Genocide and the Arts: Creativity, Morality and the Representation of Traumatic Experience

  • Adam Muller
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide book series (PSHG)


In their introduction to this timely volume of essays, the editors usefully foreground the ways in which representations contribute to shaping social reality, and by extension our understanding of and commitment to the moral norms and political practices animating, as well as sustaining, our sense of the way things are now and have been in the past. It is, in other words, via our representational languages and practices that we derive the crucial information needed to make sense of ourselves, others, and the world. This was the intuition underpinning philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s intuition in his Tractatus that “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (Wittgenstein, 1961). It is also an idea implicit in the comparison provided here by Joceline Chabot, Richard Godin, and Sylvia Kasparian of Canadian media coverage of the Armenian Genocide and atrocities committed by German troops in Belgium and France during the First World War. While these authors show how successful the press was at conveying useful information about the Armenian Genocide to the Canadian public, like me they remain finally doubtful of the efficacy of words when tasked with describing an attempted human annihilation. Notwithstanding the importance of documenting and explaining atrocious human experiences, we need to be constantly aware of what the Holocaust historian Saul Friedlander once termed the “limits of representation” (Friedlander, 1992).


Moral Judgment Traumatic Experience Holocaust Survivor Extreme Violence Mass Violence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Adam Muller 2016

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  • Adam Muller

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