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Unit information: Genocide in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Level H Lecture Response Unit) in 2017/18

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Unit name Genocide in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Level H Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST30028
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Andy Flack
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This LRU is designed as an introduction to the study of the conditions in which atrocity, and genocide in particular, emerged in the twentieth century. Students will be encouraged to explore some of the most important aspects of the relationship between the creation of identity, the destructive capacity of war, and its effects on individuals and communities who produce, are subjected to, and must eventually come to terms with the aftermath of mass violence. Classes will focus on the definitions of genocide; the status of minority groups; the circumstances under which scapegoating turns into massacres and genocide; the destructive psychological effects of modern warfare but also its ability to produce and reproduce those who take pleasure in killing; the effects of modern warfare on the status of women and on children; the manner in which individuals remember and tell their experience of total war; and the devastating consequences of combining modern warfare with genocidal ideology and racial prejudice. Europe in the twentieth century will constitute the main region of historical investigation, but, by a way of comparison, we will also discuss the wars and genocides in Guatemala, Cambodia, Rwanda, Congo, and Darfur. We will base our discussions on the readings of various sources: history writings, literary works, investigative journalism, diaries and memoirs and documentary films.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a broad understanding of the varying natures of genocide in the twentieth century, how and why genocidal episodes occurred and what the consequences of these episodes were ; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise how the study of genocide fits into broader studies of war, nationalism, intolerance and historical memory; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernam eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Eric D. Weitz, A Century of Genocide, Princeton and London: Princeton University Press, 2003; 1st ed.;

Roy Gutman, David Rieff and Anthony Dworking, Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, 2nd revised edition, New York: W.W. Norton &CO, 2J007

Jean Hatzfeld, The strategy of antelopes: living in Rwanda after the genocide, London: Serpent’s Tail, 2009.

Stephen Baum, The Psychology of Genocide ---Perpetrators, Bystanders and Rescuers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Jacques Semelin, Claire Andrieu and sarah Gensburger, eds., Resisting Genocide –The Multiple Forms of Rescue, New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.