This comparative study examines the way Israeli Holocaust descendants and Cambodian genocide descendants differentially reconstitute “discontinued” descendant-ancestor relations with the genocide dead they never knew. Empirically examining the way distant bonds “discontinued” in contexts of warfare and mass suffering are restored in everyday life, this study fills a lacuna in the scholarship on genocide legacies, continuing bonds, and person-dead contact. Descendants depict channels of engagement with the dead entailing person- person-dead contact, person-object interaction, and imaginal conversations, constituting copresence and intersubjectivity. Contrary to trauma theory, Holocaust and genocide studies, and the anthropology of absence that reduce relations with the dead to maladaptive identification or the burdensome presence of voided absence, the data points to normalized and empowering relations. Comparative findings contribute to our understanding of the way cross-cultural meaning making differentially conceptualizes the porous border between the living and their ancestors and informs the restoration of (dis)-continued bonds.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements. This comparative study was made possible thanks to the generous funding of the Israel Science Foundation (1611/15). Data was collected prior to the establishment of an ethics committee protocol for the evaluation of anthropological/ethnographic research at the University of Haifa.
© 2018 by the American Anthropological Association
- continuing bonds
- genocide legacies
- intercultural variation
- intergenerational transmission of trauma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science