Haunting Legacies: Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma

Haunting Legacies: Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma

by Gabriele Schwab


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From mass murder to genocide, slavery to colonial suppression, acts of atrocity have lives that extend far beyond the horrific moment. They engender trauma that echoes for generations, in the experiences of those on both sides of the act. Gabriele Schwab reads these legacies in a number of narratives, primarily through the writing of postwar Germans and the descendents of Holocaust survivors. She connects their work to earlier histories of slavery and colonialism and to more recent events, such as South African Apartheid, the practice of torture after 9/11, and the "disappearances" that occurred during South American dictatorships.

Schwab's texts include memoirs, such as Ruth Kluger's Still Alive and Marguerite Durgaas's La Douleur; second-generation accounts by the children of Holocaust survivors, such as Georges Perec's W, Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Philippe Grimbert's Secret; and second-generation recollections by Germans, such as W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz, Sabine Reichel's What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, and Ursula Duba's Tales from a Child of the Enemy. She also incorporates her own reminiscences of growing up in postwar Germany, mapping interlaced memories and histories as they interact in psychic life and cultural memory. Schwab concludes with a bracing look at issues of responsibility, reparation, and forgiveness across the victim/perpetrator divide.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231152563
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 10/19/2010
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gabriele Schwab is Chancellor's Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. Her books in English include Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis; Accelerating Possessions: Global Futures of Property and Personhood; and The Mirror and the Killer-Queen: Otherness in Literary Language.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

1 Introduction 1

2 Writing Against Memory and Forgetting 41

3 Haunting Legacies: Trauma in Children of Perpetrators 67

4 Identity Trouble: Guilt, Shame, and Idealization 92

5 Replacement Children: The Transgenerational Transmission of Traumatic Loss 118

6 Deadly Intimacy: The Politics and Psychic Life of Torture 151

Notes 183

Bibliography 203

Index 211

What People are Saying About This

Michael Levine

In this highly original and courageous study, Gabriele Schwab breaks new ground in the study of trauma and its intergenerational transmission, doing so through a special focus on the long-term effects of violent histories on the generations of both victims and perpetrators.

Michael Levine, Rutgers University

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