Ben Kiernan

Ben Kiernan's picture
A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History; Director of the Genocide Studies Program; Chair, Council on Southeast Asia Studies; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Southeast Asia Studies
Office: 
HGS 326
Phone: 
203-432-2870
Field(s) of interest: 
World History; Southeast Asia, early & modern especially Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia & East Timor; Comparative colonialism; Nationalism; Communism; Genocide; Environmental history


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 work of 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.  Kiernan’s work is featured 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 How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930-1975 (1985, 2004), which was Asiaweek “Editor’s Pick of the Month”; 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); Le Génocide au Cambodge, 1975-1979: Race, idéologie, et pouvoir (1998); and Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia: Documentation, Denial and Justice in Cambodia and East Timor (2007). 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 is 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; a Professorial Fellowship at the University of Melbourne; the Australian Research Council’s national Federation Fellowship (declined); 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.





Yale PhD dissertations directed:
Dhont, Frank. Outlasting Colonialism: Socio-political Change in the Javanese Principalities under the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia during World War II (2012)
 
Fogg, Kevin William. The Fate of Muslim Nationalism in Independent Indonesia (2012)
 
Ford, Eugene Brassel. Cold War Monks: An International History of Buddhism, Politics, and Regionalism in Thailand and Southeast Asia, 1940-1975 (2012). Co-Winner of the Arthur and Mary Wright Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in non-Western History.
 
Cherry, Haydon Leslie. Down and Out in Saigon: A Social History of the Poor in a Colonial City, 1860-1940 (2011). Co-Winner of the Arthur and Mary Wright Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in non-Western History.
 
Madley, Benjamin Logan. American Genocide: The California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (2009, co-directed with John Mack Faragher). Winner of the Frederick W. Beinecke Prize for an outstanding doctoral dissertation in the field of Western American history, and the 2010 Phi Alpha Theta-Westerners International Prize for the best 2009 dissertation in Western history.
 
Keith, Charles Patrick. Catholic Vietnam: Church, Colonialism and Revolution, 1887-1945 (2008, co-directed with John Merriman)
 
Paterson, Lorraine Marion. Tenacious Texts: Vietnam, China, and Radical Cultural Intersections, 1890-1930 (2006, co-directed with Jonathan D. Spence)
 
Wheeler, Charles. Cross-cultural Trade and Trans-regional Networks in the Port of Hoi An: Maritime Vietnam in the Early Modern Era (2001)
 
Tagliocozzo, Eric. Secret Trades of the Straits: Smuggling and State-Formation along a Southeast Asian Frontier, 1870-1910 (1999)
 
Fineman, Daniel Mark. The United States and Military Government in Thailand, 1947-1958 (1993)
 
Member of other Yale PhD Dissertation Committees:
Vong, Sam C.
Compassion Politics: The History of Indochinese Refugees and the Transnational Networks of Care, 1975-1994 (2013, History)
 
Padwe, Jonathan
Garden Variety Histories: Social and Environmental Change in Northeast Cambodia (2011, Anthropology and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies)
 
Cameron, Sarah Isabel

The Hungry Steppe: Soviet Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine 1921-1934 (2010, History)

 
Nguyen, Lien-Hang
‘Between the Storms’: North Vietnam’s Strategy during the Second Indochina War (1955-1973) (2008, History)
 
Jensen, Mette Bastholm
Solidarity in Action: A Comparative Study of Rescue Efforts in Nazi-occupied Denmark and the Netherlands (2007, Sociology)
 
Mironko, Charles K.
Social and Political Mechanisms of Mass Murder: An Analysis of Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide (2004, Anthropology)
 
Besirevic-Regan, Jasmina
Ethnic Cleansing in Banja Luka: National Homogenization, Political Repression, and the Emergence of a Bosnian Muslim Refugee Community (2004, Sociology)
 
Cagaptay, Soner
Crafting the Turkish Nation: Kemalism and Turkish Nationalism in the 1930s (2003, History)
 
Breckon, Lydia
The other side: Ethnic and transnational identity among Khmer-Americans in southern New England (1999, Anthropology)
 
Ninh, Kim Ngoc Bao
Revolution, Politics and Culture in Socialist Vietnam, 1945-1965 (1996, Political Science)