Article

Raphael Lemkin, Culture, and the Concept of Genocide

A. Dirk Moses

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199232116.013.0002

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Raphael Lemkin, Culture, and the Concept of Genocide

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This article describes the genocide concept of Raphael Lemkin. Genocide is a curious anomaly in the post-war regime of international humanitarian law, which is dominated by the discourse of human rights with its emphasis on individuals. It embodies the social ontology of ‘groupism’, because genocide is about the destruction of groups per se, not individuals per se. Lemkin thought that the Nazi policies were radically new, but only in the context of modern civilization. Wars of extermination have marked human society from antiquity until the religious conflagrations of early modern Europe, after which the doctrine that dominated was that war should be conducted against states rather than populations. Given that forty-nine members of his family died in the Holocaust, Lemkin's ecumenical approach to human suffering is at once astonishing and exemplary.

Keywords: Raphael Lemkin; genocide; groupism; cultural change; Nazi policies; international law; Holocaust

Article.  10450 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; Social and Cultural History

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