The term 'cultural genocide' comes from the word
gens, meaning a clan or community of people related by common descent.
The idea of cultural genocide implies the process of
undermining, suppressing, and ultimately eliminating, native cultures.
The deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a
people or nation for political or military reasons is also termed as cultural genocide.
The `Stolen Generations' and Cultural Genocide - The
Forced Removal of Australian Indigenous Children from their Families and its Implications
for the Sociology of Childhood
ROBERT VAN KRIEKEN, University of Sydney - Childhood, Vol. 6, No. 3, 297-311 (1999)
From around the turn of 20th century up to the 1970s, Australian government authorities
assumed legal guardianship of all Indigenous children and removed large numbers of them
from their families in order to `assimilate' them into European society and culture. This
policy has been described as `cultural genocide', even though at the time it was presented
by state and church authorities as being `in the best interests' of Aboriginal children.
This article outlines the results of a study of the development of the policy of forced
child removal, its antecedents, its surrounding philosophy and politics and the emergence
of a more critical understanding of it in recent years, as well as examining the more
general implications of this history for the sociology of childhood. -
Earthen Spirituality or Cultural Genocide?: Radical
Environmentalism's Appropriation of Native American Spirituality - Taylor B, Source:
Religion, Volume 27, Number 2, April 1997
Abstract: The appropriation by non-Indians of Native American religious practices has
become a highly contentious phenomenon. The present analysis focuses on the controversy as
it has unfolded within the `Deep Ecology' or `Radical Environmental' Movement in North
America. Taking as its central case study Earth First!, the radical vanguard of this
movement, it describes the diverse forms such borrowing takes, the plural American indian
and non-indian views shaping the ensuing controversy, and the threats this controversy
poses to a nascent and fragile Indigenous-Environmentalist alliance. Concluding
reflections address the ethics of appropriation with the aim of reducing the tensions
attending these phenomena. - ingentaconnect.com
Morsink, Johannes "Cultural Genocide, the Universal
Declaration, and Minority Rights"
Human Rights Quarterly - Volume 21, Number 4, Nov. 1999, The Johns Hopkins University
Excerpt: This essay will show how the drafting of the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
overlapped in a significant manner. That overlap helps explain why neither of these
documents directly addresses the crime of cultural genocide. The drafters of the Genocide
Convention severely weakened the prevention part of their goal when they cut out of their
document the prohibition and punishability of acts of cultural genocide. Prohibition was
in the first draft of the Genocide Convention. During the drafting process, it was clear
that the communist and Arab delegations favored a cultural genocide article for the
Genocide Convention as well as a minority rights article for the Universal Declaration.
Having witnessed Hitler's acts of ethnic cleansing first-hand, the Western delegates
understood the connection between cultural genocide and physical genocide, which the
communist and Arab delegations were making. They argued, however, that the right place to
make that connection was in the Universal Declaration and not in the Genocide Convention
itself. Therefore, they voted to delete the cultural genocide prohibition from the
Convention on the promise that they would support a similar measure for the Universal
Declaration. However, when the time came, they chose (for reasons having to do with the
rhetoric and reality of the Cold War) not to make good on those promissory notes. The
breakup between Stalin and Tito further weakened the pro-minority rights lobby. -
The Puzzle of Genocide - Freeman, Michael
Recognizes the difficulties involved in trying to define the term "genocide" and
how concepts such as "cultural genocide" and "political genocide"
affect debate on the subject. Argues that to be clearly understood, genocide must be
defined widely enough to identify appropriate cases, yet narrowly enough that it is not
'Cultural' Genocide - A Prelude/Counter-part of Genocide?
Pamela de Condappa, King's College -
This paper seeks to discuss and define the problematic concept of Cultural genocide.
Cultural genocide is an emotive and controversial schema that must be qualified to the
strictest possible degree, nonetheless it is arguably a concept that archaeologists
and those involved in associated fields of heritage have a responsibility to engage with.
Acknowledging that the term genocide is itself affected by legal, political and
culturally specific considerations, genocide is most simply defined as the intent to
destroy in whole or in part a racial, ethnic, religious, or national group as such, by
killing members of the group or imposing conditions inimical to survival (Kuper
Taking this definition as a launching point, I argue that this process may involve
symbolically pertinent (material) culture within the context of a particular cultural
landscape. Thus symbols of culture (most specifically that which is termed as
'heritage/archaeological') associated with the identity of a particular group, which has
been subjected to destruction/redefinition as part of a widespread and planned strategy,
in turn renegotiating the identity of other group(s) in conflict with the initial
group, is potentially comparable to the processes that define (and indeed may even be a
precursor of) genocide. This therefore constitutes a type of 'Cultural' genocide.
Case studies will be drawn most specifically from Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, to
illustrate how the fluid process of identity construction may be intrinsically linked to
historically contingent notions of culture, which is then further subjected to
edefinition/destruction by a particular group. A group which has either later, or at the
same time been engaged in acts of confirmed genocide against the former group.
Genocide necessarily has a symbolic dimension, this position is not intended to take away
from the utterly horrific physical consequences of genocide but rather an attempt to
understand the mechanisms that allow one/several groups to dehumanise another group
to the point where extermination appears to be a viable and 'legitimate' solution. The way
in which a group becomes 'other' is one that often involves the refutation of historical
identity and hence legitimacy. It is negotiated within the landscape of contested and
potentially confliciting and exclusionary (material) culture. Indeed, recent
archaeological theory has emphasised that material symbolism is not a passive process,
because objects and activities actively represent and act back upon society (Tilley
2000:421-2; cf. Giddens 1984). This stance recognises that subjects are not considered to
be authors of texts and material culture, but the effects of processes of
signification...[thus] language and material culture are not the product or
prerogative of any single person: it is the cultural field which constitutes us as beings
of a particular kind (Thomas 2000:13). As such, attempts to integrate a perspective that
considers culture to have an active symbolic role in the construction and mediation
of identity, into the study of genocide, may highlight the considered nature of attempts
to redefine or annihilate a particular group.
Accepting the above premise, attention must then be drawn to the potentially critical role
that archaeologists and anthropologists, with invaluable experience of the relevant
geographical and cultural fields over time, could play in highlighting cultural genocide
as a potential precursor to physical genocide.
It is necessary to stress the early stage of my research, as such I would welcome very
much the opportunity to discuss these extremely pertinent and emotional issues, and would
consider feedback to be essential to furthering my breadth of understanding of this
GIDDENS, A. 1984. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of
Structuration.Cambridge: Polity Press.
KUPER, L. 1994. 'Theoretical Issues Relating to Genocide', in G. J.
Andreopoulos (ed.) Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions,
University of Pennsylvania Press: USA
TILLEY, C. 2000. 'Interpreting Material Culture', in J. Thomas (ed.),
Interpretive Archaeology, a reader: 418-429. London: Leicester University
THOMAS, J. 2000. 'Introduction: the polarities of post-processual
archaeology', in J. Thomas (ed.), Interpretive Archaeology, a Reader:
1-21.London: Leicester University Press.
Article 7 of the "United Nations draft declaration on the rights of indigenous
peoples" defines "Cultural genocide":
Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to
ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as
distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands,
territories or resources;
(c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or
undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on
them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
(e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.