Genocide and the Terror of History
Title: Genocide and the Terror of History
Author: MOSES, A. Dirk
Citation: Parallax, 2011, 17, 4, 90-108
ISSN: 1353-4645 print; 1460-700X online
This article explores how and why the ‘terror of history’ is an inescapable feature of modernity as it unfolds in historical reality as opposed to tidy sociological theories. For the ‘small nations’ and their disaporas in particular, traumatic memories of genocide and flight, and experiences of continuing exile from and occupation of imagined homelands, constitute a political imaginary that is irreducibly catastrophic. Politics is necessarily ‘calamitized’. In this article, I account for the ‘terror of history’ by drawing on a variety of psychological and sociological literatures, and lay out its various modalities by referring to the statements of intellectuals and political leaders. Because of the ‘organic’ link between Holocaust memory and its instrumentalisation in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I focus here on that case as the most accessible and salient example of the ‘terror of history’.
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