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Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide Hardcover – 10 Mar 2011
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'My deepest conviction is that we have both a responsibility to remember and a responsibility to protect. Genocide is not inevitable or unstoppable - unless we choose to let it happen.' - Mia Farrow, from the Foreword
'Rebecca Hamilton is the model of an 'upstander,' one who raises her voice and acts when people - whether near or far, Western or African - are most in need of help.' - LGen. the Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, author of Shake Hands with the Devil
'A masterful feat of original research and reporting, Fighting for Darfur is an authoritative account of the impact of the first sustained citizens' movement against genocide. With Hamilton's fierce determination to get beyond self-congratulatory slogans and taken-for-granted assumptions about what is required to save lives at risk, she provides insights that will be invaluable for concerned citizens, human rights advocates and policymakers alike for years and years to come. Essential reading for anyone who wants to help build a better world.'
—Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The inspirational story of how regular citizens can affect foreign policy, and reignite our leaders with a sense of passion and moralitySee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Rebecca Hamliton's book is a highly intelligent and widely searching report which I now regard as essential reading for anyone seriously concerned with activism or policy and political action against mass atrocity. There are many books about the Darfur genocide and this one is outstanding amongst them. I believe we will hear a great deal more of Rebecca Hamilton in the future. Palgrave Macmillan have a distinguished record in books on genocide and this book adds to it.
Mass atrocities are a major human problem and deserve a major human effort to bring them under control. Feel-good action definitely serves a purpose but is definitely not enough. Well-meaning liberal sentiment does not cut the mustard. Serious study, a lot of it over a long time, is essential. A vital part of this study is iterative learning from the results of our previous actions and Rebecca Hamilton has given this some sorely needed impetus.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Regarding her use of the term "genocide", naming is essential to disseminating one’s views about something. If one gets there first and is able to create or control the name it can be very powerful. For example, if one calls the conflict in Darfur genocide inflicted by the regime in Khartoum then not opposing Khartoum makes one implicit in genocide. Organized, large scale slaughter of civilians, while horrifying and immoral, may not call for military intervention that could result in more death and greater destruction. Genocide will always come under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) so what we call it is important.
Years ago we used a lot of loaded terms, almost always inaccurately–fascism was the genocide of the day–and in doing so weakened the authority we had developed through organizing. Hamilton is an indefatigable advocate and a good organizer but the "Save Darfur" movement showed how limited first world political organizing can be in trying to deal with Third/Developing world issues.
The reviewer, YUSUF KALYANGO, is an Africanist and an international media scholar. He teaches at Ohio University in the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism. He is the author of a book titled "African Media and Democratization: Public Opinion, Ownership and Rule of Law" (2011).
"Fighting for Darfur" is much more than a blow-by-blow account of the movement, however. Throughout the book, Hamilton incisively analyzes the options available to both activists and those in power. It is often sobering. Activists who lacked even a basic knowledge of Sudan's history and politics consistently prioritized peacekeepers over creating conditions for a political settlement that would ensure peacekeepers could actually protect civilians. In the end, they got neither.
Although Samantha Power's "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" posited that a domestic constituency for international human rights issues could ensure their peaceful resolution, Hamilton persuasively argues that although such a constituency is necessary for bringing such conflicts to the fore, they are insufficient in world where BRIC countries and others provide alternatives to American economic and political support.
As someone who participated in the movement, this book is a painful but necessary corrective to the often blithely self-celebratory narratives that activists of all kinds tell themselves, which all but preclude the possibility of effective action in the future. Activists, Hamilton suggests, need to start thinking more carefully about core principles before gearing up for their next campaign.
Despite the word "Darfur" in the book's title, "Fighting for Darfur" has lessons that are applicable to a broader readership, even to those activists working on issues wholly unrelated to human rights. In the same way that histories of the Civil Rights Movement are still studied around the world for lessons on effecting political change, so Hamilton's book provides critical insights that I think will prove salutary for activists of all stripes.
It is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the US government's decision-making process on Sudan and at the genesis of the mass movement that made Darfur a domestic policy issue in America.
Hamilton challenges her former academic mentor (and Pulitzer Prize-winning author) Samantha Power's assertion that a lack of domestic political will for involvement is the barrier to stopping genocide abroad by outlining the growth and influence of the Darfur mass movement and contrasting it with outcomes - or lack thereof - on the ground in Sudan.
For those who believe that building a movement is enough - or that every action has an equal and opposite reaction in the world of international politics - this book serves as a necessary deconstruction to those notions, while also providing advocates and policymakers alike with examples of what does and does not actually create real change on the ground.