The Ordinary Life of Genocide Perpetrators

When describing the perpetrators of killings, we speak sometimes of radicalised men obeying an ideology; sometimes of mediocre, ‘banal’ individuals who only follow orders; sometimes of monsters thirsty for blood. Just as we have done for the mass killers of the greatest contemporary crimes, we ask ourselves constantly how are these men capable of serially killing. Don’t they feel the horror of their acts? Don’t they feel any compassion for their victims? For Richard Rechtman ideologies do not kill, men kill. They go about their killing just as simply as others go about getting to work each day. This book enters into the ordinary lives of the individuals who carry out genocide. It probes their day-today
existence and the way in which they focus on the task of executing tens if not hundreds of individuals, just like others focus on going to work. The author shows that it is not the fact of killing that preoccupies them, but rather the meticulous preparation of their crimes in order to kill the greatest number by the most efficient means. They are often not the most motivated or the most sadistic, or the most indoctrinated. These men are quite simply the most available. The focus of this book is to show how in certain contexts executing people constitutes the ordinary life of anonymous killers.

  • Richard Rechtman

    Richard Rechtman is an anthropologist and psychiatrist, and director of studies at EHESS in Paris. He has long studied the anthropology of mass killers, in particular on the experiences of Cambodian nationals. He is the author, with Didier Fassin, of The Empire of Trauma: An inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood, which won the William A. Douglas Book Prize.

  • ISBN: 9782271095077
  • Size: 15 x 20.5 cm
  • Pages: 256
  • List price: 19 €
  • Publication date: 02/01/2020
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