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Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

Paperback California Series in Public Anthropology (Paperback)

By (author) Alexander Laban Hinton, Foreword by Robert Jay Lifton

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 382 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 224mm x 23mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 6 December 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520241797
  • ISBN 13: 9780520241794
  • Illustrations note: 1 line illustration, 2 maps
  • Sales rank: 386,210

Product description

Of all the horrors human beings perpetrate, genocide stands near the top of the list. Its toll is staggering: well over 100 million dead worldwide. Why Did They Kill? is one of the first anthropological attempts to analyze the origins of genocide. In it, Alexander Hinton focuses on the devastation that took place in Cambodia from April 1975 to January 1979 under the Khmer Rouge in order to explore why mass murder happens and what motivates perpetrators to kill. Basing his analysis on years of investigative work in Cambodia, Hinton finds parallels between the Khmer Rouge and the Nazi regimes. Policies in Cambodia resulted in the deaths of over 1.7 million of that country's 8 million inhabitants - almost a quarter of the population - who perished from starvation, overwork, illness, malnutrition, and execution. Hinton considers this violence in light of a number of dynamics, including the ways in which difference is manufactured, how identity and meaning are constructed, and how emotionally resonant forms of cultural knowledge are incorporated into genocidal ideologies.

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Author information

Alexander Laban Hinton is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, Newark. He is the editor of Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide (California, 2002), Genocide: An Anthropological Reader (2002), and Biocultural Approaches to the Emotions (1999).

Back cover copy

"Hinton has traveled to the heart and soul of the Cambodian people."--Youk Chhang, Director, Documentation Center of Cambodia"In "Why Did They Kill?, Hinton explores the cultural roots of Khmer Rouge genocidal behavior. Hinton brings extensive fieldwork, wide reading and a compassionate turn of mind to bear on the awful question posed by the title. In the process, he takes us closer to the darkness at the heart of the Khmer Rouge and the darkness inside ourselves. This is a fearless, important and deeply resonant book."--David Chandler, author of "Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison