In Search of Transnational and Transcultural Memories of the Holocaust
Examples from Sweden and Poland
Keywords:transnational collective memory, representations, local memories, shtetl
The memory of the Holocaust has become one of the most salient and fully-fledged transnational collective memories traveling around the world. Most of the scholarship tracing the transnational flows of Holocaust memory representations has focussed on literature, films, and other media products. This lecture, however, instead foregrounds the research on memory practices in specific geographic locations. It aims to demonstrate the transnational dimension of national and local Holocaust memories, as well as to trace how this memory actually travels across national borders and what happens in this process. It also raises the question about the potential of transnational Holocaust memories to produce new stories, new social relations and solidarities. The text presents examples of transnational Holocaust memory at work in two very different localities: the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and the provincial Polish town of Szydłowiec, which prior to the Holocaust was a shtetl. These different sites, when analysed side by side, demonstrate a variety of the trajectories along which memories move across borders. Additionally, in connection with these cases, the paper discusses the extent to which transnational memories are also transcultural – that is, culturally hybrid memories that have a transformative power, enabling people to imagine new communities and new types of belonging.
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