Century of Violence

About the course


WW1 Propaganda Poster

The course explores the evolution, varieties and logic of mass violence in the 20th century. It examines social, political, ethnonational, revolutionary and religious violence, and efforts to curtail them. The course begins with the emergence of genocide as a modern, international issue; proceeds with colonial genocides in late 19th century Africa, and moves to the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and WWI; Nazi and Nazi-inspired racial genocides; communist-induced mass violence in the Soviet Union and Asia; ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia; the recent genocides in Rwanda and Sudan; and attempts to confront genocides and crimes against humanity in international courts and institutions.

Amir Weiner (History)




Learning Activities

With the help of diaries and memoirs by both perpetrators and victims, as well as documentaries and visuals, students will discuss what motivates individual and groups to engage in mass killing. Why do they target specific groups? How do they reflect on their deeds in the course of action and ex post facto? And how do the domestic and international communities react to outbursts of mass violence?