Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Session I: Mass Atrocities

Sonderkommando Photo 4 and the Portrayal of the Invisible
Prof David Patterson

In 1944 Birkenau had four operating crematoria staffed by a Sonderkommando of up to 1,000 men.  Acquiring a camera from the Jews’ stolen goods, several of the men decided to photograph the mass murder.  In August 1944 one of them took four photographs at Crematorium V; they smuggled the film and out of the camp in a tube of toothpaste.  Cropped images were published 1945; one was exhibited at Auschwitz in 1947, and others appeared in 1958 in the book 1939–1945: We Have Not Forgotten.  Known as “The Sonderkommando Photos,” the photos are in display at various memorial and museum sites.  The black borders of the first three images, however, are often cropped, and Photo 4, which seems to show nothing recognizable, is almost always omitted.

The proposed paper will analyze the photographs, with particular attention paid to Photo 4.  It depicts horror that surpasses depiction, trees that are not trees, trees of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in a realm devoid of good and evil.  As Geroges Didi-Huberman has noted, “it tells us phenomenologically about the photographer: the impossibility of aiming the camera, the risk undergone, the urgency, the fact that he may have been running, the awkwardness, the sun in his eyes, and perhaps breathlessness too.”  Photo 4 does not show nothing—it shows the invisible nothingness that is Auschwitz.

Thus in these photos taken under the most dangerous and severe of conditions, we have a graphic image of the urgency attached to memory and testimony.  We realize that in the matter of the Holocaust, most urgent for memory is the utterance of the ineffable and the portrayal of the invisible.  There lies not only the evil of Auschwitz but also the Good that summons us to remember and bear witness.     

Ethnic war in disguise: Chinese, Malay and Indians during the Japanese occupation and the "Malayan Emergency" (1941 – 1960) 
Dr Ran Shauli

From the end of the 19th century until the Depression of 1929-32, millions of migrants came to Malaya from China, India and the Indonesian Archipelago. The Chinese, highly politicized and socially organized, soon became the largest group in the country. The Japanese occupation of 1941-5 singled out the supposedly dangerous Chinese for lethal mass-violence, while courting the support of Malays and Indians; who were on their part politically and militarily mobilized. 
Malayan Chinese were no inert victims. Most struggled daily to survive and many escaped to the jungle or managed to leave the country. Thousands joined the guerrillas - along a few Indians and Malays - and hundreds more supported them logistically. 
During the interregnum between Japanese and British rule (1945-6), the predominantly Chinese Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army and their opponent rural Malay guerillas, were killing members of the rival communities in an ever escalating cycle of revenge. This violence was curbed for a couple of years, only to return during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960). In these times, murderous reprisals against suspect Chinese villagers deteriorated into forced relocation of about half a million people.
This paper argues, in difference from mainstream historiography, that the Emergency was primarily an ethnic war, which included an element of violent ethnic cleansing, rather than just a local chapter of the Cold War. In this analysis all three ethnic groups – the large Chinese one, the slightly smaller Malay group and the even smaller Indian (Tamil) community, have a crucial part in our understanding of the development of violence and struggle over hegemony.

The Second Liberation: Moral Survival After Atrocity

 Dr Dennis Klein

This presentaion examines the historical circumstances that gave rise to the first cohort of Holocaust survivors’ accounts in the 1960s in order to provide a context for and the contours of memory after atrocity. The texture of expressiveness in these texts indicates that memory, a subject of much study, is as much an emotional phenomenon as it is cognitive. Survivors’ decision to “break the silence” occurred against the backdrop of two immediate European developments: The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-65) and the West German debate over prescriptibility, or the enforcement, of the 20-year statutes of limitations for prosecuting egregious Nazi crimes. As the May 1965, statutory deadline approached, survivors joined political leaders in concerted opposition to their contemporaries for their complacent indifference to Nazi crimes, whose nationalism and racism they believed still lingered.
                A close reading of public accounts written by Jean Améry, Vladimir Jankélévitch, and Simon Wiesenthal – three writers whose accounts are distinguished by exceptional probity –  observes two narratives in tension, one, the stronger of the two, condemning what one observer called “strategies of oblivion” or an erasure of Jews during and after the war, and counter-narrative expressions – really swerves – that interrupt backward-looking recrimination with allusions, dreams, counterfactuals, and digressions that tended to look forward. As prominent as strong narratives are, counter-narratives are notable for negotiating a relationship with a world survivors have come to distrust. This study reveals two counter-narrative dispositions: expressions of betrayal and inclinations toward critical forgiveness. Based on theories of mourning, it shows that, as severe as the emotion is, betrayal is negotiable and possesses an afterlife. It also shows that, though refusing to forgive and forget past crimes, as belated generations implored, the trio of survivors, among others, suggested viable alternatives to erasing feelings of anger. Améry, Jankélévitch, and Wiesenthal all started a process of conciliation in dreams of a human connection, even as they refused to release offenders from accountability.
                The presentation ends with showing how forward-looking conceptions in survivors’ accounts challenge and revise regnant transitional theories of reconciliation after atrocity, clarifying the tenacity rather than an attenuation of resentment as well as a deep emotional longing for fellow-feeling rather than a rational order of consensus. The conception of successor societies that emerges from survivors’ accounts offers a new, post-rational way of grasping societies in transition after atrocity. 

