Accepted paper:

Coming full circle? Broken pasts and contested expectations about the future


Katja Seidel (Maynooth University)

Paper short abstract:

Using biographical vignettes and some reflective narratives of Austrian Holocaust survivors, this presentation questions the meanings of repair/recovery in the context of home, loss and intergenerational recreation.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on the idea that repair "entails responsibility, care and expectations about the future" this presentation discusses former Austrian Holocaust survivors' experience with and reflections on the intergenerational memory project 'A Letter to the Stars', conducted in Vienna in 2008. In it more than 200 mainly Jewish survivors/guests, most of them accompanied by one of their grandchildren, returned to Austria for a week to share with the young generation in contemporary Austria their life-stories of suffering, exile and renewal. In their narratives and in the organisers intention, repair featured centrally as an organising albeit contested theme. With agents from various generations, direct and indirect experiences of violence in need of healing and different roles in the narrative process, repair thus turns into a highly complex experience of diverse perceptions. Starting with some biographical vignettes and survivors' reflective narratives of these intergenerational encounters, this presentation thus asks about the meaning of repair in the context of home, loss and intergenerational recreation. Considering that repair potentially functions as a mediator between a carefully revisited past and a tentatively expected future as well as between imposed centres and peripheries the presentation explores how anthropological notions such as reparation, healing and reconciliation help further our understanding of 'repair' in its manifold manifestations.

panel Mat02
Repairing the periphery