Book Review: The Structural Prevention of Mass Atrocities: Understanding Risk and Resilience

Rhiannon Neilsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Scholarship on the structural prevention of genocide and mass atrocities is, for the most part, saturated with identifying the ‘root causes’ of deadly violence. Conversely, the causes of peace and the processes that de-escalate tensions – in effect, “what goes right” – remain comparatively under researched. In his book The Structural Prevention of Mass Atrocities, Stephen McLoughlin contends that positioning prevention simply on identifying and ameliorating risk factors erroneously assumes a linear inevitability between cause and outcome, and thus “fails to explain why some at-risk countries experience mass atrocities, yet others do not” (3). McLoughlin convincingly advocates an analytical framework, which broadens structural prevention to include local and national conditions that mitigate risk by fostering resilience and stability. He then applies this framework to the cases of Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and (an internal, relatively autonomous area within Tanzania), Zanzibar. By introducing a model that navigates the complex relationship between risk and resilience, McLoughlin complements the chorus of scholars asking “why?” mass atrocities occur, by asking “why not?” This book gently reminds readers that there are invaluable lessons to be learnt from peaceful non-events as much as from international tragedies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)180 – 182
    JournalGenocide Studies and Prevention
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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