Parallel Session I: India

Genocide and Displacement of Kashmiri Pandits: Claims and Counter Claims
- Dr. Seema Shekhawat, Jaipur, India and Dr. D. A. Mahapatra, Boston, USA
Displacement is one of the stark realities of the Kashmir conflict. It remains dwarfed by the attention that the conflict itself has drawn. About 10 categories of internally displaced people can be identified. These people have been uprooted due either to the external dimension of the conflict in the form of India-Pakistan hostility, or the internal dimension of the conflict in the form of ongoing violent militancy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This paper focuses on a particular group of displaced people called the Kashmiri Pandits, as their displacement is considered a prominent factor in the rupture of the cohesive fabric of Kashmiri society. The displacement of the Pandits is unprecedented in the history of India – virtually the entire community had been forced into exile due to violent militancy. The issue of Pandits leaving the valley, after living together amicably with Muslims for centuries is quite controversial. There are contesting explanations for their en masse exodus. The Pandits claim that intentional killing of hundreds of members of their community forced them to leave their native places. They claim that fear of genocide loomed large and this forced them to leave their native place and lead life as displaced. This paper would investigate the claim while situating the analysis within available literature on genocide.
Crossing Imagined Lines: Inter-Religious Violence in Jammu in 1947
- Dr Christopher Snedden and Diane Barbeler

While researching the Kashmir dispute, Christopher Snedden became intrigued by a press report that alleged that:
237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated [in the Jammu area]—unless they escaped to Pakistan along the border—by all the forces of the Dogra State, headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs.  This happened in October 1947, five days before the first Pathan invasion and nine days before the Maharaja’s accession to India.

He wrote about this inter-religious violence that involved serious death, destruction, dislocation, complicity and conflicting narratives, in a book about ‘Azad Kashmir’. Questions remained, however:
  • If the report had validity, why hadn’t historians studied this ‘massacre’ in detail?
  • Was supporting evidence available 60 years after the event?
  • How did violence impact Hindus and Sikhs?
  • Were witnesses alive?  Would they relate their experiences?
  • If so, how would they/we respond emotionally?

Snedden and his wife, Diane Barbeler, designed a research model that combined their disciplines of international relations and organisation dynamics.  They interviewed witnesses of the Jammu violence—with remarkable results.  First, people trusted them with their stories, so the model worked.  Second, they gained new perceptions of the personal and political landscape in Jammu in 1947, and since.  Third, they determined that individuals and the collective rationalized the violence by creating myths, which became part of their identity to be defended without question.  Other ‘truths’ became difficult to comprehend.  Snedden and Barbeler are detailing their research and findings in a book titled ‘Crossing Imagined Lines’.  This paper discusses their processes and results.

Session II: Reconciliation

Appraising Positive Aspects of Shared History through Contact: A Preliminary Model of Reconciliation among Hindus and Muslims of the Kashmir Valley
Dr Sramana Majumdar

 The long-standing political conflict in the Kashmir Valley has resulted in identity based polarization and subsequent displacement of communities. Reconciliation between Hindus (also known as Pandits) and Muslims is viewed as an important step in any sustainable effort towards conflict resolution and peacebuilding in the Valley. This paper critically engages with the dominant discourses on reconciliation within psychology and presents a theoretical discussion on appraising pre-existent communal ties as a route towards ‘socio-emotional’ reconciliation. The role of a shared cultural past and historical coexistence- or simply put as shared history, as a facilitator of intergroup reconciliation, is discussed with reference to the Kashmiri context. The possibility of renewing channels of communication by reviving elements of shared history through intergroup contact is discussed as a likely route in this direction. The lack of security, high rate of militarization, existing physical and emotional distance between the communities and their opposing political ideologies are conceived as likely impediments to the process of reconciliation. The paper highlights the importance of reconciliation among groups within a community suffering from ongoing intractable conflict, and the necessary need for future research to focus on elements like shared history and collective memory that can be essential in post conflict recovery. 

 Raghunatha Sethupathy and Rashi Singh
The Indian Judiciary, on one hand, has always been asking the legislature to bring measures in order to combat Mass Violence and to prevent the misuse of loopholes in the law but on the other hand, bringing the perpetrators of mass violence to justice, always depends upon the Investigating Agency, which in most cases will be the Police, as the power and discretion are given to them, by the Criminal Procedure Code. The Indian Judiciary, like in most common law countries, is always depended upon the investigating agency, for a fair and comprehensive investigation in the case of Mass Violence. Incomplete FIRs, leading to defective investigation, is the reason for acquittal of the perpetrators. Sometimes, in spite of poor investigation done by the Police, the Judiciary had always protected the victims of Mass Violence and brought the perpetrators to Justice.
In this paper, the Authors have attempted to analyse the role of Indian Judiciary at every stages of Mass Violence Cases, such as complaints, FIRs, Investigation by the Police, Arrest, Remand, Bail, Trail, Acquittals, Conviction and Appeals. For the purpose of this study, the Authors have taken certain important Mass Violence cases, which happened in India, such as Nellie 1983, Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur 1989, Gujarat 2002. 

Parallel Session II: Memory and Responses

Responses to the Destruction of Aboriginal Australia
Dr P Honeyman and Dr E Richter

At the beginning of the British occupation (1788) of Australia there were an estimated 1 million aboriginal occupants. Within about 120 years this dropped to near 80,000. The rapid destruction of the aboriginal population is poorly understood or acknowledged. It was due to a combination of introduced infections, violence, dispossession and social dislocation. The aim of this presentation is to review the ongoing recognition and response to this destruction. 

The limited historical record is briefly reviewed to outline the stages in our current understanding, and to provide a framework for a discussion on the responses. The prevailing amnesia, both in the aboriginal and mainstream Australia, about the scale of this catastrophe competes with the current political response to understand and improve the appalling state of these peoples’ health and welfare in a wealthy society. There is no global awareness of this history, and for an Indian audience they can use their own history of British occupation as a lens to construct their own explanations, be it by reference to racism, colonialism or globalization.

