EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination
Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010
Memory of crises and traumas: evocations, representations, reclamations in social communication, and cultural creativity
Location John Hume Lecture Theatre 6
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30
Wars, forced migrations, genocides and other historical violences are brought about by crises and social fractures.This session proposes to deal with the social evocations and representations of these events in the processes of social communication, and invite to question the cultural creativity intervening in this field. The current memory culture of such events rests indeed on the capacity for people who have not lived them, to have in particular mental images of these facts. It also rests beyond traditional modes of transmission on social, teaching, artistic, etc. inventiveness that contemporaries of these facts and also people born after them have to share their knowledge, emotions, and feelings. It is thus a question of considering the various forms of cultural action and forms of politics identity based on memory intervening nowadays in the social phenomena of memory related to crises which have occurred in the past.
This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.
(Re)construction of social memory for national identity politics:from heroic Middle Ages to Holocaust
The paper highlights contested issues of social memory regarding the national identity politics in Lithuania. Certain ways of social memory (re)construction revealed in recent qualitative research project on the globalization and Europeanization effects on the politics of national identity in Lithuania. The first one is based on deconstruction of meta-narrative of Medieval Lithuania. De-sacralization and critical re-interpretation of the 'heroic' middle-ages, which was omnipresent and fundamental building block of Lithuanian national identity indicates the de-authorization of it. Another social memory block, related to traumas and triumph of the Lithuanian independence (occupations, deportations and eventual re-establishment) is given top priority by the dominant discourse as the most important part in the Lithuanian past. Our focus is on how those two ways of social remembering are represented in public and private narratives. Narrations and re-interpretation of events that disturb the positive image of the nation (e.g. Holocaust) are seen as the most challenging for the social memory change in Lithuania.
'Virtually Jewish': life histories, past and future
My paper aims to focus on the ways in which a Transylvanian Jewish community (specifically, of Cluj, where I carry out fieldwork) have adopted specific strategies of ethnic, identity survival in the totalitarian period. Then, I intend to analyze to which extents these strategies have been continued or are reshaped in the post 90 period. Thus, the main goal of my paper is to reconstruct the Romanian totalitarian period (focusing on the local, Cluj atmosphere) through the voices and eyes of this particular Jewish community members and to point out how they conceptualize the post 90 period. I do intend to stress on the main recurrent issues of their statements, on how they attempt to relate the past and the present, imagining the future.
Personal life histories are the main method of investigation.
Social practices of memory: communication and social creativity
The increasing of a memory culture related to dramatic events such as the wars, the genocides, and colonization is one of the great characteristics of our current modernity. Since the work of memory cannot existe without intersubjective exchanges, this paper introduces in the study of memory the concept of « social acting » created by Weber. The intention is to point out the plurality of the practices that feed the various forms of socio-memorial movements. The goal is also to highlight the forms of the creativity intervening in the raising memorial effervescence, and the major social importance that the cultural, artistic and pedagogical activities take in the current culture of memory . This anthropological approach is based on participating observations carried out for more than twenty years in various countries in Western, Central and Baltic Europe, in the U.S., and Israël. That, in the memorial context of the Second World War and of the genocides against the Jews and the Tsiganes. Ethnographical fieldwork was also carried out in France and in the Island La Reunion in the Indian Ocean concerning specifically the history and the memory of French colonization.
War trauma memories and contemporary identities of Warmia-Masuria region (Poland)
Warmia-Masuria is a historical and administrative region of north-eastern Poland. Before 1945 it belonged to Germany as a part of Eastern Prussia province. During the 1945-1946 the population of the area experienced a massive flight from advancing Soviet troops, harsh reality of military administration and forced displacements. Subsequently the region was repopulated by Polish immigrants by the state administration. In my paper I will bring up the topic of war trauma as a key biographical element in narrations of people from the "war generation" - especially different narrative strategies of dealing with this chapter of their biographies. I will refer to the data from my interviews with the people born in the region before 1945 and still remaining in their homeland. In conclusion I will discuss relations between "war generation", their personal identities and memory, and contemporary attempts to (re)construct local identity in specific conditions of ethnic, historical and political discontinuity.
