Professor Alexander Hinton, Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology, and UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University will be speaking for Contemporary Histories Research Group on Friday September 23rd, 3.30 pm – 5.30 pm at Deakin University’s Melbourne City Centre.
Bookings are free but limited. Reservations essential at Eventbrite.
Abstract: During the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign in Cambodia during the mid-to-late 1970s, a former math teacher named Duch served as the commandant of the S-21 security center, where as many as 20,000 victims were interrogated, tortured, and executed. In 2009 Duch stood trial for these crimes against humanity. While the prosecution painted Duch as evil, his defense lawyers claimed he simply followed orders. This was just one of a number of parallels between the Duch trial at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) and the Eichmann trial. This presentation, based on a forthcoming book, Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer (Duke, October 2016), will explore Duch’s path to perpetration, the torture and extermination center he ran, his trial, and what lessons might be gleaned. In doing so, the presentation reconsiders Arendt’s notion of the banality of evil in terms of the banality of everyday thought and the dangers of effacing conviction.
Professor Alexander Hinton is Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology, and UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University. He is the author of the award-winning Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide (California, 2005) and nine edited or co-edited collections. His next book, Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer, is forthcoming with Duke in 2016. In recognition of his work on genocide, the American Anthropological Association selected Hinton as the recipient of the 2009 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology. Professor Hinton is also a past President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2011-13) and was a Member/Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (2011-13). In 2016, he served as an expert witness at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.