Comparative Genocide (HGS 557)

3 credits

The Polish-Jewish scholar Raphael Lemkin coined the term "genocide" in 1944. This class will explore the meaning of this term and specific instances of genocides throughout history in an effort to understand how and why genocides occur. Our focal point is the Holocaust, the mass murder of European Jewry by Nazi Germans and the most well-known example of genocide. We will also study genocide in other contexts, paying close attention to definitions of the term "genocide." Our aim is not a direct comparison of these unique historical events but rather an understanding of how individual and collective actions shape social, cultural, economic, and political circumstances and how these actions determine our individual and collective experiences. In addition to genocide, we will also focus on war crimes. Required course for Holocaust and Genocide Certificate and M.A.

Semester Information: 
Spring B: February 27- April 23

Current faculty


Required Reading:
- Barbara Boender and Wichert ten Have, eds., The Holocaust and Other Genocides: An Introduction (NIOD Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2012). Can be downloaded for free at or a hard copy can be purchased online. 
- Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan, eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2003), ISBN-13: 978- 0521527507. Can be purchased new from Amazon for $24.87, used from $16.40, or Kindle version for $22.39.
- Wendy Lower, Nazi Empire Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine (University of North Carolina Press, 2005) ISBN 978-0807858639 Used or new copy, Amazon has paperback for $28.81 or Kindle version for $16.41.  
- Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Harvard University press, 2001) ISBN-13: 978-0674009943. Available new from Amazon for $22.51 new or used from $.99.