Anthropology and Genocide

Kevin Lewis O'Neill

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Anthropology and Genocide


This article explores the relationship between anthropology and genocide. Anthropology is the study of culture — the attitudes, behaviours, and practices that constitute a given community. The anthropology of genocide lends analytical clarity and empirical rigour to a range of issues, including truth, memory, and representation in post-genocidal spaces. Anthropology's growing interest in genocide has a number of roots, including a continued interest in both modernity and globalization as well as violence and terror; a shift from small village studies to research that examine the state-level dynamics in situations of upheaval, flux, and violence; and a greater commitment to reflexivity, historicity, and engaged anthropology. The formation of anthropological questions relating to genocide studies builds from several other intellectual developments such as critical assessments of ethnography, nationalism, violence, and refugees, but nonetheless continues to extend far beyond these issues in rather creative and thought-provoking ways.

Keywords: anthropology; culture; ethnography; genocide studies; mass violence; nationalism

Article.  6438 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

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