Genocide is the intentional destruction of human groups, in whole or in part, by mass killing and other methods. Such, at least, is a shorthand definition based on the United Nations Genocide Convention of 1948. The Convention capped two decades of scholarly work and activist endeavor by Raphael Lemkin (1900– 1959), a Polish-Jewish jurist troubled by the failure of international society to suppress atrocities inflicted by states against their own minority populations. Lemkin had a vision of cultural bonds and collective identities as essential to human civilization, and thus his framing of ‘genocide’—combining the Greek genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cida (killing)—downplayed the physical killing of individuals, highlighting instead the destruction of communal integrity and identity. This emphasis survives in contemporary conceptions of ‘ethnocide’ ...

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