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CAS Webinar | The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression

Dirk Moses, Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill; Commentator: Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History, University of Michigan
Thursday, April 22, 2021
4:00-5:30 PM
Off Campus Location
Please register in advance for the webinar here:

After registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar.

Cover credit: Murad Subay,

Genocide is not only a problem of mass death, but also of how, as a relatively new idea and law, it organizes and distorts thinking about civilian destruction. Taking the normative perspective of civilian immunity from military attack, Dr. Moses argues that the implicit hierarchy of international criminal law, atop which sits genocide as the “crime of crimes,” blinds us to other types of humanly caused civilian death, like bombing cities, and the “collateral damage” of missile and drone strikes. Talk of genocide, then, can function ideologically to detract from systematic violence against civilians perpetrated by governments of all types. “The Problems of Genocide” contends that this violence is the consequence of “permanent security” imperatives: the striving of states, and armed groups seeking to found states, to make themselves invulnerable to threats.


A. DIRK MOSES is Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since July 2020. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2000. From 2000-2010 and 2016-2020, he taught at the University of Sydney. Between 2011 and 2015, he held the Chair of Global and Colonial History at the European University Institute, Florence.

His first book, “German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past” (2007), was awarded the H-Sozu-Kult “Historical Book of the Year” prize for contemporary history. Dr. Moses has also written extensively about genocide and global history. Recent anthologies include “Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide: The Nigeria-Biafra War, 1967–1970” (2018), “The Holocaust in Greece” (2018), and “Decolonization, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights Politics” (2020). His latest book, “The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression,” appeared in February 2021.

Dr. Moses has held fellowships at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C; and at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow. He was a visiting fellow at the WZB Center for Global Constitutionalism in Berlin in September-October 2019, and senior fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg in Göttingen, in the winter of 2019-20. Dr. Moses has been senior editor of the “Journal of Genocide Research” since 2011, and co-edits the War and Genocide book series for Berghahn Books.

GEOFF ELEY is Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan, where he has taught since 1979. He previously taught at the University of Cambridge (1975-79). Trained originally as a modern German historian, he also works in modern British history, as well as on a general European front. He is interested in both the history of the Left and the history of the Right; history and film; historiography; and history and theory. He recently began teaching a large new undergraduate course on the History of Terrorism.

His earliest works were “Reshaping the German Right: Radical Nationalism and Political Change after Bismarck” (1980, 1991) and (with David Blackbourn) “The Peculiarities of German History” (1980, 1984). More recent books include “Forging Democracy: A History of the Left in Europe. 1850-2000” (2002); “A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society” (2005); (with Keith Nield) “The Future of Class in History” (2007); and “Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany, 1930-1945” (2013). He coedited “German Colonialism in a Global Age” (2014), “German Modernities from Wilhelm to Weimar: A Contest of Futures” (2016), and “Visualizing Fascism: The Twentieth-Century Rise of the Global Right” (2020). He is writing a general history of Europe in the 20th century and a new study of the German Right, “Genealogies of Nazism: Conservatives, Radical Nationalists, Fascists in Germany, 1860-1930.”

Co-sponsors: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Donia Human Rights Center, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, and Society for Armenian Studies.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Genocide, History, Human Rights
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Armenian Studies, International Institute, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, Donia Human Rights Center