The Road to an Honours Thesis – Part 7

Now that February has, basically, come and gone, I’ve hit the critical stage in my thesis process. Much of my literature review and methodology have been established – now, I just have to dive head first into my analysis.

Let me take a step back and finally, fully explain how I’m going about this thesis project. To begin, my specific research question consists of asking what motivates perpetrators to committing acts of genocide. In order to answer this question, I am engaging in a case study analysis of the Cambodian genocide.

My analysis consists of a three-tiered level of analysis. At the broadest level, the macro level, I will be examining motivating factors such as xenophobia and nationalism. At the meso level, I will be examining institutional factors and political ideologies such as urbicide, bureaucracy, and militarism. Finally, at the micro level, I will be examining cultural, social, and psychological constructions such as notions of honour, shame, face, revenge, and paranoia, as well as the use of terror tactics, dehumanization, personal ideals and ideologies, and stereotyping.

Now that I have my plan, I have to sit down and write out the sections I’ve already mapped out. My next step is to hammer out my introduction, literature review, and methodology and theory sections of my thesis. Following that, I have to analyze other documents, article journals, news paper articles, and other sources in order to conduct my analysis.

A question that I’ve been answering a lot lately is – why, why do this, why examine the behaviour of genocide perpetrators. The answer is simple. I’m doing this in order to understand and explain their behaviour. I am no looking to justify or excuse – that is not my purpose. I wish to explain and understand what it is that motivated the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide to commit genocide.

This topic is not for the faint of heart – and I’ve struggled through a few books and readings when reading victim and survivor accounts. However, this research needs to be done. Genocide studies are picking up steam – many historians, political scientists, and sociologists have been engaging heavily into the field of genocide studies. However, criminologists are absent from this field in comparison to other social science fields. As a criminologist, I am deeply interested in this topic, and this field, and I feel like I should do both fields justice by engaging in this research.

Despite my absolute dread at presenting my research at an upcoming symposium, I cannot wait to finish this whole process and finally, finally be done with school. Seven years is a long time to be in university. I’m ready to be done and move on.


~ by Aubrey Smith on February 27, 2015.

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