Modern Genocidal Dehumanization: A New Model

Publisher:
Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Patterns of Prejudice, 2013, 47 (2), pp. 139 - 161
Issue Date:
2013-01
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While there has been a great deal of scholarly discussion of dehumanization in specific cases of genocide, few have asked why it manifests, whether it is present in all cases or what function/s it performs. These questionsand therein a broader problematic concerning the validity and usefulness of the conceptremain open. Savage's article addresses this gap in the literature by proposing a novel model of genocidal dehumanization that is conceived as a discursive strategy. In doing so, it takes a comparative approach, surveying previous work on genocidal dehumanization emerging from different disciplines and examining definitional problems. In demonstrating why the conditions of modernityspecifically, the rise of the state and changing perceptions of legitimate violencerequire dehumanization as an accompaniment to genocide, the paradigm of initially `good or `ordinary perpetrators is rejected. Genocidal dehumanization is shown to perform two distinct functions: motivation, and legitimization. Manifestations of genocidal (and non-genocidal) dehumanization can therefore be placed on a continuum of extremity. Ultimately, Savage proposes a new structural and functional model of genocidal dehumanization.
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