Any discussion in Australia challenges disparate groups in the society in how they construct the memories of this destruction. For example rural landowners have an interest to minimize the scale and the violence because it threatens the morality of their title to their lands. In another example, the medical system remained segregated till the late 1960’s and little effort was taken to understand and ameliorate the vulnerability of aboriginal Australia to infection. 

The presentation argues for more emphasis on value ethics, where we ask what sort of people are to accept such ongoing outcomes, and a shift to a communitarian ethics to deal with the changes at the population level.

Turning the Dark Page: Political responsibility towards the communist past in Bulgaria on its way to European Union accession

Nike Wentholt

As is the case in many countries confronted with state-induced violence, Bulgaria’s totalitarian communist period is highly contested in the present day. Domestic political elites use these authoritarian decades and the memory thereof to construct their identities and electoral strategies. This political function of the past acquired additional impetus through Bulgaria’s membership negotiations with the European Union (EU).  

This paper first analyses this (lack of) EU involvement with Bulgaria’s communist past in the years from the fall of communism in 1989 until Bulgaria’s accession in 2007. As a practice, EU accession policy showed little interest in Bulgaria’s engagement with the communist past. The path towards EU membership also had a strong discursive dimension, however. Emphasizing a future of democracy and peace within the EU, EU representatives located the communist crimes in the past. 

The second part sketches the Bulgarian political party constellations during the EU accession process. Special attention is paid to the years 2005-2007 when the EU future was most salient in political discourse. The paper scrutinizes how the EU’s narrative of the ‘guilty’ past in relation to the ‘innocent’ future impacted upon political attitudes of Bulgarian parliamentarian parties. Studying the dynamics between memory politics and strategies for future EU membership, it argues that the former communist party used such teleological discourse as much as the right-wing parties. In this way, politicians of all sorts could justify closing the past in order to embark on a bright future. They thus avoided painful confrontation with this problematic chapter in history. 

This paper thus aims to add to our understanding of domestic political use of memory in a normative international context. Focusing specifically of parliamentarian political parties, it relates this case to broader questions of truth-finding, political responsibility and accountability after a long period of violence.

Memory Activism and the uses of Community Narratives on Facebook in Cyprus

Dr Zehra Aziz-Beyli

Culture can play an important role in widening the understandings, representations and, remembrances of history. Memory has become the leading term in our new cultural history and in fact the notion of memory is more practiced than theorized as “it has been used to indicate different things for years with a common characteristic in the ways in which people construct a sense of the past” (Confino 1997:79). Societies today, engage with the complexities of the processes of history making and remember the past in the age of modern technology. There is a tendency to create virtual spaces using photographic images through digital technology and social media on the Internet. Whether individual or collective, the use of visual images on the web-memorializing process affects the articulation of memory and creates mediated memories and alternative histories in this networked age. This creates a culture where perspectives, expressions, experiences and productions are increasingly mediated by social media, through several different platforms of social media.

In this paper, I argue that, on certain networks, especially Facebook groups, the uses of community storytelling activates collective memory not for just honouring or remembering the past but also for enabling each other to change the way people see the current material world and re-imagine future possibilities. There are groups on the social networking site Facebook that aim to create a memory of the past, to develop Cypriot life, unity and friendship via the representations of the past. These groups aim to create new or renewed versions of a local cultural past in which the role of Cypriot communities is acknowledged and restored. Therefore, community narratives are critical to how people understand themselves and the significant events of their lives. There are also different popular representational-photographs that assist this cultural memorialization process. It can be said that this is a moment where the notion of community storytelling activates collective memory and history is re-made with the uses of memory activism through Facebook. These groups remember their pasts not for just ‘honouring or remembering a new past’ but helping each other to change the way they see the current material world and re-imagining future possibilities.

Session III: India

Remembering riots: Media during and after Gujarat 2002

Dr Subarno Chattarji

The post-Godhra 2002 riots in Gujarat received saturation media coverage. Some of that reportage highlighted the exceptional and organized nature of the violence. While this coverage was unexceptionable and often courageous it seemed to ignore histories of inter-communal violence in India. This paper analyzes aspects of English language print media during and after the 2002 riots, looking particularly at the ways in which mainstream media contributes both to the making of 2002 as well as its forgetting. The amnesia in the current memorial landscape is troubling and the implications of that will be examined within contexts of collective memory and its role in the possible prevention of future outbreaks of mass violence. How does mainstream media coverage shape collective consciousness of riots? How do we think of ‘neighbourly hatred’ in religious and social terms? How can we account for the lack of commemoration and remembrance in an age of digital and social media and what are the implications of that lack? Are there sites of resistance in the digital media ecology? If, as Marshall McLuhan had argued decades ago, the media is an extension of the sensorium what does it say about our present that it is devoid of memories of a significant event? While attempting to address these questions the paper will try to outline possible pedagogies of violence studies in India using a template from a university in the UK. The possibilities of careful, critical analysis and remembrance will be mooted in the paper.


Dr Ambreen Agha

….without this testimony, my life as writer --- or my life, period ---- would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory.
                                                                                                               ---------- Elie Weisel, Night, 1956

This paper seeks to study the tragedy of the holocaust and the subsequent politicization of this historical truth found aplenty in the public discourse of the Muslim world. It is important to note that the Muslim world is not one homogenous entity; one needs to keep in mind the pluralities of thought, ideology and regional differences in order to avoid generalizations that could further widen the “us versus them” divide. The Muslim revisionists, as the holocaust deniers are called, have gone on record denying the world’s worst periods in human history (1940’s or more precisely, World War II) – the intentional and systemic extermination of six million Jews, who, for years, lived under the threat of discovery and death.  

