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Memory and Postcolonial Studies

Synergies and New Directions


Edited By Dirk Göttsche

In the postcolonial reassessment of history, the themes of colonialism, decolonisation and individual and collective memory have always been intertwined, but it is only recently that the transcultural turn in memory studies has enabled proper dialogue between memory studies and postcolonial studies. This volume explores the synergies and tensions between memory studies and postcolonial studies across literatures and media from Europe, Africa and the Americas, and intersections with Asia. It makes a unique contribution to this growing international and interdisciplinary field by considering an unprecedented range of languages and sources that promotes dialogue across comparative literature, English and American studies, media studies, history and art history, and modern languages (French, German, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian-Croatian, Spanish).

Combining theoretical discussion with innovative case studies, the chapters consider various postcolonial politics of memory (with a focus on Africa); diasporic, traumatic and «multidirectional memory» (M. Rothberg) in postcolonial perspective; performative and linguistic aspects of postcolonial memory; and transcultural memoryscapes ranging from the Black Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, from overseas colonialism to the intra-European legacies of Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian/Soviet imperialism. This far-reaching enquiry promotes comparative postcolonial studies as a means of creating more integrated frames of reference for research and teaching on the interface between memory and postcolonialism.

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Pulled in all directions: The Shoah, colonialism and exile in Valérie Zenatti’s novel Jacob, Jacob (Rebekah Vince)


Rebekah Vince

Pulled in all directions:The Shoah, colonialism and exile in Valérie Zenatti’s novel Jacob, Jacob


Valérie Zenatti’s novel Jacob, Jacob (2014) sheds light on the interrelatedness of colonial and Shoah memory in its depiction of two (French) Algerian Jews: one based on the author’s great uncle Jacob, who is conscripted in World War II to fight against the German army, thus liberating France; and the other based on Jacob’s nephew who joins the French army in its so-called ‘pacification’ of the Algerian resistance movement and fight for independence. Jacob, Jacob exposes the entangled histories of Shoah trauma, colonial violence, and exilic displacement which underpin the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as explored in other novels written by Zenatti.

Valérie Zenatti is both a novelist and translator, notably of Shoah survivor Aharon Appelfeld’s work from Hebrew into French.1 Zenatti’s recent novel Jacob, Jacob (2014) won the “Prix du livre Inter” and the “Prix Méditerranée” in 2015.2 The novel begins as a fictionalized biography of her great uncle, an Algeria-born Jew who was conscripted in World War II to fight against the German army in order to liberate France, dying in combat for the so-called ‘patrie’ or motherland. Continuing with a particular focus on the precarious and ambiguous position of the Algerian/French Jew, the novel goes on to deal with the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) and the←235 | 236→ Jewish ‘exodus’ which ensued.3 Over the centuries, the...

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