James A. Tyner, The Politics of Lists: Bureaucracy and Genocide under the Khmer Rouge – West Virginia University Press, September 2018
Scholars from a number of disciplines have, especially since the advent of the war on terror, developed critical perspectives on a cluster of related topics in contemporary life: militarization, surveillance, policing, biopolitics (the relation between state power and physical bodies), and the like. James A. Tyner, a geographer who has contributed to this literature with several highly regarded books, here turns to the bureaucratic roots of genocide, building on insight from Hannah Arendt, Zygmunt Bauman, and others to better understand the Khmer Rouge and its implications for the broader study of life, death, and power.
The Politics of Lists analyzes thousands of newly available Cambodian documents both as sources of information and as objects worthy of study in and of themselves. How, Tyner asks, is recordkeeping implicated in the creation of political authority? What is the relationship between violence and bureaucracy? How can documents, as an anonymous technology capable of conveying great force, be understood in relation to newer technologies like drones? What does data create, and what does it destroy? Through a theoretically informed, empirically grounded study of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus, Tyner shows that lists and telegrams have often proved as deadly as bullet and bombs.