As a number of scholars have noted in recent critical genocide studies, Raphael Lemkin’s formulation of the “genocide” concept was much broader than the definition later enshrined in the UN Convention. Various facets of settler colonialism framed his conception, including the widespread distribution of intoxicants among subjugated peoples. In Lemkin’s view, culture was the force undergirding human collectivities and intoxicants disrupted social functioning in a number of ways -- through creating internal strife and violence, upsetting previous authority structures, causing premature deaths and eroding pre-existing cultural practices. This article draws upon Lemkin’s unfinished works to examine his case for the distribution of alcohol among Native Americans as a method of genocidal conquest. It finds that while his work on the subject remains important as it highlights the multiple ways in which colonial oppression can operate, it fails to prove genocidal intent and relies on historical materials that at times fall into the trap of “intellectual colonialism” (Quintero 2001).
"Cultural Impairment and the Genocidal Potential of Intoxicants: Alcohol use in Colonial North America,"
Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal:
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/gsp/vol13/iss1/10
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