Abstracts

THE POLITICS OF COLLECTIVE MOURNING

Piotr Juskowiak (Adam Mickiewicz University – Poland)

From the performance of grief to the politics of melancholy: Communities of mourning in Poland after the Smolensk catastrophe

Jacques Derrida has famously pointed out that it is impossible to think about politics without a spatiotemporal organization of mourning. The paper focuses on this statement. It addresses the situation of different, conflicted communities of mourning, constructed in Poland aftermath the crash of presidential plane on April 10th 2010 (so called “Smolensk catastrophe”). The focus is on public grief as an example of what Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Maurice Blanchot or Giorgio Agamben have described as an essential connection between death and community. Reflecting on Derrida’s and Judith Butler’s attempts in developing theory of mourning, I question the ethical and political dimension of Polish public mourning. It was, as I argue, contaminated by acting out practice (indicated by Dominick LaCapra as a political threat). The paper offers an account of Polish grief performances in terms of national mourning. Then it moves on to suggest a political alternative for dealing with common loss – the politics of melancholy. I claim that melancholy (unlike mourning), with its repetition, undecidability and inability to forget, could be seen as a political, future-oriented strategy. According to Agamben, melancholy is not a failure of mourning (as in Freud’s claim), it is an anticipation of the lost-object which was never possessed by the subject. In the field of the political it could be seen as an answer for Simon Critchley’s “infinitely demanding”, never-ending claim for social justice. In conclusion I argue that the politics of melancholy could be a way for reconciliation between intimacy of death and public grief, a chance to bring together different types of collective memory.


Katherine Saunders-Hastings (Oxford University – Balliol College)

Urban space and the politics of grief: Counter-mourning in post-violence publics

This paper examines and contests the vocabularies of victimhood and pathology that typically adhere to mourning and trauma, arguing for a reconceptualization of the politics of collective grief.

Societies having experienced widespread violence face the challenge of assimilating the legacy of terror, accounting for its losses, and determining its consequences for the political community. The manner in which collective narratives depict histories of violence conditions the distribution of the capacity both to legitimately narrate traumatic experiences in the public sphere and to make claims on politics and justice arising from past hurt. The contents and silences of these narratives emerge from and are anchored in “memory spaces”: sites in which visions of the past are produced and contested. These spaces may disproportionately represent elite sectors, promoting dominant narratives that defuse the political claims arising from violence. Yet while power over the production of both social and spatialized memory is always unequally spread, the distribution of narrative capital is also perpetually contested. Against official discourses that bound and contain expressions of public mourning and pathologize the effects of collective trauma, diverse forms of performative and collective counter-mouning around memory spaces enunciate and contest memory in public spheres that exlcude their practitioners’ past narratives, present needs, and future aspirations.

Drawing on examples of memory-work from Colombia and Argentina, I posit the need to redefine a politics of collective mourning and trauma that centres not on an injunction to supercede loss, but rather on the viability and vitality of mourning practices that retain the lost as central to present political claims on justice.


David Duindam (University of Amsterdam)

The Politics of Commemoration: From Nation-building to Collective Mourning in the Netherlands

This paper will entail a concise history of commemoration after World War II in the Netherlands, focusing on its political motivations, public memorials and the uses of mass media. There are roughly four periodical tendencies that can be identified: a single narrative of national unity (’45-’60), critical self-examination and the rise of victim groups (’60-’80), Auschwitz as ethical imperative in social issues (’80-’95) and a return to personal narratives and empathetic experience (’95-now) (van Vree 1995, Blom 2004, Hijink 2010). In a video that will be screened, we will look at how the national commemoration is televised and how the public collectively mourns in front of the camera.

The issue I want to explore is whether in this last period, commemoration (as organized ceremony) and mourning (as personal emotion) have intertwined to a degree that individuals undergo a collective catharsis. This process co-conditions the production of national belonging and identification through an emotional and personal yet collective adaptation of history, even if taking into account that younger generations might have little or no direct connection to the war.


Lucile Dreidemy (University of Vienna)

“A dead man leads us!” Collective mourning as a political weapon in panic situations

Based on an example token out from Austrian contemporary History, I want to analyse how panic and mourning can appear simultaneously and get instrumentalised by a government in order to (re-)legitimate a political and ideological domination. On Juli 25th 1934, National Socialists attempted a putsch in Austria, during which the Austrian dictator Engelbert Dollfuß was killed. Even if the putsch failed, it proved the fragility of the Austrian dictatorship against the imminence of the National Socialist threat and led to a wave of panic in the population and in the government. In order to calm down the heightening tensions and the reactions of fear and mistrust all over the country, but also to revitalize the credibility of the regime, the government of Dollfuß´ successor Schuschnigg tried to construct and propagandise the idea of a collective Austrian community based on the mythologisation of Dollfuß. Therefore, it implemented a commemorative policy of major geographical, political and ideological scale: everywhere, memorials were built, commemoration ceremonies were hold and streets, places and institutions were renamed after the national hero. Right from the start, the government called for a collective responsibility towards the deceased martyr and encouraged the population to participate actively in the collective mourning, for example by supporting the construction of memorials through charitable donations. Very soon, however, this encouragement turned out to be a collective obligation. One revealing consequence was that forms of active engagement like the participation in commemorations were declared compulsory.

