Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Researching death to save life: climate change and genocide

Guardian (UK): Droughts in Africa, hurricanes in America, floods in Bangladesh - the dramatic images of climate change. However, according to Dr Juergen Zimmerer, if world temperatures continue to rise, there could worse in store: genocide.

As Zimmerer, director of the new Centre for the Study of Genocide and Mass Violence at Sheffield University, explains: globalisation has intensified the competition for resources: "Climate change will increase the scarcity of resources, be it habitable land or drinkable water, amid the already existing shortage of fossil energy such as oil. "Genocide and competition over resources are definitely related and my fear is that the 21st century, rather than the 20th, will turn out to be the century of genocides." The possibility of genocide being caused by globalisation, climate change and competition for scarce resources will be one of the focal areas of study at the centre, the first of its kind in the UK.

….Zimmerer hopes that knowledge of genocide will help prevent it, but "not in the way of fostering military intervention. Or, at least, it should not be reduced to this. If we understand that the construction of binary opposites lies at the heart of genocide, then we should realise that education is what matters: education against constructing societies as absolute others."

The Centre for the Study of Genocide and Mass Violence, which opened last month, will coordinate research on genocide, offering PhD and MA research in genocide, mass violence and other subjects aimed at people who deal with the causes and consequences of these phenomena in their daily jobs. Distance learning will allow the centre to reach people in regions affected by genocide; something that will ensure real events shape its academic study. The centre will also support international cooperation on genocide studies and looks set to become a hub in the field, housing the office of the International Network of Genocide Scholars, of which Zimmerer is president. The network was formed in Germany in early 2005, as a non-profit and non-partisan organisation that would foster scholarly exchange and academic research on genocide. Also in the centre is the editorial office of the Journal of Genocide Research.

…The importance of disinterested research centres becomes evident when one considers that there is no agreed definition on what genocide is. It is often said to be the elimination of an ethnic group. But other mass killings are not so clear-cut. While "the crimes of Pol Pot are labelled by many as genocide, others reject this, because the victims belonged to the same ethnic group", Zimmerer says, adding that the same applies to the class-led mass killings in Stalinist Russia.

…The main ingredients of genocide are still around in plentiful doses. The prevention of events such as the Holocaust or Rwandan genocides, Zimmerer says, lies in education. If this is so, it demonstrates the urgency of the work of centres like the one in Sheffield for a world that is already feeling the effects of climate change.

1 comment:

Rådgivende ingeniørfirma said...

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