This denial of holocaust can be traced to European anti-Semitism, which is today, in the larger Muslim psyche, conveniently enmeshed with the Arab-Israel politics, or rather Israel-Palestine conflict. In addition to discussing the historicity of the holocaust, in this paper I intend to problematize the discourse on holocaust denial and raise some questions crucial for understanding Muslim responses. Some of the questions that will be answered in the present paper are the following: Is there plurality of thought among Muslims in their understanding of the holocaust? Who among them are the deniers and what are their motivations in making such claims? Has there been or will there ever be a David Irving moment in the Muslim world? 
The “Irving moment” refers to English historian David Irving’s libel suit against American Professor Deborah Lipstadt, who calls him a holocaust denier. Irving suffered a major blow when he lost this internationally publicized legal battle with Professor Lipstadt, whom he accused of libel, before a London court. David has been found guilty of deliberately misrepresenting historical evidence in order to promote holocaust denial. He has been accused of being an anti-Semite, racist and a holocaust denier, who "for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence."

Holocaust Denial and Minimization in Indian Urdu Press

Md. Muddassir Quamar
Urdu is a widely spoken in India and is recognized as one of the 22 official languages by the constitution. The country has a vibrant Urdu press, especially in print where it is third largest after Hindi and English both in terms of number of publications and daily circulation. Largely, the Urdu press caters to Muslims, thus it is safe to suggest that it reflects their perceptions. Portrayal of Jews in the Urdu press is largely prejudiced and at times even abusive exhibiting the extent to which conflicts can affect perceptions about ‘enemy’ groups or communities. The problem lies in the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unwillingness on both sides to find a solution. It is within this context of animosity towards Israel and Jews that the coverage of Holocaust in the Urdu press can be located. The continued occupation of Palestinian territories, settlements, wars in Gaza and the perceptions about oppression of Palestinians fuels many in the Urdu press to join the bandwagon of Holocaust denial. Though marginal, there is another angle to portrayal of Holocaust, that is, justification of the mass killings of Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany as a deserved divine punishment. The instances of Holocaust denial and minimization in Indian Urdu press is not as frequent as may be in Pakistani press or for that matter the views on Holocaust in Arab public sphere or it does not attain the shrill of Iranian politics, but it nevertheless is present. It emanates from a biased understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, insensitivity and historical ignorance of the Holocaust and hatred towards Jews. It is also used to evoke passion and anti-Israeli sentiments by a section in Urdu press.

Parallel Session III: Reconciliation and Refuge

The Hungarian-Serbian Reconciliation project: Work and Results of the Hungarian-Serbian Joint Academic Commission

Dr. Arpad Hornjak

January 1942 and autumn 1944. Two crucial, though quite short periods in the history of the Serbs and Hungarians in Vojvodina. The first one, the so called ’Racija’ possibly means the worst chapter of history of the Serbs in Vojvodina in the modern age when over 3000 of them were killed by the Hungarian army troops and gendarmerie. While the second date has the same meaning for the Hungarians in Vojvodina when thousands of Hungarians were killed by the partisan troops. In December 2010 a Hungarian-Serbian Joint Academic Commission was established to discharge the heavy burden of the shared past. The initiators were the Presidents of Hungary and Serbia. The crimes of the Hungarian troops and gendarmerie committed against the Serbs were more or less part of the common knowledge in Hungary, historians dealt with the topic, and it had place in the history textbooks. But in Serbia the massacres of the Hungarians in 1944 were almost taboo, both in the historiography and in the public opinion. One of the main aim of the joint commission was to eliminate this inequality, and the victims of the massacres in 1944 gain their dignity. Now, it is not a taboo anymore in the the public speaking in Serbia, a parliamentary declaration condemning the massacres perpetrated in Vojvodina was issued in Serbia, the presidents of the two states wreathed together the new monument commemorating the Hungarian victims. These are undisputably partly results of the persistent work of the Hungarian-Serbian Joint Academic Commission and the process of appeasement will hopefully lead to the reconciliation of the two nations, not simply the understandings on the state level but on the level of the ordinary people. Certainly there will be disputes among the historians how to interpret the results of the researches but the ice had broken and it depends to large extent on the politics whether the reconciliation of the two nations will be long lasting.

The Ambivalence of Forgiveness: Dirk Coetzee, Eugene de Kock and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission 

Dr Derek Catsam
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has become something of a model for the world. In Latin America and Africa the TRC process has been emulated to varying degrees of success. Post conflict environments in Europe have invoked the TRC model. Even in the United States people have proposed truth commissions for events ranging from slavery to the Bush administration’s torture policies. And in many ways the TRC was a remarkable thing that represented South Africa’s transition from the long years of draconian apartheid rule to non- or (perhaps more accurately) multi-racial democracy. Yet the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for all of the good that it did, was far from perfect and among South Africans and close observers it engendered considerable ambivalence. This chapter will investigate South Africa’s TRC with particular attention to two former security force officials who had long haunted South Africans who opposed Apartheid, Dirk Coetzee and Eugene de Kock but who turned on their former colleagues and provided invaluable evidence that helped crack the code of silence that dominated the security forces and government. South Africa’s TRC was vital to the country’s transformation, but it was no panacea, a point that is crucial to understanding not only South Africa’s era of transition, but also for addressing ongoing and future post-conflict environments. 

Escaping the Bloodlands: Polish exiled children in India in 1942
Dr Anuradha Bhattacharjee

 ‘To know the future, know the past: Confucius’

The years between 1930  and 1945 saw some unprecedented events in  eastern Europe, in the lands covering eastern Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic republics.  Timothy Snyder  has called them the "Bloodlands" in a publication of the same name, published in 2010.  In those years and in those places, a total of 14 million innocent human beings, mostly women and children, were shot, gassed or intentionally starved to death.

