Stanley Cohen's recent book States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering was among the five top nominated books for the 2003 Raphael Lemkin Book Award.
States of Denial was awarded the British Academy Book Prize in 2002 and the author, Stanley Cohen, has also received the American Society of Criminology International Division Award for outstanding publication of 2001-2002, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2002
States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering (Polity Press) is the first comprehensive study of both the personal and political ways in which uncomfortable realities are avoided and evaded. It 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.
The Selection Committee's citation of States of Denial noted: 'This is a brilliant study not only of the denial of genocide by of the process whereby the contemporary mass-media CNN saturated world comes to know and understand and wilfully or unconsciously misinterprets the facts about atrocities.
'A comprehensive, clear and thoughtful examination of various ways in which we both know and don't know about atrocities...Rarely has moral commitment, social science analysis and humanism combined more impressively than in this outstanding contribution to the field of genocide studies. Never before has the concept of denial received more sustained and illuminating treatment. It's ground breaking quality lies as much in uncovering the techniques and consequences of denial as in the crucially important policy implications of his conclusion.''
The award, named after the Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin who coined the term 'genocide' in 1944, is presented by the Institute for the Study of Genocide every two years for the best book in English '...on explanations of genocide, crimes against humanity, state mass killings and gross violations of human rights and strategies to prevent or suppress such violations.' The winning book is Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell, America and the Age of Genocide.
For more information on the Institute for the Study of Genocide, visit http://www.isg-iags.org/
For more information on States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering see www.polity.co.uk
The top five recommended books for the award were:
Michael Barnett: Eyewitness to a Genocide: the United Nations and Rwanda
Stanley Cohen: States of Denial: knowing about atrocities and suffering
Priscilla Hayner: Unspeakable Truths: facing the challenge of the truth commissions
Samantha Power: A Problem from Hell, America and the Age of Genocide
Fiona Terry: Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action
27 October 2003