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.
About the Author
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).
Table of ContentsIntroduction; 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.