The Moral Witness
Trials and Testimony after Genocide
The Moral Witness is the first cultural history of the "witness to genocide" in the West. Carolyn J. Dean shows how the witness became a protagonist of twentieth-century moral culture by tracing the emergence of this figure in courtroom battles from the 1920s to the 1960s—covering the Armenian genocide, the Ukrainian pogroms, the Soviet Gulag, and the trial of Adolf Eichmann. In these trials, witness testimonies differentiated the crime of genocide from war crimes and began to form our understanding of modern political and cultural murder.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the "witness to genocide" became a pervasive icon of suffering humanity and a symbol of western moral conscience. Dean sheds new light on the recent global focus on survivors' trauma. Only by placing the moral witness in a longer historical trajectory, she demonstrates, can we understand how the stories we tell about survivor testimony have shaped both our past and contemporary moral culture.
Carolyn J. Dean
Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University. She is the author of several books, including The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust and Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust, both from Cornell, and The Frail Social Body: Pornography, Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France.
Aversion and Erasure
The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust
In Aversion and Erasure, Carolyn J. Dean offers a bold account of how the Holocaust's status as humanity's most terrible example of evil has shaped contemporary discourses about victims in the...
The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust
When we are confronted with images of and memoirs from the Holocaust and subsequent cases of vast cruelty and suffering, is our impulse to empathize put at risk by the possibility of becoming numb to horror? Carolyn J. Dean's provocative new...
The Self and Its Pleasures
Bataille, Lacan, and the History of the Decentered Subject
In this innovative cultural history, Carolyn J. Dean sheds light on the origins of poststructuralist thought, paying particular attention to the reinterpretation of the self by Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, and other French...