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Revista mexicana de ciencias políticas y sociales

Print version ISSN 0185-1918


ALEXANDER, Jeffrey C.. Cultural Trauma, Morality and Solidarity. The Social Construction of the Holocaust and Other Mass Murders. Rev. mex. cienc. polít. soc [online]. 2016, vol.61, n.228, pp.191-210. ISSN 0185-1918.

A cultural trauma is produced when the members of a community feel they have gone through a dreadful event that has left indelible scars on their collective consciousness, branding forever their memories and changing their future identity in an essential and irrevocable way. Although this scientific concept suggests there are empiric/causal links among occurrences, structures, perceptions, and actions that were not previously connected, it also illuminates anew a significant domain of moral responsibility and political action. By elaborating cultural traumas, social groups, national societies and sometimes even entire civilizations may not only cognitively identify the existence and sources of human suffering, but also take certain moral responsibility for it. As groups identify the roots of trauma and assume a moral responsibility, the members of communities establish supportive relationships that may allow them -and even force them- to partake of the suffering of the others. Is the others' suffering also our suffering? Insofar as it is deemed plausible, societies broaden the circle of the "us" and will endeavor to prevent the trauma from happening again by means of their healing process. This article considers empirically the working-through of a trauma in the case of the Holocaust -the massive extermination of Jews by the Nazis and its foundational status in the elaboration and re/signifying of the trauma-, and discusses the experiences of the Afro-Americans, the indigenous peoples, the colonial victims of Western and Japanese imperialism, the Nanking Massacre, and the victims of communist regimes of the Soviet Union and the Maoist China.

Keywords : cultural trauma; radical evil; solidarity; Holocaust.

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