Were these policies efficient “weapons” against the Nationalsocialist ideology? Were they able to contribute to the reinforcement of the austrofascist hegemony? To which extent did they remain top-down policies? How far can a “forced collective mourning” in a panic situation manage to influence individual affects? These questions cast a new light on the Dollfuß-cult in Austria and I would be grateful to have the opportunity to present and discuss them at this interdisciplinary conference.


MEDIA NARRATIVES OF MOURNING

Fabio Corsini (University of Molise)

Death on small screen. Contemporary media narratives on death and mourning

In this paper I will try to look into the ambiguous relationship between the media – as a strategic modern source for socialization – and death, investigating the representations of death and mourning available in the traditional media of mass communication. Among the media I will focus on television narratives because of the specific role played by television in the everyday life. Keeping together the approaches of the sociology of death and dying on the one hand, and television studies on the other, I will move from the theoretical presuppositions of the mediated experience showing how, in contemporary society, we undergo what sociologist Tony Walter calls the ‘revival of death’ (1994): a relatively new sociological hypothesis able to explain the abundance of (selected) images of deaths in a death denying cultural pattern.

Media narratives joined traditional (religious and scientific) ones in the shaping of new attitudes towards death and mourning. Television as a strategic medium of contemporary society offers a wide range of depictions of death and dying able to influence individual and collective perspectives. Moreover, television and media in general offer a new chance to go back to a complex public discourse on death, dying and mourning. By critically discussing some selected examples of quality television narratives it is possible to show how media narratives combine together eastern and western approaches, religion and science, the modern and the traditional, the fantastic and the technological in a unique, critical and complex way.


José Duarte (Centre for English Studies – University of Lisbon)

Life is too short: “Six Feet Under” and the American way of death


Six Feet Under by Allan Ball (2005) is a television series that describes the life of the Fisher Family as well as their business: a funeral home. This series is a very good description of the way death and the funeral ritual are held in the United States of America. Death is an ongoing concern and a presence in the Fischer’s daily life and, of course, of those who have lost their ‘loved ones’ (Mitford, 1963). Due to the fact that each episode portrays the impact of death on those who are close to the deceased character, this papers aims at understanding the way death, mourning and grieving are depicted in this show. In The American Way of Death (1963), Jessica Mitford argues that death has become a taboo in the American society and grieving has been forbidden. Death and the funeral ritual have become ceremonies without any feeling where reality is hidden by cosmetics, the sanitized language and the funeral business. Nonetheless, this television series presents several different expressions of dealing with death and the funeral ritual as well as different ways of grieving and mourning. What makes the show special is the fact that the Fisher’s are a unique funeral home because they have found a way of dealing with the different ways of the funeral ritual and also with grief, helping those in need and rehabilitating, in a certain way, the social relationships.


Marco Grosoli (University of Bologna)

Melancholia and mourning: Lav Diaz and reality shows as (not so) different attempts to exorcize today’s anxiety

“Reality shows” have often been considered as a way to exorcize the utter (social, economical, political) precariousness of our times, provoking increasing uncertainty and anxiety. They emphasize both the continuity of time and the presence of a clearly discernable fictional scheme; through this mimetic interplay, realities reassure the spectator that inside a temporality very much like the viewer’s own, still lies the good old “fiction” (i.e.: a social bond, a complex of interpersonal rules of some kind). Of course this reassurance goes along with an implicit confirmation of one’s trust towards a society whose quintessential expression is the present worldwide media system.

However, there are also attempts to exorcize today’s anxiety which are less inclined to these mainstream tendencies. Among them, Melancholia: a 8-hour film by Filipino director Lav Diaz (awarded in Venice Film Festival 2008). In it, three people engage in a weird “therapy” to cure the indelible pain for the loss of their beloved Renato, a stern opponent of Filipino government some years before: they all go in an island where nobody knows them, and start a new life with different identity, even pretending to meet each other for the first time. Alas, this therapy fails, and despair comes along.

Although never speaking directly about reality shows, Melancholia is evidently recalling one: the three characters actually engage in some sort of a reality show, and we witness their vicissitudes almost in real time (hence its length). Nevertheless, Melancholia is not a reality show, but rather the deconstruction of the reality-show-aesthetics. A claim that an alternative to that aesthetics is still possible, that there can be a form of exorcizing Time’s cruel destructiveness without being deceived into thinking that one can get rid of pain for good, or that the media can do the work of mourning for us. My paper would closely analyze that film, placing it in the context of our reality-show-dominated media world.


Valentina Baù (University of Reading)

Mourning and healing through media: Participatory productions in post-conflict settings

Ravaged by destruction and violence, at the end of a conflict individuals are left alone to deal with their losses and re-build their lives. Resentment for the events that have occurred and hostility toward those who are believed to have caused them are strong. Silence prevails as there is no one to talk to.

The trauma caused by intense violence and deprivation on individuals and their communities is severe. Participatory media can offer a platform to share this traumatic experience. By either consulting or directly involving people in the production activity, individuals are given the opportunity to tell their stories and express their feelings. At the same time, those who are exposed to this type of productions can gain understanding and strength from others’ experiences. This process leads to the creation of a mediatic representation of mourning and enables individuals to begin healing.

The qualitative research method involves a multiple-case study enquiry examining five participatory media projects carried out in Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the civil war. The projects taken into exam include community radio, participatory theatre, participatory film-making, radio drama and oral testimony. Through the analysis of secondary data supplied by the organisations involved, including insights from the project workers, the findings offered by the case studies show how – in post-conflict settings – the participation of local community members in media productions facilitates specific activities that help to initiate the process of mourning and healing from the trauma caused by the war.


