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Genocide, the definitive “crime of crimes,” has produced hundreds of millions of victims who were murdered, raped, sexually assaulted, forcibly displaced, kidnapped, robbed, and mutilated. The most severe violations of human rights are committed during genocidal violence. The sheer number of victims and crimes should imply that genocide is central to the discipline of criminology. Yet, genocide is neglected, marginalized, and undertheorized by criminologists. For the most part, criminologists have been remarkably indifferent to the crime of genocide and failed to incorporate genocide into their research agenda. The unresponsiveness of criminologists to the crime of genocide is part of a broader pattern of collective denial.
Criminologists should have much to contribute to the study of genocide as deviant behavior and social group conflict is at the heart of the legal definition of genocide and a central focus of our discipline. Understanding how and under what conditions people commit deviant acts and why particular groups or behaviors become victimized are undeniably criminological questions. Yet, criminology has been slow moving, unresponsive, and nearly silent towards incorporating genocide within its disciplinary boundaries. This neglect is part of a larger pattern of the discipline’s near failure to incorporate any form of international war crimes into their research agenda. Mainstream criminology is preoccupied with interpersonal and intranational criminal acts of violence such as homicide, rape, and robbery leaving the role of the state in acts of crimes underexplored. Far too often, criminologists consider the state as a bulwark of crime rather than the perpetrator of crime. One notable exception is critical criminologists who condemn mainstream criminology for not considering the role of the state as a criminal actor.
A sociological approach to criminology can provide crucial insights, evidence, and theories about genocidal processes by explicitly addressing the collective dynamics of stateorganized criminal victimization. Yet, if the past is an indication of the future, then the lack of application and extension of traditional criminological theory to genocide either means that we cannot expect much from mainstream theories or that latent racism and collective denial have hampered attempts to make connections between intranational and interpersonal crimes with international-, group-, and state-sponsored crimes. We may well need to develop new historically grounded theories that better account for state-sponsored collective violence.
The failure of criminologists to speak about genocide is not only a missed opportunity, but it also brings the validity and ethics of the discipline into question. Using the present-day genocide in Darfur as a case study, this research paper will discuss the crime of genocide, criminologists silence on the topic, the ways in which criminology can contribute to the study of genocide, current issues and controversies, and future directions and suggestions for criminologists.
Determining whether an atrocity is labeled as genocide, crimes against humanity, or ethnic cleansing has serious legal, social, historic, and symbolic consequences. As illustrated in the ongoing debates on whether the violent conflict in Darfur is labeled genocide is contentious. On one hand is a diverse group that includes Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and scholar Mamdani (2009) who deny genocide is occurring in Darfur. On the other hand are academics including Eric Reeves (2007) and Hagan and RymondRichmond (2008a, b) and the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) who has issued warrants of arrest on the charge of genocide. Defining a conflict is more than merely semantic as each term implies different legal and symbolic consequences and can influence the international community’s response to the atrocities. For example, if a violent conflict is labeled a crime against humanity rather than genocide, the evidence needed for conviction is likely reduced, and this naming of the events will lack the symbolic force and probably mean less in the collective memory than would a legal determination of genocide (Savelsberg and King 2011). In fact, all genocides by definition are crimes against humanity, but not all crimes of humanity are elevated to the symbolic significance of genocide. Similarly, the term ethnic cleaning may rightfully describe the intentions of the perpetrators, yet this does not carry the same legal meaning and recourse as a determination of genocide.
The term genocide came into existence in 1944 in response to the Holocaust. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer, coined the word genocide by combining the Greek word for race or tribe, geno-, with the Latin word for killing, cide. In large part due to Lemkin’s efforts, on December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). The Genocide Convention established genocide as an international crime. The legal definition of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the Genocide Convention. Article II defines genocide as any of the following five acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group: (a) Killing members of the group
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
For a charge of genocide, only one of the five acts described in Article II Sections a, b, c, d, and e needs to be met. Article III of the Convention describes the following five acts as punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide
(d) Attempt to commit genocide
(e) Complicity in genocide
Incorporating genocide into international law represents a historic and momentous advancement in recognizing the act of genocide as criminal. Yet, tragically, establishing genocide as a crime has not eliminated its occurrence. Millions of individuals have been the victim of genocide since it was legally established. Victims include but are not limited to approximately 400,000 civilians in the Vietnam War, over 1 million Bengali in Bangladesh, 100,000 Hutu in Burundi, 1.7 million Cambodians, 200,000 Bosnian Muslims and Croats in the Former Yugoslavia, over 200,000 in Ethiopia, 100,000 Mayan Indians in Guatemala, 50,000–200,000 Kurdish in Iraq, 9,000–30,000 deaths in what is referred to as the Dirty War in Argentina, 8,000 in the Bosnian genocide, and 800,000 Tutsi in Rwanda, and over 400,000 Black Africans have been murdered in Darfur.
