Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity

Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity


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Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity by Aleida Assmann

We have left the twentieth century, but this century of violence and extremes has not left us: Its shadow has become longer and blacker. Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, the memory of the Holocaust is less and less anchored in the lived experience of survivors and witnesses.

Shadows of Trauma analyzes the transformation of the past from an individual experience to a collective construction, with special attention to the tensions that arise when personal experience collides with official commemoration.

In addition to surveying memory’s important terms and distinctions, Assmann traces the process that emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall, of creating a new German memory of the Holocaust. Assmann revisits the pitfalls of “false memory” and lingering forms of denial and repression, as well as the new twenty-first-century discourses, such as that of German “victimhood,” as well as the new memory sites for a future in which German memory will be increasingly oriented toward a European context.

Combining theoretical analysis with historical case studies, the book revisits crucial debates and controversial issues out of which “memory culture” has emerged as a collective project and a work in progress.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823267286
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2015
Edition description: Translatio
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Aleida Assmann is Professor Emerita of English Literature at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her most recent book to appear in English is Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives.

Sarah Clift is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Studies at the University of King's College, Halifax.

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Language Edition


Part I: Theoretical Foundations
1. From Individual to Collective Constructions of the Past
2. Basic Concepts and Themes of Individual and Collective Memory

Part II: Analyses and Case Studies
3. How True are Memories?
4. False Memories: Pathologies of Identity at the End of the Twentieth Century
5. Incorrect Memories: On the Normative Power of Social Frameworks of Memory
6. Five Strategies of Represssion
7. German Narratives of Victimhood
8. Points of Intersection Between Lived Memory and Cultural Memory
9. Lieux de Mémoire in Time and Space
10. The Future of Holocaust Memory
11. Europe as a Memory Community

Conclusion: Shadows of Trauma


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