Transgenerational Memories

Two developments in cultural studies memory research play a prominent role to investigate transgenerational memory practices and transmission processes in art. Firstly, we can observe the development of a generational semantics oriented towards memory and transgeneration, which constitutes an alternative to the ‘classic’ sociological concept of generation. Secondly, a Europeanisation of cultural memory has been taking place since the 1990s, i.e. a structural alignment of ‘Eastern European’ and ‘Western European’ images of history with pan-European and cosmopolitan references is gradually taking place.
Ever since literary scholar Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory” (French: postmémoire) for the transmission of traumatic memories to subsequent generations became widespread, generational self-understandings have been shaped not least by inter- and transgenerational transmissions. In the context of the thematic field of transgenerational memories, the concept of “postmemory” is to be decoupled from the Holocaust and family contexts and linked to the greatest challenge of current memory research: the increasingly cosmopolitan, but also selective memory of the Cold War, which is increasingly manifesting itself intermedially and in digital genres. Questions that become relevant in the context of artistic-historiographical practices are: How can we describe the connection between hegemonic images of history and artistic works that demonstrate so-called “alternative presences”? What happens when stories are performatively staged in the sense of a “digital memory” rather than reconstructed? How are transgenerational dialogues reflected in the conceptual structure of historiographic works?

Hirsch, Marianne. The Generation of Postmemory. Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

Hranova, Albena. “‘Loan Memory.’ Communism and the Youngest Generation.” In Remembering Communism. Private and Public Recollections of Lived Experience in Southeast Europe, edited by Maria Todorova, Augusta Dimou, and Stefan Troebst, 233–250. Budapest, New York: Central European University Press, 2014.

King, Homay. Virtual Memory. Time-Based Art and the Dream of Digitality. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2015.

Levy, Daniel, and Natan Sznaider. Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age. Harrogate, North Yorkshire: Combined Academic Publishers, 2005.