Alkan, Hilal; Liebau, Heike

Witnessing as political activism: Zeitzeugen in Asia and the Middle East


ZMO Programmatic Texts, 14

17 S.

ISSN/ISBN 2191-­3242
DOI: urn:nbn:de:101:1-2021070810060257859661

Annette Wieviorka (2006) identifies our time as the “Era of the Witness”, an era in which witness statements appear among the key components of public history and national narratives. It is an era in which individual narratives based on memories of events of social significance began to compete with, challenge, and also shape official histories. It is an era that began in the aftermath of World War II and has been made possible by the technological developments that allowed audio-visual recordings to become increasingly available. It has involved a change in the primary location of giving testimonies (from the courts to the public sphere), in the diversity of witnesses (increasingly coming from mar-ginalised groups), in the mediums used (from written or oral statements saved in archives to Youtube videos or even holograms), and finally in the function of witness accounts (from consolidating singular hegemonic narratives to multiplying historical truths). The witness in Wieviorka’s account corresponds to the broad discus-sion on the concept of the Zeitzeuge and the narrative about its rise as a public figure in the German academic debate...