Politics of Memory

Broj 2 - Godina 3 - 06/2013

Uvodnik

The past is a foreign country", claims David Lowenthal (1985), but the foreignness of this country is unique, since we will never reach there, in spite of our different attempts to travel. The problem will always remain: how to retrieve the past? For the last three decades there is a tendency to talk and write about past in highly emotional terms, which could be seen as a nostalgic longing for lost moments of happiness. This tendency to romanticise the past exists in relation to a global struggle for memory, a struggle for history. Pierre Nora argues that we live in a time where disconnection from the past becomes deeper than ever, and due to this disconnection a feeling of anxiety has developed which often grows into a nostalgic crusade for relics of the past...

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Izdvojeno

During times of existential unease, post-apocalyptic fiction imagines a depopulated world—a world destroyed by war, pestilence, ecocide, or cosmological judgment. It is frequently humanity’s own hand that deals the blow. But the story does not end there, for the post-apocalypse is often a site of survival and of life in the aftermath and there is no situation like the bleak wasteland of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). Set in a world laid to waste by an unnamed catastrophe, the novel examines what ecological, psychological, and sociological changes take place in the wake of the apocalypse. As the world “before” gives way to the world “after”, so should memory of the past give way to the onset of the future. But one cannot write outside past and memory, just as one cannot write outside language. Try as it might to render a lifeless world, post-apocalyptic fiction—in spite of itself—invokes memory, undoes the ruin, and animates new life into being. Even a post-apocalypse as unforgiving as McCarthy’s cannot be the end of the story, since it is, ultimately, itself a story....

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This paper examines the appropriation of space for cultural production in Berlin’s central district Mitte in the years directly after German reunification (approximately 1990-1994) and suggests an explanatory model for the intensity of and motivations behind these changes. The research conducted for this paper used interviews, discourse analysis and historical research to identify three main impulses that guided spatial changes in Berlin’s central district Mitte directly after reunification: the divergent post-war development of the two Germanys, the political and structural aspects of reunification, and the moving of the German capital back to Berlin after 40 years in Bonn. The author posits that these changes represent not only “simple” physical and symbolic appropriation, but also a proxy for the reinterpretation of the German national narrative after 1990. In the conclusion, the author discusses the role of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to grips with the past”) and divided development as pivotal to the spatial developments in Berlin’s central district after reunification. ...

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The fundamental characteristic of magical realism is its duality, which enables alternative representations of society and history. Its specific narrative devices make magical realism a viable form for rendering traumatic experience and memories. Monkey Beach (2000) by Eden Robinson, a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations in Canada, is a repository of memories, triggered and fuelled by trauma. Fragmented temporality, mixing of discourses, shifts in focalization, wordplays, repetition, and the magical are some of the devices the novel uses to address the complex landscape of trauma and memory. By unveiling personal memories, Monkey Beach gives way to the unconscious to enter the narrative structure, gradually revealing a much larger issue of the mistreatment of the Haisla people in Canada—and the resulting collective trauma. As trauma cannot be integrated into the narrative, it can only be uncovered indirectly and through a double distancing: firstly through the techniques of magical realism, and secondly, through the seemingly detached point of view of the narrator, who ultimately realises that her life is also encumbered with the dark stain of colonialism. ...

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The history and memories of past events are relayed through popular culture, the media and the public sphere. City tours organized for tourists can be said to be a special part of popular culture and the public sphere. Since 2006 there has been an organised war tour in the City of Dubrovnik which follows the “routes” of war aggression and the devastation of the town. In this paper, one such specific route The Story about the War is analysed. The main aim of the analysis is to understand the discursive construction and narrative production of memories of war and aggression and how they are embedded in the popularized narrative with a special purpose and target group in mind, namely to inform and to entertain tourists. The personal and collective memories of troubling events and how they are produced and reproduced, and even performed in such a narrative are important elements of the analysis as well. We try to understand how personal memory can be located not only in a place itself but also within a particular narrative and constructed in a specific form (for/with a special purpose) of interpretation of the past events. ...

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