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Inside Contested Cultural Memory

The Alternative für Deutschland in Dresden

Bhakti Deodhar

the politicization of Nazi memory in Germany with particular attention to the ways in which this cultural memory is enacted and contested in Dresden. The third part presents a detailed ethnographic account of local AfD members’ deliberations and

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Friederike Eigler

This article discusses the genre of family narratives in contemporary German literature against the backdrop of cultural memory in postunification Germany.1 Family narratives lend themselves to a critical study of memory as they enact the transmission and transformation of memories from one generation to the next. Thus, these texts serve a pivotal role as both archives for and reflections on individual and collective memories of 20th century Germany history. Since the late 1990s, i.e., almost a decade after the collapse

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Helmut Peitsch and Joanne Sayner

This article examines two chapters from Martin Sabrow's 2009 edited volume Erinnerungsorte der DDR, one on antifascism and one on Buchenwald. These two case studies exemplify the complexities of the contemporary German memorial landscape. In particular, they thematize the remembrance of the Nazi past in the German Democratic Republic and how this GDR past has, in turn, been tendentiously remembered since unification. By examining the layering of memories in these two chapters, we argue that the theoretical models which often underpin contemporary German memory work, Sabrow's volume included, serve to obscure the role of the state as carrier of official memory. On the basis of this study, we show that concepts dominant in today's Germany promote a unified national narrative. In particular, terms such as the “culture of memory” (Erinnerungskultur) and cultural memory (kulturelles Gedächtnis) downplay conflicting, contentious and diverse memories relating to the GDR past. As such, the article provides a timely note of caution for memory studies and memory work, which increasingly applies these models to wider, non-German contexts.

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Karen Remmler

Benjamin's well-known emblematic description of the rememberer as an archaeologist in "Excavation and Memory" is a fitting point of departure to explore the meaning, transmission, and form of cultural memory as a methodology and a subject in German studies. In this article, I explore the shift toward a renewed materiality of memory in fields such as archaeology and disaster studies that have been tangential to the discourses of cultural memory based on trauma and on identity politics prevalent in German cultural studies. After describing current practice in these fields and their relevance to the formation of cultural memory within the context of German studies, I then read the writing of W.G. Sebald within the framework of archaeological tropes in which the spaces dedicated to the dead play a major role. The close reading of Sebald's text serves as a model for re-reading other contemporary German literary texts within the broader context of other disciplinary approaches to the space of memory in the aftermath of atrocity.

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Renata Jambrešić Kirin and Reana Senjković

This article shows how the model of the ideal patriotic woman, established through propaganda activities between two competitive ideologies in Croatia during the Second World War, have been transformed and adapted to accommodate diverse genres of memory culture from 1945 until the present day. In order to indicate the inter- relation of media-ideological constructs and self-definition, the authors have compared cultural representation models of ‘acceptable’ and ‘obnoxious’ females in war time with ethnographical interviews conducted with women at the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Antifašistički front žena (Women’s Anti-Fascist Front, AFŽ) Istrian Conference in 2004. The contrast between recollections and culturally constructed official memory shows how the memories of women, as autonomous historical subjects, resist the imposed collective amnesia on the anti-fascist movement, although these women also leave many ‘unsuitable truths’ untold about their subordinate role within the anti-fascist movement.

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Eric Langenbacher

Before the series of 60th anniversary commemorations of the end of the Holocaust, Nazism and World War II in 2005, the big development regarding German collective memories and political culture was the resurgence of memories of German suffering. Contrary to the opinions of prominent observers like W.G. Sebald, this memory, linked to events from the end and immediate aftermath of World War II, is not a repressed or only recently discovered trauma. Rather, the current discussions signal the return of a memory that was culturally hegemonic in the early postwar decades. Nevertheless, the circumstances surrounding this return differ significantly from the postwar situation in which this memory first flourished in three main ways. The altered environment greatly affects both the reception and potential institutionalization of such memory, which could lead to deep political cultural changes.

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Gabriele Mueller

This article examines two German films which, in different ways, engage with ethical questions raised by scientific advances in biotechnology and the specter of eugenics: Blueprint (Rolf Schübel, 2003), an adaptation of Charlotte Kerner's Blaupause, and The Elementary Particles (Elementarteilchen, Oskar Roehler, 2006), a cinematic interpretation of Michel Houellebecq's novel with the same title. Assuming different positions, the films contribute to the divisive public debate surrounding human cloning. Their visions vacillate between dystopian warnings of a commodification of human existence and euphoric promises of the potential to genetically erase human flaws forever. The films' main concern, however, is a critique of ideological positions associated with the generation of 1968, and the directors use the debate on genetics to infuse this discussion with an element of radicalism. This article explores the ways in which the films engage with the memory discourse in Germany through the lens of discourses on ethics and biotechnology.

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The Amāra on the Square

Connective Agency and the Aesthetics of the Egyptian Revolution

Ayman El-Desouky

masses through verbal, visual, performative, and spatial configurations of the everyday, amounting to a new aesthetic of connective agency aided by collective and cultural memory. 1 The bursting of the masses onto the streets in January 2011 and again

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Graham Holderness

contemporary present, and often in an eclectic blend of some or all. But strong forces of tradition and cultural memory tie the plays, in their visual and physical realisation as well as their language, to the medieval and early modern past. We see this

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On the shelves labelled ‘Just published and shortly to be remaindered’, customers of ‘all the best bookstores’ will perhaps notice a volume by Mr Clive James entitled Cultural Memories: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. Indeed, it would be hard not to notice this 876 page monument to its author’s verbosity. US readers will perhaps not recognise the name of this television critic turned Conscience of the Twentieth Century, but UK readers will be long familiar with his inimitable brand of soft right-wing bombast masquerading as common sense and delivered with ponderous wit.