In this article, we analyze local Holocaust Remembrance Day (HRD) ceremonies promoted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in Spain and Turkey. We investigate whether these memory practices have the potential to lead to a cosmopolitan engagement with the host countries’ own pasts. Focused on the same memorial events in highly contrasting and diverse national contexts, this article examines how supranational memory discourses are adopted and reinterpreted within the nation-state framework. Our ethnographic observation of the commemorations and analysis of the speeches between 2011 and 2018 in Turkey and 2005 and 2018 in Spain show that the Spanish ceremony can be defined as porous and to a certain degree open to multivocality—given the participation of different mnemonic communities—while the Turkish one is sealed and does not allow for the possibility of disrupting its self-congratulatory national memory narrative. Paradoxically, in both cases, especially in Turkey, the national legitimation profiles are bolstered by the universal frameworks that Holocaust memory provides. Even though memory travels transnationally, the nation-state still is the most powerful translator of this past. This results in the rendition of pre-Holocaust nostalgic pasts as a multicultural heaven where different groups, including the Jewish community, lived in harmony.
- cosmopolitan memory