Writing biography in the face of cultural trauma: Nazi descent and the management of spoiled identities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cultural trauma after mass violence poses challenges in micro-social settings. Children and grandchildren of the perpetrator generation address these challenges in multiple, more or less fictionalized, biographies and family histories, explored here for the case of the Nazi Regime and the Holocaust. Their books serve, at one level, as quarries for harvesting depictions of interactive situations in which intra- and intergenerational sets of actors manage stigma through practices of silencing, denying and acknowledging in the context of family and friendship circles. At another level, biographies themselves constitute efforts at managing the authors’ spoiled identities through their conversation with an imagined audience. In retelling family history and reporting interactive situations, authors are torn between the desire to engage with—and cleanse themselves from—a polluting past and to maintain family loyalties and affective bonds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Limited.

Keywords

  • Cultural trauma
  • Holocaust
  • Interaction
  • Literature
  • Silencing
  • Stigma

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