Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory; Mediated Memories of Responsibility (1)

Max Silverman (University of Leeds)
Impure Memory
Max Silverman proposes a poetics of hybrid memory that he will call impure memory. The underlying principle of this model is the notion that memory (as with identity, language and so on) is never pure, singular and autonomous but a hybrid assemblage in which the trace of one is always in the other. He will suggest that the relevance of this model of memory to moments of extreme violence lies in the challenge it poses to the idea of separate, comparative and competitive histories and memories (the worst manifestations of which are invidious comparative victimologies), and the compartmentalisation of metropolitan history, colonial history, and the history of European genocide.

Hanna Meretoja (University of Turku)
Non-Subsumptive Memory and Jenny Erpenbeck’s «Gehen, ging, gegangen»
In this talk, Hanna Meretoja develops a non-subsumptive model of cultural memory. While understanding is often seen as a form of appropriation, assimilation, and subsumption of the singular under the general, it can be argued, from a hermeneutic perspective, that there are also non-subsumptive, non-appropritive, dialogical forms of understanding. Meretoja explores how a non-subsumptive model of understanding can be helpful in theorizing memory as a mode of sense-making that can contribute to understanding histories of violence in responsible, ethically sustainable ways. In dialogue with Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Gehen, ging, gegangen (2015, Go, Went, Gone), Meretoja suggests that mnemonic sense-making models tend to be productive when they adapt and change as they are applied to new situations, and harmful when they subsume new experiences under a fixed meaning template. The novel engages with the ‘migrant crisis’ by asking how the violent histories of the Holocaust and East Germany implicate us in the present and may enable or block our ability to understand the  experience of the other. This talk envisages cultural memory as a resource for learning in other-oriented processes of dialogical understanding.

Donald Bloxham (University of Edinburgh)
Beyond Neutrality: Historianship and Moral Judgement
Developing themes from his recent volume History and Morality (Oxford University Press, 2020), Donald Bloxham's paper considers anew the vexed question of historians and moral judgements about the past, and addresses in particular the issue of how historians deal with past atrocities.

Author: School of Advanced Study

Speaker(s): Max Silverman (University of Leeds), Hanna Meretoja (University of Turku), Donald Bloxham (University of Edinburgh)

Organisations: Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Event date: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 - 3:00pm