Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lemkin's Word

"When Raphael Lemkin struggled to find an appropriate term to encompass the
phenomenon of existential killing, he did so in full knowledge of a range of
terms in other European languages, in particular English, French and German.
But, for a variety of reasons that can only mostly be guessed, he rejected them
all as inappropriate, deciding instead to coin his own term: hence the neologism
“genocide.” What he meant precisely by the word is still, over half a century
later, cause for heated disputation in both academic and legal circles, despite,
perhaps even because of, Lemkin’s voluminous explanatory writings—both
published and unpublished—in which he often seemed to change his mind and
occasionally even contradict himself."

[From the Editor: Lemkin Redux Journal of Genocide Research]

The Journal of Genocide Research special edition on Raphael Lemkin presents a volume on several aspects of Lemkin's work. Although I haven't read the entire volume, of particular interested was a critique of Lemkin's writings on African genocides (particularly the genocide of the Hereros by German colonialists) and an article about Lemkin and the Holocaust.


Owen said...

Shaina, I hope you don't mind if I give a link here to Save Darfur's letter to Hu Jintao with a request for your visitors to sign up and pass on (the sooner the better as China chairs the Security Council this month). It impresses me as a letter, polite but pretty tough in its substance. Whether it will have an effect we just have to hope.

Daniel said...


I have just signed that letter.


Shaina said...

Thank you both.
I added an article about the campaign, but it might be a bit of a moot point, because it looks like it ending/ended Friday.