Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day today: memory as political myth

Professor Pnina Werbner has today published a paper, Displaced Enemies, Displaced Memories: Diaspora Memorial Politics of Partition and the Holocaust, arguing that the refusal of the Muslim Council of Britain to attend Holocaust Memorial Day highlights a key dimension of memory as political myth: namely, the sense that time is cyclical. Prior external and internal enemies (in their current manifestations) are apocalyptically destined to threaten the integrity of the nation once more. Hence, ideologies based on political myths draw on both the future hopes and the future fears of people. The paper highlights the similarities between Jewish and Pakistani fears, rooted in the Holocaust and Partition, of a repeated ‘cycle of death and suffering’. These loom large especially for those suffering racism. The more bound people are by their narrow group’s particular symbols and history, the more apocalyptic their vision of this future is likely to be.

You can read more of this paper in: Ethnos, vol. 74:4, Dec. 2009 (pp. 441–464)

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