Throughout the debate over the harm of genocide, intuitions about cultural dimensions are a common occurrence. The line of reasoning frequently follows a semantics of loss. Therefore, the specificity of genocidal events can be identified as the loss of cultures. (Cf. Lemkin's work or ex negativo the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity). Such arguments presuppose what I call the thesis of the value of culture. This position comes in multifarious versions, all of which draw on the usual distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic values for their justification of the value of culture. Moreover, almost all the positions currently available are closely related to certain normative arguments, which aim to establish the value of cultural diversity. The aim of this paper is to thoroughly analyze these positions from a moral and social-philosophical point of view, showing most of them to be flawed on account of their inducing essential structures. I discuss the following questions: What counts as a value of culture? According to the thesis of the value of culture, who is losing what in a genocidal event? Why should cultural diversity be a summum bonum for societies? I argue that a refutation of variants of the thesis of the value of culture could shift the focus of genocide studies away from the semantics of loss to a semantics of (identity-)transformations in order to salvage a multi-causal meaning of genocide beyond essentialist ontologies and (hopefully) the minefields of political uses/abuses.

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Freitag 05.12.2014 – 16.15 Uhr | Vortrag

Roy Knocke (Lepsiushaus Potsdam)

Genocide and the value of culture: moral and social dimensions of doing harm

 Moderation: Panel Chair - Prof. Tom Lawson (Northumbria University)  Veranstaltungsort: Universität Kapstadt