This study analyzes the pervasive rhetoric of victimhood in European culture since 1968. In a radically fragmented public sphere, individuals perceive themselves as dissociated from all others, while at the same time they feel similar to everyone else. Where genuine solidarity and communality is attenuated, people present themselves as victims to garner media attention, create fragile social bonds, or escape supposed marginalization and oppression. Fatima Naqvi commences with interpretations of Sigmund Freud, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, arguing that contemporary discourse continues a trajectory mapped in the early 20th century?in the shadow of Nazism. In a series of paradigmatic readings of Rene Girard, Peter Sloterdijk, Michael Haneke, Anselm Kiefer, Christoph Ransmayr, Friederike Mayrocker, Michel Houellebecq, Giorgio Agamben, and Elfriede Jelinek, she traces the on-going fascination with victimhood and the desire for victim status in the West. She looks at the way in which such cultural anxiety expresses itself; at how victim rhetoric calls itself into question; and, finally, at how it perpetuates itself in the moment that it becomes philosophically ungrounded.

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