Mostly associating the mass killing with "Nazi concentration camps", with Auschwitz in particular, in the Western countries, it is often overlooked that Stalin killed far more people than the Nazis by consigning the millions under his regime to the gulags or forced labour camps. At least four million people died in man-made famines.  According to Snyder, the gulags registered a healthy number of survivors.

The arrival in India of the Polish orphan children, who were survivors of the Soviet gulags is one such thread that links the ‘Bloodlands’ with India. This paper will trace the arrival of the orphaned Polish children to India in 1942, their reception in India, maintenance and the extention of the facility to other Polish civilians in Indian Princely States.  Voight and Bhatti (1999) have recorded the passage and reception of Jewish exiles in India during the period. 

This paper will also discuss the events in east Europe in their entirety, drawing from Snyder that the colossal atrocities in Poland, Ukraine and USSR ought to be set within a single historical frame, rather than placing and viewing them separately. Genocide and largescale displacement of people continue to be unleashed in Rwanda, Syria and Iraq and  genocides remain contemporary and relevant issues needing detailed examination and analysis of the underlying causal factors and possible solutions.  

Session IV: Language, Trauma and Displacement

"Calm down, my dear, no harm done, they are just murdering Jews."
Language of the Polish Bystander of the Shoah

Tomas Vojta

A complete account of Jewish life and death in Europe, and thus the meeting of European and Jewish history, would have to be centered in Poland, where most of the victims of the Holocaust lived and even more of the victims died. The subject of my Ph.D. dissertation is the mutual interaction of the Poles and Jews in the Government General. The task of recollection and interpretation of primary material concerning this issue faced a serious challenges in the recent past.

From my „Central European“ point of view of a social scientist I was able to conduct several months of intense research in archives in Germany, Poland, and Israel analyzing primary sources concerning Holocaust in Poland. The primary analytical perspective of my research is that of a Polish „bystander“. Throughout literally hundreds of hours of reading and rethinking of many relevant accounts I was able to identify the miscellaneous „immediate“ language of the genocidal process from the perspective of the „uninvolved spectator“.     

Generally speaking, my paper will analyze direct and immediate speech from the Polish perspective when facing the genocide on the territory of Poland during 1942-1944. The exact words and sentences will be presented and analyzed as found in the archival collections in the above-mentioned countries. What were the last words of Jews when led to their deaths as remembered by Poles and vice versa? With what words did the Poles comment on cadaverous smell when travelling by train close to the extermination camps? What did a random Polish priest say about the ongoing liquidation of a Jewish ghetto in 1942? The exact semantic analysis of this kind of issues will shape the hallmark of my forthcoming paper.
The “shoah-fication of trauma discourse”: the trauma paradigm then and now
-  Swatie

It has been said that we have been living (in the twentieth century) “under the sign of trauma” (Huyssen 9). How has this presented itself in the beginning of the twenty-first century?

The paper takes off from a certain branch of scholarship that locates the current trend in trauma studies as monopolised by the holocaust: the “shoah-fication of trauma discourse”. (Roth n.p.) It will look at the genealogy of ‘trauma’ as category and concept in order to understand its ubiquity in a post-9/11 world. How has ‘trauma’ emerged, shaped and assimilated into common parlance throughout its long history? How has it affected and been affected by various discourses such that in contemporary usage, ‘trauma’ has at its paradigmatic core the Holocaust? What is the efficacy and political valence of such a paradigm, especially post 9/11? Is there a shift in the notion attached to the term, or, conversely, does the trauma paradigm that emerges out of the Holocaust offer a model of continuity for today’s terror-stricken times? 

In addition, this paper will pose questions of the relatedness of trauma discourse with notions of medicality, legality and clinicality. It will probe the subject of trauma – the traumatic/traumatised subject’s coming into being. It will also seek to tease out relations between individual and collective trauma – the relation between the State and the citizen in context of the aftermath of 9/11.

Obtaining Independence: Uprooting People
Dr Ravi P Bhatia
Freedom for India from colonial rule in 1947 was a momentous event. After about two hundred years of British rule India obtained independence but at a heavy price. The country was divided into two nations: India and Pakistan. Although Muslims Hindus and Sikhs had had harmonious relations under the British rule despite the cultural and religious differences, the aftermath of partition led to bitterness suspicion and violence. Like two brothers who live peacefully together jointly with their parents but become hostile to each other when they leave the joint household, the partition of India also produced this hostility and otherness between Muslims and Hindus.

On a personal note: Like thousands of others, my family was also a victim of the partition.  My younger sister and I were too young to understand why India had to be divided or the horrors of the war of partition. We however did suffer the ensuing travails that led to our migrating from Lahore to Moga in the Indian part of Punjab in 1948. My father, who was a teacher in Lahore, was, after a lot of difficulty, able to find a job as a part time lecturer in one of the colleges of Moga, but my mother who had also worked for some time as a school teacher, was not so lucky.

Most of the persons who suffered the agony of partition are dead now. But through their personal stories of and behaviour during the ghastly events, they have left indelible memories of hardship, suffering and bravery. If we are a secular democratic nation now, we must acknowledge the debt we need to pay not only to our worthy leaders but also for the fortitude shown by our ancestors during and after the tragic events of August 1947. 

Parallel Session IV: Conflicting Narratives

Conflicting Narratives of Russian Response to the Armenian Genocide: Did Russia want “Armenia without Armenians?”  

