This essay identifies a major blind spot in comparative memory studies despite the field’s recent “transcultural” turn: the danger of earmarking select globally recognized atrocities—specifically, the Holocaust, transatlantic slavery, and the Rwandan genocide—as emblematic analogies for renewed racial violence against marginalized groups. The essay points to a tendency to refer to these three events as limit cases for state-sanctioned violence in both public and academic commentary on rising authoritarianism. These events risk being reduced to monoliths, and the enormity of the crime eclipses the specific historical and cultural implications at stake in our contemporary moment. The essay calls on memory theorists to more aggressively scrutinize less ubiquitous, even previously peripheral histories tied to the interconnected legacies of colonialism, state terror, and slavery. As an example, this essay contrasts common comparisons between monolithic events and Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric with the 1937 Parsley Massacre, a lesser-known genocide motivated by populist discontent in the Dominican Republic, depicted in Edwidge Danticat’s novel The Farming of Bones. Seeking more nuanced comparisons not only challenges us to better understand the details of contemporary fascism but also reinforces the remembrance of less-known atrocities at risk for erasure in world history.

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