I’m giving the Annual War Studies Lecture at King’s College, London, on 26 January, the day before Holocaust Memorial Day. The lecture starts at 17.30 in the Great Hall, which is on the ground floor of the Strand campus, followed by a reception. I have attached a map. Please circulate!
My title for the lecture is Britain and Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Parameters of National Responsibility. My argument, a sort of historical and topical tour, is based on the following perspective …
In Britain, Holocaust Memorial Day remembers genocide that other nations have committed and against which our country stands as a ‘vigilant’, and if necessary armed, protector of the innocent. Not for the British the national self-criticism that some other nations have practised. However the ambiguity of Britain’s responses to Nazism extends to Britain’s role in the wider history of genocide. The British state and sometimes ‘ordinary’ British people have been directly and indirectly responsible for genocidal violence in many ways and in many different contexts. My aims are therefore to question the assumption of British impunity from responsibility for genocide and to argue for a debate about Britain’s role in the history and current politics of genocide.
Thus I apply 5 themes of modern genocide studies to the British case, dealing in turn with the role of genocide in the origins of the British state; the problem of genocide in the Empire and British settler colonialism; Britain’s relationships to twentieth-century European genocide; its role in the genocidal violence of decolonisation; and finally, Britain’s role in the genocidal crises of the post-Cold War world.
I have a text which I’m happy to let anyone who’s interested have a look at.