Asya Darbinyan

While Russian and Ottoman imperial troops fought on the Caucasus front of World War I, hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenian were targeted by Turkish authorities as a potential “strategic threat.” Justifying their actions as a military necessity, Ottomans massacred the Armenians or deported them to the deserts of Mesopotamia. Those who did not fall victim became refugees on the Russian-Ottoman battlefront. In my paper, I explore the conflicting narratives of Russian response to the Armenian Genocide, as I analyze the actions taken by Russian authorities on behalf of Armenian refugees and internally displaced people on the Caucasus front of the Great War.  What motivated the Russian civil and military authorities to engage with the problem of Armenian refugees? What was the Russian imperial government’s vision with regards to their future? Did Russian authorities have a concrete plan for the occupied territories of eastern Turkey? Why were many Armenian refugees from those regions prohibited to return home? Finally, was the Russian relief work for Armenian refugees humanitarianism or was it part of a larger imperial or colonization project?  Drawing upon materials in military and historical archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in the Armenian National Archives, I address these questions as I scrutinize conflicting narratives of Russian imperial response to the Armenian Genocide. While Peter Holquist holds that Russian state did not have a concrete plan regarding the Armenians and the eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire, Avetis Harutyunyan and Manoug Somakian claim that despite Tsar Nicholas II’s promise of “a brilliant future” for Armenians, Russian authorities saw “Armenia without Armenians” as an acceptable solution to the “Armenian Question.” This, however, does not explain why the Russian Empire, so uninterested in Armenian’s fate, launched an extensive relief work saving the lives of and providing shelter for refugees.     
Denial of the Past as a Threat to the Future: 100 years after the Armenian Genocide

Mari Hovhannisyan

Very often the Armenians have been accused of living in the past and seeing the future through the horrors of the past. It is frequently said that the past is unchangeable, thus there is no need to remember what happened long before. Moreover, it is essential to erase the difficult past from the memory and set up friendly relations with neighbors.  

On the contrary, researches and constant observations have proved that comprehensive analysis of the past is of great importance since it may lead to the healing processes and reconciliation. As Nenad Dimitrijevic states “To silence the past means to identify, isolate and make publicly irrelevant that particular moment of our past which is not up to the best self-interpretation of our intergenerational shared identity”.

I believe that looking back is essential for both the Armenians and the Turks since it is a part of our common history. Many renowned scholars working in the field have proved that by “making the traumatic, repressed communal memories open, explicit, and conscious is said to have healing power…this is the only way to overcome the irrationality that springs from the past trauma and the only way to gain peace of mind.” Moreover, failing to respond to the trauma can bring about “intergenerational transmission of trauma.”

This paper aims at presenting the inheritable nature of the Genocide denial with new actors and manifestations. This paper will show the state orchestrated denial policy that has been implemented for a century and the new methods employed not only by the officials but also by scholars working in favor of the Turkish State.

Are Three Million Martyrs a Myth in Bangladesh?

Dr Md Nurul Momen

Since Bangladesh’s independence there has been a continuous debate in the academia and the media about the number of people who were killed by the Pakistan military during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. Most of the literature related to war history written by Bangladeshi authors presents that three million people were killed during the war. But for quite some time independent research and/or certain groups have been producing controversial findings that the ‘three million’ fatality is simply impossible within such a short period of time, however, the liberation war in 1971 lasted only nine months that was from March to December 1971. Anyway, there can be an academic debate over the issue on the actual number of death causalities. Given the context, in order to find out the actual number of fatalities should always be welcomed in order to let the future generation know about the true history of the liberation war in Bangladesh. However, I have also found it difficult to get an accurate number since the Pakistani army killed a lot of people randomly, as it is found mass graves at many places throughout the country. It is extremely disappointing to see that the number of death causalities during the liberation war has become a political game, while there are enough reasons to believe that vested groups do not try to get the actual truth. In Bangladesh society it has now been deliberately perceived about the three million fatalities by the vested interests into a test of patriotism! If anyone show his or her any doubt on the death causalities of three million, then he or she is considered as anti-Bangladeshi, pro-Pakistani etc. person and even identified as a traitor by the so-called patriotism groups. On the other hand, It is also certainly true that 3 million fatalities in an objective way is considered as irrational figure by many independent research. These controversies will be presented and debated throughout the paper. 

Session V: Holocaust Education
From Holocaust Education to Peace Education – a multimodal analysis on Israeli Schoolbooks
Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan

The Paper presents a study of the "Holocaust language" used in mainstream Israeli textbooks  of History, Geography and civic Studies. It distinguishes between two forms of educating children after the Shoa:  1. Re-traumatize them and turn them into heterophobic human beings; 2. Working through the trauma and draw some lessons about our own present and future behavior. The paper argues that Israeli education has chosen the first option so far. Peace education should choose the second.
Though the subject of Holocaust education and the powerful presence of the Holocaust as a defining element of Israeli Jewish identity have been studied vastly by historians, educators and sociologists, its verbal and visual discursive features, or rather its semiotics, has never been analyzed. In my study I use a social semiotic approach to the analysis of multimodal Israeli school texts in order to deconstruct and characterize, or rather create a semiotic "grammar" of their "Holocaust rhetoric" with its two facets: the rhetoric of victim-hood on one hand and the rhetoric of power on the other, both promoting the impression of an imminent Shoa and educating children to become the defenders of our "defensive democracy" which is constantly threatened with "extermination".

Israeli Holocaust language uses racist or "heterophobic" discourse towards "others," teaches mistrust of any non-Jew unless s/he is Zionist, revulsion from anything "Arab"; it silences all other narratives but the military Zionist one, includes horrifying Holocaust images, and conveys the message that each attack on Palestinians saves us from "another Treblinka". Phrases where "sacrifice", "extermination" and "final solutions" reverberate are used frequently in the books.

Studying the verbal and visual manifestations of this rhetoric may help us understand and overcome it.

