Aleida Assmann (Konstanz) will present a lecture titled “From Collective Violence to a Common Future: Four Models for Dealing with a Traumatic Past.”

Since the end of the Second World War, we have witnessed different memory policies in dealing with a traumatic past. The first, “dialogic forgetting,” a very old policy dating back to antiquity, was practiced especially after civil wars. The opposite form, “perpetual culture of remembrance,” is a historical novelty that took center stage only four decades after the Holocaust. A third model was introduced in the early 1990s with the Truth and Reconciliation commissions in South Africa, following the principle “to remember to overcome.” There is yet a fourth model of “dialogic remembering,” which applies to different nations that are entangled in a history of excessive violence; they mutually acknowledge their responsibility for each other’s suffering and respect the memory of their victims.  This last model is not yet a practiced reality but could potentially help overcome some of the memory clashes in Europe and elsewhere.

Organized by: Deniz Göktürk, Chair of the Department of German.

Co-sponsored by the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley, the Multicultural Germany Project, the Moving Europe Project, the Institute for International Studies, and the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.