Moses, Dirk

I am a historian of global and intellectual history, violence, memory, and political emotions.

Starting out in German history with German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (2007), I’ve expanded my interests on these themes with anthologies and essays on Australian colonial history (Genocide and Settler Society, 2004) and global imperial history and genocide (Empire, Colony, Genocide, 2008), and more recently on postcolonial violence (Colonial Counterinsurgency and Mass Violence: The Dutch Empire in Indonesia [2014); Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide: The Nigeria-Biafra War, 1967–1970 [2018], and Decolonization, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights Politics [in press]).

During my time at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, I plan to complete my second monograph, an intellectual history of the genocide concept, called The Problems of Genocide. This project reconstructs the formulation and development of the genocide concept in the 1940s, when it debuted in Raphael Lemkin’s book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, in 1944, and was then institutionalized in a United Nations (UN) convention four years later. Most scholarship and commentary on the genocide concept understands it as a “natural” category along with other the crimes of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998): crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, which were first codified by the International Military Tribunal in 1945 (The Nuremberg Trials). I question this presumed naturalness and coherence by engaging in an intellectual history of the 1940s debates about their meaning and codification. Although these international crimes have roots before the 1940s, they crystallized in code-like formulations during this decade. Far from developing in an integrated manner, however, they were rivals, which accounts for anomalies in international law today, above all the view of genocide as the “crime of crimes.”

I am senior editor of the Journal of Genocide Research. Full details at

Recent publications include:

“‘White Genocide’ and the Ethics of Public Analysis,” Journal of Genocide Research, 21:2 (2019), 201-213.

“Partitions, Hostages, Transfer: Retributive Violence and National Security,” in Arie Dubnov and Laura Robson, eds., Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019), 257-295, 344-355.

“Empire, Resistance, and Security: International Law and the Transformative Occupation of Palestine,” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development,8:2 (2017), 379-409.