PANIC, MOURNING, AND GENDER


Matthew T. Helmers (University of  Manchester)

Our Patient’s Psychosexual Life: Homosexuality and Panic Disorder

In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association created the new diagnostic category ‘panic disorder’. With this shift in nomenclature, those previously suffering from acute panic attacks could now be diagnosed as subjects of panic. But who is a subject of panic? This question takes us on a historical account of panic within American psychoanalytic literature, from acute panic’s birth in the yoking position to the term ‘homosexual panic’ in 1920, to the gradual phasing out of the term homosexual as pathological in the 1970’s and 80’s, and the dramatic transition in practice models for the APA between the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Provocatively, homosexuality and homosexual panic both become depathologized at roughly the same time as panic disorder becomes officially pathological. This paper explores the interrelation between pathological discourses surrounding homosexuality and the pathological discourses surrounding panic disorder and suggests that the pre-1980’s symptomatology of homosexuality informs and underlies the ways in which contemporary psychoanalytic practice understands panic and panic disorder. The paper does not affirm that panic is inherently homosexual, nor that panic disorder is a disguised homosexuality, but instead draws upon the symptoms of pathological homosexuality and panic disorder in order to understand how both of these abberant subjectivities construct the implicit normal subjectivity: a heterosexual subject that does not panic. The paper concludes by positing that panic (and perhaps homosexuality) as a model of subjectivity is an oxymoron, as panic in its clinical iteration presents the antithesis to normal (and normative) subjectivity, and thereby signals the possibilities for ‘subjects’ who do not fit our moulds of subjectivity.


Anna Pehkoranta (University of Jyväskylä)

From Abjection to Agency: Loss, Abjection, and Melancholy in Fae Myenne Ng’s novels “Bone” and “Steer Toward Rock”

The heritage of loss is a recurring theme in Chinese American women’s writing, and it is often accompanied by a need for collective mourning. In many such instances, the need for transgenerational mourning and closure is not met, and the heritage of loss turns into a state of melancholy – or in some occasions, depression – haunting one generation of a family after another. Collective loss and the trauma resulting from it can also remain hidden and unacknowledged in what is considered the cultural abject. Abjection and the presence of “the unspeakable,” in turn, often contribute to a sense of displacement or emotional exile expressed in the interweaving of thematic concerns with structural and stylistic choices. In a significant part of Chinese American women’s narratives, intersections of the thematic dimensions of ethnicity, “race,” gender, and sexuality coincide with the blurring of boundaries between literary genres and the intermixture of different narrative styles.

This paper examines two novels by the Chinese American author Fae Myenne Ng, namely Bone (1993) and Steer Toward Rock (2008), with regard to questions of loss, abjection, and melancholy, taking as its main points of departure Anne Anlin Cheng’s analysis of racial melancholia (2001) and David Li’s account of the Asian American abject (1998). Sau-ling Wong’s (1993) reading of the “racial shadow” in Maxine Hong Kingston’s classic The Woman Warrior offers yet another relevant theoretical consideration for my analysis of Ng’s two novels. This paper investigates loss, melancholy, and grief as profoundly bodily experiences as they are depicted in Ng’s novels and in much of Chinese American women’s writing.


Anabela Simões (University of Aveiro)

Women and the Holocaust: the memoirs of Ruth Klüger

Holocaust representations performed by male survivors such as Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel, perceived as paradigmatic representations of the Shoah victims and considered canonical examples of Literature of Testimony, should not, despite its unquestionable value, be understood as unique icons of the marking and traumatic experiences of that particular past.

In actual fact, and particularly from the nineties onwards, this historical period became representation object and core theme for many first-generation female authors who, after several decades, found the strength to break the silence and tried to come to terms with the past through the process of writing. Just to quote some examples published in German, one can mention Grete Weil’s Meine Schwester Antigone (1982), Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben (1992), Ruth Elias’ Die Hoffnung erhielt mich am Leben (1998), or Schoschana Rabinovici’s Dank meiner Mutter (2000).

In this presentation I intend to look at Ruth Klüger’s above mentioned autobiographical text (the English translation and revised edition became available as Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered in 2001), the stage where this Austrian Jewish survivor accomplishes two distinctive tasks: on the one hand, Klüger narrates her traumatic, haunted memories of the past; on the other hand, she reflects upon the present and assumes a provocative, raw and sometimes sarcastic and defying attitude by questioning some of the Jewish conventions.


MELANCHOLY IN LITERATURE


Luisa Banki (University of Konstanz)

Mourning, Melancholia and Moral: German-Jewish Encounters in W. G. Sebald

It has become a commonplace in the reception of W. G. Sebald’s work that it stands “under the sign of Saturn” and that its author is “a mind in mourning”. Sebald’s literary work circles around an understanding of history that is catastrophic and ponders the necessitations and limits of memory. As such it can be read as either a melancholy clinging to a past (that may never have existed as such) or as a work of mourning that answers the Mitscherlich’s famous diagnosis of the Germans’ “inability to mourn”. This paper proposes to trace the question of Sebald’s (self-)positioning between concepts and practices of mourning and melancholia by way of an investigation of the literary constructions of German-Jewish relations in Sebald’s texts. Oscillating between identification and critical distance, the encounters between the German narrator and the often Jewish protagonists mirror the functionings of melancholia and mourning respectively. Starting from his own conception of melancholia as “a form of resistance”, I will argue that Sebald repudiates both nostalgic idealisations of a “German-Jewish symbiosis” before the Shoah and usurpatory identifications with the victims in its aftermath. Instead my reading of Sebald suggests that he understands melancholia as part of a working through, a process of mourning that is guided by an ethics – he terms it a moral – that opens up a third possibility of conceiving a present’s relation to a past and that underlies or rather overarches his own works.


