FYS 101 L121 Genocide and Human Rights

The course will trace the history and contemporary impact of genocidal campaigns to eliminate ethnic groups in part or in whole. Initially, the course examines the Holocaust and the invention of the term “genocide” by Raphael Lemkin and its adoption by the United Nations. We will examine historical cases of racial violence and debate when the term genocide should be applied. We will also explore perpetrator motivations, victim experiences, and the role of the international community.

Finally, the course examines how a new sense of human rights emerged from genocidal events. Students will assess how effective these new notions are at preventing the spread of mass violence. Case studies will include colonial violence in the Congo, the genocide of the Armenians, Stalin’s campaign against the Kulaks, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the civil war in Darfur (Sudan). Besides history, this topic explores how victims express their experiences in literature; how psychology helps explain perpetrator motivations; and how genocide shapes contemporary foreign affairs.

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