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Chapter 1

VIC184H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Imagined Geographies, Kilt

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Anne Urbancic

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VIC 184 Readings October 16th 2017
Said Invention, Memory and Place (kinda has weird anti-Semitic vibes)
- Growth in interest in study of memory
o bitter inquiry into the authenticity of certain memories
o remarkable academic analysis of the role of invention in such matters as tradition and
collective historical experience
o Debate on varying memories of the holocaust, different versions of official history of
America, etc.
- Study of history not neutral
o The study of history, which of course is the underpinning of memory, both in school and
university, is to some considerable extent a nationalist effort premised on the need to
construct a desireable loyalty to and insider's understanding of one's country, tradition,
and faith
o Issue of nationalism and national identity, of how memories of the past are shaped in
accordance with a certain notion of what "we" or, for that matter, "they" really are
o Rapid spread of global communication has led to questioning and reinterpretations of
narratives (how Columbus day is celebrated, how the Quaran is read)
- Invention
o The way rulers-social and political authorities in the period since about 1850-set about
creating such supposedly age-old rituals and objects as the Scottish kilt or, in India, the
durbar, thereby providing a false, that is, invented memory of the past as a way of
creating a new sense of identity for ruler and ruled.
Invention of traditions in colonized regions to validate white rule british ruled
Africa, and India
o The invention of tradition was a practice very much used by authorities as an instrument
of rule in mass societies when the bonds of small social units like village and family were
dissolving and authorities needed to find other ways of connecting a large number of
people to each other.
Method for using collective memory selectively by manipulating certain bits of
the national past, suppressing others, elevating still others in an entirely
functional way. Thus memory is not necessarily authentic, but rather useful.
- Memory provides people with a sense of place among diminishing social and familial ties of the
- Geography: a socially constructed and maintained sense of place - constitutive role of space in
human affairs
o Places like Aushwitz and Jerusalem imbued with memory-value
Conflict between the memory version of a place and the place in reality
(symbolic associations totally obscuring the existential reality of what as a city
and real place Jerusalem is.)
geography can be manipulated, invented, characterized quite apart from a site's
merely physical reality.
- Impact of memory and geography on desire for conquest and domination
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o Imaginative geography - the invention and construction of a geographical space called
the Orient, for instance, with scant attention paid to the actuality of the geography and
its inhabitants-but also on the mapping, conquest, and annexation of territory
o Difference in how colonizers vs. the colonized view their collective histories
emergence of the post colonial voice
o The interplay between geography, memory, and invention, in the sense that invention
must occur if there is recollection
- Ie. Two conflicting histories of the establishment of Israel: one as success after holocaust, one as
a destruction of Palestine
Palestine never paid respect of reparations, but Israel has been for Holocaust
Refusal in the Israeli official narrative to take account of the state's complicity in
and responsibility for the Palestinian dispossession
The only reason Israeli Zionist movement has been successful in maintaining
hold of region has been their exceptional ability to create and manipulate a
coherent collective memory of the conflict- something Palestinians have been
unable to do.
Siege of Masada was initially unknown but later turned into Israel propaganda
with a nationalistic spirit
State of Israel was in effect an invention designed to accompany the Zionist
attempt in the twentieth century to gain control over the land of Palestine; thus
"biblical scholarship, in its construction of an ancient Israeli state is implicated in
the contemporary stuggles fo the lad
Idea was to not only deny the Palestinians a historical presence as a collectivity
but also to imply that they were not a people who had a long-standing
The Israeli story, buttressed both subliminally and explicitly with memories of
the horrors of an anti-Semitism that ironically took place in an entirely different
landscape, crowded out the Palestinian history taking place in Palestine and out
of it because of Israeli geographical and physical displacement of the people.
Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation cannot occur until both groups recognize the
alidit ad tuth of the othe’s histo ad tuth
Said Orientalism (1978)
- Fields of learning are constrained and acted upon by society, by cultural traditions, worldly
circumstance and by stabilizing influences like schools, libraries and governments
- Both learned and imaginative writing are never free but are limited in their imagery,
assumptions and intentions
- Are limited in their imagery, assumptions and intentions
- Advances made by a science like orientalism in its academic form are less objectively true than
we like to think
- Mythology of creation: than an artistic genius or a powerful intellect can leap beyond the
confines of its own time to put before the word a new work
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