The Origins of Violence

The Origins of Violence : Religion, History and Genocide

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Genocide is commonly understood to be a terrible aberration in human behaviour, performed by evil, murderous regimes such as the Nazis and dictators like Suharto and Pinochet. John Docker argues that the roots of genocide go far deeper into human nature than most people realise.

Genocide features widely in the Bible, the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, and debates about the Enlightenment. These texts are studied in depth to trace the origins of violence through time and across civilisations. Developing the groundbreaking work of Raphael Lemkin, who invented the term 'genocide', Docker guides us from the dawn of agricultural society, through classical civilisation to the present, showing that violence between groups has been integral to all periods of history.

This revealing book will be of great interest to those wishing to understand the roots of genocide and why it persists in the modern age.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745325432
  • 9780745325439
  • 1,473,438

Table of contents

Dedication: this book is dedicated to Ned Curthoys

Preface, Acknowledgements, and Contents Page


1. Genocide as Ancient Practice: Chimpanzees, Humans, Agricultural Society

2. Genocide, and Questioning of Genocide, in Classical Greece: Herodotus and Thucydides

3. Genocide, Trauma, and World Upside Down in Ancient Greek Tragedy: Aeschylus and Euripides

4. Utopia and Dystopia: Plato and Cicero's Republics

5. Victimology and Genocide: The Bible's Exodus, Virgil's Aeneid

6. Roman Settler Imperialism in Britain: Narrative and Counter Narrative in Tacitus' Agricola and Germania

7. The Honourable Coloniser

8. Was the Enlightenment the origin of the Holocaust?

Conclusion: Can there be an end to violence?


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Review quote

'This is a most interesting and disturbing book. It combines its analysis with a firm commitment to the modern, humanist values of non-violence and internationalism' -- Sabby Sagall, former senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of

East London 'From primatology to ancient Greece and Rome to the Bible, early-modern Europe and the Enlightenment, Docker's profound and original analyses provide a deeply unsettling narrative of the longevity of human practices of group violence' -- Dan Stone, Professor of Modern History, Royal Holloway University of London
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About John Docker

John Docker is Honorary Professor in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Origins of Violence (Pluto, 2008), 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora (2001), Postmodernism and Popular Culture (1994) and (with Ann Curthoys) Is History Fiction? (2005).
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Rating details

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1 13% (2)
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