Genocide and Historical Debate
William D. Rubinstein ascribes the bitterness of historians’ arguments to the lack of an agreed definition and to political agendas.
During the past generation, an important sub-discipline, that of ‘genocide studies’, has arisen among historians around the world. Incorporating as well insights by political scientists and anthropologists, it has produced more than its share of fierce and important debates, as well as a large volume of scholarly writings and two academic journals (Holocaust and Genocide Studies and The Journal of Genocide Research) with contributors from around the world. Given the importance of genocides and mass murders in the history of the world during the past century (and before), ‘genocide studies’ represents an important new area of academic research which would be of considerable interest to many readers of History Today. Yet, as noted, it is a field which is remarkable for its fierce and hotly-contested controversies, and one which, perhaps surprisingly, where for many of these debated areas there is no consensus among historians.