Debra Kaufman, Debra Kaufman, Professor Emerita, Northeastern University; Matthews Distinguished University Professor

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About the Holocaust:  History, Post Holocaust Memory Narratives and Jewish Identity

“One job of history is to critically test memory and to work through a past that has not passed away” (Dominick LaCapra, From Memory to History, 1994, p.8).

The Holocaust has not always occupied the cultural space in the same way that it is currently positioned in the Western World.    Sociologist Jeffery Alexander argues that no event is in and of itself a collective trauma until it becomes part of the collective memory of a nation state or group.   In this presentation I would like to talk about the relationship between history and collective post memory narratives of the Holocaust in the West and contemporary post Holocaust Jewish identity narratives among the young adults (not necessarily the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors) I studied in the U.S.