Accepted paper:

Two temporalities: violent disruption in historical and familial transmission


Stephan Feuchtwang (London School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

I shall employ case studies of families in Taiwan disrupted by an act of state violence to suggest that death rituals and fear of ghosts register the event in a different temporality from historical commemoration of the same families and event.

Paper long abstract:

I am interested in the interaction between what is recognised by state, judicial, and written (documented), or visual (documentary) archives and case narratives on one hand and familial continuity and transmission on the other hand. The same interest draws me to ask about interaction between civic commemoration and ceremony and museum and heritage on one hand and death rituals on the other. Do they recognise and substantiate different social subjects even when both might refer to individuals and families? The topic through which I shall examine this interaction is the violence a state inflicts on its 'own' people, a shared experience and how it has been transmitted through subsequent political transformations and two or more generations. I shall use the results of fieldwork in China and Taiwan, conducted jointly with a research colleague in each place. In Mainland China, we conducted a local study of how the Great Leap famine (1958-61) is transmitted. In Taiwan, our subject was an Incident of anti-Communist devastation of some mountain hamlets in 1952-3. I have also pursued the same interest in Berlin among families of German Jews, Russian Jews and German Germans. I will endeavour to contrast the three cases.

panel W022
Violence and memory