Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide / Edition 1

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Overview

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 such large-scale 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
In this study of a once-peaceful Buddhist society that got so caught up with Marxism that it came to see virtue in violence and honor in auto-genocide, Hinton goes further than most accounts of the horrors of Pol Pot's regime in exploring the cultural factors that made Cambodians in the Khmer Rouge willing to kill so many other Cambodians. His sophisticated argument, based on subtle analysis of the Khmer language and extensive anthropological study, shows how Cambodian culture attached great importance to power, patronage, status, and honor; perceived humiliation legitimates anger and retribution, creating the potential for disproportionate revenge. Suddenly finding themselves part of a new elite, young Khmer Rouge recruits were encouraged to dwell on past affronts to their dignity and that of their families and to show no mercy in seeking retribution against "class enemies" and others perceived as threats. The extraordinary power in Hinton's analysis stems from his readiness to confront hard questions and his skill in elucidating the elements in Cambodian culture that made genocide possible. Although he is careful to keep his analysis focused on the Cambodian case, his insights also help explain genocides in general.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520241794
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/6/2004
  • Series: California Series in Public Anthropology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 382
  • Sales rank: 1,014,314
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


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).
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction : in the shadow of genocide 1
1 A head for an eye : disproportionate revenge 45
2 Power, patronage, and suspicion 96
3 In the shade of Pol Pot's umbrella 126
4 The DK social order 182
5 Manufacturing difference 211
6 The dark side of face and honor 252
Conclusion : why people kill 276
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