Redefining Genocide

Settler Colonialism, Social Death and Ecocide

Damien Short


A startlingly original work that demonstrates how and why genocide studies has so far failed to engage with settler colonialism, ecocide and capitalism as key drivers of genocides
In this highly controversial and original work, Damien Short systematically rethinks how genocide is and should be defined.

Rather than focusing solely on a narrow conception of genocide as direct mass-killing, through close empirical analysis of a number of under-discussed case studies – including Palestine, Sri Lanka, Australia and Alberta, Canada – the book reveals the key role played by settler colonialism, capitalism, finite resources and the ecological crisis in driving genocidal social death on a global scale.

Author Bio

Damien Short is a reader in human rights at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is director of the school's Human Rights Consortium and Extreme Energy Initiative and editor in chief of the International Journal of Human Rights.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Definitional Conundrums: A Sociological Approach to Genocide
  • 2. The Genocide–Ecocide Nexus
  • 3. Palestine
  • 4. Sri Lanka
  • 5. Australia
  • 6. Tar Sands and the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Alberta
  • 7. Looking to the Future: Where to From Here?
  • Conclusion


'Short should be commended for an engaging, well-supported and important contribution. Not only should this book be essential reading for genocide scholars, Redefining Genocide should be read across indigenous and environmental studies, criminology, sociology, international development and political science.'
Theoretical Criminology

'Redefining Genocide ... will undoubtedly have a significant impact within the social sciences.'
Capitalism Nature Socialism

'Redefining Genocide has implications for genocide studies in the widest sense, not only in the links it draws between genocide and ecocide, but also in the way it can help us rethink the relationship between genocide and the role of the state.'
Journal of Holy Land and Palestinian Studies

'Fascinating, compelling, and theoretically of the most important works published in the field in recent years.'
Academic Council on the United Nations System

‘In this important and timely book, the sociologist Damien Short highlights the destruction wrought by the interaction of genocide and ecocide.’
Dirk Moses, author of Empire, Colony, Genocide

'This book is to be vastly welcomed for the belated paradigm shift it augurs.’
Mark Levene, author of The Crisis of Genocide

‘This is interdisciplinary scholarship at its very best, I urge you to read it now.’
Tom Lawson, author of The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania

‘An incisive, bold, and illuminating exploration of the close links between genocide, colonialism, and ecocide. With flair and insight, it addresses the vulnerability of humanity in the perilous age of the Anthropocene.’
John Docker, author of The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide 

‘Short’s discussion of genocide, ecocide and colonialist exploitation is delivered with clarity and intellectual insight. It is both an important reminder of some nearly forgotten histories of inhumanity and a warning about future dangers to the planet.’
Nigel South, University of Essex

‘An important, path-breaking book. Policy-makers and activists, as well as scholars troubled by the genocidal potential and local impacts of global developments, must urgently engage with its arguments.’
Tony Barta, La Trobe University

'Short's engaging text complicates the definition of genocide for scholars in law, history, politics, and sociology ...This book will undoubtedly stretch genocide scholars and spur debate.'
Choice (Association of College and Research Libraries)


Publication Date: 15 June 2016
272 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781842779316
Hardback: 9781842779309
eBook ePub: 9781783601707
eBook PDF: 9781848135468
eBook Kindle: 9781783601714

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