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Mnemonics Keynote Lecture: Aleida Assmann

Aleida Assmann (University of Konstanz):

Frames of Transmission

Keynote Lecture of the Mnemonics Summer School 2017

Frankfurt, Goethe University Campus Westend, IG 411

08 September 2017, 9:30 am

Abstract: Frames of Transmission

Since the beginning of the new millennium, framing a long-term transmission of Holocaust memory has become a concrete project of politicians, survivors and professional experts. The Stockholm Declaration of 2000 created a transnational Holocaust memory that has even reached a global dimension. In spite of the vast extension of this memory collective, however, the acts of remembering that are summed up in it are by no means homogeneous. Little attention has so far been paid to different subject positions depending on historical experiences, affiliations and connections to the events. In my presentation I will look more closely at various ‘frames of transmission’ within which individuals and groups perceive this past, depending on the ways in which they are personally anchored and position themselves vis-à-vis this violent history. I will discuss three frames of transmission that are all focused on the Holocaust and are part of our contemporary memory culture but defined by different sites, perspectives, cultural traditions and national contexts: the identification mode relating to the victims, the ethical mode relating to the former perpetrators and the empathy mode relating to the bystanders.

Aleida Assmann is Professor emeritus in English Literature at the University of Konstanz. She has been Visiting Professor at Princeton (2001), Yale (2002, 2003 and 2005) as well as other universities and has received numerous prizes. Among her recent publications in the field of memory studies are Formen des Vergessens (Wallstein, 2016), Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity (Fordham University Press, 2015) and Das neue Unbehagen an der Erinnerungskultur: Eine Intervention (C. H. Beck, 2013). An important earlier contribution to the field of memory studies, Erinnerungsräume: Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses (C. H. Beck, 1999), has also been translated into English, as Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (Cambridge University Press, 2011).