Victimhood Nationalism in the Memory of Mass Dictatorship

  • Jie-Hyun Lim
Part of the Mass Dictatorship in the 20th Century book series (MASSD)


With the advent of a global public sphere, a shift from heroic martyrdom to innocent victimhood has begun to manifest itself in the construction of collective memories. It is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment of this shift, but it can be argued that as the space of global memory has expanded, its changing topography has contributed to the emergence of a discourse of victimhood. The rise of global human rights politics, the politics of apology among great world powers, ethnic cleansing and genocide in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda as they have been conjured out of the history of totalitarianism, the transposition of Holocaust memories onto contemporary sensibilities about genocide, the institutionalisation of cosmopolitan memories, the démocratisation of the narrative with its increasing concern about the victim’s voice and testimony and the process of coming to terms with the memories of mass dictatorships in the post-totalitarian era: all of these phenomena have made a global civil society more receptive to the discourse of victimhood.1 A ‘spatial turn’ in global history finds its parallel in global collective memory, which transcends ethnic and national boundaries. Around the globe, transnational themes dominate the emergence of memories of mass dictatorship.


Collective Memory National Memory Holocaust Survivor Global Civil Society Innocent Victim 
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© Jie-Hyun Lim 2014

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  • Jie-Hyun Lim

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