While the Genocide Convention provides a legal definition of genocide, legal and social scientific definition may differ. Many scholars have critiqued the legal definition for being too narrow and thereby omitting political groups and social classes from legal protection. Some have extended the meaning of genocide beyond the legal definition to embrace atrocities left outside the meaning of genocide. Examples of altering the definition include nonlethal acts that threaten the security of members of a group (Lemkin 1946), emphasizing the role of the state (Horowitz 1980), highlighting the one-sided mass killing by the state or other authority (Chalk and Jonassohn 1990), and specifying genocide as “politically motivated mass murder” (Chirot and Edwards 2003: 15).
Crimes Against Humanity
Crimes against humanity are defined differently in the Rome Statute and the statutes of the International Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR). The International Criminal Court (ICC) defines crimes against humanity as acts such as murder, enslavement, torture, rape, enforced prostitution, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, crime of apartheid, and “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health” when they are “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.”
Why do so few criminologists study genocide? And why has the work of the few that studied genocide, such as Ralph Lemkin and Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck, been largely forgotten? What can account for a discipline that specializes in crime, virtually ignoring the crime of genocide? Violence, murder, rape, property destruction, and victimization provide the foundation for the vast amount of research conducted by criminologists, yet when these crimes are perpetrated in their most extreme form, as is the case in genocides, criminologists fain interest.
A review of presentations at criminology annual conferences and journal publications exposes the failure of criminologists to speak about genocide. An examination of presentations at two annual crime-centered conferences and articles published between 1990 and 1998 in 13 top criminology journals reveals that out of 19,304 presentations, only 18, or .001 %, addressed genocide and out of 3,138 published article, only 1 was devoted to the crime of genocide (Yacoubian 2000: 12–13). Considering the fact that approximately one million people were murdered in the genocide in Rwanda and the genocide in Former Yugoslavia and two international tribunals were established during this time frame, the silence of criminologists is even more shocking and shameful.
Hagan and Rymond-Richmond (2008a) argue that sociologists and criminologists should incorporate genocide in their research agenda and end their silence on the “crime of crimes.” The failure of criminology to engage in the study of genocide is a critique also applicable to its parent discipline, sociology. For example, Fein (1979) reviewed introductory sociology texts from 1947 to 1977 and found that few acknowledged genocide. A survey of texts in anthropology produced a similar pattern of neglect on the topic of genocide (Shiloh 1975).
There are methodological challenges associated with studying genocide; however, they are not insurmountable and should not be used as an excuse for the discipline’s lack of research on the crime of crimes. In addition to several methodological challenges, reasons for the limited research on genocide by criminologists include a lack of empathy for the crime because genocide and its victims appear distant since the crime was not likely experienced firsthand, an unwillingness to examine the United State’s genocidal origins, perceived low-status topic, and latent racism.
Initial methodological difficulties include the catastrophic and heartbreaking possibility that entire groups and places may be eradicated because of massive killings. Documenting this bloodshed is imperative, but difficult without survivors. Additionally, entering into conflict areas might not be possible. The states’ participation in genocide, as perpetrator, silent bystander, or ineffective intervener, as well as their role in covering up the atrocities can make data collection arduous. As is the situation in the genocide in Darfur, states have denied entry to outsiders, which may include researchers, humanitarian workers, journalists, and even security monitors. In addition to the difficulties of entering into a conflict zone for research purposes is the reality of potential physical and mental harm occurring while conducting research during or in the aftermath of genocide. Further methodological challenges include insufficient education on the topic of genocide in criminology. In fact, Yacoubian (2000: 8) found that only 3 out of 21 criminal justice, criminology, or justice studies programs that offered doctoral degrees provided a course on international crime. Finally, potential genocide researchers may be deterred by the claim that each genocide is so unique and particular that it is impossible to make comparisons or general claims.
