Testimony Incarnate: Read My Lips

Gillian Whitlock

in Soft Weapons

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226895253
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226895277 | DOI:
Testimony Incarnate: Read My Lips

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This chapter investigates the conditions where life narratives about trauma in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are excluded and suppressed, unable to break through into the mass market to exert political influence. It also reviews the routes of asylum-seeker testimony. Asylum-seeker testimony is often gathered in composite text that is surrounded with peritext by authorized witnesses. In the case of this testimony, the appeal to human rights discourse is contested by renewed discourses of belonging: homelands, patriots, closed borders, and national security. This renewed emphasis deprives asylum seekers of access to the codes of human rights discourse that have comprised the lingua franca for the production and reception of testimony. Testimony incarnate calls on an extraordinary leap of faith: that it can come alive in and through its witness regarding pain.

Keywords: testimony incarnate; life narratives; trauma; Afghanistan; Iraq; Iran; asylum-seeker testimony; human rights

Chapter.  7787 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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