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.Read more
- 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
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 HillSee more reviews
'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
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- Date Published: November 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.
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