Why Did They Kill? Interpreting Genocide and its Perpetrators

Course Code: 
HIST 4591
Jeffrey Rossman

The twentieth century was characterized by repeated episodes of one-sided, state- sponsored mass killing. When such killing targets ethnic, religious, or national groups - as it did in Anatolia during World War I (the Armenians), in Europe during World War II (the Jews, the Roma and Sinti), and in Rwanda in 1994 (the Tutsis) - it is known under international law as genocide. In this intensive reading and discussion course, we will engage a rich body of primary sources from twentieth-century genocides, key works of scholarship, and relevant documentary films in an effort to understand the complex but tragically recurring process whereby ordinary people are transformed in specific historical circumstances into genocidal killers.