Elisa Antz (GCSC – University of Giessen / CECC)

“The empty space that was us” – Appropriaton of melancholy in Mark Slouka’s “The Visible World”

Alex, first person narrator of Mark Slouka’s “The Visible World” (2007), performs what one might call “appropriation of melancholy.”  Nostalgia, melancholy and mourning form a sentimental mélange of Alex’ childhood and set the entire novel’s tone. Having fled to the US from Czechoslovakia, his parents suffered, in the words of Alex’ father, from “nostalgia, […] the exiles’ hemophilia.” The similarity to Freud’s description of melancholic as psychic disorder resembling an open wound is striking and raises questions as to the relationship of nostalgia and melancholy. The latter is literarily condensed in the enigmatic figure of Alex’ mother. Her depression causes Alex to travel to his parents’ homeland, in order to “see the empty space that was us, recognize its shape.” In a self-reflexive way that blends, relates and re-illuminates past and present, the narrative turns the traumatic WWII-events, which caused his mother’s melancholy, into a story – into an act of mourning.

This paper examines how the narrator performs an appropriation of melancholy, by travelling to the parents’ homeland and fictionalizing the past. Special attention will be paid to the relationship of diasporic nostalgia and melancholy. Furthermore, drawing on other contemporary novels and theoretical texts concerning post-memory (Hirsch), writing trauma (Lacapra) and roots-tourism (Paul Basu), the interface between transnational mobility and mourning will be investigated.


Lucy Brisley (University of Oxford)

The Spectre of Failed Ideals: melancholic violence in Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Bataille d’Alger” (1996) and Yasmina Khadra’s “A quoi rêvent les loups” (1999)

Gillo Pontecorvo’s celebrated film La Bataille d’Alger figures panic as a necessary step towards emancipation from the French. The terror unleashed within the confines of Kasbah by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) ultimately engenders hope for the future. This narrative of hope is undermined, however, by the failed ideals of the postcolonial Algerian nation-state and the bloody civil war of the 1990s, which form the basis of Yasmina Khadra’s novel.

In its melancholic re-presentation of the Kasbah almost forty years after independence, A quoi rêvent les loups begs comparison with Pontecorvo’s film. Many of the film’s narrative structures are replicated in the novel, and Khadra’s use of mimesis and repetition calls to mind specific imagery and discourse from the film. While Pontecorvo portrays the Kasbah as a site of resistance and hope, however, Khadra re-inscribes it as a place of corruption, censorship, and gratuitous violence. By establishing a mimetic relationship with Pontecorvo’s film, I argue, Khadra not only condemns the horror of the Algerian civil war, but establishes its origin in the FLN’s failure to live up to its revolutionary ideals. The terror of the 1990s can thus be seen as a melancholic response to the lost ideals of the guerre de Libération. By figuring the violence of the 1990s as a latent spectre of the Algerian War and its failed aftermath, Khadra demands a re-engagement with the past. It is only by working through, or mourning, Algeria’s lost ideals that a future free from political terror can be achieved.


PANIC AND MOURNING IN THE BALKANS


Ana Ljubojevic (IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca)

Tomorrow People, where is your past: Dealing with past in Serbia and Croatia

Conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia have left huge impact on political and economical systems of successor countries of the former Yugoslavia, and even more on social and cultural sphere. Thus, societies are still intensively trying to deal with the past.

In the Balkan’s region there are multiple truth versions of recent war dynamics that build new narrative traditions of nations in question. The answer to the core question “who is who?” is given by two opposite versions: myth and anti-myth. Myths of chosen people and martyrdom, as Kolstø described them, have been put on collective level, in the greatest tradition of the communist collective identity legacy from the past. An important factor of myth making is constant competition between “us” and “them” that converged though in the general self-consideration of all three nations – once war parties – as martyr peoples. Therefore, incentive for the mourning rituals on the collective level is still high and strictly dialectically addressed to the other “enemy” nation.

Recent history in Serbia and Croatia is more of each nationality’s collective emotional memory rather than common factual history . Such emotional understanding of past has been alimented to a large extend by the sentiment of fear and panic. Fear that past events could happen again in the future is producing new waves of violence.

This paper tries to analyse the impact of fear/panic and mourning rituals on the reconciliation process in Serbia and Croatia and how this process interacts with efforts to trigger the reconciliation in the region.


Milan Milijkovic (Institute for Literature and Arts, Belgrade)

Enemy and memory of the Nation – The role of literary periodicals in the period of postsocialism and postyugoslav conflicts in the Balkans

In the last decade of the 20th century, within the context of postyugoslav and postsocialist war conflicts, newly formed countries and their belonging nations tended to recognize themselves as threatened by the others involved in the conflict. As far as Serbian cultural and political frame is concerned, literary periodicals (journals and magazines) played a significant role both as a mirror and a generator of changes in the literary canon and (re)construction of national and cultural identities. Some of the main periodicals were an important part in ideological creation of the Other as a threatening Enemy and revival of traditionalism and idea of authentic national culture. Focusing on the question of how literary periodicals influenced cultural, aesthetic and poetic tendencies at the end of the century, this paper will seek to analyze relationship between literary, genre and artistic changes and dominant political, ideological and cultural discourses of nation, enemy and memory. Also, we will emphasize strategies of creating a discourse of fear and panic towards the Other (nation, enemy, West) and its relation to the issue of national homogenization, collective image of suffering, pain and mourning caused by the “loss of authentic cultural roots”. These relations could be traced within editorial politics, genres and styles of the literary texts that were selected for publishing or censored.


