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Sawwaru Waynkum?” Human Rights and Social Trauma in Waltz with Bashir

From: College Literature
Volume 40, Number 3, Summer 2013
pp. 60-80 | 10.1353/lit.2013.0037



This article examines how human rights principles and discourse on social trauma and cultural memory intersect within contemporary post-conflict cinemas of the Middle East. Through a discussion of Ari Folman’s film Waltz with Bashir, the essay argues that the increasing turn to memory and trauma discourse has led to a problematic relationship with the pursuit of justice. In the case of Israeli films about the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the articulation of ‘perpetrator traumas’ has led to an evasion of the question of responsibility that is at the heart of human rights discourse. Nonetheless, this study concludes that memory and trauma discourse and human rights may be realigned productively to promote justice for victims of human rights abuses, as well as a degree of closure on social traumas.

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