Framing genocide as revenge and self-defense : the function, use and effect of self-victimization in the context of genocide and mass killing
This thesis examines the phenomenon of self-victimization in the context of genocide and mass killing, defining it as the attempt by the (becoming) perpetrator collective to portray itself as a past, present and likely future victim of the (becoming) victim collective. Observing it as a seemingly recurrent phenomenon in different cases of genocide and mass killing, this multidisciplinary study makes use of (evolutionary and social) psychology, sociology, anthropology, criminology, political sciences and (pre-)history in order to explore its important aspects from different angles. To provide a theoretical framework, it examines the relevant underlying, ultimate psychological influences, the most important historical developments that altered the manifestation of these influences, the emotions that self-victimization evokes and more concretely the effects of self-victimization in contexts of genocide and mass killing. It then tests the established theoretical framework in two case studies, on Democratic Kampuchea and Nazi Germany respectively. The observations thereby gained show that self-victimization in practice can manifest itself in different ways, however, the underlying functions and effects are similar in different cases. The thesis thus suggests that appearances of self-victimization be regarded as one of the “warning signals” used in genocide prevention.