Jonathan Maynard (King’s College London): Ideology and Mass Killing: Rethinking the Role of Ideas in Genocides and Violent Atrocities

The role of ideology remains one of the most disputed issues in contemporary scholarship on ‘mass
killings.’ Existing perspectives on ideology have tended to fall into two camps: a ‘traditional ideological
perspective’ which presents perpetrators of mass killing as ‘killers by conviction’ motivated by strong
commitments to utopian or revolutionary ideological goals; and a ‘sceptical perspective’, which suggests
that few perpetrators are ideologically committed, and instead focuses on rational incentives, social
pressure or broad societal conditions to explain the violence. Maynard challenges both these views,
arguing that they problematically associate ideology primarily with zealous ‘true believers’ and extremist
ideological goals. He refocuses attention on the multiple causal mechanisms through which ideology may influence perpetrators – most of which do not require deep ideological commitment – and on the way ideology shapes strategic decision-making and security politics in times of crisis, as opposed to providing ‘special ideological goals’ for violence.

JONATHAN MAYNARD is a Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Political Economy at
King’s College London, and a research associate of the Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford.


Date / Heure
Date(s) - 13 November 2020
12h00 - 13h30

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