Utilitarian genocide

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Utilitarian genocide is one of five forms of genocide categorized and defined in 1975 by genocide scholar Vahakn Dadrian.[a] Utilitarian genocide is distinctly different from ideologically-motivated genocides like the Holocaust and the Cambodian genocide. This form of genocide has as its aim some form of material gain, such as the seizure of territory in order to gain control of economic resources for commercial exploitation.[2][3] Two given examples of this form are the genocide of indigenous peoples in Brazil and the genocide of indigenous peoples in Paraguay.[4]

This form of genocide was highly prominent during the European colonial expansions into the Americas, Oceania, and Africa. The colonial expansion into the Americas was markedly different in its approaches to the accumulation of wealth. The French colonization of the Americas through exploitation and the fur trade had a minor impact on the indigenous peoples. The Spanish colonization of the Americas however was devastating to the indigenous population, as was the British colonization of the Americas.[5] Dadrian has also given as further examples of utilitarian genocide the murders of Moors and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition and the killing of Cherokee Indians during the colonial expansion of the United States.[6]

This type of genocide has continued into the twentieth century, with the ongoing genocide of indigenous tribes in the rain forests of South America primarily due to progress and the development of resources within their territories; these regions are exploited for economic gain the indigenous peoples are considered a "hindrance" and are forcibly relocated or killed.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The pioneer genocide scholar Vahakn Dadrian introduced the concept of "utilitarian genocide" in a landmark 1975 article, "A Typology of Genocide." He identified five "ideal types" of genocide, based mainly on the primary objective of the perpetrator:
    • cultural genocide, aiming at assimilation;
    • latent genocide, a by-product of war;
    • retributive genocide, localized punishment;
    • utilitarian genocide, to obtain wealth;
    • optimal genocide, aiming at total obliteration".[1]


  1. ^ Markusen.
  2. ^ Kakar 1997, p. 214.
  3. ^ Mertens 2005.
  4. ^ Hitchcock 2008, p. 547.
  5. ^ Grenke 2005, pp. 223–224.
  6. ^ Smeulers 2011, p. 170.
  7. ^ Smith 2000, p. 25.
  8. ^ Alvarez 2001, p. 50.


  • Alvarez, Alex (2001). Governments, Citizens, and Genocide: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approach. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33849-5.
  • Grenke, Arthur (2005). God, Greed, and Genocide: The Holocaust Through the Centuries. New Academia Publishing. ISBN 978-0976704201.
  • Hitchcock, Robert K.; Tara M. Twedt (2008). "Physical and Cultural Genocide of Indigenous Peoples". In Samuel Totten, William S. Parsons (ed.). Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts (3rd ed.). Routledge. pp. 530–608. ISBN 978-0415990851.
  • Kakar, M. Hassan (1997). Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520208933.
  • Mertens, Allison (13 October 2005). "Genocide definition is crucial: Jonassohn". Concordia.
  • Markusen, Eric; Matthias Bjørnlund. "Utilitarian Genocide (Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity)". E-Notes.[dead link]
  • Smeulers, Alette (2011). Alette Smeulers, Fred Grünfeld (ed.). International Crimes and Other Gross Human Rights Violations: A Multi- And Interdisciplinary Textbook. Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 978-9004208049.
  • Smith, Roger W. (2000). Isidor Wallimann, Michael N. Dobkowski (ed.). Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death. Syracuse University Press. pp. 21–40. ISBN 978-0815628286.