Postgraduate workshop: Confronting Difficult Pasts

Venue: Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre

8 September 2016, 09.00 – 13.00

‘Confronting Difficult Pasts’ reflects on the generation of cultural memory in the aftermath of political struggle. In this seminar we will reflect on emerging modes of fiction, film and life writing in traumatised societies, and in their evolving memorialisation cultures. We will consider the impact of a traumatic past on current appeals to national identity and belonging, and the discourses being mobilised in the representational gestures that attempt to contain the excesses of the past.


Please register here if you would like to attend the workshop.

Workshop schedule

9.00 – 9.15: Dominic O’Key (University of Leeds), ‘The Creaturely Archive in W. G. Sebald and J. M. Coetzee’

9.15 – 09.30: Ryan Topper (University of Leeds), ‘Trauma and Spirit Possession in African Literature: A Critique of Postcolonial Hermeneutics’

09.30 – 09.45: Dr Kim Wale (Stellenbosch University), ‘Collective Trauma: Narratives of Betrayal and Abandonment in South Africa’

09.45 – 10.00: Group discussion

10.00 – 10.15: Jade Douglas (University of Leeds), ‘The Tension between Global Memory Tropes and ‘Rooted’ Minority Experience: Articulations of ‘Other’ Traumas in Minority German-language Literature’

10.15 – 10.30: Ian Ellison (University of Leeds), ‘Transnational Melancholy as Cosmopolitan Memory’

10.30 – 10.45: BREAK

10.45 – 11.00: Rebecca Macklin (University of Leeds), ‘Locating Women in South African (Counter)Narratives: Race, Gender and Collective Memory in Zoe Wicomb’s David’s Story

11.00 – 11.15: Lerato Machetela (Stellenbosch University), ‘Intergenerational Trauma in Jagersfontein’

11.15 – 11.30: Group discussion

11.30 – 11.45: Adam Levin (University of Pretoria), ‘Speaking as Witness in Elie Wiesel’s Night and Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s A Human Being Died That Night

11.45 – 12.00: Manosa Nthunya (University of Witwatersrand), ‘Giving An Account of One’s Home: Zoë Wicomb’s October and the Politics of Trauma in Representation’

12.00 – 12.15: Dr Michelle Magin (University of Manchester): ‘The Limitations of Digital Resources in Educational Programmes at Holocaust Memorial Sites in Germany’

12.15 – 12.30 Group discussion and close for lunch

Another symposium for students, researchers, activists and artists, ‘Interpreting Violence and Trauma in Africa’, will also take place at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre on Monday 12 September. This event will focus more specifically on the memory of genocide in African contexts (including both the global memory of African genocides and the memory of non-African genocides, such as the Holocaust, in Africa). Further details and the call for papers can be found here.

This event forms part of a programme, Remembering the Holocaust and Genocide in the Digital Age, running from 5-13 September at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. For a full list of events please click here.