Methodological challenges makes studying genocides difficult, yet one solution includes “extending time demands beyond neat packaged and predictable schedules based on survey-research or other easily amenable source of data” (Fein 1990: 6). Research methods available to criminologists and social scientists more broadly have inherent limitations and/or difficulties. Yet, these limitations can potentially be overcome and may lead to methodological advancements. Furthermore, “imperfect” data should not be used as an excuse for not researching genocide or a tactic use to shame scholars into participating in and thereby perpetuating the silence on genocide. “Perfect” data is hard to obtain and potentially impossible as each method suffers from some bias or limitations. Rather than dismiss “imperfect” data, the more challenging and intellectually engaged activity is to make an assessment on the quality of the data and, if appropriate, analyze the data and be transparent about the limitations in publications. Good scholarly work addresses these issues anyway.
Hagan and Rymond-Richmond (2008a) speculate that genocide has been a marginalized topic of research for criminologists because of latent racism and a belief that the study of genocide is overly emotional and not worthy of academic research. Three individuals devoted a part of their career to writing books and articles about genocide and war crimes, yet few criminologists today acknowledge their efforts. Sheldon Glueck and his wife Eleanor are best known for their contributions to developmental criminology and their research on genocide is nearly forgotten, and Lemkin is barely known to criminologists at all. Laub and Sampson (1991: 1408) speculate that the Glueck’s may have suffered from institutionalized anti-Semitism and sexism in American academia. This may account for why they and their research on genocide were marginalized. Horowitz (1980: 3) shares the speculation that research on genocide is limited due to its perceived low academic status and states that sociologists feel “a studied embarrassment about these issues, a feeling that intellectual issues posed in such a manner are melodramatic and unfit for scientific discourse.”
Criminological Approach To Genocide
Historically orientated scholars have dominated the study of genocide. While their contributions have been indispensable, theory testing and development has been underdeveloped (Hagan and Rymond-Richmond 2009). Public health researchers have also made important contributions and the benefits their research has provided to genocide victims is commendable and lifesaving. Yet, they have a distinct approach, which typically only examines deaths in the refugee camps or IDP camps and does not specifically examine the issue of violence death. Nor is there typically an attempt by public health researchers to understand the causes of genocide and to asses blame. In addition, race scholars and political sociologists typically advance the literature and theories of ethnic and national violence. Yet criminologists may have as much to contribute on ethnic violence as sociologists who specialize in race and political issues.
Criminologists should have much to contribute to the study of genocide as deviant behavior, and social group conflict is at the heart of the legal definition of genocide and a central focus of our discipline. Criminologists are fundamentally concerned with understanding the relationship between victim and the perpetrator; characteristics of perpetrators; social, economic, and communal costs of victimization; effects of sanctions on deterring criminal behavior; and the context in which criminal actions are facilitated. Criminologists should explore if current theories such as strain, social-psychological, control, social learning, social disorganization, collective efficacy, conflict, techniques of neutralization, and feminist theories that are commonly used to explain intranational crimes can also account for the criminal behavior of genocide perpetrators. Alternatively, is there a need to develop entirely new theories? For example, techniques of neutralization may be a crucial process individuals experience as a way to rationale not only interpersonal crimes but also genocidal crimes (Sykes and Matza 1957 and Alvarez 1997). Social-psychological theories of obedience to authority and group conformity, developed from well-known studies such as the Stanford prison experiment, may be essential to understanding collective violence.
Additional questions tailored to the crime of genocide, yet firmly rooted in mainstream criminological concerns, include: Can rehabilitation, reintegration, and or restorative justice reduce violence as it has been shown to do for crimes that are more “traditional?” What effect does being a victim of genocide have on one’s likelihood of becoming a perpetrator? What are the financial, emotional, communal, and household effects of being a genocide survivor? Can “bystander effects” be extended to include not only individuals but also states and the international community at large? If there were desistors to the crime, what where their characteristics and the context in which the desistance occurred? What are the physical, biological, economic, social, economic, and regional characteristics of perpetrators? Is there an unequal distribution of genocidal violence in particular locations, and if so why? What role, if any, does concentrated disadvantage and social disorganization have in genocide? Do genocide victims and perpetrators know each other, as is typically the pattern when there is a single perpetrator? Does formal and informal social control deter criminals and reduce future criminal opportunities? Can collective efficacy in the form of mutual trust and cohesion, traditionally theorized to reduce neighborhood crimes, be extended to account for the crime of genocide? Do parallels exist between hate crimes and genocide with the underlying connection being racism and dehumanization?
