Victim, racism, anti-Semitism

Claudia Gina Hassan


The Biblical notion of “scapegoat” has been inflected and interpreted from a theological, philosophical, sociological and a psychoanalytic angle. Based on a reconstruction of these different interpretive lines, and highlighting
the frequent conflation of these diverse planes, the usage of this notion in contemporary politics will be examined. The internal dynamics and the ethical and social consequences of the construction of scapegoats during the 20th century and in contemporary society will be analyzed. The violent moment within the creation of a scapegoat, a moment understood
as “mimetic desire” by Girard, is strictly linked with the construction of identity. In the so-called “totemic meal”(Freud) the impure elements are devoured. Thus through magical thinking (Jung) a group secures the ostracization of the negative. Furthermore, theories of identity are compared with theories of the scapegoat: the essential points of
convergence are found to be the decomplexification of problems (Blumer), the notion of social stigma (Goffman) andfinally an outburst of violence. The generalized kind of violence typical of ancient societies becomes more limited and restrained in post-classical societies (Girard): in the latter, however, the conflict between in-group and out-group elements persists, albeit in different forms, and also the mimetic contagion can be found, even though mitigated within a pluralistic society in which untruths about the victims are usually questioned. Finally, the mechanisms are investigated which in contemporary society re-establish the reassuring difference between “us” and “them”, majority and minorities, natives and strangers, and thus revive the idiom of hygiene, war and violence.



Immigration, Social representation, Stigma.

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