Teaching the Holocaust in Israel
Dr Dan Porat

The Holocaust plays a major role in the education of Israeli youth. The teaching of the Holocaust begins in kindergarten, continues through elementary, middle, and high school, and ends in the army with several hours each year devoted to the topic. Learning about the murder of the six million Jews is conducted in various ways: through storybooks, textbooks, ceremonies, memorial days, museum visits, journeys to Poland, and witness accounts. In my presentation, I will demonstrate how almost all of these means focus on communicating to students “the voice of the survivor,” and in so doing inculcate a deep sense of victimization, an approach dictated by the Ministry of Education and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum. The focus on the victim, which results from obvious historical circumstances – the absorption of more than half a million survivors in Israel – comes at the expense of paying attention to the motivations of the perpetrators and the social circumstances that enabled them to commit their horrendous crimes. The moral inculcated in Israeli students is frequently one aimed at ultimately producing soldiers who will defend the State of Israel at all cost. 

This focus on the Holocaust as a means of promoting national cohesion and as a justification for using powerful means in the current Israeli-Arab conflict led one Holocaust survivor and renowned academic, Yehudah Elkana, twenty-five years ago, to call for a halt in the teaching of the Holocaust in Israeli schools and to suggest instead that Israelis “forget the Holocaust.” Although Elkana’s view has not taken root in Israeli society, a new and grassroots trend has refocused Holocaust education—including ceremonies, curricula, and museum exhibitions—so that it promotes a more humanistic approach that focuses on the individual perpetrators and their motivations and actions. 

Manufacturing Memories: A Survey of India’s Schooling on the Holocaust

Anubhav Roy

While the accounting of history may often suffer the historian’s follies or the politician’s nosing, in India, the exercise has been hostage to bottlenecks more structural. For reasons constitutional and administrative, the nation’s secondary schooling syllabi remain heterogeneous and irregular, leading, for instance, to world history being taught at different grades (or classes) in Kerala and Tamil Nadu: two of India’s most literate states. Since a deeper Indian take on the social sciences is largely restricted to the three years of secondary and intermediate schooling (10+2), stringent local syllabi frameworks end up overlooking several crucial events of the human past. One such episode is the Holocaust, which, despite being one of the darkest and telling chapters of recent history, barely manages footnote space within the parched, petite narratives on the Second World War and Nazism typical to India’s secondary school textbooks for history. 

A reference to the trend was underlined by a comparative 2015 report by the UNESCO, which affirmed the lingering widespread apathy for Holocaust awareness. Unsurprisingly, thus, forged copies of the Mein Kampf still sell unhindered across India’s bustling bazaars. In such a context, this paper shall delve into surveying the staple history textbooks of India’s prominent secondary education boards – central and provincial – in a two-tier investigation. First, along with the nationally valid syllabi of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE), and the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), the centrally regimented literature sponsored by the National Council of Education, Research, and Training (NCERT) as well as the NIOS shall receive thorough scans. Second, the federally standardized syllabi and course-books for secondary schooling on the social sciences – especially history – prevalent in at least two states from each of the seven ‘cultural zones’ listed by the Indian State’s Ministry of Culture shall undergo similar scrutiny. 

Such a consideration shall help paint a more holistic, conclusive picture of India’s keenness and preparedness on educating its future flag-bearers about an event that shook the conscience of all humanity in the not too distant past. In the process, the nuances of politicizing fundamental historification in India shall also be examined, bearing in mind queries like: do the schools in CPI(M)-ruled Tripura do any better at highlighting the Holocaust than those in BJP-run Gujarat?

A Case Study of Holocaust Education in Japan: Limited Jewish Presence and Non-Christian Environment
Professor Yakov Zinberg

While a limited Jewish physical presence as well as a predominantly non-Christian cultural environment have been typical regional features in East and South Asia, including China, Japan and India, Japan’s involvement in World War II hostilities has brought about a number of highly unique relevant consequences.  An ally of Nazi Germany, Japan nevertheless consistently abstained from sharing the Nazi anti-Semitic policies and, on the contrary, provided shelter for thousands of Jewish refugees.  The latter policy remains a matter of growing research, with clashing estimates forming their dominant characteristics.  Thus, representing a critical stream, Bei Gao, a U.S. scholar, claims that Japan’s policies targeting the Jews had been primarily based on the Kwantung Army’s “greed and desperation for international capital”, while her opponents tend to routinely emphasize a humanistic nature of Japan’s peculiar behavior.

It is also compelling to observe that Japan was mainly engaged in hostilities with the United States, culminating in atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an unprecedented strategic bombing behaviour which a large number of observers and scholars consider being “genocidal”.  Comparative genocide researchers occasionally view the Holocaust and the atomic bombings as related phenomena, stressing the sufferings both the Jews and the Japanese at large had endured as a result of racial and ethnic hatred.

The presentation will revolve around a variety of issues pertaining to the Holocaust education in Japan, concentrating in particular on school textbooks and university curricula and attempting to form a systematic order containing the above-mentioned conflicting features and approaches.  Both the limited Jewish presence in Japan throughout her history and the predominantly non-Christian environment of her cultural evolution make up the basic framework of the presentation, hopefully serving to contribute to the evolution of Holocaust education in India.

