By Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, Leo Spitzer
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Extra info for Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present
Taking Pierre Nora's notion of memory sites (lieux de mémoire) as a starting point, she firmly places memory work in the present. Strikingly, both parties in Page xv conflict, Palestinians and Israelis, invest memory in trees. Trees as symbols foreground aspects of the respective Palestinian and Israeli pasts that matter in the political present; they also serve, however, as landmarks in the political "mapping" of the area. Bardenstein is thus able to probe the investments of each act of memory as a projection of desire, of political agency, and of erasure.
Ernst van Alphen, in "Symptoms of Discursivity: Experience, Memory, and Trauma," examines closely why the subjects initially hurt by the historical trauma of the Holocaustthe inmates of the Nazi concentration campswere unable, at the moment the traumatic events occurred, to have a meaningful experience of them that could later be remembered and integrated. He usefully deploys Joan Scott's famous critique of unmediated experience to explain the (in)capacity to remember. Van Alphen analyzes the impossibility of integrating the "experience" into narrative, probing the deficiencies of framing and subject position that made experiencing impossible.
The incapacity of characters in the novel to see the trauma inscribed in the raped child's body, their elisions of naming, narrating, and recalling, illuminate a novel that might otherwise remain relegated to the sentimental and melodramatic. Part II, Dispersed Memories, takes off from Crewe's remark that cultural memory is site-specific and global at the same time. Crewe, in "Recalling Adamastor: Literature as Cultural Memory in 'White' South Africa," continues the line started by Kacandes, yet shifts from the relation between memory and history to the memory functions of literature.