The hero’s silences: Vulnerability, complicity, ambivalence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Silence features prominently in both political and academic debates about resistance and complicity with repressive orders. On the one hand, the dictum ‘silence is complicity’ is frequently taken for granted. On the other hand, heroes are thought to be those who ‘speak up’ or ‘break the silence’, contest the regime and its henchmen, agitate and take up arms. This paper troubles these assumptions about silence as complicity and speech as resistance. It argues that silence provides an interesting and productive angle for criticising the idealised, temporally static, voluntarist, act-centred and virtuous vision view of heroes that usually dominates national-myth making. The many ways in which resisters deployed silence selectively, strategically, sometimes courageously, sometimes cowardly is erased from redemptive, idealising national narratives of heroism. It is by looking at these silences theoretically and historically that I hope to decentre this hegemonic heroic understanding of resistance. The work of Nobel Laureate Herta Müller serves as an illuminating example.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-367
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • resistance
  • heroism
  • silence
  • vulnerability
  • Herta Müller


Dive into the research topics of 'The hero’s silences: Vulnerability, complicity, ambivalence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this