Parallel Session V: Literary Responses
The Limits of Denazification: The Holocaust in Martin Heidegger’s Black Notebooks 
Dr Adam Knowles, Drexel University  
“We will remain at the invisible front of the secret spiritual Germany”—these were Martin Heidegger’s words in 1934 as he resigned from the Rectorate of Freiburg University. This statement appears in Heidegger’s Black Notebooks, his secret diaries first published in 2014. The Black Notebooks document the period in which Heidegger actively embraced Nazism, served as Rector at Freiburg, pushing through the Aryanization laws with great administrative alacrity, and eventually withdrew from active political engagement—purportedly to a quiet life as a professor. In this paper I will focus on the most recent volume of Heidegger’s diaries covering the years 1942-48 in order to compare Heidegger’s personal narrative of the process of denazification with the archival record from Freiburg University. I will argue that the Heidegger case demonstrates the illusory nature of denazification. The Black Notebooks have disturbed the image of Heidegger as a professor who stood by silently to watch the Holocaust unfold, revealing instead a pungent form of antiSemitism and a disturbing post-war vision of the Holocaust as—in his eyes—an act of Jewish self-destruction. As Rector, Heidegger fostered right-wing student organizations and even shielded them from police investigations when they ransacked a Jewish fraternity. After the war he diminished the importance of the Holocaust as a matter of “mere numbers,” regarding the greater crime to be the purported destruction of the German people under post-war occupation. Yet, at the same time, the archives in Freiburg and Stuttgart reveal a contrite public persona and a deft negotiator who escaped denazification with the mild judgment of “Mitläufer.” What does it mean that the forebear of postmodernism and deconstruction, and arguably the most important 20thcentury German philosopher, would maintain a fidelity not so much to Nazism, but to a political vision even more disturbing then Nazism?  

Widening the Canon of partition Narratives: The Case of Hasan Ajijul Haque’s Āgunpākhi

Dr Dhrubjyoti Sarkar
This paper proposes to look at the literary response of displacement due to genocide and the possibility of integrating such perspectives in the possible genocide and displacement curriculum in India.

Partition narratives have already established themselves as specific sub-genres both within the canon of Indian literary studies and their usage in the sociological analysis. Expectantly canonical writers like Khuswant Singh, Attia Hosain, Amrita Pritam , Atin Bandyopadhyay, Kamleshwar often feature prominently in these curricular bibliographies to show how they responded to communal riots leading to partition of India.

However, as a point of departure, this paper proposes that to have a comprehensive perspective the range of literary perspectives should also incorporate a similar range of literary texts in the same languages but which have been produced by non-Indian writers. This incorporation will not only be consonant with the existing narratives of human suffering and displacement but also offer a complementary view by showing how violence eventually becomes all-pervading.

As a specific example, this paper discusses how Hasan Ajijul Haque’s Agunpakhi (The Phoenix) offers a portent case for incorporating the literary response of displacement due to mass violence from a Pakistani perspective. This paper proposes to look into three issues of conflation that this novel successfully resists. These are of communitarian macroeconomics with the so-called Islamic identity in the Bengali society, patriarchal priorities with social orientation and, finally, everyday individual experience with meta-narratives of idealistic emancipation.

To conclude, this paper proposes to demonstrate how such dialogic way of constructing literary representation may contribute to a fuller realization of mass violence and genocide that is both historic and has a thriving artistic afterlife. 

Holocaust, Memory and Comics: Reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus

Dr. Sathyaraj Venkatesan

Pulitzer Prize winning Art Spiegelman’s Maus negotiates historical event of the Holocaust and memory using comics medium. Divided into two parts, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, the series narrate the life story of Valdek Spiegelman, Spiegleman’s father and a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe and Anja Spiegelman, Spiegleman’s mother, in a series of oral interviews to construct a functional history of the Holocaust. Intriguingly, Spiegelman uses animals to document the whole human tragedy and mass violence—for instance, while the Jews are depicted as mice, then the Germans and Poles appear as cats and pigs respectively. Given such a background, this essay drawing the theoretical templates from Marianne Hirsch, Scott McCloud and other Holocaust, Comics and Trauma studies theorists seeks to answer the following: how does comics medium which is generally associated with the juvenile and sub-literary perform the private traumas of the Holocaust? What are the affordances of the comics medium? And how do comics negotiate (structurally and thematically) the issues related to (post) memory? How and in what specific ways do Maus represent and treat the Holocaust and mass violence? And finally, what cultural and political functions does Maus enunciate vis-à-vis other Holocaust representations?

Morichjhapi - A Silenced Episode in the National Discourse in Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide
Dr Bipasha Som

The national historiography, 'the grand narrative', of a nation reflects an allegedly institutionalized practice of silencing those events that threaten its 'teleological' ends. Amitav Ghosh‘s The Hungry Tide re-visits them in order to tell their tale, hence offers an exercise in (de)essentialising nation, releasing it from its stable anchoring points . In fact, from the very beginning Ghosh‘s novel places its characters‘ dreams and aspirations, frustrations and longings side by side, unfolding their private histories quite passionately in the forms of little stories captured within the notebook of the failed revolutionist Nirmal, a pivotal character in the story.  The history of the place, that the text is based on, seems to be a reliable medium to illuminate the fissures that national discourse is made up of, those that the repressive state apparatuses overlook or wrap up within its images of coherence and stability. His emphasis upon the Morichjhapi massacre is a case in point. In fact, it is by re-visiting this forgotten episode of mass killing in history that Ghosh dwells upon the inadequacies and the pretensions of national discourse, mainly because it focuses on the act of wiping the incident off public memory. "I know that after the storm passes the events that preceded its coming will be forgotten". (Ghosh 69) 
Ghosh dwells upon Morichjhapi massacre not only to show how poor are devastated by nation making exercises, which often arise out of a cartographer‘s fancy  or his whimsical drawing of arbitrary lines that ironically determine a nation‘s space and time, but also to distinguish these poor in terms of their struggles and aspirations that constantly seeks to defy the borders of a nation, forging bonds not in terms of sociological determinants, essential constituents of nation‘s exclusivity, but by a desire to unite with sufferers everywhere. Another important character Kusum‘s tremendous urge to join the group of refugees fleeing from the rehabilitation camp in Dandakaranya towards the tide country in Sundarbans in fact interrogates the ground rules of achieving solidarity, those that the official history of a nation sanctions.

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