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Vanden Houten speaks on genocide

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Professor of Political Science Arthur Vanden Houten spoke on genocide genocide in the Twentieth Century as part of Flagler College’s Community Lecture Series on April 24.

While genocide is often pinned on tyrants, Flagler College Associate Professor of Political Science Arthur Vanden Houten says it is as much a result of those who standby and do nothing while the atrocities are committed.

Vanden Houten spoke to an audience on April 24 about genocide in the Twentieth Century as part of Flagler College’s Community Lecture Series. The talk came on the heels of President Obama’s recent announcement regarding the forming of an Atrocities Prevention Board designed to stop tragedies like genocide.

“Genocide requires both perpetrators and bystanders,” said Vanden Houten, discussing how these mass killings are able to take place. “And it requires these people in large numbers.”

While “perpetrators and bystanders” have existed throughout history, Vanden Houten explained that what might be one of the greatest causes of genocide in the Twentieth Century is also our greatest achievement: technology.

“One of the things we find as we study genocide is that in the short period before these events unfold, often what happens is a technology is introduced into the region, which creates these rapid startling changes that contribute to the chaos,” he said, noting that the train system that transported people to death camps during the Holocaust was an example. “But the technology can also be a factor in the way people organize whether through radio, modern bureaucracy or even just a modern attitude on organizing.”

Vanden Houten has taught at Flagler College since 1997. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science and his M.A. in International Relations from the University of South Carolina and holds a B.A. in Economics from Muhlenberg College.

The Community Lecture Series will continue on May 8 when Dr. James Rowell
speaks on "Ahimsa and Just War."


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