chapter  1
15 Pages

Introduction: Genocide Matters: ongoing issues and emerging perspectives

ByJoyce Apsel, Ernesto Verdeja

War and atrocity have been subjects of public and scholarly interest from ancient times to the present. However, the use of genocide as a conceptual lens to focus on the targeting of civilian populations for destruction is a modern phenomenon. The term genocide, from the Greek genos (race, tribe), and the Latin caedere (to kill), was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe , which described the laws and policies of occupation that resulted in the domination and annihilation of peoples. Some four decades later, Leo Kuper wrote in one of the fi rst works to use the term in its title: “the term is new but the crime is ancient.” 1

The crime is indeed ancient, even as our understanding of the complexity and dynamics of human destructiveness continues to evolve and as further mass violence takes place before our eyes. This volume aims to deepen how we approach and analyze such destruction. The chapters include re-evaluations of earlier studies, debates and trends, analyses of under-researched subjects such as education, sexual violence, and genocide by attrition, and explorations of the challenges and future directions for studying and thinking about genocide.