Klaudija Sabo (University of Vienna)

Yugo-Nostalgia: Mourning, Memory and Film in the former Yugoslavia

The beginning of the riots in the 1990s as well as the propagated necessity of independence and the finally forced outbreak of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia lead to the break-up of it different republics. United for a long time under the state president Tito – each of the republics rebuilt during and after the war new, respectively old nations with different invented stories and symbols. New borders had been set, political changes have been invented and a new kind of self-conception has been demanded of the population. The former Yugoslavia with its socialist system, which has been forming the identity of the population for a long time, is now no longer existent. The former Yugoslavian nation, as it was in the socialist period, has not only been erased from the oral and written narratives and from the townscape, but also from the collective memory.

With the help of different documentary and fiction films I would like to show how society, politics and culture rapidly changed in the period from 1991 to 2009. Another interesting question, which I would like to explore, is to what extent the upheaval is cinematically expressed from a socialist into a democratic system. Further I would like to ask how does cinema show the mourning and the loss of the former socialist identity and to what extent is this mourning of the dominating politics suppressed? And finally what kind of acceptance and nostalgic return did the figure of the former state president Tito experienced?


THE MEDIATISATION OF PANIC AND MOURNING

Dalia Bathory (Babes-Bolyai University)

Broadcasting Panic in a Televised Revolution: 1989 Events in Romania and the Revolutionists-Viewers

The fall of communism in the Central and Eastern European region in 1989 can be characterized in several ways, according to the country one refers to. There were either the round table negotiations, in Poland or in Hungary, or the velvet revolution, in the former Czechoslovakia. Or, there was the particular case of Romania. Controversy on whether it was a genuine revolution, a coup d’etat or a combination of the two is still a dilemma for the scholars to solve. But the real problem is that there were over 1000 deceased people and few steps have been taken since in order to punish those responsible for their deaths. Another peculiarity of the December 1989 events is that they were almost entirely broadcasted by the Romanian television, from its fourth studio, where all kinds of characters held speeches. There were representatives of clergy, of the army, of the political class, including the president to be and the prime minister, Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman. These speeches were moderated, so to say, by a journalist, Teodor Brates, who transmitted all the tension and the fear in the surroundings  to his audience, the Romanian people, a fear later proven unfounded. This paper aims to deconstruct the gradual construction of panic, especially in this latter character’s speech, through discourse analysis, in order to unveil the subtle manipulation of a shocked and fascinated, but also very frightened public.


Diana Gonçalves (CECC – UCP)

From Panic to Mourning: 9/11 and the need for spectacle

September 11 was a highly mediated event. All over the world people witnessed through the media the panic and the mourning experienced by Americans while abandoning themselves to those same feelings, albeit the physical distance from the attacks. In fact, it became clear right from early hours that, no matter the horror, the media had to comply with the always latent motto ‘the show must go on.’ The main focus was to keep showing, keep telling, keep feeding the audience’s eagerness to see and know more and more of what was going on. As a result, the media used of the codes of the Hollywood movies, turning an awful event into a media event, and ultimately into a spectacle.

Following the exploitation of the panic and fear generated by 9/11, the aftermath of the attack was characterized by the exploitation of mourning, trauma and loss. From TV telethons to live anniversary ceremonies, the media seized every opportunity to turn mourning into a happening, making sure that people’s pain and grief was always very present and public. Spectators were themselves transformed into spectacle.

Taking the events of 2001 as a starting point, this paper will thus analyze how an extremely disturbing and shocking event was morphed into a spectacle. As such, this paper aims at exploring the role of the media in the mediation and mediatization of one of the darkest episodes of recent history and their obsessive need to turn everything into entertainment, into a spectacle.


Areti Kondylidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

Outrage, Atrocity and the Ordinary: Demonstrating Pain in the Media

This paper argues on the role of TV in demonstrating tragic events. Two examples are taken: two reports broadcasted on the same day during the news edition of two private Greek channels. Both reports were referring to the same event, a firearm accident. Through the analysis undertaken, atrocity and its attractiveness as a spectacle is discussed, along with its relation to outrage and its influence on the spectator’s ordinary life.


MUSIC AND MOURNING

Jennifer K. Otter (CCS – Goldsmiths University of London)

Atrocity Exhibition:  Global Mourning and Faux Nostalgia for Joy Division’s Ian Curtis

Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis died by his own hand over thirty years ago.  Barely a cult figure in his native Manchester at the time of his death, the myth of who Curtis was grows with each passing year, continually becoming more exaggerated and removed from the rather shy man he was.  Movies such as 24-Hour Party People, Control and the self-titled documentary Joy Division feeds this canon of idealized crooner.  Supplemented by the speed of communication, social networking sites and availability of stock footage, a mediatized past of the Manchester post-punk scene has been created, with Curtis cast as the martyred genius donning a crown of thorns.  This allows for the continued evolution of the Curtis legend within the framework of the constructed “memory” of grim, desolate Manchester.  More than 2500 people pay homage to the dead star annually, visiting the grave of the iconic singer in the quaint North England town of Macclesfield.  Why do such a large number of people mourn, feeling a personal loss, a longing for a man they never knew?  Collected over a period of six months, this set of pictures and videos, taken at the Curtis grave, illustrates the display of public mourning, as fans, from around the world, multi-generationally, cross-culturally, make tributes to Curtis.  Three decades after his physical demise, the “loss” of Curtis illustrates the melancholy and nostalgia for a moment in rock, which never may have actually occurred.


