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Andrea Peto: Shame Revisited in the Memory Politics of Illiberal States

Since the MeToo movement, masculine exercise of power, and sexual abuse have been widely brought under close scrutiny. The focus on ‘toxic’ masculinity impacts our perception of male sexuality, which substantially influences the self-image and self-esteem of men. Men are being shamed by others for their transgressive and contemptuous attitudes; and they feel intrinsically ashamed of their own wrong-doings or of the virulent patterns and traditions of Western manhood.

The book Shame! and Masculinity, published by Valiz, explores both positions. It looks at the representation of male sexuality, nudity, fatherhood, male violence, rape, fascism and virility, men and war. It shows works of art that deal with the intricacies and contradictions of these socio-cultural constructs and realities. It stimulates reflection on shame in collusion with masculinity, from male as well as female perspectives. Thus it encourages us to reimagine these issues that simultaneously play a role in society, in our own experience, in history, and in our own bodies and being.

The chapter Shame Revisited in the Memory Politics of Illiberal States, written by DI Researcher Andrea Peto, analyzes how illiberal memory politics uses the concept of shame in creating new political citizenship by mapping how shame is narrated in relation to three traumatic events of the 20th century: the Holocaust, the Gulag and sexual violence during the Second World War.