What is the epistemological value of testimony? What role does language, images, and memory play in its construction? What is the relationship between the person who attests and those who listen? Is bearing witness a concept that is exclusively based in interpersonal relations? Or are there other modes of communicating or mediating to constitute a constellation of testimony?
Testimony/Bearing Witness establishes a dialogue between the different approaches to testimony in epistemology, historiography, law, art, media studies and psychiatry. With examples including the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and the Armenian genocide the volume discusses the chances and limits of communicating epistemological and ethical, philosophical and cultural-historical, past and present perspectives on the phenomenon and concept of bearing witness.
Introduction / Part I: Historical Perspectives / 1. The Presence of the Witness, Francois Hartog/ 2. The Debate on Testimonies Concerning Miracles and History in 17th-18th Century France, Michèle Bokobza Kahan/ 3. Enlightenment Perspectives on the Problem of Testimony, Axel Gelfert/ Part II: International Sites / 4. Testimony in Light of the Khmer Rouge Trials - Reflections of a Judge Involved, Marcel Lemonde / 5. The Armenian Case - Bearing Witness by mediation of the Second or Third Generation, Janine Altounian / 6. Testimonies in the Spaces of Promoting and Opposing Violent Extremism, Stevan Weine/ Part III: Holocaust- Paradigm and Intersection of Survivior Testimony and Philosophical Epistemology / 7. The Power and Perils of Being Believed, Benjamin McMyler / 8. The Testimony of the Traumatic Witness: The Tension between the Therapeutic Act and the Loss of Words and Their Meaning, Zohar Rubinstein / 9. Analysing Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Certainties, Scepticism, Relativism, Martin Kusch / 10. Probing the Limits of Visual Testimonies – A Cinematic Approach to Different Modes of Testimony from the Warsaw Ghetto in Hersonski’s A Film unfinished, Sigrid Weigel / Part IV: Visibility and Media-History of Testimony / 11. Like a Thief in the Night: Witnessing and Watching, John Durham Peters/ 12. Remembrance of Things Past: Testimony and Imagination, Peter Geimer / 13. The 1,001 Reflections of an Ongoing Catastrophe - From Visual to Cinematic Testimony, Aurélia Kalisky / Part V: Epistemology of Testimony / 14. Epistemic Dependence and Trust. On witnessing in the third-, second- and first-person perspective, Sybille Krämer / 15. The Philosophy of Testimony: Between Epistemology and Ethics, Sibylle Schmidt / 16. Is Testimony an Epistemically Distinguished Source of Knowledge?, Dirk Koppelberg / Contributors / Acknowledgements
Sybille Krämer is former Professor of Philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin and from 2019 she will hold a senior professorship at Leuphana University Lueneburg.
Sigrid Weigel is former Director of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) in Berlin.
The collection by Sybille Krämer and Sigrid Weigel on experience, meaning and notions of testimony/bearing witness strike straight at the heart of fundamental epistemological questions of calamity and its philosophical and cultural repercussions. From the objective perspective(s) of subjectivity up to the social constellation of testifying, the transformations of existential bearing unto judgment, and of judgement unto knowledge are scrutinized in a multitude of most enlightening approaches.
Testimony references at root a witness (testis) who acts (monium). Meticulously and imaginatively compiled by Kramer and Weigel this collection offers a dazzling array of scholars from multifarious disciplines adducing theoretical testimony to the epistemological and emotional enigma of the autography of the witness.