June 23, 2003
Professor's Book, "Becoming Evil," Named Finalist
A book that explores the psychological roots of evil that can lead to mass murder, written by Whitworth Psychology Professor and Edward B. Lindaman Chair James Waller, was recently selected by the Institute for the Study of Genocide as a finalist for the Raphael Lemkin Award. Waller's book, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, along with four other finalists, was selected from among nearly 200 books that were nominated as best book in genocide studies from 2000-02.
The finalists and winner were recognized at the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference, held June 7-10 in Galway, Ireland. Samantha Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, won the Raphael Lemkin Award.
The Institute for the Study of Genocide, founded in 1982, promotes and disseminates scholarship and policy analyses on the causes, consequences, and prevention of genocide. To advance research, it initiated in 1995 the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
The award is named for Polish scholar and activist Raphael Lemkin (1901-59) who coined the term "genocide" after the Holocaust and fought unceasingly for its recognition as a legal concept - in terms of early warning and prevention - by the United Nations. The award is given biennially for the best English-language book written on genocide and its prevention.
"I'm honored that my book was nominated for this award, particularly since Raphael Lemkin is one of my intellectual heroes in the field of genocide studies and prevention," Waller says. "I'm also pleased that scholars and activists in the field of genocide prevention view my book as making at least a small contribution to a much larger body of work and effort aimed at reducing collective violence in the 21st century."
Waller's research and writing on racial prejudice, collective violence and social injustice are garnering national and international attention, and are moving Waller to the forefront of public dialogue on critical social issues. In Becoming Evil (Oxford University Press, 2002), Waller draws from his expertise as a social psychologist and from seven years of research to mount an original argument for understanding why political, social and religious groups wanting to commit mass murder are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. Psychologists and genocide experts have recognized Waller's book as making a significant contribution toward ongoing efforts to understand human nature and to circumvent future mass killing.
Since the publication of Becoming Evil, Waller has delivered addresses related to the book at more than two dozen colleges and universities, as well as at several professional and academic seminars and conferences, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference. The book is being adapted for a play to be produced by a graduate theatre director at UCLA.
Waller has an agreement with Oxford University Press to write two additional books on social evil and is writing a series of articles and book reviews in professional journals. He is also serving as the general editor for Deliver Us from Evil: Genocide and the Christian World, a volume of papers resulting from a seminar that Waller led at Whitworth last summer, and was recently appointed to the board of advisors for Genocide Watch, an international non-governmental organization devoted to bringing about an end to genocide.
In spring 2003 Waller was selected as Whitworth's Edward B. Lindaman Chair, an endowed, rotating chair for senior Whitworth faculty who are engaged in significant regional and national academic initiatives and who contribute to public dialogue concerning important social issues. Waller's three-year appointment begins in fall 2003.
Waller, who joined the Whitworth faculty in 1989, is the founder of Whitworth's Prejudice Across America study program, which gives students firsthand exposure to the corrosive effects of racism and the work being done by individuals and groups to bring about racial reconciliation. He is planning another study tour, Peace and Conflict in Northern Ireland, which will take place in January 2005.
In addition to Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, Waller is author of Prejudice Across America (University Press of Mississippi, 2000) and Face to Face: The Changing State of Racism Across America (Perseus Books, 1998).
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls more than 2,200 students in 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
James Waller, professor of psychology, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.