Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Care of the Witness
A Contemporary History of Testimony in Crises

$98.99 (C)

Part of Human Rights in History

  • Author: Michal Givoni, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107150942

$ 98.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • During the twentieth century, witnessing grew to be not just a widespread solution for coping with political atrocities but also an intricate problem. As the personal experience of victims, soldiers, and aid workers acquired unparalleled authority as a source of moral and political truth, the capacity to generate adequate testimonies based on this experience was repeatedly called into question. Michal Givoni's book follows the trail of the problems, torments, and crises that became commingled with witnessing to genocide, disaster, and war over the course of the twentieth century. By juxtaposing episodes of reflexive witnessing to the Great War, the Jewish Holocaust, and third world emergencies, The Care of the Witness explores the shifting roles and responsibilities of witnesses in history and the contribution that the troubles of witnessing made to the ethical consolidation of the witness as the leading figure of nongovernmental politics.

    • Proposes a new view of witnessing and testimony as practices that have changed significantly during the twentieth century, providing a theoretical and historical frame of reference for readers who engage with these ideas in the limited contexts of genocide, disaster, and war
    • Explores the historical connections between witnessing and testimony and nongovernmental politics, giving readers a new perspective of human rights activism and humanitarianism from beyond the perspectives of political science, international relations, and international law
    • Provides a new outlook on Michel Foucault's notion of ethics as care of the self and on its intersections with neoliberal governmentality, appealing to readers interested in post-liberal ethics, in governmentality studies, and in Foucault's work
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'At once thoughtful and provocative, Michal Givoni's The Care of the Witness traces the arteries of testimony that flow through twentieth-century experiences of war, humanitarian action and the Holocaust, exposing them to rigorous analysis. Anyone concerned with the political stakes of contemporary ethical speech should read this book.' Peter Redfield, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    'The great virtue of Michal Givoni is that she combines analytical rigor, a wide range of reference, and a deep historical understanding of witnessing with rhetorical delicacy and ethical purpose. Her book is as important for its tone and moral seriousness as it is for its very considerable academic contributions.' Thomas W. Laqueur, University of California, Berkeley

    'It is nearly impossible to imagine politics today without witnesses and testimonies, writes Michal Givoni. And, they have fundamentally transformed what we mean by ethics after Auschwitz. However, her breathtaking book shows us how little we have really understood these upheavals. Virtually everything we thought we knew about them now needs to be rethought. Patiently reading her way through a rich theoretical and practical corpus, Givoni takes us from World War I through the Holocaust to Doctors without Borders and social media today, and demonstrates how we might approach witnessing and testimony in a genuinely critical manner - which is to say, to take them seriously, for ethics and for politics.' Thomas Keenan, Director of the Human Rights Project, Bard College, New York

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107150942
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 159 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The ethics of witnessing and the politics of the governed
    2. Witnessing beyond politics: testimony theory between Auschwitz and the crisis of representation
    3. Witnesses as a public: the authority of experience and the critique of testimonies following the Great War
    4. Empathic listeners and alarmed spectators: secondary witnessing and existential ruin in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies
    5. Humanitarian governance and ethical cultivation: Médecins Sans Frontières and the advent of the expert-witness
    Conclusion: revisiting the ethics of witnessing.

  • Author

    Michal Givoni, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
    Michal Givoni teaches in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. She is co-editor of The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2009).

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.