History on Wednesday: Emotions, Politics, and the Terror of History: Methodological Considerations
Emotions, Politics, and the Terror of History: Methodological Considerations
Dirk Moses, City College of New York | 12:10pm, 6 September, 2023
Scholars of genocide and ethnic violence have long sought to account for perpetrator behavior by invoking emotions, albeit from their different disciplinary standpoints. They also point to a variety of relevant emotions—hate, resentment, anger, fear, and paranoia, for instance. If a plausible account of genocidal emotions needs to satisfy neuroscientists, however, how can resentment—as opposed to fear—be tracked with scans of the brain and its neural processes? Indeed, others question the adequacy of the scientific study of non-intentional states by pointing to the irreducible presence of human cognition and culture in generating intense affects. In this paper, I engage in the conversation between these approaches and, perhaps improbably, suggest a way of reconciling them by theorizing the transmission (contagion) of the traumatic experiences to co-nationals that subtend genocidal projects in the stories they tell about their group past. I call this phenomenon “the terror of history.”
About the speaker:
Dirk Moses is the Anne and Bernard Professor of International Relations at the City College of New York since July 2022. He taught history the University of Sydney from 2000 to 2020, as well as the European University Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent monograph is The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression (2021). With University of Sydney colleagues, Avril Alba and Jennifer Barrett, he is editing The Holocaust and Human Rights: Transnational Perspectives on Contemporary Memorial Museums (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2024).
School of Humanities Common Room – A22, Level 8, A18 Brennan MacCullum Building. Spaces are limited for in-person tickets, so please register as soon as possible if you would like to reserve a spot.
Zoom info to be sent ahead of the event.