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Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma

Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma

Jane Kilby
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma
    Book Description:

    A study of 'trauma culture' - a new popular culture of traumatic experiences and victim identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2883-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface: Putting it Lightly: The History and Future of Speaking Out About Violence
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Undoing The Force of Violence
    (pp. 1-16)

    How can you know – in theory and in practice – what is an ‘unbearable reality in fact’ (Herman 1992: 102)? How do you remember a devastating experience if you have ‘walled [it] off from conscious awareness and memory, so that it did not happen’ (ibid.)? And how do you recover a history of violence when ‘both the abuse and [the] coping strategies’ are kept firmly ‘outside of ordinary awareness’ (ibid.: 103)? These are the types of question faced by Judith Herman when she argues in her critically acclaimed Trauma and Recovery that the ‘ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them...

  6. CHAPTER 1 It’s All in the Reading: Moving Beyond the False Memory Syndrome Debates
    (pp. 17-42)

    In her recent book Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars, Sue Campbell provides an incredibly sustained feminist philosophical interrogation of the controversy caused by the phenomenon of so-called ‘false memory syndrome’, the appellation given by a lobbying group of apparently wrongly accused parents to describe how and why their daughters ‘remember’ abuse in therapy when, it is claimed by the parents, nothing of the sort has occurred, and in so doing she explores the implications for our understanding of the sociality of memory. Needless to say, the debates generated by the charge that therapists are responsible for ‘suggesting’ to their...

  7. CHAPTER 2 In All Innocence: Repression and Sylvia Fraser’s My Father’s House
    (pp. 43-70)

    On the front cover of the 1987 Virago edition of Sylvia Fraser’s autobiography, My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing, there is a family-style snapshot of a little girl standing in a garden. The photograph is a joy to behold, showing the child smiling happily as she squints in the apparent glare of bright summer sunshine. Clutching a doll, dressed in light, frivolous clothes – a short, seemingly white, lacy dress and lace knickers showing just beneath her hem – wearing sandals and a ribbon in her hair, she is seen to pose free and easy for the camera....

  8. CHAPTER 3 Without Insight: Survivor Art and the Possibility of Redemption
    (pp. 71-98)

    Alice Miller is in no doubt that there is a fundamental relationship between the traumas of childhood and creativity. Indeed, according to Miller in her book The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness, childhood traumas are the ‘key’ for unlocking the mysteries of art, since their ‘traces are always apparent in the person’s creative work, usually running through it like a continuous thread’ (1990: vii). Taking a visit to a Picasso exhibition as her point of departure, Miller begins her argument by recalling how when walking through the gallery she gradually forgot ‘the great crowds of bored...

  9. CHAPTER 4 All Trauma, Talk and Tears: In the Event of Speaking Out on TV
    (pp. 99-130)

    Not so long ago it was not ‘too far-fetched to imagine daytime talk as the electronic syndicated version of consciousness-raising groups of the women’s movements’ (Mellencamp 1988, cited in Shattuc 1997). Today, it would stretch the imagination. Instead, the success of daytime talk and the daily parade of women offering testimony to painful realities serve for many critics as perhaps the best example for demonstrating the limits if not outright failure of a cultural politics of trauma. Take, for example, Frigga Haug’s socialist feminist reading of the contemporary scene of speaking out, and her attempt ‘to demonstrate a relationship between...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 131-134)
  11. Index
    (pp. 135-144)