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Collective Traumas

Memories of War and Conflict in 20th-Century Europe

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Edited By Conny Mithander, John Sundholm and Maria Holmgren Troy

Collective Traumas is about the traumatic European history of the 20 th century – war, genocide, dictatorship, ethnic cleansing – and how individuals, communities and nations have dealt with their dark past through remembrance, historiography and legal settlements. Memories, and especially collective memories, serve as foundations for national identities and are politically charged. Regardless whether memory is used to support or to challenge established ideologies, it is inevitably subject to political tensions. Consequently, memory, history and amnesia tend to be used and abused for different political and ideological purposes. From the perspectives of historical, literary and visual studies the essays focus on how the experiences of war and profound conflict have been represented and remembered in different national cultures and communities.
This volume is a vital contribution to memory studies and trauma theory.
Collective Traumas is a result of the multidisciplinary research project on Memory Culture that was initiated in 2002 at Karlstad University, Sweden. A previous publication with Peter Lang is Memory Work: The Theory and Practice of Memory (2005).

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The Novelist as an Agent of Collective Remembrance, Pat Barker and the First World War (Maria Holmgren Troy) 47

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47 The Novelist as an Agent of Collective Remembrance Pat Barker and the First World War Maria HOLMGREN TROY There is such a poignancy in our need, as we approach the end of the century, to understand and come to terms with the Great War. In the most personal sense it is part of all our family histories: there are in every family grand- fathers, great grandfathers, great uncles who either did not return, or who carried the scars of war to the end of their lives. […] Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy […] is unsur- passed. Clare Francis, The Independent, 1 June 1996 In terms of traumas and conflicts that occupied individual and collective memory in 20th-century Europe, the First World War, or the ‘Great War,’ holds a special place. Researchers looking back from a vantage point at the end of the century have asserted that “the great ideological and national conflicts ignited in 1914-1918 dominated the rest of the century” (Winter, Parker and Habeck 1), and the impact of this war – a highly technological and the first ‘total war’ – on communities, families and individuals has been vast: “War is always the destroyer of families, and the Great War was to date the greatest destroyer of them all. Of the 70 million men who served in uniform in all combatant countries, over 9 million died or were killed on active service; 3 million widows and 10 million orphans owed their fate to the war of 1914-18” (Winter and Baggett 15).1...

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