Maryam Adjam: "Memory Traces: The Poetics and Politics of History"

The Research Seminar in Ethnology

Seminar in English

Maryam Adjam, Researcher, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University, presents some themes from her dissertation

Focusing on the memories of Estonian refugees moving to Sweden in the wake of World War II, I analyse the concepts of “memory space” and history within the framework of the Escape as a master narrative. Following the research participants to the sites of their memories in Estonia and Sweden today, raised the questions what constitutes a lived memory space, and how is history defined within it? Using Walter Benjamin’s concept of montage as radical remembering and its dialectical relation to history, this paper examines how embodied memories shape their own space through the act of tracing and searching. The analysis focuses on the tensions between remembering as a dialogue with history and memory’s on-going acts of embodied experience. The position of in-betweenness appears in these stories of escape, not as a state of in-between home and away, then and now, but rather as an on-going space-making process between different modes and layers of memory. This is a process aware of the constant changes in the understandings of history and personal experiences, intertwining these new interpretations with embodied memory and thereby constantly adding new layers of experience to it. Memory’s tracing illuminates a memory poetics of the meanwhileand the in-between, which refuses historical closure.