Alix Brodie (CCS – Goldsmiths University of London)

Panic, Mourning and Nostalgia for an unknown time

Using The Smiths song ‘Panic’ as a starting point I will explore how cultural nostalgia for an unknown time can be linked with remembrance and mourning; drawing on Svetlana Boym, Susan Stewart and Walter Benjamin.

Panic (‘on the streets of London’ )

Panic is understood as a sudden reaction to a large all-consuming threat. Panic is usually imagined as a group reaction, and a reaction without rational thought processes. Panic is frantic, a stampede, a loss of all composure, a reduction of humanity to a primal fear. Panic then is the act of attempted retreat or retrieval.

What if we fear the future, and our panic-room is the past?

Mourning (‘could life ever be sane again?’)

We go through the mourning process which involves stages of emotion, and carries on as a pang throughout ones’ life. Mourning can also become a part of a routine, an act, as well as an emotional process.

Mourning, like the original meaning of Nostalgia is seen as a diagnosable condition. How is our current understanding of nostalgia as an act of imagination, like mourning? Is nostalgic re-enactment more like remembrance or celebration than mourning? Or is it a form of mourning, stuck in a stage before acceptance; the rejection of the new and the real.


Sabine Zubarik (Free University Berlin)

The Pleasure of Mourning in Argentine Tango

In Argentine Tango, mourning, longing and melancholy are constitutional aspects of emotional expression. Early lyrics and recordings of songs proof mourning to be one of the main topics: mourning for the country of origin left behind, for the loss of family bonds, or because of a broken love relationship – in short: mourning for something or someone unreachable one cannot be in touch with anymore. Once practiced mostly by immigrants who were flushed into the metropolis of Buenos Aires around the turn of the 20th century, Tango as a collective cultural practice with its music, texts and dance became a figure of comfort and consolation in which the memory of loss was celebrated.

For two decades, Argentine Tango is globally more popular than ever. Even if the music and the dance have changed their forms and means of expression with younger generations, the topics haven’t, and the atmosphere of longing and mourning is still alive. What makes people of all social classes, backgrounds and countries enjoy a cultural practice which is based on the feelings of mourning, loss and melancholy? How do tango producers, organizers and activists nourish the ongoing production of mourning in their work, and why do practitioners and consumers of tango cherish this special atmosphere of emotions which in daily life have negative connotations for them and are feared?

Our thesis is that the historically coded literary-poetic as well as musical representation of the emotional setting of melancholy, loss and mourning in Argentine Tango produces an atmosphere of “touchability”: letting yourself be touched and touch in return, physically and emotionally. The feeling of mourning and melancholy then becomes not only legitimate and acceptable, but even attractive and desirable in the context of a milonga (a social tango event). Tango in its reception, stylization and reproduction allows the possibility of enjoyment and indulgence of emotions that are usually not enjoyed and avoided.


THE RITUALIZATION OF MOURNING


Audrone Gedžiūtė (Villnius University)

The Figure of the Horse in the Indo-European Burial Traditions

The proto-Indo-European culture left a lot of descendants which, in the course of time, acquired many individual cultural features, yet they also retained much of the cultural heritage that originates from the common Indo-European roots. The traditions of burial appear to be a very important cultural aspect which reveals both differences and similarities of mythical consciousness and perspective of the Afterlife across Indo-European nations. They all include, in one way or another, the figure of the horse which is not surprising as the horse used to be the most important cultural animal. Nevertheless, the appearance of the figure of the horse regarding the context of burial ceremonies and mourning process varies cross-culturally. The data concerning the role of the figure of the horse within the frame of burial customs reveal many sides of pagan life: people’s attitude towards the Afterlife, the projection of the Underworld, ways of accepting death and others. It has been widely approved that many ancient pagan cultures had the habit of burying horses together with the dead, however only a few scholars seek for the exploration of the reasons underlying these rituals. These reasons are actually evidenced in various sources such as mythical narratives, tales, folk songs, proverbs, riddles, idioms, etc. Semantic analysis of them exposes various cultural perspectives of dealing with death in Baltic, Celtic, Germanic and other Indo-European traditions. The presentation might be useful for further insights with regard to the reconstruction of ancient cultural models of death.


Elisabetta Colla (CECC – UCP / CCCM – IP)

Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought: Ritualistic Artifacts and Mourning Mediation in Imperial China

Chinese art has many examples of ritualistic artifacts, like the burial objects for the spirits of the dead called mingqi provided for the dead in the afterlife. Many of them have been unearthed from ancient tombs in archaeological excavations in China; Portugal has at least one example available at the Museum of the Macau Scientific and Cultural Centre in Lisbon. These mingqi were made in all kinds of materials and in a broad range of forms, techniques and craftsmanship with a specific and symbolic meaning.


Anirban Ghosh (University of Munich)

Movement in mourning: Narratives of Partition within Cultural artifacts

Partition of India in conventional (read nationalist) discourses is often described in surgical metaphors, as an operation, an amputation, a vivisection or a dismemberment. As a result the new borders that were created in 1947 are often thought as incision scars. This metaphor was relevant to many factors that were involved at the time of the partition.

