Memory and Political Change (Palgrave Macmillan Memory by A. Assmann, L. Shortt

By A. Assmann, L. Shortt

Whereas political platforms might swap relatively quick, the social and cultural techniques of variation and transformation take significantly longer. This quantity explores reminiscence as either a medium of and an obstacle to alter, supplying an inroad into the issues, mechanisms and styles inquisitive about the complicated procedures that accompany the transition from authoritarian to democratic constructions. Written by means of authors from assorted cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, the essays chart the terrain and provide well-documented case reports to increase wisdom at the dating among social and political reminiscence and the transition approach.

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James Herzog sees mourning as a precondition for the healing of transgenerational trauma. 14 It is important to remember that this dynamic is not restricted to the victims of violence and their children. It also holds for perpetrators and their children, albeit in different ways. As a rule, the denial, splitting off and repression of violent histories is often even more pronounced in perpetrators than in victims, and this repression will also inevitably come to haunt their descendants. The case of post-war Germany provides a vivid illustration of an almost 50-year long attempt at silencing, followed by a floodgate of attempts to work through the legacy of the past.

20 As these crimes had happened, and as it was impossible to erase them from the pages of national history, Germans were confronted with feelings of shame, humiliation, devaluation and self-hatred. It was paramount, however, that this depressive deflation of self-esteem be avoided at all costs. It could be firstly avoided by denying and playing down National Socialist crimes and, secondly, by keeping collective identity separate from the National Socialist past. 21 In this way, guilt was displaced and relocated to an external site where it was easier to deflect.

78) After the revelation, it is as if the relationship between the real and the imaginary brother had been inverted; Philippe’s life in his own inner perception more and more resembles an imaginary life, a shadow life of Simon’s. When he finally discovers an old photo of Simon, he recognizes himself in his brother’s image: ‘At last I had seen Simon: photos of him filled several pages. His face seemed strangely familiar. I could see myself in those features, if not that body’ (S, p. 136). Unknowingly, Philippe’s guilt also operates as a re-enactment of the parental guilt: forming their union and conceiving Philippe as their new child, they symbolically replaced his dead brother.

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