The present article has a twofold purpose. On the one hand it seeks to understand more fully the victim paradigm, its construction, and the role it played in the transformation of the Jewish extermination into the generic symbol and universal metonym for Genocide, and for its memory as the framing experience for past and present atrocities. And, on the other, it offers an account of the political significance of the emergence of this memorial paradigm for the Jewish world and for the rest of the world in the third millennium, whose implications, even if only subliminally, continue to shape any discussion about the past, especially when it involves ethnic persecution and mass atrocities committed by political states. The essay’s main argument posits the growing influence of the narrative of identity politics – framed by territoriality and memory – as the main cause of such a transformation, and as the main vector of what is a valid basis for memory legitimation and the construction of memorial practices for the victims of colonial genocide as well. The victims of colonial genocide enter the arena of commemorative discourse not as agents of their own specific experience forged by colonialism and racism, but through the memorialization of the unique experience undergone by the Jewish collective as a whole, which formed the backcloth, so to speak, of their own specific experience of persecution and extermination. In the first part of the essay, the author reconstructs the victim paradigm’s genealogy from the middle of the 20th century until the year 2000, while in the second part, she dwells mainly on the institutionalization of the memorial practices of the Shoah, in the first twenty years of 21st century.
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- Identity Politics