Representation, Public Narratives, and Religion
Constructing Acceptable Victims from the Archive of Popular Culture: Luke Cage, Menachim Begin, and Beyoncé
Sunday, February 28, 2021
1:00-3:00 PM CST | 7:00 PM-9:00 PM UTC-Time Zone Conversion
Representation is a key concern in conversations about historic wrongdoing and reparations, where the ability of not only specific individuals but entire communities to adhere to the popular imagination of ideal victimhood is a key issue (Bouris 2007, Smith 2014). Religious imaginaries, particularly Christian ideals of innocence and forgiveness, are central to contemporary understandings of victimhood, which are promoted less through careful philosophical or legal argument and more through popular culture representations of harm and reparation (Ahmed 2014).
In this paper, I want to attend carefully to two parallel cases of victim representation in popular culture: the construction of Holocaust survivors as ideal victims, on the one hand, and the continual rejection of claims for reparation from the African American community, on the other. Tracking the way that these cases are built and sustained in popular media (comic books, film, music) opens up room for us to consider the ways that the religious mediates the political—but, at the same time, popular representation privileges a very narrow canon of religiosity.
- Smith, Michelle. “Affect and Respectability Politics”. Theory & Event 17:3 (2014).
- Vincent, Alana. ‘Holocaust Commemoration, Historical Anesthetization and the Refugee Crisis’, in Religion in the European Refugee Crisis, ed. Graeme Smith and Ulrich Schmiedel. London: Palgrave Macmillan (2018) pp. 187-204.
- Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
- Bouris, Erica. Complex Political Victims. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, 2007.
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