On Thursday, September 8, Dr. James Waller launched his latest book, “Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide.”
Waller is a Holocaust and Genocide Studies professor at Keene State College and has written one other book: “Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killings”. This most recent book, ”Confronting Evil” was said to be the second book of his soon to be trilogy.
“Confronting Evil” reveals two decades’ worth of experience Waller has gained through his roles as a teacher, scholar and activist in the field of genocide studies. This includes extensive travel to and research in post-atrocity societies around the word.
Waller said that each chapter in his book contextualizes “a different genocidal history: the history of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, South Sudan and Argentina, as well as indigenous genocides in the US, Australia and Canada and ongoing conflicts in Sudan, Burma, Syria, the Central African Republic and Burundi.”
KSC first year and psychology major Kyle Shadeck is currently reading Waller’s “Confronting Evil,” and was brought to this event by his fascination for the topic. Shadek said that he “would have went, regardless of this being a class requirement.” He continued saying, “[As] a matter of fact, I am considering picking up Holocaust and Genocide Studies as a second major.”
Shadeck said, “I enjoyed hearing Waller explain that there is hope for non-military intervention to extinguish this ongoing problem with genocide.” Shadeck said he was motivated by Waller’s idea of dissolving this issue piece by piece, instead of addressing it as a whole.
KSC Interim Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities Dr. Kirsti Sandy helped to coordinate this event, and is also currently reading Waller’s “Confronting Evil.” She said she is “learning a great deal.” When asked if she believes genocide needs to be brought closer to our awareness, she exclaimed, “Absolutely. I appreciate that Dr. Waller’s work bridges the gap between scholarship and activism. He is able to discuss the issue of genocide in a thoughtful, critical way, but one that also provides a roadmap for future action. We are so fortunate to have Dr. Waller here at Keene State.”
Sandy continued to say that she “hopes all of the students in attendance were inspired to take a course with Dr. Waller, and that we get the opportunity to do more book launches, particularly since we have so many outstanding scholars on campus.”
She mentioned some of these “outstanding scholars” to be History Professor Dr. Greg Knouff and English Professor Dr. Anna Schur. Sandy said, “At a larger university, they might be researching and writing, but not teaching at all. But here at Keene State, they are also in the classroom, which benefits us all as a collective.”
Dr. James Waller confessed that if he were asked back in 2007, “How do you make ‘never again’ a reality?” or “What do you think of when you think of ‘genocide prevention’?” he would have said “military intervention”, or “Bring a force in with far more strength, far more weapons than the perpetrators and you stop the perpetrators from killing mass amounts of people.”
Today, Waller understands that this mindset is a “very uncreative way to view prevention, but it’s pretty typical in thinking that’s exactly what people mean when discussing prevention.”
Waller explained, “Working with these government officials over the years, I have just been exposed to this huge tool box of things that can be done long before we get to the issue of military intervention. So, professionally, that has been a great opportunity for me to rethink what prevention means.”
Amber Stocking can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org