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Memory and Migration

Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Memory Studies

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 344
  • Book Info
    Memory and Migration
    Book Description:

    A groundbreaking contribution to an emerging field of study,Memory and Migrationprovides valuable insight into the connections between memory, place, and displacement.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8681-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction: The Migration of Memory and Memories of Migration
    (pp. 3-26)

    Memory, in all its forms, physical, psychological, cultural, and familial, plays a crucial role within the contexts of migration, immigration, resettlement, and diasporas, for memory provides continuity to the dislocations of individual and social identity, particularly in a country like Canada, a nation in large part formed by migration and the memory of migrants. And yet contemporary theories of memory have mostly considered memoryin situ, and place itself as a stable, unchanging environment. The link between memory and place has historically attended the study of memory in every sense: in its contents (our attachment to memories of home); in...


    • 1 Emigratory Experience: The Melancholy of No Return
      (pp. 29-42)

      Encyclopedias define emigration as a social phenomenon of the translocation of people from their native country to another, either permanently or for an extended period of time, for economic or political reasons. Sociologists categorize emigration depending on its ends and its causes under headings such as voluntary, forcible, permanent, temporary, political, and economical. The entry ‘emigration’ does not figure in psychological or philosophical dictionaries. And yet, besides its sociological significance, the phenomenon of emigration has a psychological and philosophical dimension as well, and that dimension will be the main focus of this essay.

      Not every translocation of people constitutes emigration,...

    • 2 Memory for Breakfast
      (pp. 43-51)

      These notes are an exercise in mnemohistory, and the product of a loneliness that is accustomed to being public. This is a story of sediment, a remnant of the years in exile retold as a story of dislocated identity that undertakes Icarian flights in all directions. My speech leaves its cask alienated and personal at the same time. It is the voice of longing for a once known and now lost presence, whose broken pieces still float through my veins, shaped by the journey I had to undertake, inescapably connected to all the pleasures as well as the discomforts associated...

    • 3 Remigration and Lost Time: Resuming Life after the Holocaust
      (pp. 52-67)

      In looking over the various concepts of memory, it becomes apparent that these concepts often emerge as symptoms of a deep socio-political crisis. This is true for some of the most famous founding legends of memory, for instance, the discovery of the book Deuteronomy, as described in the Old Testament, or the story of the orator Simonides, as told by Cicero. Both legends tell the story of a catastrophe against the background of either a deep rupture of identity (Deuteronomy) or the violation of identity (Simonides). But ruptures not only shape concepts of memory. They also seem to bring about...

    • 4 The Waiting Zone
      (pp. 68-90)

      Ghislaine K. is one of the twenty thousand undocumented aliens who are held each year in the detention centre of Roissy Airport in France, in what is called the ‘waiting zone’ or ‘Zapi 3.’ She has been put in room number 56, at the end of the corridor. She will be deported back to Congo-Brazzaville – from whence she came – three days after her arrival.

      I met Ghislaine K. while I was doing a field study in the waiting zone while working as a legal assistant. In May 2004 she was ‘controlled’ upon her arrival at Roissy Airport and considered ‘non-admitted’...


    • 5 Frames of Memory: WWII German Expellees in Canada
      (pp. 93-119)

      This has been a difficult chapter to write. The reasons for this difficulty are, however, cagey and of the sort that resist being grounded within a stable context of definition. It has been difficult to write because on the surface it should not appear to be difficult at all. This chapter deals with first-hand accounts of an historical occurrence, in this case the experiences of theVolksdeutsche(ethnic Germans) who were forced to flee their homes in eastern and southeastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Consequently, the writing of such a chapter would appear to be...

    • 6 The Cultural Trauma Process, or the Ethics and Mobility of Memory
      (pp. 120-134)

      A defence of false memory might be considered provocative and even immoral, but only from a strictly epistemological standpoint. I want to show that what is considered false epistemology and false memory is not always to be condemned, because if we posit only epistemological claims on memory, we downplay its ethical and hermeneutical dimensions. I use the term ‘hermeneutical’ in the sense of a request to understand or to create an internal relation to an object that does not necessarily imply an interpretation of its meaning or content. The philosopher Avishai Margalit is very precise regarding the limits of the...

    • 7 Locked in a Memory Ghetto: A Case Study of a Kurdish Community in France
      (pp. 135-155)

      This poem summarizes well the history of Kurdish exiles. Firstly, it illustrates the destruction of hundreds of Kurdish villages by the Turkish army,² the persecutions and tortures endured by the Kurds, and the feeling of being expelled shared by numerous Kurdish migrants. Secondly, one can observe an indifference towards the conditions of settlement and an unfailing will to return to the homeland. These observations illustrate the strong links between the past, exile, and ways of apprehending the present in immigration. It shows that not only is the past not forgotten, it is also celebrated. In immigration, remembering sometimes becomes a...

