Archive for May, 2011

New article on International Relations and genocide, now published:

Martin Shaw, From Comparative to International Genocide Studies: The International Production of Genocide in Twentieth-Century Europe, European Journal of International Relations, Online First, 11 May 2011 (to be published in the print edition later in 2011 or 2012).

Abstract   Genocide is widely seen as a phenomenon of domestic politics, which becomes of international significance because it offends against international law. Hence there are as yet inadequate International Relations analyses of the production of genocide. This article challenges the idea of the domestic genesis of genocide, and critiques the corresponding approach of ‘comparative genocide studies’ which is dominant in the field. It analyses the emergence of more fruitful ‘relational’ and ‘international’ approaches in critical genocide studies, while identifying the limitations of their accounts of the ‘international system’. As first steps towards an adequate international account, the article then explores questions of the international meaning and construction of genocidal relations, and of international relations as the context of genocide. It argues for a historical and sociological approach to the international relations of genocide, and examines 20th-century European genocide in this light. Arguing for a broader conception of this historical experience than is suggested by an exclusive focus on the Holocaust, the article offers an interpretation of genocide as increasingly endemic and systemic in international relations in the first half of the century. It concludes by arguing that this account offers a starting point, but not a model, for analyses of genocide in global international relations in the 21st century.


Three new contributions, on related themes, to the new issue of Journal of Genocide Research:

1.  Jürgen Matthäus; Martin Shaw; Omer Bartov; Doris Bergen; Donald Bloxham, Donald Bloxham, The Final Solution: A Genocide (review forum), 13, 1 and 2, 2011, 107 – 152. Read a draft of my contribution.

2. Martin Shaw, Jeffrey Alexander et al., Remembering the Holocaust: A Debate (book review), 13, 1 and 2, 2011, 181 – 182. Read a draft of this review.

3. Martin Shaw, Norman Naimark, Stalin’s Genocides (book review), 13, 1 and 2, 2011, 195 – 197. Read a draft of this review.

With the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama has achieved a much-needed conclusion to nearly ten years’ efforts to bring the mastermind of 9/11 to heel. Obama claimed to bring bin Laden ‘to justice’. But he managed this only in the sense that George Bush evoked in 2001, when he said that bin Laden was ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive’. It is just too convenient that bin Laden was shot dead and his body disposed of where no follower could ever find it. This operation was more Wild West than International Criminal Court, and like the attempted assassination of Ghaddafi it does little to demonstrate the West’s superior values. That won’t matter to most Americans, but it may register in the Muslim world. The Arab revolutions have shown that in the short-term, al-Qaeda is now largely irrelevant to real politics but in the longer term any revival of murderous Islam will claim bin Laden as a martyr. No doubt al-Qaeda will attempt revenge attacks, but while it is important to remain vigilant, it is difficult any longer to see the movement, which peaked with the London bombings of 2005, as a major threat.

(This comment was prepared for publication in the London Evening Standard.)