Migrant Literature as an Agency for Cultural Memory: Visions of Europe in German-language literature from Eastern Europe

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning

U’s difficulties of reaching a consensus on a common solution to the current refugee crisis have revealed a fundamental gap between the cultural memories of the Western and the Eastern European countries (e.g. Ostheimer 2013; Assmann, A. 2013). Whereas the cultural memory of several Western European countries – especially Germany – is dominated by the memory of the Holocaust and thus feel morally obliged to house the refugees, many Eastern European nations perceive the request of the EU to take a certain number of refugees to be a dictate reminiscent of the Communist dictatorships. Whereas the old western core of the EU perceives the past as a reminder for acting ethically correct in the future, the new member states presently need the memories of their victimization in order to (re)construct and imagine their national identities (Mälksoo 2009; Gutman et. al 2010). Hence, the member states of the EU are currently divided by several competing perceptions of the past. In this paper, I will contrast these political interpretations of history with Vladimir Vertlib’s and Katja Petrowskaja’s literary mediations of Europe’s past. Due to their origin in Eastern Europe and migration to Germany, Vertlib and Petrowskaja have insight into multiple cultural, national and political mnemonic frameworks. I suggest, that their transcultural point of view enables them to interrupt the competition between diverging hegemonic memories, highlight minority pasts which have fallen outside the dominant writing of European history, and blur the binary opposition between perpetrator and victim. Thereby, they demonstrate alternative dialogical (Assmann 2013) or multidirectional (Rothberg 2009) mnemonic models. Rather than trying to reconcile the different version of Europe’s past in one cultural memory of Europe, these mnemonic models allow diverging perspectives of victimization and guilt to be recognized equally, thus preventing that competing perceptions of the past hamper solutions for future challenges.
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Begivenhed24th International Conference of Europeanists - Glasgow, Storbritannien
Varighed: 12 jul. 201715 jul. 2017
Konferencens nummer: 24


Konference24th International Conference of Europeanists

ID: 176851276