The Remembered One: Memory Activism and the Construction of Edith Stein's Jewishness in Post-Communist Wrocław
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Memorial, Jewish - Christian Relations, Post-1989
Abstract: Activists throughout Poland have been grappling with the problems of representing Poland's Jewish community since the collapse of communism in 1989. These "memory activists" choose particular objects of memory and particular pathways of memorialization. This article focuses on the remembrance of Edith Stein in the city of Wrocław. It argues that the memory activist approach of "cultural reconciliation" is, in the case of Stein, problematic in that it relies on a misreading of Stein's Jewishness. The article makes a case for an alternative "borderland" approach that acknowledges the persistent role of violence in the construction of identitites and cultures.
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Trauma, Holocaust, Holocaust Memorials, Ethnography, Interviews, Jewish - Non - Jewish Relations, Dialogue, National Identity
Abstract: This book analyses four case studies of Holocaust memory activism in Poland, contextualized within recent debates about Polish-Jewish relations and approached through a theoretical framework informed by critical theory. Three cases are advocacy groups, each located in a different region of Poland—Lublin, Kraków, and Sejny—and each group is presented with attention to the local context and specific dynamics of its vision and strategy. The fourth case study is the state, which has emerged as a powerful memory actor. Using research based on extensive fieldwork, including interviews and direct observation, the author argues that memory activism must grapple with emotional attachments to identity if it is to move beyond a reconciliation paradigm. Drawing on works from semiotics and critical trauma studies, the volume analyzes the assumptions each memory actor makes about three dimensions of Holocaust memory: 1) the relationship of the individual to Polish national identity; 2) the possibility of a reconciled Polish-Jewish history; and 3) the assignment of traumatic suffering to a particular group or event.