Why Should Americans Care About Genocide? – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Why Should Americans Care About Genocide?

Dr. Cornell West Joins the Hobart and William Smith Genocide Series

January 24, 2000 GENEVA, NY – Cornel West, a professor of religion and African-American studies at Harvard University who has been described as one of America's most vital and eloquent public intellectuals, will participate in the “Genocide in the 20th Century” lecture series sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. West will present a talk titled “Restoring Hope: Beyond Humanity's Dark Side” at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 2, in Albright Auditorium on the Hobart and William Smith campus. The event is free. The public is invited to attend.

West adds a new component to the lecture series that so far has brought experts to speak on specific genocides. West will ask those in attendance to think through the wider use of the term genocide. He will broaden the issue of genocide to include explorations of why Americans should care about this problem, the role of religion, and the theme of historical memory.

West is the author of many groundbreaking books including Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin and the best-selling Race Matters. His recent publications include Restoring Hope, a compilation of interviews with African-American luminaries discussing hope and despair in Black America. Influenced by traditions as diverse as the Baptist church, American transcendentalism, the Black Panthers, and European philosophy, West confronts in his work the “monumental eclipse of hope and the unprecedented collapse of meaning” in America. He teaches how the growing divisions in American society fosters the despair and distrust that undermine the democratic process. By working to create an ongoing dialogue between the myriad voices in our culture, West pursues his vigilant and virtuous efforts to restore hope to America.

The genocide lecture series began on the HWS campus in the Fall, 1999. Through a series of lectures, films, art exhibits, and more, “Genocide in the 20th Century” aims to examine the systematic killing of whole national or ethnic groups. “Estimates of the toll taken by purposeful violence against groups or group members are astonishing. It has almost certainly been the most violent century in human history,” said Michael Dobkowski, a genocide expert and a professor of religious studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who has organized the series. Genocides in the 20th century include the two World Wars, the Stalinist gulag, the Holocaust, Armenia, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the killing fields in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo.

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