Deviating from foundational assumptions regarding the semiotic and performative role of material objects, mementos of traumatic pasts are conceptualized as resisting mnemonic re-presentation and inter-objectivity. In keeping with trauma discourse, souvenirs of deathworlds are depicted as incapable of encapsulating sublime suffering or breaching the wall of silence between survivors and descendants, failing to constitute a material legacy. Rather than act as conduits for 'continuing bonds' with the past and the dead, survivors are expected to disentangle the self from souvenirs of difficult pasts facilitating separation and recovery. Ethnographic interviews with descendants depict the way discursive framing elides the semiotic potential of domestic material traces of the Holocaust and parent-child-object relations engendering intimate inter-corporeality and embodied memory. Object relations are central in the passage between life- and deathworlds, allowing survivor families to sustain the lived memory of the past in everyday life. Findings problematize the discourse of genocidal suffering that overshadows micro-moments of lived experience.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by The Halbert Exchange Program, The CIHR Strategic Training Program in Culture and Mental Health Services, and The Morris Ginsberg Foundation. I am most indebted to all the descendants who generously shared their intimate memories with me. I thank the anonymous reviewers for comments that have enriched the discussion. I would like to thank Don Handelman, the late Tanya Forte, Erica Lehrer, Anat Hecht and Giora Kidron for their thought-provoking conversations, and Linda Forman, Eline Zehavi and Inbal Meudad for their skilful assistance.
- person-object relations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)