1stly, it was consistent with the British rhetoric of a clinical detachment from the event of partition. It was congruent with the anthropomorphic depiction of the nation as the mother (this evocation of the mother as the nation was a dominant feature in the nationalist annals).

More importantly, from the vantage point of the emerging Indian state, it was necessary to depict Pakistan as a diseased limb “that had to be sacrificed for the health of the national body politic”.

The turn in this hypothesis is that it is completely misleading. The deployment of surgical metaphors constituted an argument that the partition was a necessary process for healing. But the falsity in this argument is that after so many years of partition, the enormity and violence of communalism is still felt in the subcontinent. Moreover the medical connotations also suggested that India was the passive recipient of this division and creation of borders, whereas subsequent historiographies of partition (outside the hegemonic fold of the nationalist discourse) have shown the active agency of the nationalist leaders in enforcing, legitimizing and conspirating Partition. Within these tropes my paper would attempt to delegitimise binary structures of disease and healing, arising out of the violent terrains of partition. The case studies would speak about certain cultural artifacts, both texts and performances which conceptualize the idea of partition in a way of mobility, of displacement which not only talks about the loss of materiality but also that of the self and the psychogeographical domain of the ‘home’. The concept of home becomes very problematized within the partition narratives and often we comes across the denial of a return to the ‘original’ home as a subversive claim on movement rather than stability.


MOURNING IN FILM


Anat Biger (Tel Aviv University)

Subjective Mourning in Contemporary Cinema: “Le scaphandre et le papillon” and “Waltz With Bashir”

Contemporary cinema investigates new ways of telling the story of Trauma and Mourning. Some films have adopted a subjective narrator that mediate through Voice-Over, flashback and POV the construction of a new identity from the process of emotional mourning.

I suggest a reading of two contemporary award winning films that use subjective narration as aftermath of Trauma. Both show a distinctive and lyrical auto-biographical process of protagonist constructing his identity in reaction to trauma and mourning, trying to make sense of it retrospectively.

Le scaphandre et le papillon (Shnabal, 2007)  tells the true story of Elle France editor Bauby, who became the victim of a devastating stroke that left him in total paralysis, “locked-in syndrome”, incapable of any verbal communication. Using a communication code developed by his therapist, Bauby was able to compose, a lyrical and heartbreaking memoir of his life struggle. The film is the mental journey of the narrator inner-healing, coming to term with loss and wrong-doings.

Waltz With Bashir, (Folman, 2008) tells of an Israeli film director trying to reconstruct his memories as a veteran of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. He is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and disassociation, and must come to terms with violent events and mourn his loss and responsibility for the catastrophe in order to heal.

Both representations of trauma and mourning in these films raise different questions that I will address, as well as a theoretical frame-work.


Michal Pick Hamou (Tel Aviv University)

From Vision to depression  representation changes over the Israeli cinema after 2000

After the year 2000 Israeli cinema has become melodramatic and was recognized around the world.  Its protagonists express helplessness, act out of panic and struggle existing as individuals and seem to have lost their faith in themselves as well as in other.  These are miserable grieving protagonists.

In the first three decades to its existence the Israeli cinema represented a collectivistic society that holds hope and vision. Plots circled around protagonists which symbolized regeneration and lost their identity to the national ideology. Since the 80s the Israeli cinema showed peripheral spaces containing anti-protagonists  that enriched the national story.

During the mid-90s vision replaced reality. Geo-political and psycho-ideological processes seeped into Israeli cinema. Ungraspable sensations of horror and catastrophe as well as liberation of the individual were only symbolical represented. Both the protagonists and the social space expressed post-traumatic dissociative and disclosures of victimhood behavior. The plots shaped a deep fear for the family’s existence as an allegory to the nation’s existence.

The new rhetoric expressed in films combines a sense of panic and mourn   Which is characterized by melodramatic plots that see socio-historical reality as a dead end.  The tormented protagonists choose conformity time and again, settle in the domestic space and waive dreams and aspirations that, according to their view, could damage the collectivistic texture.

I claim these to behaviors and their cinematographic expressions are an immediate result to the reduction of collectivistic components alongside feelings of depression and horror gaining control. They generate a sensation of panic, carry similar characteristics that transfer them in a transgenerational manner and furthermore, undermine the ability to behave morally, prevent emotion regulation and cause moral panic.


Asli Kotaman & Artun Avci  (University of Marmara / Plato Media School)

What remains? Mourning as an emergent sentiment in contemporary Turkish cinema

This paper will try to approach  mourning as an emerging sentiment in contemporary Turkish cinema through a recent film, “Sonbahar” (Autumn, 2007).

The subject or object of loss is unclear or unexamined and, more importantly, it is not communicated in this film. In the introduction to the volume Loss: The Politics of Mourning, David L. Eng and David Kazanjian state that “as soon as the question ‘What is lost?’ is posed, it invariably slips into the question ‘What remains?’ That is, loss is inseparable from what remains, for what is lost is known only by what remains of it, by how these remains are produced, read and sustained.” The film that is the subject of this paper, Sonbahar, traces loss and its remains, namely mourning. By this example we will try to deliniate how mourning and loss are represented  in Turkish cinema.


