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Collective Traumas

Memories of War and Conflict in 20th-Century Europe


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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Skeletons in the Historical Cupboard. Reflections on Irish National Memory in Joseph O’Neill’s Blood-Dark Track (Billy Gray) 245


245 Skeletons in the Historical Cupboard Reflections on Irish National Memory in Joseph O’Neill’s Blood-Dark Track Billy GRAY They’re wrong to think that memory Hasn’t an increasing value Or that the weeds of time grow over Any real past event or pain That on and on the planet rolls. No. Duty commands that everything now That hasn’t been said, be said in full. Alexander Tvardovsky1 As I walk through woods of birch and oak past tall elders and across cuttings, my ancestors accompany me every step of the way. Joachim von Winterfeld2 In a recent advertisement, broadcast on Swedish cable television and sponsored by the Irish Tourist Board, the ubiquitous stereotypes of ‘brand Ireland’’ were inevitably reiterated and accompanied by a pre- dictable litany of hackneyed images: sanitised country cottages, celtic mists enveloping green, rolling hills and back-slapping natives welcom- ing smiling Scandinavian tourists with a seemingly spontaneous rendi- tion of The Wild Rover. However, amidst the clichéd oral and visual evocations of Irish cultural identity, it was significant that the adver- tisement concluded with a soundbite that was clearly designed to cap- ture the essence of the nation: against the backdrop of traditional Irish music, a voice gravely intoned the words “Ireland: the land of memo- 1 Quoted in Anna Applebaum’s Gulag: A History (2004) 501. 2 Translation of the original (von Winterfeld 32) contained in Marcus Funck and Stephen Malinowski’s “Masters of Memory: The Strategic Use of Autobiographical Memory by the German Nobility.” Collective Traumas 246 ries...

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