Witnessing WG | Conflict, Violence and Memory TFDC 2.16
Jul 05, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230705T1100 20230705T1230 Europe/London 3.13. Memories in Conflicts

In an era of ubiquitous and pervasive global and local conflict, those involved in the field of memory studies are increasingly tasked with exploring how memory reacts to, is shaped by, and ameliorates the results of mass violence. Remembering related to conflict - on social and individual scales - involves intimate knowledge of the particular contexts and the challenges placed on belonging, identity, and resilience. This panel reports on the intertwinement of conflict, violence, and memory, both in communal and individual (but never divorced from the social context) frames of reference through an analysis of narrative strategies, testimony, and storytelling. Each paper examines a relationship between memory and revitalization after destruction. A central question emerges, "How do individuals and communities tell their stories and remember - in real or surreal (or hyperreal), exterior or interior, physical or digital, ordinary or fantastic spaces - to address suffering and change after conflict and violence?"

Arleen Ionescu

Narrating Trauma through Children's Eyes: Shanghai WW2 Memoirs and Oral History

My paper will use a corpus of around 10 Shanghai exile stories written by Jewish refugees and 4 collections of oral histories which record memories of survivors who were children during WW2 and had to grow up fast in order to survive. Informed by trauma studies theory, my paper follows their departures from Europe in a desperate attempt to save their lives. Many of these children had their fathers arrested and contributed to their salvation. From Blumenthal commenting on his father's censured letter in which he subtly urged his wife to take action immediately (Werner Michael Blumenthal, The Invisible Wall: Germans and Jews. A Personal Exploration) to ...

TFDC 2.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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In an era of ubiquitous and pervasive global and local conflict, those involved in the field of memory studies are increasingly tasked with exploring how memory reacts to, is shaped by, and ameliorates the results of mass violence. Remembering related to conflict - on social and individual scales - involves intimate knowledge of the particular contexts and the challenges placed on belonging, identity, and resilience. This panel reports on the intertwinement of conflict, violence, and memory, both in communal and individual (but never divorced from the social context) frames of reference through an analysis of narrative strategies, testimony, and storytelling. Each paper examines a relationship between memory and revitalization after destruction. A central question emerges, "How do individuals and communities tell their stories and remember - in real or surreal (or hyperreal), exterior or interior, physical or digital, ordinary or fantastic spaces - to address suffering and change after conflict and violence?"



Arleen Ionescu

Narrating Trauma through Children's Eyes: Shanghai WW2 Memoirs and Oral History

My paper will use a corpus of around 10 Shanghai exile stories written by Jewish refugees and 4 collections of oral histories which record memories of survivors who were children during WW2 and had to grow up fast in order to survive. Informed by trauma studies theory, my paper follows their departures from Europe in a desperate attempt to save their lives. Many of these children had their fathers arrested and contributed to their salvation. From Blumenthal commenting on his father's censured letter in which he subtly urged his wife to take action immediately (Werner Michael Blumenthal, The Invisible Wall: Germans and Jews. A Personal Exploration) to Katrinke, the little blond and green-eyed girl with an Aryan look, who went to the Gestapo to show their tickets to Shanghai and had her naked father delivered in a sack (Ursula Bacon, Shanghai Diary), to the boy beaten because he was called a 'Christ killer' and accused that his family used the blood of Christian children to make the marzoth (Ernest G. Heppner, Shanghai Refuge: A Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto), etc., I will follow their stories many years after the war was over and after they became parents themselves in order to investigate how they remember violence, conflict and trauma.


Jocelyn Martin

TO BE DISTURBED, TO MOURN, TO WRITE: The making of Triggered, a book on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

