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A Wide-Ranging Book
on Gender-Selective Mass Killing

Book Review

GENDERCIDE AND GENOCIDE
Ed. by Adam Jones
Vanderbilt University Press
2004
302 pages
Paperback $29.95 (ISBN: 0-8265-1445-6)
Cloth $69.95 (ISBN: 0-8265-1444-8)
 
Reviewed by OMAR AFZAL
The most wide-ranging book ever published on gender-selective mass killing, or “gendercide,” this collection of essays is also the first to explore systematically the targeting of non-combatant “battle-age” males in various wartime and peacetime contexts.
Representing such fields as sociology, political science, psychology, queer studies, and human-rights activism, the contributors explore themes and issues outlined by editor Adam Jones in the book’s opening essay. In that article, which provoked considerable debate when it was first published in 2000, Jones argues that throughout history and around the world, the population group most consistently targeted for mass killing and state-backed oppression are non-combatant men of roughly fifteen to fifty-five years of age. Such males, Jones contends, are typically seen as “the group posing the greatest danger to the conquering force.” Jones’s article also examined the use of “gendercidal institutions” – such as female infanticide, witch-hunts, military conscription, and forced labour – against both women and men.
The subsequent essays – some original, some drawn from a special issue of the Journal of Genocide Research and other sources – expand, diversify, and criticise this framing of gendercide. They range from a sophisticated theory of gendercide to in-depth treatments of such topics as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the gendercidal oppression of young African American males, the predicament of gays and lesbians in the face of increasing biotechnological manipulation of human behaviour, and the psychology of shame and humiliation underlying gendercides against both sexes. Still other chapters take issue with Jones’s theories of gendercide, or explore how human-rights organisations have defined, documented, and responded to gendercide and other sex-specific atrocities. A closing essay considers the relevance of feminist and men’s studies literatures for the study of gendercide.
Table of contents include Adam Jones’ “Gendercide and Genocide”, Evelin Gerda Lindner’s “Gendercide and Humiliation in Honour and Human-Rights Societies”, Øystein Gullvåg Holter’s “A Theory of Gendercide”, David Buchanan’s “Gendercide and Human Rights”, Augusta C. Del Zotto’s “Gendercide in a Historical-Structural Context: The Case of Black Male Gendercide in the United States”, etc. The book has a very good Index as well.
Adam Jones is a professor of International Studies at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City, and the author of Beyond the Barricades: Nicaragua and the Struggle for the Sandinista Press, 1979-1998 (Ohio University Press, 2002) and editor of Genocide, War Crimes, and the West: History and Complicity (Zed Books, 2004).


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