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Genocide and the Geographical Imagination

Life and Death in Germany, China, and Cambodia

James A. Tyner

This groundbreaking book brings an important spatial perspective to our understanding of genocide through a fresh interpretation of Germany under Hitler, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and China’s Great Leap Forward famine under Mao. James A. Tyner's powerful analysis of these horrifying cases provides insight into the larger questions of sovereignty and state policies that determine who will live and who will die. Specifically, he explores the government practices that result in genocide and how they are informed by the calculation and valuation of life—and death. A geographical perspective on genocide highlights that mass violence, in the minds of perpetrators, is viewed as an effective—and legitimate—strategy of state building. These three histories of mass violence demonstrate how specific states articulate and act upon particular geographical concepts that determine and devalue the moral worth of groups and individuals. Clearly and compellingly written, this book will bring fresh and valuable insights into state genocidal behavior. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 194Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-0898-8 • Hardback • May 2012 • $58.00 • (£39.95)
978-1-4422-0900-8 • eBook • May 2012 • $57.99 • (£39.95)
James A. Tyner is professor in the Department of Geography at Kent State University.
Chapter 1: The Spatiality of Life and Death
Chapter 2: The State Must Own Death: Germany
Chapter 3: Starving for the State: China
Chapter 4: Normalizing the Sate: Cambodia
Chapter 5: Everyday Death and the State
Tyner considers how genocide reflects spatialities of life and death, but he goes further to examine the calculated valuation of life, the routinization of modern violence, and the roles of state intervention and nonstate actors. In so doing, he demonstrates very real geographies of moral inclusion and exclusion.
Shannon O'Lear, University of Kansas

Tyner (geography, Kent State Univ.) applies a geographic perspective on state building by considering the complex moral calculus behind policies that determine who lives and who dies during efforts to achieve state-sanctioned utopias. The introductory chapter examines the psychology of killing and state-sanctioned geographic imaginations. The author uses the Holocaust to examine state-sponsored violence and expose ideas of sovereignty and the spatiality of life and death. His analysis of Maoist China questions whether allowing 40 million people to die between 1959 and 1961 was intentional genocide or a by-product of a drive to a utopian worldview. Finally, Tyner explores Cambodia's loss of a third of its 8 million people in the Khmer Rouge's search for a just and egalitarian society through the total erasure of traditional Cambodia. Implicit in these case studies is how the moral geography of the modern bureaucratic state values people. The numbers may be different, but societies still encounter state engagement with contraception, euthanasia, capital punishment, political assassination, and other issues that are part of the moral geography of modern states. The argument is provocative....Summing Up: Recommended.