12 June 2013

INVITATION: German "Aufarbeitung"- Historical Narration in a Post-heroic Memory Society

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLF) and the South African History Archive (SAHA) invite you to attend a small informal expert workshop on public history and sites of remembrance with visiting German academic, Professor Martin Sabrow.

Professor Sabrow will deliver a short paper (abstract below) as an initial provocation for a group discussion, sharing experiences from South Africa in response to his arguments.

When: 2 - 4pm on Thursday 27 June 2013

Where: Women's Jail, Constitution Hill

RSVP: info@saha.org.za / 011 718 2560 (spaces are limited so please RSVP early)

Abstract: German "Aufarbeitung"- Historical Narration in a Post-heroic Memory Society.

In my paper I will argue that the critical and at the same time obsessive approach to the past stands for a way of historical thinking that asserts the value of memory, even if this memory is uncomfortable or evokes shame and pain. Behind it lies a deep shift of our understanding of the past that entails much more than a fashionable and possibly evanescent ‘memory boom'. Notwithstanding the national multilingualism of memory, it bears witness to the power of common communication patterns in dealing with the recent past in our times that in their congruent features - across dictatorships and supra-nationally - can be defined as models of historical narration, at least for the European language realm. The paper tries to outline some of these communication patterns of contemporary historical discourse in Europe: the rise of memory, the paradigmatic shift from a mimetic to a cathartic way of historical thinking, and the paradox of attraction and repulsion that characterizes the present German style of historical "Aufarbeitung".