Competing Understandings Of Genocide
Among the established explanations of genocidal victimization are the following six. First is a state insecurity approach that focuses on justifiable reactions to insurgent threats (e.g., Posen 1993). Second is a primordial explanation that emphasizes hatreds so long standing that they are considered exogenous (e.g., Kaplan 1993). Third is the population-resource perspective where competition for life-sustaining resources is considered (Diamond 2005). According to this perspective, opportunities and incentives are greatest, and resources most strained, in densely settled areas. Fourth is the instrumental perspective that emphasizes state-based ethnopolitical entrepreneurs who advance their interests by cultivating public fear and disrespect of subordinate groups (see Hardin 1995; Valentino 2004). Fifth is the constructionist approach that emphasizes racial symbols and identity manipulation by elites (e.g., Kaufman 2001). Finally, the sixth approach is a cognitive framing approach that identifies the shifts that appear during emerging conflicts as ranging from “normal” to “crisis” scripts or frames (Oberschall 2000).
Hagan and Rymond-Richmond (2008a, b) synthesize these six approaches into what they call a critical collective framing approach to explain the atrocities in Darfur. In addition, the theory builds on Coleman’s (1986) social action theory and draws on criminological theories including Sampson’s (2006) and Matsueda’s (2007) concepts of collective and social efficacy and Sutherland’s (1947) differential social organization theory. The theory helps to explain the link between microlevel social actions transforming into macro-level systems leading to organized genocidal victimization.
Rape And Genocide
Most people associate genocide as massive killing for the purpose of wiping out an ethnic group in whole or in part. Rape and sexual violence is not as frequently associated with genocide, despite its similar ability to be used as a tool of ethnic cleansing and genocide. As recognized in the groundbreaking Akayesu judgment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, rape may “constitute genocide in the same way as any other act as long as they were committed with the specific intent.”
Horrifically, rape and sexual violence are widespread in genocidal conflicts around the world. Rape is intended to terrorize women, dehumanize victims, destroy families and communities, and or to control the biological and cultural reproduction of women through impregnating victims. The genocide in Darfur exemplifies rape committed as a means to control the biological and cultural reproduction of women. Due to the patriarchal structure of Darfurian society, lineage is determined by patrilineal descent, thereby determining children of Black-African rape victims as Arabic. Intergroup rape is a means of controlling biological and cultural reproduction through “changing the race” and is a powerful weapon of destruction. In the Darfur genocide, there are numerous reports of perpetrators using racial epithets during the rapes and stating their intentions of impregnate female victims. For example, a Black-African genocide survivor reported that her Arabic attacker raped her and said, “You will have Arab babies” (Hagan and Rymond-Richmond 2008a). Another survivor reported that her Arabic attacker screamed, “We will kill all men and rape the women. We want to change the color. Every woman will deliver red. Arabs are the husbands of those women” (Hagan and RymondRichmond 2008a).
Estimating the number of rape victims during genocide is exceptionally challenging due to stigma, deaths resulting from health injuries suffered by rape victims, and because their assailants kill some victims after the rape. In the Rwandan genocide, estimated rapes total 500,000.
Many of the rape victims were killed shortly after being raped. In Congo, rape estimates vary from 15,000 to 40,000. A study of Darfurian survivors residing in refugee camps in Chad analyzed by sociologists and criminologists Hagan et al. (2009) found that 4 % reported personal sexual victimization. Examining sexual victimization by gender demonstrates that women were sexually victimized at a greater rate than men were. Seven percent of the women in the full sample reported personal sexual victimization.
The stigma and legal ramifications Darfurian rape victims suffer is severe. Raped women are frequently disowned by their family and ostracized by their community. Adding to raped women’s pain is a commonly held belief by the Sudanese that unwanted sex cannot make a woman pregnant. Therefore, if a woman becomes pregnant, it is believed that she was not raped. Making matters worse, under Public Order 1991/Criminal Order 1991, sex outside of marriage, premarital sex, and prostitution are prohibited. Rape in Sudan is considered sex outside of marriage or premarital sex done without the consent of the victim. Therefore, survivors of rape can be convicted for sex outside of marriage (called zina) unless they can prove that they did not consent to intercourse. Unmarried women convicted of zina can receive 100 lashes and married women can be stoned to death.
