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On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It. 

New, from Oxford University Press

Praise for On Inhumanity

"This is a book forged in urgency and written for the common reader by a philosopher seeking not just to interpret the world but to change it."     

-- Stephen Wilson, Times Literary Supplement

“This brilliant and powerful book is a philosophically sophisticated and prophetically courageous treatment of dehumanization, especially in regard to race. It is timely and needful in our monstrous times! Don’t miss it!”

--  Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, Harvard University, author of Black Prophetic Fire

"Smith’s greatest strength lies in his ability to elucidate often complex notions in clear, concise terms — as well as his lack of fear in bluntly telling the reader that we are all potentially capable of dehumanization. There is darkness in all of us — but the point is to confront that darkness head-on. There can be no progress toward a better, more peaceful future for society without that reckoning."

-- Linda Roland Danil, Los Angeles Review of Books

“This book is firm but gentle, wise but accessible. Its reflections on our worst habits of politics are phrased in such a way that they allow us to see what better habits might be.”

-- Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from  the Twentieth Century

"On Inhumanity profoundly interrogates the processes that lead ordinary people to engage in horrific acts of violence against others. Tracing common themes across the Holocaust, lynching, and genocides, Smith identifies dehumanization—seeing human beings as subhuman creatures—as the central feature of these mass atrocities, as well as of everyday forms of racial oppression. Most compelling is that Smith refuses to conclude that dehumanization is our inevitable destiny and instead charts a course for resisting it. On Inhumanity brilliantly provides a chilling warning of repeating the past and a hopeful call to create a more humane future."

--Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania, author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century.


"A chilling, comprehensive and passionate account of dehumanization. Smith offers a devastating reminder of the capacity of every human to treat other humans as lesser."

-- Angela Saini, author of Superior: The Return of Race Science

"On Inhumanity is a powerful exploration of the processes and consequences of dehumanization. Concerning himself with violence and the processes that motivate the extermination of “lesser beings,” Smith pens a much-needed treatment of the constantly reemerging brutality that is seemingly endemic to the human condition. From his father being threatened by the Klan in Belton, South Carolina to the almost inconceivable utterances of murders who killed in genocides, On Inhumanity reveals how the imperceptible manifestations of the Great Chain of Being—a modality that continues to fuel racism and feed the many genocides of the 20th century—in our daily lives sow the seeds of atrocity. Smith masterfully weaves the horror of genocides and racism together with genuine philosophical reflection and illuminating prose. It is impossible for any reader of this text to remain unaffected by Smith asking that humanity justify its mythologies of human superiority—be they racial or anthropocentric. On Inhumanity thinks of dehumanization as the result of the desire we have to harm others, and consequently generates this inescapable worry that we all can and do participate in the dehumanizing of others. Simply put, On Inhumanity is a most appropriate confrontation with the illusions and political powers that produce sub-humanity in the 21st century."

--Tommy J. Curry,  Author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood and Chair of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

“In this accessible, engaging, and yet deeply serious book, Smith explores the nexus between racism, dehumanization, and mass violence. He delivers the urgent message that it is not enough to fight the spread of toxic disinformation. We also need to address what it is about ourselves that makes us vulnerable to dehumanizing propaganda. On Inhumanity is vital reading at a time when far-right extremism is on the rise, white supremacist beliefs are reentering the mainstream, and authoritarian regimes are gaining traction all over the globe." 

-- Bruce Schneier, public-interest security technologist, fellow and lecturer at the Kennedy School, Harvard University, author of Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World

"On Inhumanity guides readers through some of humanity’s most desperate and fearful moments to give the opportunity to understand - and resist - dehumanization. It illustrates in vivid terms that dehumanization is a tool for oppression, a tool that makes it possible for humans to overcome their normal resistance to violence and atrocities....I would rush to put this book into the hands of thoughtful political figures, journalists, and students."

Susan Benesch, founding director The Dangerous Speech Project

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