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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 139.7 x 218.44 x 20.32mm | 476.27g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 0745325440
  • 9780745325446

About John Docker

John Docker is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University. He is the author of 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora (2001), Postmodernism and Popular Culture (1994) and (with Ann Curthoys) Is History Fiction? (2005).show more

Table of contents

Dedication: this book is dedicated to Ned Curthoys Preface, Acknowledgements, and Contents Page Introduction 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 Colonizer 8. Was the Enlightenment the origin of the Holocaust? Conclusion: Can there be an end to violence? References Indexshow more

Review quote

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. At the same time as The Origins of Violence dethrones regnant frameworks of genocide studies that stress the role of modernity or the state, and invites us to historicise genocide into the very longue duree, it challenges us to recognise the uncomfortable truth that genocidal tendencies remain tolerated, even celebrated, today - and not only in 'developing countries' - whenever they cohere with states' self-images. A Gandhian plea for non-violence that shockingly demonstrates the almost Sisyphean nature of the task. -- Dan Stone, Professor of Modern History, Royal Holloway University of London This is a most interesting and disturbing book. ... It displays a high level of scholarship in its examination of the ways in which classical historical and literary texts contain both a description and a moral critique of the ancient's world inter-group violence. ... It combines this 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 Londonshow more

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