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PSCI - Political Science

Course description

The twentieth century has been a bloody one, replete with instances of genocide and mass killing, several of which have taken place under communist regimes. From Stalin’s Soviet Union, to Mao’s China, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, communism appears to have gone hand in hand with mass murder. This course explores the linkages between totalitarian politics and the deadly consequences of those policies for the populations of several countries living under communist rule, and investigates the causes and motivations for these tragedies.

In the Soviet Union, mass murder has taken a variety of forms, including: the death of millions of peasants during collectivization of agriculture; the famine of the early 1930s, which has been labeled an attempted genocide against the Ukrainian people; the political purges of the 1930s and the mass repressions that accompanied them; the deportations of minority nationalities; and anti-Semitic terror. Comparisons to the deadly consequences of China’s Great Leap Forward and the results of the brutal policies of the communist Khmer Rouge movement, as well as a brief foray into the contemporary regime in North Korea, will follow our coverage of the Soviet case. The course concludes by addressing potential ways to avert mass killing and genocide.

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