Memory & Trauma WG | Conflict, Violence and Memory TFDC 2.16
Jul 05, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230705T1330 20230705T1500 Europe/London 4.13. Memory and the Trauma of the Other: Intergenerational trauma, memory ruptures, witnesses and listeners

The focus of the panel will be on the generation gap between first and second generation survivors, bystander attitudes, and trauma as a fracture in the commemorative memory of a community.Simona Mitroiu in her presentation explores the difficulties that second-generation survivors face in passing on unresolved trauma, and how the incompleteness and fragmentation of memories of first-generation trauma survivors, and the disruption that arises in the transmission, become further traumatising factors. Anna Menyhért (co-author: Bogárka Balajthy) explores the phenomenon of secondary traumatisation that results from the un-shareability of trauma, and the way observers capture the traumatised in the role of the other in Ida Fink's short stories in order to reduce the cognitive dissonance that results from the realisation that they themselves may become victims. Izabella Agárdi addresses the way traumas across the 20th century and contemporary hegemonic memory politics cause ruptures in the commemorative continuity of a local community, a small village in Hungary, how these ruptures polarise the remembering community, and how these ruptures can be studied based on the notion of Benjaminian 'ruination'.

Simona Mitroiu

Trauma and intergenerational disruptions of memory in graphic narratives. 

The transmission of trauma from one generation to another was explored through the concept of postmemory and Art Spiegelman's Maus was used as a benchmark for reading the graphic narratives contending the second generation's confrontation with trauma of the past. The traumatic experiences are transmitted through the first generation's recounting of the events that create powerful impressions and imprints, taking the form of 'indirect and fragmentary' second generati ...

TFDC 2.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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The focus of the panel will be on the generation gap between first and second generation survivors, bystander attitudes, and trauma as a fracture in the commemorative memory of a community.
Simona Mitroiu in her presentation explores the difficulties that second-generation survivors face in passing on unresolved trauma, and how the incompleteness and fragmentation of memories of first-generation trauma survivors, and the disruption that arises in the transmission, become further traumatising factors. Anna Menyhért (co-author: Bogárka Balajthy) explores the phenomenon of secondary traumatisation that results from the un-shareability of trauma, and the way observers capture the traumatised in the role of the other in Ida Fink's short stories in order to reduce the cognitive dissonance that results from the realisation that they themselves may become victims. Izabella Agárdi addresses the way traumas across the 20th century and contemporary hegemonic memory politics cause ruptures in the commemorative continuity of a local community, a small village in Hungary, how these ruptures polarise the remembering community, and how these ruptures can be studied based on the notion of Benjaminian 'ruination'.



Simona Mitroiu

Trauma and intergenerational disruptions of memory in graphic narratives. 

The transmission of trauma from one generation to another was explored through the concept of postmemory and Art Spiegelman's Maus was used as a benchmark for reading the graphic narratives contending the second generation's confrontation with trauma of the past. The traumatic experiences are transmitted through the first generation's recounting of the events that create powerful impressions and imprints, taking the form of 'indirect and fragmentary' second generation memory (Hirsch, Family Frames). I argue that the second generation's trauma is intergenerationally transmitted through fractured narratives and memories, being at the same time the result of a deficitary transmission process, one that includes multidimensional gaps and omissions, fragments and allusive remarks in a highly emotional and vulnerable medium. 'Our generation gap', writes Spiegelman, 'was a Grand Canyon sized chasm' (MetaMaus, 24). The trauma experienced by the victims and survivors affected and changed their own way of creating a suitable empathic medium for transmission of memory and knowledge and also of relating to others' vulnerability in terms of understanding and emotional response. The first generation's vulnerability associated with the traumatic events and 'displacement of history' (MetaMaus, 25), as well as with the difficulty to express and represent trauma is further propagated through a fragmented transmission. The fractured and dissipated information that this generation produced, even in a safe environment, generated ambiguity and anxiety for those who are also intrinsically vulnerable through their young age, lack of knowledge and of emotional versatility (Nesfield and Smith, Representing Childhood and Atrocity). This inadequacy of transmission produced an intergenerational gap that is also lived as a trauma. The second generation's response to this inadequacy of transmission is to (re)construct what is sensed as missing through a conscious process of revisiting their parents and relatives' memories, consciously assuming the act of witnessing in a defined medium where they can manifest their agency and elaborate further on what they witnessed by using historical archives and cultural memory practices.


