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Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights$
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Diana Tietjens Meyers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199930388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199930388.001.0001

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Two Victim Paradigms and the Problem of “Impure” Victims

Two Victim Paradigms and the Problem of “Impure” Victims

(p.26) Chapter 1 Two Victim Paradigms and the Problem of “Impure” Victims
Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights

Diana Tietjens Meyers

Oxford University Press

Amnesty International’s conception of a prisoner of conscience includes two victim paradigms, which are explicated and rejected in this chapter. As proof of innocence, the pathetic victim must be passive in the face of overwhelming power, and the heroic victim must act nonviolently in pursuit of a just cause. Acknowledged victims—e.g. Holocaust victims and Chinese dissident Liao Yiwu—don’t fit these paradigms. In addition, the paradigms obscure some forms of victimization. An account of warped action spaces defined by wrongful force, fraud, and coercion is presented as a basis for theorizing the innocence of victims as being constrained by a warped action space. The mark of victimhood is burdened agency, not suppressed agency or honorable dissent.

Keywords:   prisoner of conscience, pathetic victim, heroic victim, innocence, Amnesty International, action spaces, burdened agency, Holocaust, Liao Yiwu

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