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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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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Tainted Witness in Law and Literature

Tainted Witness in Law and Literature

Nafissatou Diallo and Jamaica Kincaid

(p.133) 5 Tainted Witness in Law and Literature
Tainted Witness

Leigh Gilmore

Columbia University Press

Chapter five examines two examples of unsympathetic women witnesses and the transits of their testimony across an assemblage of legal and literary modes of judgment: 1) the rape case brought by Nafissatou Diallo against former head of the International Monetary Fund and former French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn as Diallo and her testimony travelled from criminal court, through the court of public opinion, to civil court in search of an adequate witness and 2) the autobiographical fiction of Jamaica Kincaid, who offers a literary witness in contrast to the sympathetic, pure, young victims featured in humanitarian campaigns. The chapter argues that the dynamics of witness tainting previously analyzed make it imperative that we adopt an ethical response that is not primarily grounded in identification or compassion. The chapter concludes by arguing that sympathy fails to provide an adequate ground for ethical witnessing and that we must learn to engage with the unsympathetic woman witness.

Keywords:   Literary Witness, Unsympathetic Witness, Ethics, Jamaica Kincaid, Nafissatou Diallo, Rape Trial

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