Anna Menyhért

Sheltering from the Pain of Others: Trauma Dynamics in Ida Fink's Short Stories. 

In this paper I will analyze the short stories of Ida Fink, a Polish writer and Holocaust survivor, focusing on how she writes about traumatic memories, from the perspectives of the victims and survivors, as well as listeners, witnesses, and bystanders. Ida Fink is an important figure in Holocaust education, her short stories are available in several languages, however, relatively little has been written about her works apart from in Polish literary studies, and the trauma perspective is even more scarce in the existing interpretations. This paper aims to fill this gap. I will show, through psychologically oriented close readings of several short stories, how various versions of trauma dynamics, trauma moments as well as denial, indifference, and the inability to listen to the trauma of others are presented by Ida Fink. In some short stories the protagonists attempt to process and integrate their traumatic experiences through sharing and storytelling, but they are constantly rejected by those around them. Observers and bystanders often see the traumatized as "the other", and they don't acknowledge their painful memories. Other stories show how changes in social norms brought about by the war contributed to the ruptures of societal networks, leading, through silencing trauma, to the formation of collective traumatization, where the social environment, despite the best of individual intentions, invalidates and trivializes the traumatized person's experience. Ida Fink pays special attention to young people's lives, human relationships and gender-based conflicts and violence, showing that imminent danger will not wipe out existing interpersonal conflicts and biases, and these create an added layer of traumatization to those caused by the war.


Izabella Agárdi

Exchange in a Hungarian Village. 

The proposed talk concerns the memory of forced population exchanges of 1948 and its long-time impact on a local village community in Western Hungary. The village, called "Nagyesztergár", is an old settlement dating back to 1270, which however was destroyed during the Ottoman raids and was resettled in the 1700s mostly by Roman Catholic German families. Between the 1700s and 1900s Catholic Hungarians, and Israelites also moved to the estates, and the village (based mainly on agricultural production) have acquired relative stability, albeit modest affluence. The ethnic make-up of the community was vastly altered during the Second World War, i.e. the deportations and the subsequent population exchanges. Much of the Schwab community was deported to East and West-Germany, and into the abandoned houses ethnic Hungarians from Southern Slovakia were settled according to the 1946 treaty on population exchange between Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The events of 1948 were traumatic for the community and resulted in conflicts among the ones that stayed and the newcomers. Similarly to other such villages in the region, 1948 marks a rupture in the collective memory of the community, however due to the continuous changes in the makeup of the community since the political changes of 1989 (another rupture) and the economic changes of 2000 (another turning point when the neighbouring coal mine closed down), the social structure which ensures commemorative continuity has become fragmented and currently in the 2020s the community cannot be regarded as a mnemonic community any more. It is a most intriguing instance of a fragmented local memory culture, where Walter Benjamin's theory of ruins and 'ruination' gain very concrete meaning. The debris of the past and political-social system that was built upon appropriation connects this particular instance of a former multicultural village community to many similar small communities across the Central-European region struggling with amnesia, and vastly polarized collective memories formed by hegemonic national memory politics.


Senior Researcher
,
”Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Romania
Full Professor / Senior Research Fellow
,
The University of Jewish Studies, Budapest / The Institute for Advanced Studies, Kőszeg
permanent researcher
,
Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg
Full Professor / Senior Research Fellow
,
The University of Jewish Studies, Budapest / The Institute for Advanced Studies, Kőszeg
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