What is Genocide?

Martin Shaw’s new study, What is Genocide, addresses the question: ‘how should we understand the idea of genocide?’ He offers a new definition of genocide which he claims represents a return to the spirit of Raphael Lemkin’s original formulation of the concept. Shaw states: ‘The book argues that genocide studies have lost some of the central insights of their founding thinker, Raphael Lemkin.’ [1] In order to recover Lemkin’s original meaning, Shaw argues, the idea of genocide needs to be vigorously conceptualised through sociological methodology. He offers a new definition of genocide and I will return to it towards the end of this essay.

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