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BOOK TALK - Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism

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Yellow Star, Red Star (Cornell University Press, forthcoming) asks why Holocaust memory continues to be fraught – ignored, appropriated, or obfuscated – throughout Eastern Europe, the principal location of the Holocaust. As part of European Union accession process, JelenaSubotić shows, East European states were required to adopt, participate in and contribute to the already established Western narrative of the Holocaust. This has created anxiety and resentment in post-communist states, because this Holocaust memory has replaced the centrality of communist terror as the dominant narrative of the 20th century in Eastern Europe with a new focus on predominantly Jewish suffering in World War II. Influencing European Union’s own memory politics and legislation in the process, post-communist states have attempted to reconcile these two memories by pursuing new strategies of Holocaust remembrance where the memory, symbols, and imagery of the Holocaust become appropriated to represent crimes of communism. Based on extensive fieldwork and analysis of museums and memorials, history textbooks, and public commemorations, Yellow Star, Red Star presents in-depth case studies of Holocaust remembrance practices in Serbia, Croatia, and Lithuania, and then extends the discussion to other East European states. The book demonstrates how countries of the region used Holocaust remembrance as a political strategy to resolve their contemporary “ontological insecurities” – insecurities about their identities, about their international status, and about their relationships with other international actors. Holocaust memory in Eastern Europe was never either about the Holocaust or about the desire to remember the past – during communism or in its aftermath – but instead about managing national identities in a precarious and uncertain world. Sponsored by POLIS , hosted by Dr Ayşe Zarakol

This talk is part of the All POLIS Department Seminars and Events series.

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