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Hinton helped bring one of two major American archives of Khmer Rouge-related documents to the R-N campus in 2005

Dr. Alex Hinton is obsessed with genocide and atrocity crimes, but for the best of reasons. Hinton is convinced that understanding why people kill is the first step to putting an end to mass murder.

He has been seeking the answer to how human beings could perform such heinous acts since the 1990s, when he began researching the genocide in Cambodia. Almost two million Cambodians were killed between 1975-1979 during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The genocide survivors Hinton interviewed in Cambodia repeatedly asked him how such atrocities could have occurred, inspiring him to examine that question in his book, “Why Did They Kill: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide,” which was published in 2005 by the University of California Press.

Hinton hopes that his exploration of the causes of the Cambodian genocide will provide answers and lessons that can be applied to other situations. That is also one of the reasons why he helped engineer an agreement that brought one of two major American archives of Khmer Rouge-related documents to the R-N campus in 2005. The papers, photos, films and other materials helped both U.N. officials – who prosecuted those involved in the killing fields -- and the families of Cambodian genocide victims, as well as  journalists.

Hinton’s current research focuses on the criminal trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders. His project moves from the international courtroom to the offices of non-governmental organizations to villages in rural Cambodia as he explores what justice means in the aftermath of genocide and mass violence.

Hinton's research interests have taken a more comparative turn as he explores the fields of transitional justice and comparative genocide studies. To advance understanding and education about such issues, Hinton founded and now directs the Rutgers Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights. He has received a number of awards, was recognized as one of the “Fifty Key Thinkers about the Holocaust and Genocide,” and was elected president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2011-13).

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