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LUCIR/Grotius Centre Book Talk: Ideology and Mass Killing

Tuesday 21 February 2023
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
room 3.60

The Radicalized Security Politics of Genocides and Deadly Atrocities

In research on ‘mass killings’ such as genocides and campaigns of state terror, the role of ideology is hotly debated. For some scholars, ideologies are crucial in providing the extremist goals and hatreds that motivate ideologically committed people to kill. But many other scholars are sceptical: contending that perpetrators of mass killing rarely seem ideologically committed, and that rational self-interest or powerful forms of social pressure are more important drivers of violence than ideology.

Jonathan Leader Maynard, Ideology and Mass Killing

In Ideology and Mass Killing, Jonathan Leader Maynard challenges both these prevailing views, advancing an alternative ‘neo-ideological’ perspective which systematically retheorises the key ideological foundations of large-scale violence against civilians. Integrating cutting-edge research from multiple disciplines, including political science, political psychology, history and sociology, Ideology and Mass Killing demonstrates that ideological justifications vitally shape such violence in ways that go beyond deep ideological commitment. Most disturbingly of all, the key ideological foundations of mass killings are found to lie, not in extraordinary political goals or hatreds, but in radicalised versions of those conventional, widely accepted ideas that underpin the politics of security in ordinary societies across the world.

This study then substantiates this account by a detailed examination of four contrasting cases of mass killing - Stalinist Repression in the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1938, the Allied Bombing Campaign against Germany and Japan in World War II from 1940 to 1945, mass atrocities in the Guatemalan Civil War between 1978 and 1983, and the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. This represents the first volume to offer a dedicated, comparative theory of ideology’s role in mass killing, while also developing a powerful new account of how ideology affects violence and politics more generally.

About the event

At this book talk, Jonathan Leader Maynard will present the main findings from his book, after which Eelco van der Maat (Institute of History, Leiden University) and Jens Iverson (Law School, Leiden University) will provide some comments and questions, before we open up for questions from the audience. The event will be moderated by Corinna Jentzsch (Institute of Political Science, Leiden University).

Jonathan Leader Maynard

About the author

Jonathan Leader Maynard is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International Politics at King’s College London’s Department of Political Economy. Dr Leader Maynard’s research spans political science and political theory, and is focused on the role of ideology in political violence, armed conflict, and extremist politics, particularly in forms of violence against civilians such as genocide, state terror and systematic human rights abuses. He also has secondary research interests in the broader role of ideology in contemporary politics, the ethics of political violence, and methodological debates within political theory and qualitative political science.

About the discussants

Dr. Jens Iverson is an Assistant Professor of International Law at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University, and the convenor of the Grotius Dialogues.

Dr. Eelco van der Maat is a University Lecturer at the Institute for History of Leiden University.

Moderator: Corinna Jentzsch (Institute of Political Science, Leiden University).

This event is co-organised by the Leiden University Center for International Relations and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Grotius Dialogues).

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