To Bear Witness After the Era of the Witness

The Projects of Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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This essay examines how two French individuals in the third generation of Holocaust victims/survivors, Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka, research and present their grandparents and how they challenge contemporary memory culture. Their works differ in their ambitions and the strategies used to achieve them, but both Boltanski and Jablonka take the most disrespected of historical genres, the history of the author’s family, and reveal its potential in an arena where the duty to remember what was done to Jews as a group can obscure the complex individuals who were victims. These forgotten selves and what they reveal about the societies in which they lived are the subject of Boltanski’s and Jablonka’s work. Particular attention is devoted to the Communist parties in Poland and France and the relations of their grandparents to them.

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