Roundtable | Memory, Activism and Social Justice TFDC 1.17
Jul 05, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230705T1100 20230705T1230 Europe/London 3.22. Why Antifascism? New Perspectives on a Forgotten Paradigm. A Roundtable Discussion

The last years saw an unexpected proliferation of studies on a piece of 20th century history that had seemed to be obsolete for decades. Indeed, the very establishment of our field, memory studies, coincided with-and contributed to-the decline of antifascism as a paradigm of postwar memory and, on the other hand, the rise of contemporary Holocaust memory. As a result, antifascism became a blindspot for memory studies, especially when it came to understanding and tracing the emergence of postwar memory cultures. In the course of the last few years, however, scholars interested in a variety of fields, including Leftist internationalism, fascism studies, Jewish studies, and Holocaust studies, started to rediscover the legacy of what Eric Hobsbawm once called "the hinge of the twentieth century." One reason for a renewed interest may be the eerie similarity of our post-2008 present with the 1930s which prompted many to rethink the history of fascism. By examining fascist responses to the crisis of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, the right-wing reaction to the crisis of neoliberal capitalism might be better understood. At the very same time, concerns about protecting democratic societies from exclusionary authoritarian movements have (re)aroused both scholarly and popular interest in the history of antifascism. Furthermore, so we argue, revisiting the legacy of antifascism can provide answers to the failures of a memory politics grounded in our contemporary canon of Holocaust remembrance. Important initiatives to re-assess antifascism include the recent volumes Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present (2016), Anti-Fascism in a Global Perspective: Transnational Networks, Exile Communities, and Radical Internationalism (2021), Growing ...

TFDC 1.17 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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The last years saw an unexpected proliferation of studies on a piece of 20th century history that had seemed to be obsolete for decades. Indeed, the very establishment of our field, memory studies, coincided with-and contributed to-the decline of antifascism as a paradigm of postwar memory and, on the other hand, the rise of contemporary Holocaust memory. As a result, antifascism became a blindspot for memory studies, especially when it came to understanding and tracing the emergence of postwar memory cultures. In the course of the last few years, however, scholars interested in a variety of fields, including Leftist internationalism, fascism studies, Jewish studies, and Holocaust studies, started to rediscover the legacy of what Eric Hobsbawm once called "the hinge of the twentieth century." One reason for a renewed interest may be the eerie similarity of our post-2008 present with the 1930s which prompted many to rethink the history of fascism. By examining fascist responses to the crisis of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, the right-wing reaction to the crisis of neoliberal capitalism might be better understood. At the very same time, concerns about protecting democratic societies from exclusionary authoritarian movements have (re)aroused both scholarly and popular interest in the history of antifascism. Furthermore, so we argue, revisiting the legacy of antifascism can provide answers to the failures of a memory politics grounded in our contemporary canon of Holocaust remembrance. Important initiatives to re-assess antifascism include the recent volumes Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present (2016), Anti-Fascism in a Global Perspective: Transnational Networks, Exile Communities, and Radical Internationalism (2021), Growing in the Shadow of Antifascism. Remembering the Holocaust in State-Socialist Eastern Europe (2022), and the special issue Global Cultures of Antifascism, 1921–2020 (2020). While most of these publications trace the intellectual, political, and social history of antifascism, much of the implications of its rediscovery for memory studies specifically remains unexplored. This roundtable aims to provide a platform to these diverse and parallel trends in scholarship, and thus to initiate a broader discussion on the challenges of studying the historically changing relationship between memory, politics, and activism within the broad framework of transnational antifascism. We invited scholars to reflect on their own interest in antifascism as well as on antifascism's potentials and challenges for memory studies. Our roundtable suggests that the re-assessment of antifascism encourages us to 1) reconsider early postwar and postwar memory; 2) revisit antifascism within a broader history of Leftist memory; and 3) re-examine critically our present-day presumptions about the memory & politics nexus. At the roundtable, participants will present short statements based on their research on Leftist internationalism (Kasper Braskén, Åbo Akademi University, Turku), Jewish history (Anna Koch, University College London), and transnationalism and Cold War history (Máté Zombory, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), followed by a discussion.

PhD, Researcher
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Åbo Akademi University
Lecturer
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University College London
Centre for Social Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Research Fellow
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University College London
Research Fellow
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University College London
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