Ecocides and Genocides:
A Planetary Perspective



Winter 2022- AMU-PIE (course offered for exchange students) - USOS: 18-EGPP-PIE
Faculty of History, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Wednesday, 12:30-14:00, room 3.134 / first class, Wednesday, October 12th

Collegium Historicum, ul. Uniwersytetu Poznańskiego 7 

instructors: Ewa Domańska and Taynna Marino / contact

Course description

This course intends to explore the relationship between history, environment and various eco- and geno-cides. It will discuss comparative approaches to genocide studies and the problem of the universalization of the notion of holocaust, its usage to integrate Native American history and nuclear holocaust into genocide studies, and the the ethical dilemmas posed by the idea of  "animal holocaust." While the focus of the course is theoretical and methodological, the case of different forms of mass-killings will be examined in order to discuss a problem of survival value of knowledge.

Topics of the seminar will include: genocide and ecocide studies in the framework of Antropocene humanities; genocides/ecocides and global capitalism; genocides as human suicide/self-extinction; strategies of dehumanization (humans and insects); paradigms of genocides; comparisons between (human and animal) holocausts and slavery (human and animal); ecocide as environmental ”holocaust”; Native Americans’ spiritual holocaust or/and environmental genocide; nuclear holocaust (Hiroshima) and ecocide as international crime.  

This is an advanced-level course which is a research seminar designed to help students work on papers for classes, theses and individual projects. It introduces texts that have inspired theoretically oriented scholars, and seeks to show students how their own research can incorporate techniques and categories from various disciplines. The course suggests that theory is fundamental to humanistic studies. It will focus on cross-disciplinary themes and explore them through seminars. It encourages an understanding of theory, promotes interdisciplinary approaches to research, teaches critical thinking, introduces various strategies of interpretation, and devotes special attention to the development of students' original approaches.

Course requirements

Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss more than three meetings (except for illness or others serious matters) will not be graded. Students are expected to read assigned readings carefully and participate in discussions. A 10 pages (min. 4,000 words) final paper is required. Its topic will be chosen by the student himself/herself but must be related to subjects discussed in the class. I expect each participant of the course to meet me to discuss his/her project. Papers due to January 25th, 2023. Grading - February 1, 2023.


1) Introduction: Genocide and Ecocide Studies in the Framework of Anthropocene Humanities

2) Genocides and Modernity

  • Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide, Alexander Laban Hinton. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002 (chapter 1: “Dark Side of Modernity”: 1-40).
  • Jurgen Zimmerer, “Climate change, environmental violence and genocide”. The International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 18, no. 3, 2014: 265–280.
  • Gene Ray, “Writing the Ecocide-Genocide Knot: Indigenous Knowledge and Critical Theory in the Endgame,” South, a State of Mind #7 [documenta 14 #3], October 2016.

3) Dehumanization

4) Humans and Insects

  • Edmund Russell, "Anihilation (1943-1945)," in his, War and Nature. Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001: 119-144.
  • Hugh Raffles, "Jews," in his, Insectopedia. New York: Pantheon Books, 2010: 141-161.
  • Karen Robertson, When Art Meets Army: The Dangerous Propaganda of World War II. Ohio History Connection, June 08, 2017.

5) Genocides - comparative perspective

  • Maureen S. Hiebert, “Theorizing Destruction: Reflections on the State of Comparative Genocide Theory”. Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, vol. 3, no. 3, 2008: 309–339.
  • Robert Melson, "Paradigms of Genocide: The Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and Contemporary Mass Destructions.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 548, November 1996: 156-168.
    • James P. Sterba, “Understanding Evil: American Slavery, the Holocaust, and the Conquest of the American Indians”. Ethics, vol. 106, no. 2, January 1996: 424-448.
    • Stuart Stein, “Geno- and other cides: A cautionary note on knowledge accumulation”. Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 4, no. 1, 2020: 39-63.
    • Max Roser and Mohamed Nagdy, "Genocides". 2013. Published online at
    • 10 stages of genocide.
    • Genocide Watch

6) Nuclear Holocaust (Hiroshima)

7) Animal Holocaust

  • Charles Patterson, Eternal Treblinka. Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust. London: Lantern Books, 2002: 223-232.
  • Richard Iveson, "Animal Oppression and the Holocaust Analogy: A Summary of Controversy," March 27, 2012
    • David Sztybel, "Can the Treatment of Animals be Compared to the Holocaust." Ethics and Environment , vol. 11, no. 1, 2006: 97-132.

8) Ecocide as "Environmental Holocaust”

  • Nathalie de Pompignan, Ecocide. Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, 2007.
  • David Zierler, Invention of Ecocide. Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think About the Environment. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011 (“Introduction” and chapter 2 “An Etymology of Ecocide”: 1-32).

9) Ecocide, Colonialism and Global Capitalism
guest instructor: Hugo Merlo

10) Genocide as Ecocidal Project

  • Kübra Kalkandelen & Darren O’Byrne, “On Ecocide: Toward a Conceptual Framework”. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, vol. 18, no. 3, 2017: 333-349.
  • Malayna Raftopoulos & Joanna Morley, "Ecocide in the Amazon: The Contested Politics of Environmental Rights in Brazil." The International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 24, no. 2, 2020: 1616-1641.
  • Andrew Fishman, "Brazil’s Indigenous Groups Mount Unprecedented Protest Against Destruction of the Amazon." The Intercept, August 28 2021.
    • Jacek Małczyński, Ewa Domańska, Mikołaj Smykowski, Agnieszka Kłos, „The Environmental History of the Holocaust.” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 22, no. 2, 2020: 183-196.
    • Rob Nixon, Slow Violence, Gender, and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge. Mass., London: Harvard University Press, 2011 (“Introduction”: 1-44).

11) Ecocide as International Crime

  • Polly Higgins, Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of Our Planet. London: Shepheard- Walwyn LTD, 2010.
  • Sailesh Mehta, Prisca Merz, “Ecocide – A New Crime Against Peace?” Environmental Law Review, vol. 17, no. 1, 2015: 3–7.
  • Usha Natarajan and Julia Dehm, "Where is the Environment? Locating Nature in International Law." TWAILER blog, August 30, 2019.
    • Tim Lindgren, “Ecocide, Genocide and the Disregard of Alternative Life-Systems.” The International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 22, no. 4, 2018: 525-549.
    • Ecocide explained: How activists want to hold those destroying the environment accountable | DW News, 2021.
    • Ecocide 2021 (legacy of Polly Higgins)

12) Genocide of the Indigenous Peoples

13) Ecocides: The Planet as Sacrifice Zone

  • Franz J. Broswimmer, Ecocide. A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species. London: Pluto Press, 2002 (“Introduction” and “The Modern Assault of Nature: The Making of Ecocide”: 1-9; 54-69 and “The Planet as Sacrifice Zone” and “Ecocide and Globalization”: 70-85 and 97-102).

14) Genocides and Ecocides as Human Suicide

15) Conclusion

  • Claudia Card, “Atrocities and Non-Sentient Life.” Ethics and the Environment, vol. 9, no. 1, Spring, 2004: 23-45.
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt, 2014.
  • Stanisław Lem, "The World as Cataclysm" [The World as Holocaust], in his, One Human Minute, trans. Catherine S. Leach. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.