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The Devils of History: Understanding Mass-violence Through the Thinking of Horkheimer and Adorno – The Case of Cambodia 1975-1979
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History, The Hugo Valentin Centre.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Why does mass-violence happen at all? This paper takes the first steps to establish a model to answer this question and explain extreme mass-violence as a phenomenon. This paper seeks to fill a gap in the field of research, in which models exist to explain the phenomenon of violence, with cases of genocide being seen as problems or exceptions, and as such researched as individual cases rather than as part of a wider phenomenon. This paper uses a selected part of the writings of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to establish the basis for a model to explain extreme-cases of mass-violence. The Five-Pillar Model includes 5 social elements - (1) Culture Industry (2) Mass-Media (3) Propaganda (4) Dehumanization (5) Ideological Awareness. When these pillars all reach a high enough level of severity, conditions enable elites to use scapegoating - to divert revolutionary attention to a specific puppet group, resulting in extreme mass-violence. The Five-Pillar Model is then used to analyze an empirical case - Cambodia 1975-1979 and shows how these pillars all existed in an extreme form in that case. This paper presents scapegoating as a possible explanation for the Cambodian case. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
genocide, cambodia, khmer, khmer rouge, pol pot, frankfurt school, dialectics, adorno, horkheimer
Keyword [sv]
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-299886OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-299886DiVA: diva2:950316
Subject / course
Educational program
Master Programme in the Humanities – History of Science and Ideas
2016-06-01, Hugo Valentin Center, Uppsala, 11:40 (English)
Available from: 2016-08-31 Created: 2016-07-29 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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