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Tainted WitnessWhy We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives$
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Leigh Gilmore

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780231177146

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231177146.001.0001

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Tainted Witness in Testimonial Networks

(p.1) Introduction
Tainted Witness

Leigh Gilmore

Columbia University Press

The introduction lays out the framework for why we doubt what women say about their lives; defines the figure of the tainted witness as who a woman can become, not who she is; places the figure of the woman witness and the practices of testimony (legal and literary) in the context of raced and gendered histories of doubt; theorizes the presence of a testimonial network through which bodies, persons, and words moves as a circulatory system in which histories of slavery and colonialism are lodged and which incubates sexism and racism; analyzes how these pre-existing judgments lay in wait for any particular woman’s testimony in order to smear her; defines scandal as the substitution of the witness’s terms for hostile ones that are then repeated as if truth and are recycled through global media; and defines the “adequate witness” as one who provides a “holding environment” (following Winnicott) for testimony.

Keywords:   Tainted Witness, Testimony, Doubt, Scandal, Race, Gender, Feminism, Rape Culture

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