The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies

ISBN 9781032085791
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
414 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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

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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