1st Edition

The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies

Edited By Susanne C. Knittel, Zachary J. Goldberg Copyright 2020
    414 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    414 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies traces the growth of an important interdisciplinary field, its foundations, key debates and core concerns, as well as highlighting current and emerging issues and approaches and pointing to new directions for enquiry. With a focus on the perpetrators of mass killings, political violence and genocide, the handbook is concerned with a range of issues relating to the figure of the perpetrator, from questions of definition, typology, and conceptual analysis, to the study of motivations and group dynamics to questions of guilt and responsibility, as well as representation and memory politics. Offering an overview of the field, its essential concepts and approaches, this foundational volume presents contemporary perspectives on longstanding debates and recent contributions to the field that significantly expand the theoretical, temporal, political, and geographical discussion of perpetrators and their representation through literature, film, and art. It points to emerging areas and future trends in the field, thus providing scholars with ideas or encouragement for future research activity. As such, It will appeal to scholars across a range of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, criminology, philosophy, memory studies, psychology, political science, literary studies, film studies, law, cultural studies and visual art.


    Susanne Knittel and Zachary Goldberg

    Part 1: Core Concepts and Key Debates

    1.1 Definitions and Terminology

    1. From Perpetrators to Perpetration: Definitions, Typologies, and Processes

    Ugur Ümit Üngör and Kjell Anderson

    1.2 Group Dynamics and Moral Psychology

    2. The Making and Un-Making of Perpetrators: Patterns of Involvement in Nazi Persecution

    Mary Fulbrook

    3. Ordinary Organizations: A Systems Theory Approach to Perpetrator Studies

    Stefan Kühl

    4. Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiments

    Stephen Gibson

    5. The Authoritarian Personality: Then and Now

    Christina Gerhardt

    6. What’s Moral Character Got to Do with It? Perpetrators and the Nature of Moral Evil

    Zachary Goldberg

    7. The Making of a Torturer

    Jessica Wolfendale

    8. Linking Perpetrator Characteristics to Jihadist Modus Operandi: An Explorative Study

    Teun van Dongen

    1.3 Perpetrators and the Law

    9. Nazi Perpetrators and the Law: Postwar Trials, Courtroom Testimony, and Debates About the Motives of Nazi War Criminals

    Hilary Earl

    10. When Perpetrators Become Defendants, and then Convicts

    Mark Drumbl

    11. Unsettling Accounts: Perpetrators’ Confessions in the Aftermath of State Violence and Armed Conflict

    Leigh A. Payne

    12. The Coercive Effects of International Justice: How Perpetrators Respond to Threats of Prosecution

    David Mendeloff

    Part 2: Intersections

    2.1 Perpetrators – New Theoretical Approaches

    13. Gendering the Perpetrator – Gendering Perpetrator Studies

    Clare Bielby

    14. Posthumanism and Perpetrators

    Jonathan Luke Austin

    15. Notes on the Subaltern: Or, How Postcolonial Critique Meets the Perpetrator

    rashné limki

    16. Perpetrators, Animals, and Animality

    Kári Driscoll

    17. Understanding Perpetrators’ Use of Music

    M. J. Grant

    18. Information Technologies and Constructions of Perpetrator Identities

    Adam Henschke

    19. Climate Change Perpetrators: Ecocriticism, Implicated Subjects, and Anthropocene Fiction

    Richard Crownshaw

    2.2 Aftermaths: Responsibility, Trauma, and Memory

    20. Moral Responsibility and Evil

    Paul Formosa

    21. Restorative Justice and the Challenge of Perpetrator Accountability

    Margaret Urban Walker

    22. The Contours and Controversies of Perpetrator Trauma

    Saira Mohamed

    23. The Intergenerational Effects of Mass Trauma in Sculpting New Perpetrators

    Arlene Benjamin and Melike M. Fourie

    24. One Perpetrator at a Time: The Contribution of Public Health Science to Genocide Prevention

    Reva N. Adler

    2.3 Perpetrators and Representation

    25. Perpetrators and Perpetration in Literature

    Stephanie Bird

    26. Whose Evil is This? Perpetrators in the Theater

    Robert Skloot

    27. Representing Infamous Others: Perpetrator Imagery in Visual Art

    Diana Popescu

    28. Cultural Codes: Holocaust Resonances in Representations of Genocide Perpetrators

    Rebecca Jinks

    29. Playing Perpetrators: Interrogating Evil in Videogames about Violent Conflicts

    Holger Pötzsch and Emil Lundedal Hammar

    2.4 Teaching about Perpetrators

    30. Playing Devil’s Advocate: Classroom Encounters with Holocaust Perpetrators

    Alasdair Richardson

    31. Teaching the Perpetrator’s Perspective in Holocaust Literature

    Erin McGlothlin

    32. Teaching For/About Empathy in Peace Education

    Michalinos Zembylas

    33. Beyond Thinking Like a Lawyer: Providing a Space for Perpetrator Studies within the Legal Classroom

    Brianne McGonigle Leyh

    34. The Ethics of Discomfort: Critical Perpetrator Studies and/as Education after Auschwitz

    Susanne C. Knittel


    Susanne C. Knittel is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on questions of memory, commemoration, and cultural amnesia across cultures and media. She is the author of The Historical Uncanny: Disability, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Holocaust Memory and editor in chief of The Journal of Perpetrator Research.

    Zachary J. Goldberg is Research Fellow in moral philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany. His most recent publications focus on the metaethics and normativity of the concept of evil, and theories of individual and collective moral responsibility. He is currently Principal Investigator of the project "Components of Evil: An Analysis of Secular Moral Evil and its Normative and Societal Implications" funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

    "This pioneering handbook does far more than most: it constitutes an entirely new object of inquiry: perpetrator studies. This Routledge handbook will long serve to define and set the agenda for this emerging field." - A. Dirk Moses, senior editor, Journal of Genocide Research

    "The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies is a major accomplishment. The editors have assembled a comprehensive and cutting-edge volume on perpetration in all of its facets, bringing together prominent scholars from an impressively wide range of perspectives. Sophisticated, nuanced, and sobering, this will remain the definitive reference work for a long time to come." - Ernesto Verdeja, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, France

    "’Never again’ has not worked. We are really bad at preventing the invention and actions of perpetrators of mass violence. Therefore, the present handbook is an absolutely essential resource for all teachers, researchers, and students committed to the urgent task of peace education and de-radicalization. The Handbook is academia at its best!¿" - Wulf Kansteiner, Aarhus University, Denmark

    "This is a unique and pioneering collection. The impressive set of analyses across multiple disciplines opens up and gives shape to a new field of study. For anyone interested in genocide, the Holocaust, or mass violence, whether from a philosophical, anthropological, historical, sociological, or cultural perspective, this Handbook will be indispensable." - Simona Forti, author of New Demons: Rethinking Power and Evil Today

    "An essential resource for scholars and students, this Handbook covers the most pressing issues concerning the perpetration of mass violence. Cutting across disciplines, fields, and histories, it surveys key concepts and debates about theory and methodology and offers valuable pedagogical perspectives. Knittel and Goldberg have done a great service to the new field of Perpetrator Studies in putting together this volume."- Michael Rothberg, author of The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators