Hiroshima Mon Amour, inscription on the body and the promise of justice

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50 years ago the film Hiroshima Mon Amour caused a scandal on its release for its audacity in apparently comparing the enormity of the atrocity of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima with the personal tragic love story of a French woman. This scandal was augmented by the opening sequence of the film which appeared to make a direct comparison between the ecstasy of love and the extreme agony and devastation of this act of war, by inscribing the effects of each upon two embracing bodies. Since then different readings of the film have negotiated that apparent personalisation and intensification upon the body, as a means to critique the desensitisation that has marked our means to respond to mass death post-'Hiroshima'. Such interpretation takes on new applicability in the wake of recent 'disavowals' of the death of some and those barriers, as Judith Butler has it, "against which we struggle when we try to find out about the losses that we are asked not to mourn" (Butler (2004) Precarious Life, Verso p.46)). Such barriers drawn up by the “frames of war”, can encounter resistance by way of alternative mediations of injustice written starkly upon the body and its abjection Butler (2009) Frames of War, Verso p.130 and passim). The chapter engages with readings of the film Hiroshima Mon Amour and readings of more recent representations of the horrors of war (including those ‘informal’ mediations now available via mobile technologies), by way of the critical positions towards notions of war, justice, community and the body, that the work of Butler and principally Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy provides. This is in order to unravel what a 'just' resistance to and mourning for the injustices of past and present and a true sense of a “justice-to-come” might be. It is perhaps somewhere between an overarching impersonal notion of the abject and an over-wrought personalisation on the body, a denial of identity and an excessive inscription of identity, that an 'other' justice emerges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventWar and the Body - Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 2010 → …


ConferenceWar and the Body
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period11/06/10 → …


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