Cultural genocide  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cultural genocide is a term that lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed in 1933 as a component to genocide. The term was considered in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed next to the term ethnocide, but it was removed in the final document, replaced with simply "genocide". The precise definition of "cultural genocide" remains unclear. Although the term 'ethnocide' has been sometimes used as a replacement for 'cultural genocide', but this usage confuses ethnicity and culture.

Contents

Usage

As early as 1933, lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed a cultural component to genocide, which he called "cultural genocide". The term has since acquired rhetorical value as a phrase that is used to protest against the destruction of cultural heritage. It is also often misused as a catchphrase to condemn any destruction the user of the phrase disapproves of, without regard for the criterion of intent to destroy an affected group as such.

Proposed usage

The drafters of the 1948 Genocide Convention considered the use of the term, but dropped it from their consideration. The legal definition of genocide is left unspecific about the exact nature in which genocide is done only that it is destruction with intent to destroy a racial, religious, ethnic or national group as such.

Article 7 of a 1994 draft of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples uses the phrase "cultural genocide" but does not define what it means. The complete article reads as follows:

Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
(e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.

This declaration only appeared in a draft. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 62nd session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007, but only mentions "genocide", not "cultural genocide", although the article is otherwise unchanged.

Examples of the term's usage

The term was used for describing destruction of cultural heritage in connection with various events:

  • In 2007, a Canadian Member of Parliament criticized the Ministry of Indian Affairs' destruction of documents regarding the treatment of First Nations members as "cultural genocide."
  • The destruction by Azerbaijan of thousands of medieval Armenian gravestones at a cemetery in Julfa, and Azerbaijan's subsequent denial that the site had ever existed, has been widely written about as being an example of cultural genocide.
  • In 1989, Robert Badinter, a French criminal lawyer known for his stance against the death penalty, used the term "cultural genocide" on a television show to describe what he said was the disappearance of Tibetan culture in the presence of the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama would later use the term himself in 1993 and in 2008.
  • Historian Jean Brownfield cited the 1638 Treaty of Hartford as a "clear and explicit historical example of a cultural genocide, in which the Pequot language and name were outlawed and there was a clearly stated intention that this cultural entity would simply cease to exist"
  • Scott Stewart, of Stratfor Global Intelligence, notes that Anders Breivik called for a war until "indigenous peoples of Europe are no longer threatened by cultural genocide."

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cultural genocide" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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