Blurred Vision: Non-testimonial Documentation of Trauma


Mon, 13/06/2022 (All day)


Dr. Ella Elbaz

Trauma studies have predominantly positioned the survivor and her testimony as the paradigm for recounting trauma; as such it has foregrounded inaffibility as a key feature of reconstructing historical atrocitiies. The Palestinian novel Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, on the other hand, presents a different vantage point - that of the perpatrator - in order to portray such an "unspeakable" act of violence: The Nirim Affair. I will talk about non-testimonial documentation of trauma via the way Shibli's fiction constructs a "blurred vision" of the events: on the one hand, Shibli's novel gives the reader a "clear image" of the affair by using cinematic language that makes it visibile to readers and by accentuating themes of clearance/cleanliness in practices of personal hygene, ethnic cleansing and purity of the landscape; on the other hand, the text points at the many obstacles that hinder a full image of the events, both thematically - the reliance on missing archives, for instance - and stylistically, as the narrative precludes any interiority from both perpatrators and victims. 


I will present this paper in its preliminary stage; this work is separate from the two main projects I've been working on in the last few years. I will begin my talk by shortly presenting the book project I'm finalizing these days as well as my next book project, so to give an overview of my work, and then proceed to present this paper, hoping your feedback could help me turn it into a more robust essay.