"The Moral Witness is a brilliantly insightful and thought-provoking book on how the imagination of testimony evolved, which goes far beyond earlier accounts of its public emergence and power. Carolyn Dean has always been one of the best there is at combining theorized history with the interventions in theory itself, and this book is no exception."—Samuel Moyn, Yale University, and author of Christian Human Rights"Carolyn Dean provides a rich, enlightening, and eye-opening narrative on a central figure in twentieth-century ethics and politics: the witness to mass violence or atrocity."—Thomas Keenan, Bard College, and coauthor of Mengele's SkullThe 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 is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University. She is a cultural and intellectual historian of Modern Europe and the author of five books, including The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust and Aversion and Erasure.
- publisherCornell University Press
- publisher placeIthaca, NY