Students will complete a research essay, drawing upon both primary and secondary sources, to identify a debate or historical question, and place their own argument or analysis within it. Questions may be chosen the provided list, or can be devised independently, or a hybrid (adjusting a provided topic, or using it as the basis for one’s own, revised, question).
In cases those where students are taking the subject from another background, they may consult the coordinator about adopting an appropriate methodology for their area of interest, though the strong expectation is that the essay will adhere to the conventions of the history discipline unless previously, expressly, agreed.
Topics for the final essay
1. Undertake a comparison between a mass human rights violation not generally regarded as a genocide (for instance, apartheid in South Africa, or the Great Leap Forward in the PRC), and the magnitude and quality of suffering compared to a recognized genocide. Does genocide denote a special quality of inhumanity that it is peerless, or are there non-genocidal situations which are comparable in their depth of brutality and criminality.
2. Recognition of universal human rights, that is, individual rights according to every person, everywhere, are a more effective response to genocide than collective, group rights accorded to particular peoples. Protecting the rights of individual humans necessarily protects collective groups. To what extent to do you agree? Discuss with reference to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, and the Rome Statute.
3. Famine should be presumed to be genocidal unless otherwise demonstrated. Why or why not? Discuss with reference to the works of Amartya Sen, and two specific famines (for instance, those in colonial India, Ukraine, and Ethiopia under Mengistu).
4. Only states with a monopoly on the means of violence have the capacity to enact genocide, therefore, weaker states, and armed populations, are a meaningful protection against genocide or similar massive human rights violations. Consider with the reference to at least two examples, for example, from the former Yugoslavia, the Anfal Campaign in Iraq, and Rwanda.
5. Does an active civil war makes genocide more or less likely compared to repressive government?
6. The laws of armed conflict, as enunciated at Nuremberg, and subsequently in the Geneva Conventions (1949, 1977), are substantially better at preventing genocide compared to the 1948 Genocide Convention. Why or why not? Consider the jurisdiction of the laws of war, and the merits of outlawing very specific conduct, as opposed to outlawing broader concepts.
7. Transitional justice after a genocide does not, and cannot, exist. Discuss with reference to two efforts at transitional justice, international judicial process, or post-conflict justice after situations of genocide.
8. Predicting genocide is an illusory prospect; but even were it predictable, prevention is beyond the capacity of the international community. Discuss.
9. Settler colonial or conquest genocides are very distinctive, and occupy a position quite unlike that of other genocides, such as that in Rwanda. Discuss the distinguishing features of settler colonial or conquest genocides, in terms of ideology, method, and intensity.
10. Timothy Snyder, in his magisterial work, Bloodlands (2011), asserted the following (388): “Hitler and Stalin … shared a certain politics of tyranny: they brought about catastrophes, blamed the enemy of their choice… Each of them had a transformative Utopia, a group to be blamed when its realisation proved impossible, and then a policy of mass murder… In both collectivization and the Final Solution, mass sacrifice was need to protect a leader from the unthinkability of error.” Compare one or two aspects of Hitler and Stalin’s ideology, and make a short statement on the merits of Snyder’s assessment. Note: A difficult topic.
11. The intensity of a genocide, that is, how murderous a regime was in a particular time period, is the most revealing measure horror. Discuss with reference to two genocides.
Choose one of the following Essays to write.
Remember to use foot-notes rather than in-text references.
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