The cultural construction of the remembrance of the nazi-fascist massacre in a little community called Sant'Anna di Stazzema
This paper is the product of an ethnographic research in a little community called Sant'Anna di Stazzema, victim of the first total massacre perpetrated by Hitler's men in the summer of 1944. The national community forgot the victims and the survivors for fifty years. The situation changed when the results of the investigations conducted about the war crimes by the Nazi-fascist soldiers in Italy was found in 1994. Many things have obviously changed from the finding of the documents to the present's day: the victim's families and the survivors know the truth and have seen their killers put on trial after sixty years; but not only, in fact they are also celebrated every year by the national community through different ways of social communication as for example documentaries, pictures and show. The focus of this communication will be about the patterns of the massacre's remembrances and their cultural meaning.
The interaction between private and public memories in Estonia
The harsh deportations to Siberia enforced by Stalin (1941/1949), have left deep scars in the Estonian society. This paper addresses how these scars manifest themselves in the everyday life of ordinary families in Estonia. How are people reminded of the deportations within the private spheres of their own houses? With whom do they share their stories? Moreover this paper questions the circumstances in which a nationally shared narrative is being mobilized to frame and acknowledge personal experiences. When is it important for Estonians to see their personal stories reflected in the public landscape? What does the national commemoration day (14th June) mean to ordinary people? This interaction between communicative and cultural memories is especially important to address in the Estonian case, where after years of repression it is finally possible to share communicative memories publicly, but where simultaneously these 'newly' established national narratives are being contested by Western European historiographies.
Death or exile: social memory and narratives of political exile in Slovenian diaspora in Argentina
In Yugoslavia days after the end of the WWII in Europe brought about a communist revolution that was responsible for either death or life in exile of thousands. In Argentina Slovene migrants established strongly interconnected diasporic community with a complex formal organisation. Social memories of forced exile are implicit to life of many Slovenes in Argentina and often represent the painful part of their social awareness and identity. They are expressed in numerous written and oral accounts, artistic works, publications, even in the textbooks and curriculum of the community's schools.
In diasporic context social memory and narratives convey a sense of injustice, forced exile, belonging to a distant homeland and of inexplicable lost. I will explore the symbolic contexts and the formal framework in which social memories of experiences of suffering, death, and exile are implicit in social identification and even used to justify political stance, moral values etc.
Postmemories of 1915: how Turks, Kurds and Armenians in Turkey narrate past trauma
The Armenian genocide of 1915 is silenced in Turkish national history. However, postmemories of the event are transmitted from generation to generation within families and localities in Turkey. In this paper, based on a research project in which a hundred life history interviews were conducted with ordinary individuals from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds in different regions in Turkey, I will analyze how Turks, Kurds and Armenians in Turkey creatively use multiple sources of knowledge on the past, including postmemory, (national)history and the media, in order to narrate the history of 1915 in the present. I will show in particular how the way Turks, Kurds and Armenians reconstruct history differs vis-a-vis their positionality in 1915 and within the present political context of Turkey.
A landscape made of suspicions: the memory of the slavery in Anôsy (South of Madagascar)
My concern is to show how slavery is remembered among the Tanôsy of southern Madagascar. There, people are not allowed to discuss the topic of slavery openly. Hence, slavery is not remembered chiefly through historical narratives. Yet, people seem obsessed about slavery ; besides, the knowledge of who is of slave descent and who is not is still passed on. Tanôsy people, indeed, manage to remember the slaves while avoiding, most of the time, a verbal disclosure of their identities. My point is that the Tanôsy share a common understanding of their land : some suspicious places are strongly connected with slavery and their inhabitants are certainly regarded as slaves. The remembrance of the traumatic slave trade is achieved through a landscape made of suspicions.
Remembering and forgetting the empire: addressing trauma through arts and literature
The centre of an empire which spread over four continents and covered a time-span of nearly six centuries, historically Portugal's pervasive self-image is that of an imperial nation. As such, the loss of the empire must have been felt by the political elites and by the Portuguese in general as an amputation in the nation's soul. Several analysts note, though, that instead the Portuguese felt that loss with an astonishing indifference. The often heralded identity crisis never seemed to occur and a sort of amnesia was welcomed when addressing this national past. In recent years though, over nearly four decades after the end of the empire, works in popular literature and in the artistic field seem to be acting productively in the exposure of the wounds left by the end of the empire, especially exploring the traumas caused by the colonial wars that put an end to the colonial rule.
This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.