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Suicide VoicesLabour Trauma in France$
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Sarah Waters

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622232

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622232.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Suicide as Testimony

Suicide as Testimony

(p.71) Chapter 2 Suicide as Testimony
Suicide Voices

Sarah Waters

Liverpool University Press

Chapter two examines suicide letters as a mode of testimony that bears witness to extreme suffering in the contemporary workplace. In an economic order that conceals the labour relationships that bring services and products to us, suicides push human suffering to the surface and force it out into the open. Drawing on testimony studies, I situate suicide letters at a juncture between the everyday and the extreme that unsettles the boundaries between the two and forces us to confront extremity in the everyday. Whilst these letters give expression to exceptional trauma, they are located within the quotidian, routine and functional spaces of work. Some recent critics have depicted the contemporary workplace as a site of extremity, drawing on the historical metaphor of the Holocaust to describe forms of managerial brutality and violence. Contrary to these representations, I suggest that the workplace is best understood in terms of its everydayness. This is a space governed by order, discipline and routine, where working life is subject to endless repetition and reiteration. Yet, this everydayness has a unique quality: work suicides make visible extreme suffering, not as an exceptional phenomenon, but one that is embedded within the universal spaces of social life.

Keywords:   Suicide notes, Testimony, Extremity, Everydayness, Holocaust, Jack Douglas, Self-immolation, Restructuring, Management bullying, Placardisation

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