On the evening of 16 August 2017, seventeen-year-old Kian de los Santos, mistaken for a drug addict, was gunned down. Caught in a CCTV, Kian's death not only provided potential evidence for all other summary executions, but also put into doubt the credibility of the Philippine President's so-called "war on drugs." Ever since Rodrigo Duterte was sworn into office in 2016, his "war on drugs" has claimed 12,000 lives, 200 of which are those of children. This "war" is now being investigated by the International Criminal Court. Kian's death triggered a group of teachers and university students to an empathy-writing exercise as a way of witnessing, mourning, remembering, and imagining new worlds. What started as a classroom project evolved into Triggered: Creative responses to the extra-judicial killings, an illustrated young adult fiction collection, conceived through slow memory, political listening, empathy (workshops, mentoring), ethical interrogations (language, publishing house, agency, genre, etc.), security considerations (waivers, anonymity), and an inter-generational, interdisciplinal and inter-social class four-year collaborative dialogue. The essay interprets each contribution to the book as a creative narrative in response to the killings. I analyze the way the literar contributions re-imagine the life of the assassinated youth, attempt to understand the point of view of the assassin, or reflect on the Duterte-Marcos regime as a means of remembering . In a country where the killings are a taboo and dangerous to critique, I also show how the book opens a discussion, which, in itself, is courageous. The writing ultimately becomes a way of mourning (of working-through), of trying to make sense of the senseless and also a portable monument, an epitaph, to the dead. The paper considers the text and its context to respond to the main question of the panel - how communities mobilize memory to address violence - by concretely showing the methodology and challenges in the making of the book dedicated to memory and intergenerational dialogue despite the current context of political impunity. All financial profit of the book is now given to orphans of the killings.


Marguérite Corporaal 

European Famine Heritage as Memories of Economic Crisis and Change

Memory is inherently fluid as it can travel through time and space, "across […] and also beyond cultures" (Erll 2014: 29), attaining new meanings which serve present agendas and future ambitions; a claim that certainly applies to the collective memories of economic crises caused by catastrophes, such as famines, and their impact on communities. In the case of the rich legacies of European famines, we clearly see how they are often utilized and reframed as economic crises in the context of present societal issues, such as the present war in Ukraine and recent times of austerity within the EU. However, famine legacies are not only mobilized as strategies to comment on threats of renewed hunger crises as well as present economic policies and conditions. As will be demonstrated in this paper, one may discern three recurring scripts that inform past and present famine heritage, in the form of monuments, art and literature as well as museum exhibitions. One of them is the nineteenth century concept of political economy, a socioeconomic doctrine rooted in a self regulating market that was inspired by the philosophers Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. A second one is charity, in the form of donations or relief programmes, that often involved interaction between the famine inflicted community and societies abroad and that inspired "transnational" famine legacies. Finally, this paper will address how European famine heritage gives shape to narratives of economic agency by famine victims that, until recently, have been "available" rather than "accessible" memory.


Deborah Madden

Politicised legacies of Spain's 'hunger years'

In a country still bitterly divided by an internecine Civil War (1936-1939), Spain's 'memory wars' are demarcated by political allegiance; the left demand justice, whilst conservative actors insist the past should remain buried. Though reconciliation – rather than justice or vengeance – was critical to the country's precarious transition to democracy (1975-1982), Spain's third generation – known as the 'grandchildren's generation' – now believe that victims' rights, truth and justice are critical to Spanish democracy (Aguilar and Ramírez-Barat 2009). Accordingly, the recently-ratified 2022 Democratic Memory Law – an update of the 2007 Historical Memory Law – will expedite the unearthing of mass graves and remove all remaining pro-Francoist monuments from the country, as material sites and cultural output are invested with this ongoing political conflict.

Unlike other European famines, the Spanish 'hunger years' (1939-1952) do not have a national monument or commemorative site. Ubiquitous yet elusive, hunger pervades the post-War novel and prison memoirs, but is conspicuously absent in political debate. An oft-neglected subject matter in historical memory activism, the Spanish famine lacks an 'official memory' (Arco Blanco 2022: 45). Given legacies of hunger are emphatically politicised, this paper examines where the Spanish famine fits within the (re)construction of collective memory in democratic Spain, citing examples from cultural output to explore how the politics of Spain's 'hunger years' intersect with memory politics.

Bio: Deborah Madden joined Radboud University in August 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher on the Heritages of Hunger project. Central to her academic work is the interface of sex, culture and political history in contemporary Spain and, as part of her contribution this project, Deborah is examining the imbrication of gender politics, the politicisation of food and discourses on hunger in (post-)Francoist Spain. Her book, Matilde de la Torre: Sex, Socialism and Suffrage in Republican Spain, was published with Legenda (Oxford) in October 2022, and she has recently published in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies (2021), the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2021) and the International Journal of Iberian Studies (2022).

Professor
,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Maîtresse de conférence/ Associate Professor
,
Université Catholique De l'Ouest/ Ateneo de Manila University
Full Professor
,
RICH, Radboud University
Postdoctoral Researcher
,
Radboud University
Instructor
,
Fordham University
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