among the flames of childhood: past and present memory and the experience of state violence


  • fabiana augusta alves jardim University of São Paulo



Wadji Mouawad, Incêndios, Governamentalidade, Testemunho, Violência Estatal


This paper works from Wadji Mouawad’s play, Scorched, to examine the problems that the various practices State violence introduce into our political/ cultural scene. I believe that these problems modify the relations between government and the governed on a deep level. I start by referencing Michel Foucault’s remarks on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King; he has returned to this play several times in his writings to outline some traces of our “political unconscious” when it comes to the relationship between power, truth and knowledge. Mouawad’s play not only explicitly enters into dialogue with Oedipus, but updates the staging of these relationships between veridiction, what Foucault refers to as “alethurgy” or “truth-telling,” and power. Mouawad produces this update by displacing the function of witness to the act of recognition which, in Scorched, confirms the properly tragic dimension of the drama. We next pay attention to the position that witnessing, or “testimony” has occupied within the framework of the rationales that the nation state has offered for its violence against portions of its own population, with reference to the juridical notion of genocide or crimes against humanity. From the strong image of childhood as a knife stuck in the throat, offered by Mouawad, we finish our reflections by referring to the current epoch, in which we are confronted with the task of listening to the silence of those murdered and oppressed by the state, and of opening a space for an entrance into the agonism of history; an entrance that undoubtedly modifies central features on the relationships of government that structure our experience.

Author Biography

fabiana augusta alves jardim, University of São Paulo

Professor Dr. in the field of Sociology of Education, at the School of Education (USP). Co-leader of the Group of Researcher on Government, Ethics and Subjectivities.



How to Cite

jardim, fabiana augusta alves. (2016). among the flames of childhood: past and present memory and the experience of state violence. Childhood & Philosophy, 12(23), 155–178.