Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Models of Victimization in Contemporary Cultures

When We Dead Awaken: victims versus rhetoric

Fatima Festic (UCLA, Los Angeles)



In this presentation I will look for the patterns of the cross-cultural understanding of the referent of the term victim and of producing of the complex and conflicting body of victimization, its denial and its integration into courses of everyday life.

I will specifically refer to different angles in approaching and mediums in representing of the Srebrenica exodus and its massacres along with the mass exhumations (that are going on on daily basis for several years already), as well as to different public, judicial and cultural responses to its narrative and visual representations which consequently load its memorials, and also the societal undertakings, with ambiguous functions.

The more the concepts of victims and victimization take place in literary, analytic and humanities discourses worldwide, the more ignorant, manipulative and combative the media and the public sphere become in dealing with the ongoing cases of victimization (both intra-textually and inter-textually - within a closed frame of reference or in comparative external contexts).

My intention hints at the project of de-ideologization, not of the victimization theme, but of the sign-processing within the theme , exploring its critical dimension and dramatizing and subverting its own representational logic. Considering Srebrenica as the culmination of the recent Bosnian cataclysm (recurring for the third time in the 20th century) and its multifaceted incorporation into the European and the world heritage of mass exterminations and their commemoratives as well as of war-crimes trials, I will argue that the construction of the victimization consciousness itself entails the processes of pre-victimization, victimization and post-victimization, reverses them, reactivates and even multiplies, precisely through the rhetorical and political mediation of a dominant imagery. I will exemplify how the real of the actual experiences of being victimized is viciously too often betrayed or traded not only by the mythically induced languages of self-defensiveness of victimizers, but also by the resistant or inept institutional structures, by often-lacking-in-knowledge-and-empathy analysts of the crimes, and by disabled or incapacitated narratives or acts of the survivors' further, often forceful, self-victimization. A much needed public endorsement of supplementary narratives of deconstructed victimhood though should appear as a function only of the symptomatic return of the repressed real of the victims.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-10