This article examines the concept of genocide as an incomplete accounting of gendered racial and racial-colonial violence. The mid-twentieth-century enunciation of the genocide concept, in and beyond the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, attempts a totalizing notion of an alleged extremity of modern power. I am concerned with how this Western humanist conception of massive fatality begins to induce, but cannot fully engage, a delineation of the violences, exterminations, and fatalities encompassed by the long preceding, long following processes of global racial ordering and modern civilization as such. This article asks readers to consider whether and how the racial and racial-colonial violences that are insufficiently invoked, marginally referenced, and pragmatically compartmentalized by hegemonic genocide discourses are precisely the forms of constitutive dehumanization that precede, constitute, and overwhelm the very thing(s) that the term genocide intends to apprehend and, ultimately, definitively name. The genocide concept is stalked and disrupted by the world-making, civilization-building, socially productive technologies of racial dominance that have made possible the consolidation of the very units of sociality—humanity, the civilized world, mankind, nation-state, and the international—on which the UN Genocide Convention (and hegemonic genocide discourses more generally) depends for its epistemic and juridical cogency. Perhaps, then, it is necessary to consider less whether genocide provides an adequate rubric within which to categorize particular forms of racial power and violence to render them legible to “mankind and the civilized world” (in the words of the Convention itself) and more whether the distended field of genocide discourse creates a largely unintended opening into a radical critique of the very “civilized humanity” it intends to righteously defend.
Research Article|September 01 2015