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Collective Memory of Atrocity and Injustice

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1980
Section 001
Instructor Hannah Gurman
Days T
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



In the aftermath of the Holocaust Primo Levi wrote, “Never forget that this has happened.” Levi’s imperative raises important questions about the role of memory and forgetting in the politics of atrocity and systemic injustice. What is the role of the past in the present? What is collective memory and how does it figure into contemporary political struggles? What gets forgotten in the collective memory and why? Is historical amnesia always a bad thing? How might collective memory serve to address systemic injustices and historical conflicts that persist to this day? We will pursue such questions by examining specific genres and forms of collective memory that have contributed to understandings of atrocity and injustice in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in particular. We will consider how memorials, tribunals, reenactments, film, environmental ecology, and reparations movements have shaped, challenged, and revised the contemporary politics of remembering and forgetting. In addition to informal response papers, students will write 3 formal essays over the course of the semester. Readings may include works by Maurice Halbwachs, Maya Lin, Joshua Oppenheimer, Fred Wilcox, and Janna Thompson.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)