Professor Ben Kiernan

Distinguished Alumni Award 2015 - Faculty of Arts Professor Ben Kiernan is the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History and Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale University. He...

Distinguished Alumni Award 2015 - Faculty of Arts

Professor Ben Kiernan is the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History and Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale University.  He gained his Bachelor of Arts (Hons) (First Class) in 1975 and Doctor of Philosophy from Monash University in 1983.  He taught at the University of New South Wales for three years and at the University of Wollongong for four years.

Appointed to the Yale History Department in 1990, Professor Kiernan was founding Director of the Genocide Studies Program from 1994 to 2015, and for the past five years served concurrently as Chair of the Council on Southeast Asia Studies.  His books include How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism and Communism in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1930 - 1975 (1985, 2004), which was Asiaweek “Editor’s Pick of the Month”; The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975 - 1979 (1996, 2008); Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia: Documentation, Denial, and Justice in Cambodia and East Timor (2007); and Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007).

Professor Kiernan’s work has appeared in eleven languages and received many awards.  Blood and Soil won the Independent Publishers 2008 gold medal for the best work of history and the U.S. German Studies Association’s 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for the best book published in 2007 to 2008 dealing with the Holocaust in its broadest context.  Its German translation won the June 2009 Nonfiction Book of the Month Prize.  His other awards include the 2002 Critical Asian Studies Prize for his anthology Conflict and Change in Cambodia, and an Honourable Mention in the 2006 Canadian National Magazine Awards for a co-authored article “Bombs over Cambodia.”  His work is featured in Southeast Asia: Essential Readings, and in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide.

For over thirty years Professor Kiernan documented the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime and worked to bring the perpetrators to justice.  At Yale University he founded the Cambodian Genocide Program, which under his direction, established the Documentation Center of Cambodia, uncovered the archives of the Khmer Rouge secret police, detailed the case for an international tribunal, and won multiple internet awards.