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People have a very difficult time wrapping their head around why anybody would want to study genocide. But there are actually several very good reasons to do so and they affect the global community. Although one can certainly make the case that there is a moral reason to study genocide, there are practical reasons as well.
A glaring reason to study genocide is that it is sadly not a crime of the past. Modern genocide began in Southwest Africa and has continued through the Holocaust up until today. Recent genocides include the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Yazidi in Iraq. How many people are even aware that this is still happening? We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to those that still suffer from this most heinous of crimes.
That brings us to the other practical reason to study genocide. Only by studying genocide can we hope to prevent its occurrence in the future. By studying genocide, we will be to see factors that are common among genocides. These so-called risk factors are things that make genocide more likely to occur. If such factors can be identified, an early warning system can be developed.
The study of genocide is critical, not just so that we don’t forget what happened in the past. It certainly is not something that is for the faint of heart. As a social scientist, I truly believe that those of us who study genocide feel called to do so in some way. We must also be able to not only recognize when genocide is occurring, but eventually be able to predict its occurrence. Only in this way can we hope to be rid of the scourge of evil that is genocide.