As a result of detrimental social and legal consequences, reports of personal sexual victimization are drastically underreported and women are more likely to report sexual victimization of others than they are to report sexual victimization of self. For example, when Darfurian genocide survivors were asked in the same survey discussed above to report on sexual victimization of other villagers rather than personal sexual victimization, the percent increased dramatically from 4 % to nearly 30 % (Hagan et al. 2009).
Racism And Genocide
Racially specific intent is central to the legal definition of genocide. However, the Genocide Convention has been criticized for being vague on how to prove intent. The ICTY and the ICTR have provided some clarity for determining perpetrator’s intent. The use of racial epithets during an attack has been established in international law as an indicator of motivation and intent. The Akayesu decision in Rwanda (UN 1998), the Jelisi decision in Bosnia (UN 1999), and the Trial Chamber in Kayishema and Ruzindana emphasize the importance of spoken language as evidence of genocide.
To understand the motivations and intention of the perpetrators in the genocidal violence in Darfur, Hagan and Rymond-Richmond (2008a, b) relied on the testimony of the surviving victims and witness. The data reveals that the predominately Arabic attackers were yelling racial epithets as they killed, raped, abducted, and destroyed the homes of Black-African villagers. As exemplified below, these epithets involved tropes of slavery and dehumanization:
“You donkey, you slave; we must get rid of you.”
“You blacks are not human. We can do any-
thing we want to you. You cannot live here.”
“You blacks are like monkeys. You are not
“Black prostitute, whore; you are dirty—
The documentation of racial epithets used during the attacks provides evidence that the violence was racially motivated and the intent was racially specific. Hagan et al. (2005) further demonstrate that perpetrators use of racial epithets significantly affected the degree of total victimization during the attack.
Current Issues, Controversies, And Debates
As discussed above, defining genocide is a controversial topic. Criticisms include the assertion that the legal definition of genocide is too narrow, thereby excluding groups from protection. Steps forward may include altering the definition of genocide by revisiting sections of the Convention that are frequently critiqued for being ambiguous, namely the issue of intent and what qualifies as “partial” group destruction. Criminologists should seriously consider expanding upon the legal definition of genocide by utilizing insights from their discipline to develop a criminological definition of genocide.
Genocide In Darfur
Among the global atrocities occurring at the time of this writing is a genocide occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. The genocidal conflict began in February 2003 and is still disastrously ongoing. More than 400,000 Black-African Darfurians have been killed, and 2–3 million have been forcibly displaced (Hagan and Rymond-Richmond 2005). The perpetrators are the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed, who are almost exclusively Arab. The victims are Black Africans. Unlike Southern Sudan, where religious differences are frequently attributed as the cause of conflict, in Darfur, the Arabs and Black Africans practice the Muslim religion. The root cause of the genocidal conflict in Darfur is racial and ethnic hatred (Hagan and Rymond-Richmond 2005, 2008a, b).
A number of significant changes have occurred since the genocide began in 2003. First, the violence that started in Darfur has spread to South Kordofan region. Second, the county of Sudan split into two separate nations. In July 2011, South Sudan officially declared its independence from Sudan. Third, the International Criminal Court (ICC), which became operational on July 1, 2002, has issued warrants of arrest for President Omar al-Bashir, Hussein, Harun, Kushayb, Garda, Nourain, and Jamus for their participation in the genocide in Darfur. The establishment of ad hoc and permanent international criminal tribunals makes it possible to resolve international crimes such as genocide. The International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have jurisdiction for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The most historically significant warrant of arrest by the ICC is for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This is the first time a sitting head of a state was issued a warrant by the court. Charges filed by Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo against President Bashir include war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, rape, and mass murder as genocide. Of these charges, rape as genocide is the most groundbreaking. Prosecuting the crime of rape as genocide is unprecedented for the ICC and relies on two lesser-known ways of destroying a people: “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” or “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Prosecuting President Bashir with genocide including using rape as a form of genocide will provide a legal precedence for the International Criminal Court to pursue rape as a form of genocide in the future.
Additional legal means to reduce crime and inequality include enforcing Sudanese laws against rape and eliminating Public Order 1991/Criminal Order 1991. Flogging, amputating, and formalizing the death penalty for a wide range of offenses including adultery, embezzlement, and “corruption” were restored under this order. The order includes numerous criminal acts, which are vaguely defined permitting those in power to select who is criminal and what to call a crime. Women in particular have been targeted, victimized, and controlled under Public Order 1991.
