Holocaust memory and Soviet past in post-Soviet Eastern Europe

Holocaust Memory and the Soviet Past:
Transitional Remembering in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe

Dates: 18-19 October 2013

Venue: Tallinn University

Credits: 3/2

Hosting Institution: Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University; Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts (GSCSA); Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of Estonian Academy of Sciences

Supporters: European Union Structural Funds; Estonian Science Foundation grant No 8530

Program Directors: Eneken Laanes (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, Tallinn University) eneken@utkk.ee, Linda Kaljundi (Tallinn University), Piret Peiker (Tallinn University)

Program Manager and Student Coordinator: Tuuli Piirsalu tuulip@ehi.ee

In recent years many scholars have drawn attention to the ways in which global discourses on the Holocaust have functioned as a trope for remembering other histories of victimisation such as slavery or colonialism. These parallels between different histories have often been articulated in competing terms in public discourses, such as various ‘memory wars’. However, as Michael Rothberg has shown in his studies of ‘multidirectional memory’, Holocaust memory has offered the rhetoric and the tropes for articulating other violent histories.

This intensive seminar is interested in the intersection of the global Holocaust memory with the remembering of the Soviet past and Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe. It aims to test whether the concept of multidirectional memory is applicable in the contemporary Eastern European context. Here the remembering of these legacies is further complicated by the different histories of collaboration and complicity with the Nazi regime and also by the transformations of the politics of memory that have occurred after the political regime change.

Although there are local variances, in Eastern Europe in general the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War resulted in the disintegration of the existing official and public histories about World War II. The post-Soviet Eastern European memory culture has been characterised by the proliferation of new versions of totalitarian pasts – accompanied by a significant crisis of historical truth – and the explosion of new genres and media of remembrance some of which were originally developed for remembering the Holocaust.

The intensive seminar invites Ph.D. students from various fields of humanities and social sciences to address the multidirectional remembering of these legacies in different media of memory such as history writing, politics of memory, social memory, literature, art, film, and visual popular culture.

More specific questions to be addressed may include:

– the evocation of global Holocaust memory in the remembering of the deportations and other instances of Soviet repression; the simultaneous rivalry and cultural exchange between the representations of the Holocaust and Soviet repression

– the various discourses of comparison and equation of Nazi and Stalinist regimes that are widespread in Eastern Europe

– the influence of various new media and genres of memory on remembering the Holocaust, the Third Reich, and the Stalinist regime; the relations between genre and generational change

– the nexus of remembering and forgetting in the face of the Nazi and Soviet mass exterminations and repressions; the involvement of biased forms of forgetting in the new acts of remembrance

– the local histories of the destruction of Jews and the changes in their remembering through memorials, public rituals, museums and so forth; the relationship of this to global Holocaust memory

– the transitions in representation and remembering of German occupation; the negotiation of the questions of collaboration and complicity in various genres and their relations to new forms of political identity and legitimacy

– the heterogeneity and differences within Eastern Europe in addressing its histories of the Holocaust; the relations of these variances to diverging historical experiences, the present political situations and the legacies available in previous cultural memories


Friday, October 18, 2013

Location: Tallinn University, 5 Uus-Sadama

10.00–10.15 M-134 Introduction

Eneken Laanes (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, Tallinn University)

10.15–11.45 M-134 Keynote lecture (open to the public)

The Memory Boom: A View from Russia

Alexander Etkind (University of Cambridge and European University Institute, Florence)

12.00–12.45 M-648 The Origins of Totalitarianism Reconsidered: Remembering the Crimes of Communism and National Socialism

Siobhan Kattago (Tallinn University)

12.45–14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 M-225 Keynote lecture (open to the public):

The Quest for Recognition: Holocaust Aufarbeitung and National Memory Constructions in the Baltic States

Eva-Clarita Pettai (University of Tartu)

16.00–16.45 M-648 Women’s Narratives, Citizenship of ‘Gut Feeling’ and

Desire for Preemption – the Politics of Time in the Baltic Contexts

Irina Novikova (University of Latvia)

16.45–17.30 M-648 The ‘Third Way’ as a Symbolic Universe of War in the Life

Stories of Estonian Veterans of WWII

Ene Kõresaar (University of Tartu)

19.00 Dinner

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Location: Tallinn University, 5 Uus-Sadama

9.30–11.00 M-648 Presentations by Graduate Students:

Anatoly Fomenko or the Perennial ‘Remont’ of Russian History

Francisco Martínez (Tallinn University)

Social Memory Acts and the Absences of the Archive

Margaret Tali (Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis)

11.00–12.00 M-648 Introduction to the field trip

Juta Kivimäe (Art Museum of Estonia)

12.00–13.00 Lunch

13.00–16.00 Field trip to the Klooga Memorial

16.00–18.00 Visit to the Museum of Occupations


Reading List

Requirements for Participation

Graduate students who wish to present a paper related to the topic can apply by sending a proposal (ca. 400 words) to Tuuli Piirsalu (tuulip@ehi.ee) by 9th September 2013.

Additionally, 15–20 interested graduate students can apply for participation in the seminar by sending a letter of motivation (ca. 200 words) to Tuuli Piirsalu (tuulip@ehi.ee) by 9th September 2013.

Students who are not members of GSCSA are required to add a short CV to specify their education and research interests. You will be notified of your participation by 10 September 2013.

Upon full participation in the study programme and completion of a 2000-word essay (in Estonian or in English) on the topics of the seminar (deadline December 30, 2013) students will be awarded 3/2 ECTS points.

The language of the seminar is English.

Participation in the course is free of charge; the accommodation and travel costs of the students of GSCSA will be reimbursed.