A very short course on how ethnocide operates – Robert Jaulin

“A long reflection on the dynamics that led to worldwide ethnocide, its different “masks”, its history and, according to him, one of its earliest manifestations, monotheism, led Robert Jaulin to a complete reappraisal of the phenomenal and conceptual fields polarized by the notion of ethnocide.

This reassessment took its final shape in the 1995’s work, L’univers des totalitarismes : Essai d’ethnologie du “non-être” (in free translation: “The Universe of Totalitarianisms: An Ethnological Essay on “Non-Being””). In this book, the notion of “totalitarianism” (which should not be mistaken for Hannah Arendt’s concept of totalitarianism) depicts the underlying dynamics of which ethnocide becomes a manifestation among others.

Robert Jaulin defines totalitarianism as an abstract scheme or machine of non-relation to cultural otherness characterized by the expansion of “oneself ” (“soi”) through an election/exclusion logic.

The totalitarian machine operates by splitting the universe into its own “agents” on the one side, and its “objects” on the other, whether they be individuals, families, groups, societies or whole civilizations. It proceeds by depriving the later of their quality of cultural subjects through the erosion and finally the suppression of their space of tradition and cultural invention, which mediates their relation with themselves, i.e. their reflexivity. With the mutilation of their “field of cultural potentialities”, as Jaulin calls it, the totalitarian dynamics transforms its “objects” into new “agents” of expansion, reduced to a mock self-relation defined by the horizon of a potential election.”