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Perpetrator Studies Network


Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust

In this important study, philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman shows how the Holocaust is not a historical aberration or an atrocity singular to Jewish history but rather a consequence of modernity. He explores how racism and exclusion are societal issues based on fear of the other, and how atrocities can and will continue to occur if certain conditions are in place. Bauman demonstrates that one must understand the events of the Holocaust as being intrinsic to the very nature of modern society. The centrality of rationality, the division of labour, the emphasis on taxonomic categorisation, and the value placed on obedience – all these factors together made the Holocaust possible. The book contains an illuminating chapter on the Milgram experiment. Bauman raises questions surrounding our humanity, our responsibility in relation to guilt and innocence, our sense of morality in modernity and finally our comprehension of modern institutions.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 2000. Print.