Dark Side of Face and Honor
252
Why People Kill
276
Note on Transliteration
299
Bibliography
327
Index
351
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Alexander Laban Hinton is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, Newark. He is the editor of Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide (California, 2002), Genocide: An Anthropological Reader (2002), and Biocultural Approaches to the Emotions (1999).

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