Disposable Life: Max Silverman

Professor Max Silverman. (Screengrab: Histories of Violence)Professor Max Silverman. (Screengrab: Histories of Violence)“We have become less and less aware of the changed environment in which disposing of lives takes place and the forms that disposability takes, so that we no longer recognise what is staring us in the face.” —Max Silverman.

Launched in January 2014, the histories of violence “Disposable Life” project interrogates the meaning of mass violence and human destruction in the 21st Century. Inviting critical reflections from renowned public intellectuals, artists and writers, this three year project will feature a series of monthly filmed reflections from our illustrious list of participants (see contributors below); a subsequent feature film for public broadcast; accompanying book of complementary essays and associated publications/media articles; along with a series of global events that will bring together the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to offer innovative and publicly engaging forums to inform debate and rethink the ideals of global citizenship.

We are honoured that the eighth contribution to our reflections series is provided by Professor Max Silverman who is renowned for his work on trauma, memory, race and violence. For Silverman, ‘disposable lives’ does not simply refer to the killing of people. It is about the stripping away of everything that constitutes a person’s humanity. Crucially, he argues, this tendency is not confined to totalitarian regimes. It is carried out in the name of progress, democracy, freedom, choice, efficiency and many other admirable terms. Indeed, what is truly terrifying is the fact that the forms of disposability have changed but our awareness has not kept pace, so we are more and more cut off from the reality of disposable lives.

*Official Imagery for the Disposable Life Project: Gottfried Helnwein, “I Walk Alone”. All copyright and reproduction rights reserved by artist. For details on the artist works visit the official site by clicking here