Accepted Paper:

Different discourses different pasts: discursive frames of construction of collective memory in the case of Jews in Czech Republic, 1948-1989   


Hedvika Novotna (Charles University in Prague)

Paper Short Abstract:

Through the analysis of published Jewish autobiographies and their comparison to other sources, I am focusing on different levels of construction of memory and history, with the emphasis on the period of 1948-1989. I see this as a process of negotiation among different discourses.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I am focusing on the construction of Jewish past in Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) as determined by and situated in historical, political, cultural and social context of the so called communist regime (1948-1989). This past was strongly determined by ideologies and practices of the regime which were, depending on the period, officially anti-Zionist and latently or directly anti-Semitic. In other words, Czech Jews became "others" in Czech society again. I understand the concept of memory as a process of negotiation which takes place between imposed ideology and alternative ways of understanding the lived experience. In this framework, I am interested in who were the actors, who took a part in the negotiation of Jewish past, how was it negotiated, how were the contrasting interpretations of different pasts managed, and what images of Jewish past were present in individual, academic, political, and public discourses? After 1989, there was an increase of interest in the Jewish minority and Jewish past, which includes several published Jewish autobiographies reflecting on the holocaust, but also referring to the period of communist regime. I understand these autobiographies as individual representations of the past that are also part of a collective and shared cultural memorization. My question here is how were these different discourses of Jewish past represented in the cultural memory of Jewish minority, especially in autobiographical literature.

Panel Heri014
Heritage of silenced memories