Writing the Unwritable – Postmemorial Work – an Inter-disciplinary Approach Examining Various Forms of Holocaust Memory and their Impact on Future Generations
Call for Abstracts
The memory of the Holocaust continues to preoccupy and haunt millions around the world, especially in Israel and other Jewish communities. It is a subject taught in school, studied by academics, scholars and artists, and commemorated by communities all over the world. Today, most of the people preoccupied and haunted by the memory of the Holocaust are those who in fact had no direct experience of that event.
The impact of the experience of having survived the Holocaust, or being relatives of people who were alive during that time, is being transmitted from generation to generation. In many cases it becomes haunting and even leads to various forms of traumatic identification and compulsive repetition (Freud, 1920). What 2nd and 3rd generation Holocaust survivors are haunted by are not their own memories but, as Frosh (2019), Hirsch (2012) and others have conceptualised, by postmemory. To keep this transgenerational postmemory from becoming poisonous, it metamorphoses into a positive enterprise: postmemorial activity. Thus, the Holocaust can be remembered and represented negatively as postmemory or positively as postmemorial work.
The conference aims to portray and analyze the postmemorial endeavours of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations of relatives of Holocaust survivors and of people whose families did not experience the Holocaust directly but were alive at the time. It is an interdisciplinary project, drawing from varying fields such as Holocaust studies, psychoanalysis, journal and memoir writing, hermeneutics and the arts.
Each person dealing with the memory, or the postmemory, of the Holocaust, possesses some personal connection (at times even actual objects) to the Holocaust and is acting as a memorial candle (Wardi, 1990) and a bearer of testimony (Felman and Laub, 1992). The person carrying and transmitting that possession can become possessed by that role and even haunted, to the extent of becoming dislodged and alienated from the reality in which he or she exists. Their experience can acquire the Freudian (1915) uncanny quality (das unheimliche) whereby it is difficult to distinguish between what is alive and what is dead, between what is real and what is not, what is home and what is not.
This conference invites projects created by post-Holocaust generations that are conceived as Postmemorial work, involves an inter-disciplinary approach, incorporating personal, historical and hermeneutical approaches, thus blurring the rigid boundary between the subjective and the objective, allowing individuals and communities the unique form in which they can perform Postmemorial work.
The conference will be hosted at Bar-Ilan University and the University of Haifa under the auspices of The Finkler Institute for Holocaust Research, Bar-Ilan University in partnership with the School of Social Work of the University of Haifa and the Louis & Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University.
The conference will be held in association with AMCHA Israel with the assistance of the Steinmetz Herskovitz Family Fund.
The conference will be conducted both in Hebrew and English, without simultaneous translations.
The conference will be held on the 6th & 7th January, 2021. The first day, 6th January, at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, and the second day 7th January, at the University of Haifa. Each day will have its own specific content. Lectures will not be repeated. An on-line discussion group will be available for registered participants. Further details will be available later this year.
- The Conference's Scientific Committee includes:
- Prof. Judy Baumel-Schwartz; Bar-Ilan University.
- Prof. Dalia Ofer; The Hebrew University.
- Prof. Avi Sagi; Bar-Ilan University.
- Prof. Atina Grossmann; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science, New York.
- Prof. Rachel Dekel; Bar-Ilan University.
- Prof. Shmuel Refael; Bar-Ilan University.
- Prof. Laura Hobson Faure; Professor of Modern Jewish History, Université Sorbonne Panthéon-Paris 1
- Dr. Martin Auerbach, National Clinical Director, AMCHA.
- Dr. Sharon Kangisser Cohen, Yad Vashem.
- Dr. Pnina Ron, School of Social Work, the University of Haifa.
- Dr. Rony Alfandary (Convenor), Bar-Ilan University and The University of Haifa.
Confirmed International Speakers
- Prof. Laura Hobson Faure, Professor of Modern Jewish History, Université Sorbonne Panthéon-Paris 1
- Prof. Stephen Frosh, The Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London
- Prof. Atina Grossman, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York
Abstract Submission and guidelines
We are currently calling for abstracts in English and Hebrew from scholars, writers, historians, sociologists, scientists, mental-health professionals, artists and laymen who are engaged in dealing with their own objective and subjective experience pertaining to the inter-generational transmission of the Holocaust.
Topics for abstracts
- Post-memory – Personal Accounts of Holocaust Studies scholars
- Testimonies of 2nd & 3rd Generation concerning their experience in relation to the Holocaust
- Writing and other Creative Explorations of Post-Traumatic experiences
- Psychoanalytic Aspects of Trauma, Post-Trauma and Remembrance
- The inter-generational Transmission of Trauma
Forms of commemoration
Please send an abstract (300 words) and a short relevant bio (150 words) in English to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission deadline: 1.6.2020
Only relevant submissions will be acknowledged.
It is necessary to register in advance. There is no registration fee but the number of places is limited.