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Genocide and the Holocaust (October 2023): History of Genocide

By Claudene Sproles

History of Genocide

Norman Naimark argues that genocide has been around since ancient times. His book Genocide: A World History traces the history of the destruction of racial, ethnic, religious, and social groups as a way to consolidate power and seize wealth. Ben Kiernan also examines the long history of genocide from classical times through the present in Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Dafur, focusing on imperial expansion, settler colonialism, and twentieth-century genocides.

Colonialism sparked several genocides. Mohamed Adhikari argues in Destroying to Replace: Settler Genocides of Indigenous Peoples that Western colonialism translated into native genocide. He presents case studies of the Canary Islands, Australia, the United States, and Africa to illustrate his arguments.

The expansionist policies of the United States came at the price of the Native Americans. The Indigenous peoples were subjected to displacement, forced assimilation, and murder. There are numerous incidents of genocide against Native Americans. In fact, Adolph Hitler cited the “Conquest of the West” as part of his ideology to racially purify Germany and eliminate other races. Carroll P. Kakel compares the ideology and actions of Nazi Germany to the United States’s imperialistic expansion in the uncomfortable read The American West and the Nazi East. One of the most thorough examinations of American genocide is Gary Clayton Anderson’s Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian. Anderson contends that the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans was not a singular event but rather a concentrated effort that went on for centuries.

Works Cited