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On separating memory from historical science

A critique and three Austrian cases

Hermann Rebel

To illustrate its critique of a professional-academic practice of separating 'scientific history' from 'popular memory' perceptions, this article examines three examples from current Austrian historiography and memorial constructions. The cases under consideration, all relevant to Austrian historians' representation of the national Holocaust experience, focus firstly, on relationships between present historical perceptions of the Austrian 'foreign police', particularly of the latter's so-called Schubsystem, and their fatal popular memory enactments, both 'then' and 'now'; secondly, on historical-scientific representations of Eastern European family formations as a, possibly ingenuous, popular memory repetition of similar historical-analytical perceptions by Nazi social science; and thirdly, on the selective appearance of the forced labor and death camp Mauthausen in official histories of the Austrian Nazi experience as possible collaborations with the camp's ceremonial restructuring into a ritual object for popular memory engineering that in effect destroys the material evidence of the crime being commemorated.

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Catherine Alexander, Veronica E. Aplenc, August Carbonella, Zaindi Choltaev, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Paola Filippucci, Christian Giordano, Caroline Humphrey, Deema Kaneff, Alexander D. King, Silke von Lewinski, Michaela Pohl, Hermann Rebel and Zala Volčič

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