1st Edition

Perpetrators and Perpetration of Mass Violence
Action, Motivations and Dynamics

ISBN 9780815386179
Published April 17, 2018 by Routledge
214 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

USD $155.00

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Book Description

As the most comprehensive edited volume to be published on perpetrators and perpetration of mass violence, the volume sets a new agenda for perpetrator research by bringing together contributions from such diverse disciplines as political science, sociology, social psychology, history, anthropology and gender studies, allowing for a truly interdisciplinary discussion of the phenomenon of perpetration. The cross-case nature of the volume allows the reader to see patterns across case studies, bringing findings from inter alia the Holocaust, the genocides in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and the civil wars in Cambodia and Côte d’Ivoire into conversation with each other.

The chapters of this volume are united by a common research interest in understanding what constitutes perpetrators as actors, what motivates them, and how dynamics behind perpetration unfold. Their attention to the interactions between disciplines and cases allows for the insights to be transported into more abstract ideas on perpetration in general. Amongst other aspects, they indicate that instead of being an extraordinary act, perpetration is often ordinary, that it is crucial to studying perpetrators and perpetration not from looking at the perpetrators as actors but by focusing on their deeds, and that there is a utility of ideologies in explaining perpetration, when we differentiate them more carefully and view them in a more nuanced light.

This volume will be vital reading for students and scholars of genocide studies, human rights, conflict studies and international relations.

Table of Contents

Perpetrators and Perpetration of Mass Violence– an Introduction
Timothy Williams & Susanne Buckley-Zistel

Section I: Theorising Perpetrators

1 Thinking beyond Perpetrators, Bystanders, Heroes: a Typology of Action in Genocide
Timothy Williams

2 Violence as Action
Christian Gudehus

3 Theorizing Ideological Diversity in Mass Violence
Jonathan Leader Maynard

Section II: Motivations and Dynamics

4 Perpetrators? Political Civil Servants in the Third Reich
Darren O' Byrne

5 The Normality of Going to War: Aspects of Symbolic Violence in Participation and Perpetration in Civil War
Daniel Bultmann

6 ‘We No Longer Pay Heed to Humanitarian Considerations’: Narratives of Perpetration in the Wehrmacht, 1941-44
David Harrisville

7 Gender and Genocide: Assessing Differential Opportunity Structures of Perpetration in Rwanda
Evelyn A. Gertz, Hollie Nyseth Brehm & Sara E. Brown

8 Perpetrators of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
Inger Skjelsbæk

9 Cross-Border Perpetrator Recruitment in the Ivorian Civil War: The Motivations and Experiences of Young Burkinable Men in the Forces Nouvelles Rebel Movement
Jesper Bjarnesen

10 Judenjagd: Reassessing the Role of Ordinary Poles as Perpetrators in the Holocaust
Tomasz Frydel

11 Is a Comparative Theory of Perpetrators Possible?
Scott Straus

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Timothy Williams is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Conflict Studies at Marburg University, Germany.

Susanne Buckley-Zistel is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the Center for Conflict Studies, Marburg University, Germany.


"In the end, though, Straus commends the book as a “wonderful, rich contribution to a research on perpetrators and the perpetration of violence” (p. 209). This reviewer agrees with his judgment." Björn Krondorfer, Northern Arizona University