The right to commemoration and “ideal victims”: the puzzle of victim dissatisfaction with State-led commemoration after 9/11 and 3/11
journal contributionposted on 04.07.2018, 10:40 by Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Rosemary Barberet
This article explores the puzzle of victim dissatisfaction with State-led commemoration following 9/11 and 3/11 by offering a cross-national case study through which to view key areas of theoretical debate in the sociology of human rights, cultural trauma and collective memory, and the politics of victimhood. Although State-led commemorative processes are often highly contested, we would expect them to be less so in the cases of 9/11 and 3/11, given broad social consensus about the victims’ right to commemoration and the traumatic nature of the events, and especially the “ideal nature” of the victims who as symbolic representatives of the State are conferred with great moral authority. Drawing on primary and secondary data on the commemoration of the attacks of 11th September 2001 and 11th March 2004 we find that despite sharp differences between commemorative processes, three common key areas of contestation and dissatisfaction for victims emerge: political instrumentalisation, hierarchies of worth and exclusion. We show how the status of ideal victimhood for victims of transnational terrorism carries within it an inherent paradox which provides the key to their dissatisfaction, namely the moral authority conferred on them as representatives of the State simultaneously depersonalises them, excluding them as individuals with rights and needs.
The support for this project was provided by British Academy Grant SG100556 and by PSC-CUNY Award PSCREG-40-718 funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York.
- Social Sciences
- Politics and International Studies