“When I entered the tiger zone …“ Why did people participate in genocide in Cambodia and beyond?

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 20 April 2021


Online Zoom event


Timothy Williams


Maxine McArthur

Genocide constitutes one of the most heinous crimes imaginable to mankind and participation in it is thus often thought of as particularly egregious. So why do people participate in genocide?

Timothy Williams discusses this question by drawing on the interdisciplinary literature and various empirical examples that he develops into an interdisciplinary model. He shows how complex and diverse, but also how ordinary and mundane most motivations for participating in genocide are.

In particular, Timothy will discuss findings about participation in genocide in Cambodia, in which he draws on the insights gained in qualitative interviews during fieldwork conducted with former Khmer Rouge in 2014. This research reveals a strong diversity among perpetrators’ motivations, but also - looking beyond Cambodia - systematic similarities and key differences between perpetrators in Cambodia and in other cases of genocide. 

About the speaker:

Timothy Williams is a Junior Professor of Insecurity and Social Order at the Bundeswehr University Munich in Germany. Previously he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Conflict Studies at the University of Marburg, where he also concluded his PhD in 2017 that has since been acknowledged with two awards.

Timothy is co-editor-in-chief of ZeFKo Studies in Peace and Conflict and a member of the executive boards of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the German Association for Peace and Conflict Studies.

His research deals with violence, focussing on its dynamics, particularly at the micro-level, as well as its consequences for post-conflict societies and the politics of memory these evoke. He has conducted extensive field research in Cambodia, as well as in Rwanda.

Timothy has published in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Terrorism and Political Violence, International Peacekeeping, Genocide Studies and Prevention, Transitional Justice Review, among others, has co-edited a volume on perpetrators (with Susanne Buckley-Zistel, 2018, Routledge) and is the author of the book The Complexity of Evil. Perpetration and Genocide (2021, Rutgers University Press).  

Zoom link will be provided after registration.

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