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Book Cover for: A Victim's Shoe, a Broken Watch, and Marbles: Desire Objects and Human Rights, Lea David

A Victim's Shoe, a Broken Watch, and Marbles: Desire Objects and Human Rights

Lea David

Everyday items found at the sites of atrocities possess a striking emotional force. Victims' garments, broken glasses, wallets, shoes, and other such personal property that are recovered from places of death including concentration camps, mass graves, and prisons have become staples of memorial museums, exhibited to the public as material testimony in order to evoke sympathy and promote human rights. How do these objects take on such power, and what are the benefits and pitfalls of deploying them for political purposes?

A Victim's Shoe, a Broken Watch, and Marbles examines how artifacts of atrocities circulate and, in so doing, sheds new light on the institutions and social processes that shape collective memory of human rights abuses. Lea David traces the journeys of what she terms "desire objects" their rediscovery at the locations of mass atrocities, their use in forensic and legal procedures, their return to the homes of grieving families, their appearance in public spaces such as museums and exhibitions, and their role in political protests. She critically investigates the logic that shapes why and how desire objects gain symbolic power and political significance, showing when and under what circumstances they are used to promote particular worldviews and narratives. Featuring both novel theoretical methods and keen empirical analysis, this book offers important insights into the shortcomings of common assumptions about human rights.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publish Date: Dec 31st, 2024
  • Pages: 376
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00lb
  • EAN: 9780231217736
  • Categories: Human RightsViolence in SocietyMuseum Studies

About the Author

Lea David is an assistant professor in the School of Sociology, University College Dublin. She is the author of The Past Can't Heal Us: The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights (2020).

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