This talk will explore one chapter in the history of a particular concept of humanity forged in suffering and survival, symbolized by the secular witness. It discusses the defamation trial of French writer David Rousset (author of "The Concentrationary Universe," or "L'Univers concentrationnaire), which became shorthand for camp life in the decade after the Second World War. It addresses how he used the trial to generate a victim-centered testimonial practice only fully developed after the Eichmann trial. The paper will summarize the features and history of the survivor icon conceived as part of the historical development of contemporary moral culture.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University and the author of five books, most recently Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2010).