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We Are All Victims Now

Thomas Laqueur: Trauma

8 July 2010
The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood 
by Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman, translated by Rachel Gomme.
Princeton, 305 pp., £44.95, July 2009, 978 0 691 13752 0
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... In formal Japanese, I’m told, the word ‘trauma’ is written as a compound of two Chinese characters: one meaning ‘external’ and the other ‘injury’. Trauma is thus a hurt on the outside, as in ancient Greek – a wound. We still use the word in this way when we speak of ‘trauma surgeons’ or ‘trauma wards’, but this is not the sense that has made it so resonant and ubiquitous today ...

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