Steven L. JacobsLemkin on Genocide

Lexington Books, 2012

by Kelly McFall on April 12, 2014

Steven L. Jacobs

View on Amazon

It’s hard to overestimate the role of Raphael Lemkin in calling the world’s attention to the crime of genocide.  But for decades his name languished, as scholars and the broader public devoted their time and attention to other people and other things.

In the past few years, this has changed. We now have a greater understanding of Lemkin’s role in pushing the UN to write and pass the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.  Moreover, researchers have a newfound appreciation for the depth and insights of his research.  Genocide scholars talk about their field experiencing a ‘return to Lemkin.’

It seems an appropriate time, then to reexamine Lemkin’s ideas and career.  We’ll do so in a special two-part series of interviews with scholars who have edited and published Lemkin’s writings.  Later this month, I’ll post an interview with Donna Lee Frieze, who has meticulously edited Lemkin’s unpublished autobiography, Totally Unofficial.

First, however, I’ll talk with Steven L. Jacobs.  Steve recently published a carefully edited and annotated edition of Lemkin’s writings about the history and nature of genocide, simply titled Lemkin on Genocide (Lexington Books, 2012).  This work was written during the 1940s, but never published.  Through it, we gain a new appreciation for the depth of Lemkin’s theoretical understanding and the breadth of his research.  In addition, reading Jacob’s book provides us a richer sense of how Lemkin fit into the ideological currents of his time.  In editing this work, Steve has done a great service to all those interested in genocide.

{ 0 comments }

Virginia Garrard-BurnettTerror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982-1983

March 17, 2014

I have a colleague at Newman who takes students to Guatemala every summer.  Since I arrived she’s encouraged me to join her.  I would stay with the order of sisters who sponsor our university. I’d learn at least a few words of rudimentary Spanish.  And, she says, if I’m really interested in genocide, I must [...]

Read the full article →

Nitzan LebovicThe Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics

February 14, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Intellectual History] Thomas Mann referred to Ludwig Klages (1872-1956) as a “criminal philosopher,” a “Pan-Germanist,” “an irrationalist,” a “Tarzan philosopher,” “a cultural pessimist… the voice of the world’s downfall.” Yet, Walter Benjamin urged his friend Gershom Scholem to read Klage’s latest book in 1930, at a time when Klages was increasingly bending [...]

Read the full article →

Olga GershensonThe Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe

February 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Jewish Studies] Fifty years of Holocaust screenplays and films –largely unknown, killed by censors, and buried in dusty archives – come to life in Olga Gershenson’s The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe (Rutgers UP, 2013). As she ventures across three continents to uncover the stories behind these films, we follow her adventures, eager [...]

Read the full article →

Adam Jones The Scourge of Genocide: Essays and Reflections

February 2, 2014

Being an academic is usually a forward-looking career.  You are generally focused on the next book or the next project (or perhaps the next class period).  Certainly, there may be times when you rethink an old judgment or return to a subject you’ve ignored for years.  But this re-engagement is usually limited.  Even a  festschrift [...]

Read the full article →

Robert J. RichardsWas Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory

January 21, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] In his new collection of wonderfully engaging and provocative set of essays on Darwin and Darwinians, Robert J. Richards explores the history of biology and so much more. The eight essays collected in Was Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory (University of Chicago Press, 2013), include reflections [...]

Read the full article →

Philip Dwyer and Lyndall RyanTheaters of Violence: Massacre, Mass Killing, and Atrocity through History

January 12, 2014

We spend a lot of time arguing about the meaning and implications of words in the field of genocide studies. Buckets of ink have been spilled defining and debating words like genocide, intent, ‘in part,’ and crimes against humanity. Philip Dwyer and Lyndall Ryan are certainly invested in the process of careful definitions and descriptions. [...]

Read the full article →

Waitman BeornMarching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus

January 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] The question of Wehrmacht complicity in the Holocaust is an old one. What might be called the “received view” until recently was that while a small number of German army units took part in anti-Jewish atrocities, the great bulk of the army neither knew about nor participated in the Nazi genocidal [...]

Read the full article →

Jennie BurnetGenocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory and Silence in Rwanda

December 27, 2013

In our fast-paced world, it is easy to move from one crisis to another.  Conflicts loom in rapid succession, problems demand solutions (or at least analysis) and impending disasters require a response. It is all we can do to pay attention to the present moment.  Lingering on the consequences of the past seems to take [...]

Read the full article →

John Roth and Peter HayesThe Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

November 20, 2013

We’ve talked before on the show about how hard it is to enter into the field of Holocaust Studies.  Just six weeks ago, for instance, I talked with Dan Stone about his thoughtful work analyzing and critiquing the current state of our knowledge of the subject. This week is a natural follow-on to that interview. [...]

Read the full article →