Why is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide?

TitleWhy is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsLevene, Mark
JournalJournal of World History
Date Published09/2000

This article seeks to relate the specific phenomenon of genocide to broader processes that have helped create and shape modern international society. In particular, it argues that the emergence of a Western-led international system of nation states has led many new or latecomer states to attempt shortcuts to development or empowerment in order to make good a perceived discrepancy between themselves and the dominant players. Genocide has been a regular by-product of these agendas, not least because their accelerated or alternative programs of state building assume the rapid creation of "nationally" homogeneous and unified populations out of usually diverse ethnographic and social compositions. Though genocide is an extreme outcome demanding attention to the particular cultural, political, and socio-economic conditions in each perpetrator state, its repeat performance also suggests less a series of isolated aberrations and more a dysfunction of the system itself.

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