WEDNESDAY, September 30
JOE EGGERS, Graduate Student "What’s in a Name? Exploring How We Define Genocide from Lemkin to International Law"
710 Social Sciences
In 1945, Raphael Lemkin published Axis Rule In Occupied Europe: Laws Of Occupation, Analysis Of Government, Proposals For Redress which contained the first published definition of the crime of genocide. Three years later, the newly formed United Nations passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which largely stripped much of Lemkin’s original ideas of genocide. In the 70 years since the release of Axis Rule, scholars, legal experts and advocates have all attempted to remedy the differences between Lemkin’s broad definition of genocide against the narrower legal one.
The aim of this paper is to answer the question: how has our concept of genocide evolved since Lemkin? First, the author analyzes different approaches to defining genocide, starting with Lemkin’s original theory, moving to international law and ending on contemporary scholarly definition. Next he compares the legal definition against Lemkin’s by analyzing the United States policy of forced assimilation of its own indigenous population beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Specifically, he will examine the Native American boarding school system that existed well into the second half of the twentieth century. This research raises yet another important question: how do our perceptions of these crimes change when viewed through different ways of defining genocide? Finally, the author examines the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission which defined Canada’s boarding schools as genocide in a June 2015 statement and attempt to find approaches for the United States to begin understanding its own troubling relationship with Native American communities.Joe Eggers is an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Studies student study human rights and sociology. His research examines how we define genocide by looking at the forced assimilation of Native Americans beginning in the late 19th century.