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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the history of genocide by looking at collective memories, from the point of view of Western culture. Western culture is suffused with autobiographies, especially with traumatic life narratives about the legacies of abusive childhoods. For the individual victims of genocide, traumatic memories cannot be escaped; for societies, genocide has profound effects that are immediately felt and that people are exhorted never to forget. The discussion shows how genocide is bound up with memory, on an individual level of trauma and on a collective level in terms of the creation of stereotypes, prejudice, and post-genocide politics. Despite the risks of perpetuating old divisions or reopening unhealed wounds, grappling with memory remains essential in order to remind the victims that they are not the worthless or less than human beings that their tormentors have portrayed them as such.

Keywords: Western culture, memory conflicts, traumatic experiences, post-genocide politics, prejudice

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