Sara E. Brown and Stephen D. Smith, "The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Mass Atrocity, and Genocide" (Routledge, 2021)


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Sara Brown and Stephen Smith have edited a much needed and fascinating compilation of essays on the intersection of religion and mass atrocity. Their intent is not to theorize the relationship, but rather to explore how religious faith, institutions and leaders have participated in, resisted and remembered genocide and mass violence.

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Mass Atrocity, and Genocide (Routledge, 2021) is notable for both for its regional and chronological breadth. There are several essays on the Holocaust, as one would expect. But contributions range from mass violence in the Roman world to the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and from the Abrahamic religions to Buddhism, animism and other faith traditions.

Most notable are essays that look at how changing understandings of genocide and mass atrocities reshape our understanding of the role of religious beliefs and institutions (see especially the section on colonial violence). But readers can learn much from each section of this fine volume.

Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University.

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