chapter  14
19 Pages

Aetiology of genocide

ByAgnieszka Golec de Zavala and Joanna R. Adler

Genocide is one of a number of crimes against humanity. These are defined in international law as acts against people which degrade their human dignity. Such acts are tolerated or actively pursued by state authorities. Destexhe 1995 (quoted on the BBC website) says:

Genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity and implies an intention to completely exterminate the chosen group […]. Genocide is therefore both the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity. (news.bbc.co.uk/1/ hi/world/africa/3853157.stm)

In this chapter, we will first provide some historical and definitional context of genocide for the reader; we will then move on to discuss how psychology can be brought to bear in discussing such heinous state crimes. This chapter is a more in-depth consideration of matters we first considered in Adler and Golec de Zavala (2010).