Conclusion And Future Research
The boundaries of criminology must expand beyond focusing on individual criminal actions to include crimes committed by the state. Within the discipline, we can look at the subdiscipline of critical criminology for guidance. The inclusion of genocide into criminological research should be accompanied by revisiting the pioneering work of Glueck, Lemkin, and criminologists who worked on this marginalized topic as well as interdisciplinary appreciation for research on mass atrocities and war crimes conducted by anthropologists, historians, political scientists, social theorist, psychologists, and philosophers.
A second recommendation for future research is to theorize about the ways in which perpetrators of genocide and war crimes more broadly resemble and depart from “ordinary” delinquents more commonly studied by criminologists. Are they a vastly different type of criminal? Can their behaviors be explained through mainstream criminological theories or is there a need to develop new theories to account for war criminals? To what extent can mainstream criminology theories that frequently view criminals as engaging in delinquent behavior account for genocidal violence in which the perpetrator is potentially committing a crime of obedience? In what ways can we account for the role of the state in genocidal violence?
Third, criminologists can make value contributions to understanding the consequences of genocidal victimization. Indeed, one of the most resilient findings in victimology is that victimization does not end after an attack. Crime victims typically continue to suffer socially, economically, and psychologically after an attack. Similarly, victimization does not end after a genocidal attack (Rymond-Richmond and Hagan 2012). Fourth, researchers must study the behaviors, motivations, and emotions of perpetrators. Most of what we know about the motivations of perpetrators comes from the perspective of the victim. While telling and important, augmenting this data with the perspective of the perpetrator could provide vital insights into the causes, process, and preconditions and quite possibly illuminate potential solutions to eliminating genocide.
Fifth, while the Genocide Convention contains two provisions that obligate signatories to the Convention to intervene to halt genocidal violence, it has invoked fairly weak international efforts to intervene. The concept of laws on the books and laws in action has been studied by criminologists and other social scientists to illuminate and theorize about this disjuncture. Criminologists may be able to contribute to our understanding of why this disjuncture exists between states obligation to intervene in the genocide and their minimal efforts to do so. Moreover, and potentially more importantly, criminologists may be able to identify mechanisms that move from recognizing genocidal occurrences to international intervention.
In addition, the importance of genocide research, the unique contributions criminologists can make, and the increased financial necessity when conducting research abroad should be recognized by funding agencies such as the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). A review of NIJ-funded research projects during the years 1995, 1996, and 1997 demonstrates that $140 million dollars was awarded to 529 different research projects and only one, or .002 %, was tenuously associated with international crime (Yacoubian 2000: 14). Since this review does not address how many of the proposed research projects focused on genocide, it is difficult to know whether the virtual nonexistent NIJ funding is due to a lack of proposals on the topic or whether NIJ also engages in silencing genocide.
The terms “activists” and “scholar” have often been pitted against each other as if one cannot be both. Hagan and Rymond-Richmond (2009) insist that criminologists can conduct methodologically strong, peer-reviewed research that embraces activisms. Outside of criminology, there is a little more acceptance of merging the two together. In sociology, this is referred to as public sociology, and in anthropology, it is called action anthropology. In criminology, the term used to describe Hagan and Rymond-Richmond’s research is activists’ criminology. As good, reflexive researchers acknowledge, each researcher has their own bias, experience, race, class, gender, and even theoretical inclinations that affect the topics we choose and the lens in which we view our data. Acknowledging positionality does not negate responsible, good research.
Criminologists have a scholarly and moral obligation to build a “new criminology of genocide” (Matsueda 2009). Understanding the context of genocide, the motivations of the criminals, and the cumulative effects of victimization are important steps criminologists can make towards preventing their future occurrence. Furthermore, through the collection and analysis of data, criminologists can play a role in criminal prosecution of the perpetrators by providing information on the participation of the state, the degree of the destruction, and the racial nature of the genocide.
The building of a new criminology of genocide may well require criminologists to move beyond the familiar and comfortable mainstream. This is not completely uncharted. Feminist, Marxism, peacemaking, and postmodernism theory have modeled how this may be accomplished. Sutherland’s work nearly 50 years ago on white-collar crime is another example of expanding the boundaries of criminology. It is time Raphael Lemkin’s concept of genocide is incorporated into the research agenda of criminologists. If for no other reason, neglecting to study the crime of genocide is to miss an opportunity to make significant contributions to the discipline.
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