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Virtual Panel: The Problems of Genocide

October 25 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The problems of Genocide book cover 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.

About the speakers:

Dirk Moses is the Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History at the University of North Carolina. He is a historian genocide, memory, and intellectual history. His first book, German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (2007), investigated the West German debates about renewing democracy in the wake of the failure of the Weimar Republic and the Holocaust. He has edited many anthologies on genocide, including, most recently, Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide: The Nigeria-Biafra War, 1967–1970 (2018), The Holocaust in Greece (2018), and Decolonization, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights Politics  (2020). His investigation of the origins and function of the genocide concept appears in his second monograph, The Problems of Genocide (2021). Dirk is working on two book projects. One on what he calls the Diplomacy of Genocide and another called Genocide and the Terror of History. In his spare time, he edits the Journal of Genocide Research.

German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past

Cambridge Core – Twentieth Century European History – German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past

Christine Achinger is Associate Professor of German Studies and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of German Studies at the University of Warwick. She studied Philosophy, Literature and Physics in Paris and Hamburg, where she was also involved in the non-commercial radio station FSK and in running the independent political library Hamburger Studienbibliothek, and worked at the concentration camp memorial site Hamburg-Neuengamme and in the Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden. An MA in Gender and Ethnic Studies brought her to London. During that time, she investigated conceptions of the bourgeois subject and the modern state as reflected in Enlightenment debates on Jewish and female emancipation. She moved on to Nottingham to write a PhD on the intersection of constructions of race, class, gender, and nation in nineteenth-century Germany as reflected in Gustav Freytag’s novel Soll und Haben (1855), and stayed at the University of Nottingham for another year as a Teaching Fellow. She joined the Department of German Studies at Warwick in September 2006 and spent the winter terms 2009 and 2012 as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Chicago. In 2013/14 she held a Research Fellowship at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

Chaired by:

Philippe Sands is Professor of public understanding of law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is President of English PEN and on the board of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature. Author of many books, including East West Street (2016) and The Ratline (2020), Philippe is an occasional contributor to many publications, including The Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times, and appears regularly on the BBC and CNN. His next book, The Last Colony, will be published in September 2022.

Event guidelines:

1. The Library will send you a Zoom link and joining instructions via email prior to the event. Please check your junk email folders.

2. Please try and join 5 minutes before the event start time and we will let you into the room (do try and bear with us if this takes a few minutes).

3. If you would like to ask a question during the event, please type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A. Your webcam will not be seen during this event.

4. The event will be recorded for the Library’s YouTube channel and will be shared at a later date.

Book now


October 25
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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