Kevin Lewis O’Neill and Alexander Laban Hinton
G e n o c i d e , T r u t h ,
M e m o r y , a n d R e p r e s e n t a t i o n
An Introduction
you will walk toward other evenings
and all your questions
will flow like the last river of the world.
—Herberto Padilla, “History”
Genocide staggers the imagination. It staggers us with numbers.
In the 20th century alone, 65,000 Hereros, 1 million Armenians,
6 million Ukranians, 6 million Jews, 3 million Bangladeshis, up
to 1 million Indonesians, 100,000 Hutus, 2 million Cambodians,
200,000 East Timorese, 200,000 Guatemalans, 800,000 Tutsis
and moderate Hutus, and countless numbers of indigenous peo-
ples have been annihilated.1 And this is a partial list. It staggers
us with images: Armenian death marches into the desert, Nazi
crematoriums and concentration camps, Cambodian killing
fields, Interahamwe roadblocks and rape pens in Rwanda, Su-
danese refugee camps, Sarajevo besieged, and Kurdish villag-
ers in Iraq gassed to death. Some of these images have become
iconic of genocide: emaciated prisoners staring from behind the
wires of a concentration camp, mass graves packed with corpses,
and the fleeing or suffering refugee. With the power of these
numbers and images genocide also staggers us with questions:
How can such events happen? What motivates people to commit
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