States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering by Stanley Cohen has been awarded the 2002 British Academy Book Prize.
Stanley Cohen is Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The winner was announced on Thursday 5 December at a ceremony at the British Academy, London.
Dame Gillian Beer, chair of the judging panel, said: 'This is a powerful analysis of an extraordinarily important topic. How is it possible for witnesses - or participants - in atrocities to deny what has, incontrovertibly, occurred? Can one speak of a culture of denial? In exploring these questions, Stanley Cohen has carved out a whole new field of enquiry relating sociology, psychology, philosophy, political theory and personal experience.'
The first comprehensive study of both the personal and political ways in which uncomfortable realities are avoided and evaded, States of Denial ranges from clinical studies of depression, to media images of suffering, to explanations of the 'passive bystander' and 'compassion fatigue'. The book shows how organized atrocities - the Holocaust and other genocides, torture, and political massacres - are denied by perpetrators and by bystanders, those who stand by and do nothing.
Stanley Cohen has received the American Society of Criminology International Division Award for outstanding publication of 2000-2001, the Sellin-Glueck Award of the American Society of Criminology (1985) and is on the Board of the International Council on Human Rights.
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States of Denial was one of six books shortlisted for the award. Another was Culture and Equality: an egalitarian critique of multiculturalism by LSE Emeritus Professor of Political Science at LSE, Brian Barry.
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9 December 2002