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Motivations for mass violence: different interpretations

Nicolas
Mariot

Nicolas Mariot, chercheur au CNRS, est spécialiste de sociologie historique. Il a travaillé, avec Claire Zalc, sur l’histoire de la communauté juive de Lens des années 1930 aux années 1950. Il s’agissait de retracer les itinéraires et choix d’un ensemble de 991 individus, 350 familles, face aux persécutions dont elles ont été l’objet. Il est l’un des co-organisateurs du séminaire « Histoire et historiographie de la Shoah » à l’EHESS. Il s’est intéressé depuis aux rapports sociaux dans les tranchées de la Grande Guerre. Nicolas Mariot travaille actuellement sur une étude comparée des violences de masse au XXe siècle.

Conference – debate, Thursday, 3 October 2019, 6-8pm, 1st floor meeting room at MSF, 8 rue Saint Sabin. Streaming and simultaneous translation into English available.
 

What turns ordinary men into killers? The CRASH team invites you to a conference – debate with the sociologist and historian, Nicolas Mariot, author of an article entitled « Faut-il être motivé pour tuer?  Sur quelques explications aux violences de guerre » (Genèses, n°53, 2003, p. 154-177) and books such as  “Face à la persécution. 991 Juifs dans la guerre (with Claire Zalc, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2010), “Tous unis dans la tranchée ? 1914-1918, les intellectuels rencontrent le peuple (Paris, Seuil, 2013). 

Nicolas Mariot will present two differing interpretations of motivations for mass violence in the 20th century, drawn from a series of studies and surveys on the subject. 

The first interpretation is culturalist. It suggests that massacres are motivated by hate due to racism, antisemitism, nationalism, fundamentalism, etc. This suggestion that the motivation for killing is rooted in a culture of hate has convinced a broad public. Some journalists and political personalities find scientific credibility in a vision of the world that reduces mass violence (in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan) to  identity-based conflicts between radicalised groups opposed to each other on the simple basis of cultural, ethnic and religious differences.  

The second interpretation is situational. It looks at the specific places and times at which massacres occurred. Without denying the role played by fervour, it highlights the ability of political rationales, group effects and collective conditioning to turn ordinary men into killers: pressure from groups of “friends”, local or family solidarity, micro-local rivalries, etc.

These subjects are relevant to the analyses of situations in which we work.

Table of contents

  • Conference presentation
  • Part 1 – Introduction: No description without interpretation
  • Part 2 – Culturalist and situational approach: The Second World War
  • Part 3 – The predominance of the culturalist explanation
  • Part 4 – The First World War and the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis
  • Part 5 – Conclusion: only the situational approach explains the behaviour of refractory killers
  • Question 1 – An ideology put in practice
  • Question 2 – Reification of culture and society in the culturalist approach
  • Question 3 – Articulate logics of situation and more general narrative
  • Question 4 – Child soldiers / Nuclear weapons
  • Question 5 – The parallel between death camps and slaughterhouses
  • Question 6 – The example of mass violence in Darfur
  • Question 7 – The face-to-face murder / Soldiers of Sonke Neitzel and Harald Welzer
  • Question 8 – Aseptization / Free will
  • Question 9 – Philip Zimbardo
  • Conclusion of the conference

To cite this content :
Nicolas Mariot, Motivations for mass violence: different interpretations, 3 October 2019, URL : https://www.msf-crash.org/en/conferences-debates/motivations-mass-violence-different-interpretations

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