Colonial Genocide |
Studies of genocide rarely move beyond the Holocaust (1939-1945)
and the Armenian genocide (1915-1917), and few make comparative analyses of
different cases. This study seeks to develop understanding of which economic, political
and social conditions give rise to a specific type of genocide - colonial genocide.
An in-depth study is made of the genocide of Aborigines in Queensland, Australia
(1840-1897), and this is systematically compared to a briefer study of the genocide of
the Hereros in South-West Africa (1884-1906).
Of the factors compared, four are verified by both cases, albeit with certain
modifications. A common argument is made that genocide is pre-empted where the
victim group is needed as labour for the perpetrator society. Neither case supported this
factor: rather, it was found that the genocide continued despite this need. While these
factors provided necessary conditions for genocide, they were not sufficient to explain
why genocide had been pursued rather than policies of assimilation or expulsion. Key
dominant discourses and popular perceptions in Britain and Germany were examined
to explain their different roles in the genocides. Their particular forms were found to be
significant, as were changing international relations within Europe.
The problem of defining genocide is addressed. The study demonstrates that it is
possible to assess the intentions of genocidal perpetrators. It draws distinctions between
overt and covert perpetrator intention; between genocides in which the state is an
active perpetrator and those where it has a complicit, less obvious role; and between
a piecemeal form of genocide occurring over a long period, and a systematic genocide
over a shorter time.
The conclusions from these case studies are briefly contrasted to explanations
arising from the main European cases of genocide. By underlining the differences and
similarities, the study demonstrates that a category of ‘colonial genocide’ is not useful,
and argues that a much stronger case can be made for the distinction between state
and societal genocides.
9 black-and-white photographsand illustrations
Portrait; softcover; x + 248 pages
215 x 135 mm