Dehumanization as Monstrification

Budapest colloquium talks
Open to the Public
Nador u. 15
Auditorium B
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 5:30pm
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Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm

How to understand dehumanization, given that it is involved in mass atrocities such as genocide? This talk discusses whether extreme forms of dehumanization can be further specified as monstrification. We are familiar with representations of entire groups as animals, diseases, or insentient things. Such evidence invites the thought that dehumanization is about not seeing the Other as a human being at all. Yet, a closer look at genocidal hate speech and violence invites another, a more complex perspective, according to which dehumanization involves recognizing members of the targeted group at once as not human and human: as rats, blood poisoning, and cargo, but – at the same time – also as evil and malevolent human beings. As Sartre put it, ‘the Jew’, in the imagination of the anti-Semite, is a strange being: free, but free only to will evil. In order to capture this ambivalence in cases of dehumanization similar to anti-semitic dehumanization of Jews, I propose the concept of monstrification.

The talk will be live-streamed at

ToPHSS Lectures are part of the project "Topics in the Philosophy of the Human and Social Sciences"Topics in the Philosophy of the Humanities and Social Sciences, funded by the Humanities Initiative. The project aims to cross boundaries between disciplines of the humanities and social sciences concerned with 'the human', that is with human beings, humanity, society, culture, history, and more. It focuses on methodological and ontological issues, in particular on those concerned with contested categories of the humanities and social sciences, and of those primarily on the categories of human, individual and person.