The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 4, 2021 - History - 610 pages
Genocide is not only a problem of mass death, but also of how, as a relatively new idea and law, it organizes and distorts thinking about civilian destruction. Taking the normative perspective of civilian immunity from military attack, A. Dirk Moses argues that the implicit hierarchy of international criminal law, atop which sits genocide as the 'crime of crimes', blinds us to other types of humanly caused civilian death, like bombing cities, and the 'collateral damage' of missile and drone strikes. Talk of genocide, then, can function ideologically to detract from systematic violence against civilians perpetrated by governments of all types. The Problems of Genocide contends that this violence is the consequence of 'permanent security' imperatives: the striving of states, and armed groups seeking to found states, to make themselves invulnerable to threats.


The Problems of Genocide
The Language of Transgression
The Language of Transgression 1890s to 1930s 94
Raphael Lemkin and the Protection of Small Nations 136
The Many Types of Destruction 169
Inventing Genocide in the 1940s 201
Permanent Security
The Nazi Empire as Illiberal Permanent Security 277
Human Rights Population Transfer and
Lemkin Arendt Vietnam and Liberal Permanent Security 395
Genocide Studies and the Repression of the Political 441
Holocaust Memory Exemplary Victims and Permanent
Index 512

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About the author (2021)

A. Dirk Moses is the Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor in Global Human Rights History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the co-editor of Decolonization, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights Politics (2020) and The Holocaust in Greece (2018).

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