    • 8 Home in Exile: Politics of Refugeehood in the Canadian Muslim Diaspora
      (pp. 156-180)

      This paper explores the role played by remembrance of home in the lives of refugees in Canada who are in exile from Muslim majority countries.² Refugees speak of a home that is lost all but in memory, and yet emphasize its continual political and historical significance. As such, remembrance of home in the diaspora could be characterized as an act of defiance that refugees embrace as a form of politics. Memories of home defy their exilic condition as a global community of unwanted peoples with no state to claim, and no society to rely on. Through remembrance, refugees strive to...


    • 9 The Flower Girl: A Case Study in Sense Memory
      (pp. 183-193)

      A case study from my clinical practice as a psychotherapist illustrates how traumatic recall sometimes happens first through sense modalities – as Amira Bojadzija-Dan so beautifully expresses it, ‘the lingering presence of the sense memory of … smells, tastes, and texture’ – only later to emerge into words and narrative.¹ The case concerns a twentysix-year-old female refugee from Uzbekistan who was brutally raped sometime before she migrated to Sweden. I will use the case study to argue that this traumatic memory was at first primarily a sensory experience before it transformed itself into a cognitive and verbal memory. When talking about migration...

    • 10 Reading Sensation: Memory and Movement in Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After
      (pp. 194-209)

      Charlotte Delbo’sAuschwitz and Aftertakes us into the place of memory in a way that monuments cannot. Narratives saturated with the memories of bodily suffering, stories about the lingering presence of the sense memory of the smells, tastes, and texture of Auschwitz, seem to flow towards the reader like streams of affect seeking to break a new path, to connect two realities disconnected from one another. Simply being a reader cannot explain the affective transaction that takes place in this encounter. Narratives of ‘sense memory’ reveal something to the body, communicating feeling as the true meaning of Delbo’s work....

    • 11 Memory, Diaspora, Hysteria: Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace
      (pp. 210-232)

      In her introduction to this collection, Julia Creet asserts that ‘migration is the condition of memory,’¹ and cites Pierre Nora’s lament that ‘we create … sites of memory … because we no longer have “real environments of memory,” stable, geographic, generational environments’ in which memory resides.² Like many of the contributors to this volume on migration and memory, I focus on the impact on memory of the loss of ‘real environments of memory’ associated with diaspora. My paper also attempts to answer a central question posed by this volume: how do we understand memory that has migrated or has been...


    • 12 Value of Memory – Memory of Value: A Mnemonic Interpretation of Socrates’ Ethical Intellectualism
      (pp. 235-248)

      Sigmund Freud, while arguing that he had successfully resolved the paradoxes of Socratic ethical intellectualism, also stressed strong connections between evaluation and memory. According to his early dream theory, people tend to remember what is good (or pleasurable) and to forget what is bad (or painful).² Thus, evaluation is what sets apart conscious and subconscious memory, and the recognition of good and bad shapes our memory in fundamental ways. Yet, Freud only reminds us of what Plato had previously demonstrated: the strong connection between memory and evaluation, such that it even clouds the real difference between these two spheres. Hence,...

    • 13 Migratory Subjects: Memory Work in Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Projections and Instruments
      (pp. 249-262)

      Georges Bataille’s famous hatred for architecture was motivated, as Denis Hollier observes, by its anthropomorphism understood as a sort of mirror stage.¹ Through the intervention of his images, Krzysztof Wodiczko acts against the architectural body, revealing the hominization (the process of becoming human) contained in each building. Wodiczko attempts to rework individual and social traumas, introducing memory into the public space of history, by interrupting architecture with visual images that are literally or metaphorically veiled by its structure. In his slide and video projections haunting urban spaces, the artist deals with the problem of the Other, evicted from social and...

    • 14 The Veiled Room
      (pp. 263-279)

      In her introduction to this collection of essays, Julia Creet asks, ‘Does memory only adhere to point of origin?’ She asks the reader to consider asking ‘different questions of memory, ones that do not attend only to the content of memory but to the travels that have invoked it.’ My dilemma is precisely locating and categorizing my memory. What is its point of origin? What is the content of memory that belongs to me and not my parents’? Is it ‘real’ or ‘artificial’? These are the questions that I explore in this essay through my biography and my art practice....

    • 15 The Archive as Temporary Abode
      (pp. 280-298)

      As with so many of the papers in this collection, this one too starts from a case study, in this instance, a history close to home. It is an end, not only for this collection but also, I hope, of a long expedition to read coded memories left by my mother, an immigrant who desperately wanted to forget a past and a place that she remembered compulsively. My quest will end with the deposition of her papers, the moment at which my siblings and I will relinquish her documentary by-products and our complicated memorial exercises to the holdings of an...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-318)
  11. Index
    (pp. 319-329)