The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture

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Alon Confino, Peter Fritzsche
University of Illinois Press, 2002 - 265 pages
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Coming to terms with a troubled past is the mark of the modern condition. But how does memory operate?

This powerful collection of original essays probes this question by focusing on Germany, where historical trauma and political turbulence over the past century have deeply scarred modern memory and identity. Tracing the role of memory in German history between the Reformation and reunification, contributors show how memory has a history and the presence of the past has historical context. With scholarly zeal and keen insight, these essays draw on ghost stories and the postwar fiction of Heinrich Böll, among other memory sites, escorting the reader through the streets of Alt Hildesheim and the grocery aisles of East Germany. By historicizing memory, this volume surpasses the efforts of previous memory scholarship in confronting Germany's National Socialist past.

Standard approaches to memory in modern Germany have explored how the past represents social relations and is commemorated in literature, art, and personal narrative. In taking memory "out of the museum" and "beyond the monument," The Work of Memory investigates the ways memory forms social relations and is integral to the construction of identities, communities, and policies.

Profound and provocative, The Work of Memory contributes to a much-needed anthropology of memory in modern Germany.

 

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Contents

Noises of the Past i
1
The Transformation
25
Universal Citizenship
39
How Nostalgia Narrates Modernity
62
The Strategic Use of Autobiographical
86
On the Birth Death
107
History Trauma and Testimony
136
Implications of the Wende
154
Psychiatrists Veterans and Traumatic
173
The Case of West German
196
Waiting Wives
214
Dangerous Memories
239
Contributors
257
Copyright

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