The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, And War in Rwanda

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9780801444487: The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, And War in Rwanda
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Challenging the prevailing wisdom, Straus provides substantial new evidence about local patterns of violence, using original research - including the most comprehensive surveys yet undertaken among convicted perpetrators - to assess competing theories about the causes and dynamics of the genocide. Current interpretations stress three main causes for the genocide: ethnic identity, ideology, and mass-media indoctrination (in particular the influence of hate radio). Straus's research does not deny the importance of ethnicity, but he finds that it operated more as a background condition. Instead, Straus emphasizes fear and intra-ethnic intimidation as the primary drivers of the violence. A defensive civil war and the assassination of a president created a feeling of acute insecurity. Rwanda's unusually effective state was also central, as was the country's geography and population density, which limited the number of exit options for both victims and perpetrators.
In conclusion, Straus steps back from the particulars of the Rwandan genocide to offer a new, dynamic model for understanding other instances of genocide in recent history - the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, the Balkans - and assessing the future likelihood of such events.

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"Scott Straus has written a path-breaking book that will command the attention of scholars of the Rwandan genocide and of collective violence. The combination of an engagement with and application of theories of collective violence, a deep knowledge of Rwanda, sophisticated methodology, and extraordinary field research has produced an account that brings us closer than ever to understanding what produced this tragic event. Not only does The Order of Genocide rank as one of the best books ever written on the Rwandan genocide, it is a major contribution to comparative politics and theories of violence."--Michael Barnett, Harold Stassen Chair at the Hubert H. Humphrey School and Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

"Scott Straus's examination of the Rwanda genocide takes us to a new level of understanding of mass killing as a social and political phenomenon. The author's attention to social-science theory, his extensive use of hundreds of interviews with perpetrators, and his careful analysis of the historical and geographical determinants of the Rwandan events make this book an unusually important contribution to the burgeoning field of genocide studies."--Norman M. Naimark, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe

"The onset of the Rwandan genocide, its dynamics, and the individual motivations of its perpetrators can be best explained, Scott Straus finds, by the combined effects of an ongoing civil war, high levels of state power (and the attendant social pressure), and the existence of a system of ethnic classification--rather than mass feelings of ethnic antipathy, nationalist beliefs, or radio propaganda. With its cogent theorization, multi-method approach, rich micro-level data, and careful attention to causal mechanisms, The Order of Genocide is a decisive step forward in the social scientific study of a phenomenon that has been notoriously resistant to systematic approaches."--Stathis N. Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science, Director, Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence, Yale University

"The Order of Genocide is a real addition to what we know about the Rwandan genocide. Scott Straus describes the local organization of genocide--for example, information on the size of groups of attackers and the roles played by 'elite' and 'thugs.' He also profiles the perpetrators themselves in examining what moved them to act. The quotes from the perpetrators enrich the statistical data enormously and make the book come alive."--Alison Des Forges

About the Author:

Scott Straus is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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9780801474927: The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda

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Publisher: Cornell University Press, 2008
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