Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory

Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory

Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory

Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory

Synopsis

Why are some genocides prominently remembered while others are ignored, hidden, or denied? Consider the Turkish campaign denying the Armenian genocide, followed by the Armenian movement to recognize the violence. Similar movements are building to acknowledge other genocides that have long remained out of sight in the media, such as those against the Circassians, Greeks, Assyrians, the indigenous peoples in the Americas and Australia, and the violence that was the precursor to and the aftermath of the Holocaust.

The contributors to this collection look at these cases and others from a variety of perspectives. These essays cover the extent to which our biases, our ways of knowing, our patterns of definition, our assumptions about truth, and our processes of remembering and forgetting as well as the characteristics of generational transmission, the structures of power and state ideology, and diaspora have played a role in hiding some events and not others. Noteworthy among the collection's coverage is whether the trade in African slaves was a form of genocide and a discussion not only of Hutus brutalizing Tutsi victims in Rwanda, but of the execution of moderate Hutus as well.

Hidden Genocides is a significant contribution in terms of both descriptive narratives and interpretations to the emerging subfield of critical genocide studies.

Contributors: Daniel Feierstein, Donna-Lee Frieze, Krista Hegburg, Alexander Laban Hinton, Adam Jones, A. Dirk Moses, Chris M. Nunpa, Walter Richmond, Hannibal Travis, and Elisa von Joeden-Forgey

Excerpt

Is slavery genocide?

On one level, a critical genocide studies asks us to consider whether slavery in the United States is a case of hidden genocide. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. As we consider such questions, we must challenge our taken-forgranted assumptions and ask why given cases have been ignored, denied, or deliberately hidden. The Turkish campaign of denial of the Armenian genocide provides a vivid example of this issue, involving a long period of forgetting and then, as the Armenian diaspora mobilized, attempting to discredit, divert attention from, and deny the idea that a genocide had taken place.

The United States has its own contingent of genocide deniers. A state senator from Colorado was recently quoted as saying that calling the U.S. treatment of American Indians “genocide” would diminish those in other countries “who actually died at the hand of governments.” Another, also of Colorado, said legislation recognizing genocide in the United States was disingenuous because “we have not destroyed totally the Native American people.” On the same day, this second senator signed legislation recognizing a day of remembrance for the Armenian and Rwandan genocides. One wonders, does she think there are no longer any Armenians or Rwandans alive? Most likely, this lawmaker’s inconsistencies were underscored by her own narrow interest in getting reelected, recognizing and denying genocides while calculating the votes garnered and lost by taking each position.

Currently, we see movements afoot to recognize hidden genocides, such as the genocides against the Circassians, Assyrians, native peoples in the Americas and Australia, and formerly colonized peoples from across the world. We are fortunate to have chapters in this volume that consider all of these cases. These movements involve struggles with political regimes whose interests lie . . .

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