Professor Kiernan obtained his Ph.D. from Monash University, Australia, in 1983. He is the author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007), which won the 2008 gold medal for the best book in History awarded by the Independent Publishers association, and the U.S. German Studies Association’s 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for the best book published in 2007-2008 dealing with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in its broadest context, covering the fields of history, political science, and other social sciences, literature, art, and photography. In June 2009, the book’s German translation, Erde und Blut: Völkermord und Vernichtung von der Antike bis heute, won first place in Germany’s Nonfiction Book of the Month Prize Die Sachbücher des Monats, sponsored by Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR Kultur. His work is included in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide (2011) and in Southeast Asia: Essential Readings (2006, 2013). His other awards include the Critical Asian Studies Prize for 2002, and an Honourable Mention in the “One of a Kind” category of the Canadian National Magazine Awards, for his 2006 co-authored article “Bombs over Cambodia.”
Kiernan is also the author of Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia: Documentation, Denial and Justice in Cambodia and East Timor (2007), How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930-1975 (1985, 2004), Cambodia: The Eastern Zone Massacres (1986), The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979 (1996, 2002, 2008), and Le Génocide au Cambodge, 1975-1979: Race, idéologie, et pouvoir (1998). He is the co-author of Khmers Rouges ! Matériaux pour l’histoire du communisme au Cambodge (1981), Peasants and Politics in Kampuchea, 1942-1981 (1982), and Cambodge: Histoire et enjeux (1986), and has published numerous articles on Southeast Asia and the history of genocide. He is a member of the editorial boards of Critical Asian Studies, Human Rights Review, and Zeitschrift für Genozidforschung, and a Research Affiliate of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut.
He was founding Director of the Cambodian Genocide Program (1994-99) and Convenor of the Yale East Timor Project (2000-02). Kiernan’s edited collection Conflict and Change in Cambodia, which won the 2002 Critical Asian Studies Prize, was republished as a book in 2006. He is also the editor of Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge, the United Nations, and the International Community (1993), and Burchett: Reporting the Other Side of the World, 1939-1983 (1986), and co-editor of Revolution and Its Aftermath in Kampuchea (1983), Pol Pot Plans the Future: Confidential Leadership Documents from Democratic Kampuchea, 1976-1977 (1988), and The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (2003).
As director of the Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP), Prof. Kiernan received approximately $2 million in grants to document the crimes of the Pol Pot regime, to establish the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, and to recruit, fund, equip and train its Cambodian staff. Under his direction the CGP’s extensive multilingual website won multiple internet awards. Prof. Kiernan has also received numerous other grants, honors, and fellowships, including a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Research Award; the Australian Research Council’s national Federation Fellowship; the Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship at the National Humanities Center; the Inaugural S.T. Lee Visiting Fellowship, University of Sydney; a Camargo Foundation Fellowship in Cassis, France; a Visiting Fellowship at the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin; the Jan Randa Visiting Fellowship at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University; an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship; a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship; a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship at the Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities; and a Fellowship at the Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University.
He has been elected a Member of the Council of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (1988-90), of the Southeast Asia Council of the U.S. Association for Asian Studies (1993-96), and of the Advisory Council of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2007-09).
His undergraduate courses include Southeast Asia from Earliest Times to 1900, Southeast Asia since 1900, Vietnamese History from Earliest Times, The Vietnam War, Environmental History of Southeast Asia, and graduate seminars on the Vietnam War and on various aspects of the history of genocide.