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Prominent Philosopher Discusses Definition of Genocide

Published on October 17, 2013

Prominent philosopher Claudia Card will present a talk Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. in Seibert Hall’s Isaacs Auditorium on the campus of Susquehanna University. She is the Emma Goldman professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In her remarks, titled “Further Reflections on the Social Death Hypothesis,” Card will expound upon her well-known definition of genocide as social death, which changed the terms of the debate surrounding the notion of genocide. As she explains, the evil unique to genocide should be understood in terms of the experience of its victims rather than in terms of the intent of the perpetrators.

Card asserts that society should not restrict its conception of genocide to the infliction of mass murder upon particular groups marked by ethnicity or race, but instead should recognize certain forms of non-homicidal genocide such as mass rape and slavery. At stake in her argument is whether the United States is bound by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention of Genocide to intervene in the domestic conflicts of other countries when their rulers sanction non-homicidal violence against defenseless populations. Card will summarize her initial conception of genocide as social death and then share her recent modifications of this view and the implications that follow.

This event, which is organized by Susquehanna University’s Department of Philosophy, is free and open to the public.

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