Rui Manuel Brás (CECC – UCP)

Waiting in the garden: Mourning in Antonello Grimaldi’s Caos Calmo

The death of a loved one or someone close to you is a traumatic experience. There are several processes and modes of dealing with the total loss of those people who have a positive impact on our lives, such as working through and acting out. According to Freud, mourning is an important mode of working through.

In this paper, I will discuss the way mourning is used by Pietro Paladini to transcend the death of his wife, Lara, in Antonello Grimaldi’s Caos Calmo.

The process of working through will be analysed by giving special attention to the rituals and routines that the character interpreted by Nanni Moretti develops in order to come to terms with the death of Lara and the quiet chaos it created in his and his daughter’s lives.


MOURNING NARRATIVES IN ASIA


Karl Gustafsson (Stockholm University)

Towards a general framework for studying narratives about wars: Based on an analysis of narratives about war in China and Japan

In studies dealing with representations of wars different types of narratives are often mentioned. These include victim narratives, victor narratives, aggressor narratives and so on. However, it is often unclear in the existing scholarship how the analyst recognizes a certain type of narrative when s/he sees one. Moreover, these studies are often preoccupied with one particular context. One consequence of this is that they do not provide a general framework that can be used in comparative studies of narratives across contexts. The paper aims to fill this gap by building on and developing existing scholarship. The paper presents a typology and proposes a method for the study of narratives about war. To illustrate the typology and method, examples are given from my research on Chinese and Japanese narratives about WWII at peace and war museums in both countries. The typology and method have been developed on the basis of fieldwork including visits to about twenty Chinese and more than thirty Japanese museums dealing with the war at which material has been collected. The method draws on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and focuses on the way in which participants are depicted, in textual as well as other material, in the narratives studied. The typology consists of three main types of narrative tropes, which each emphasize the role and agency (or lack thereof) of one type of participant, – hero, victim and perpetrator tropes. The depiction of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in these tropes is considered crucial and is therefore also discussed.


Sascha Klotzbücher (University of Vienna)

No mourning the victims of revolutionary terror during the Cultural revolution in post-Mao society

How did Maoism’s conceptual frames structure the individual’s perception of self and society during the Cultural Revolution? How is revolutionary terror reframed in present society?

Based on an analysis of two autobiographical texts of teenagers in the Cultural Revolution, this paper explores how the individual copes with the permanent commitment required by the Maoist frame. Individuals’ actions are expected to have a large social impact, regardless of the costs to the individual or his/her own interests. Terror can be understood as a way of relieving these negative feelings created by this perception of reality. The autobiographical descriptions in two case studies will give insights into the intentions and feelings of the participants during and after the acts in which they were involved. These accounts show terror in mass actions not as the result of obedience, but of highly skeptical participation. The individual struggles to eliminate moral (humanistic) values, replacing these with moral societal gains and needs. Within the friend-enemy dichotomy of Maoist thinking, where opting out is betrayal, terror is an act of revolutionary purification of oneself and an effort to transform ideological dichotomies into reality, at the cost of the humiliation of others. Terror focuses on the act and not the object of violence. As a result, victims are numerous and arbitrary.

Violence and political murder during the Cultural Revolution are taboos in post-Mao society. Do those who engaged in violent acts in the Cultural Revolution mourn their actions? Continued self-perception as a part of an elite will give a clue to help answer this question.


Stephen Joyce (University of Bielefeld)

The Conspicuous and the Invisible Trauma

Korea’s history is marked by trauma and mourning, which has produced over time a feeling of han, a tragic sense of helplessness in the face of powerful and uncontainable forces. In the twentieth century alone, the Korean people experienced colonisation by the Japanese from 1910-1945, the partition of Korea by the USA and USSR after World War II and the subsequent Korean War from 1950-1953. Korea is thus a distinctive case of a culture experiencing not one but two major traumas in succession. These traumas are frequently represented in Korean American literature, but what is fascinating is that the Japanese Occupation figures far more prominently than the Korean War. Why is one trauma more commonly the subject of artistic representation than the other?

In my paper, I hope to explore this issue and contend that much of the discourse surrounding cultural memory, trauma, and mourning assumes too readily that artistic representations of traumatic events are ways for a society to work through these events; however, fictional works are not simply social texts but artistic constructs and a clearer understanding of the novels as art allows us to better understand the representations of these two traumatic events. The Japanese Occupation provides greater opportunities for modern Korean American writers to evoke the feeling of han, and this emotion is the true goal of their works. Han cannot be reduced to the events themselves, however, and is a cultural concept that exists independent of the contemporary traumas it is associated with.


MOURNING AND NEW MEDIA


Domink Schrey (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

“Analog Nostalgia”: Mourning the Obsolescence of Analog Media in Digital Culture

The prevalent narrative of what has been addressed as the ‘digital revolution’ is dominated by cultural pessimism and deeply rooted skepticism. Similar to earlier significant changes in media evolution, the ongoing process of digitalization is often described as one of decline and deprivation, a fundamental ontological revolution challenging the categories of indexicality, substantiality, and – as a consequence thereof – also of authenticity. There are many varieties o this technophobia, ranging from the well-known panicky visions of a digital apocalypse to a more general and widespread mourning for what has been and seems to be irretrievably lost in the present.

According to Svetlana Boym, ‘outbreaks of nostalgia often follow revolutions’, and indeed, one of the key features of today’s digital media culture seems to be a nostalgic longing not only for authenticity in general, but, to a greater degree, for the analog and everything that is considered being lost in the process of digitalization. Paradoxically, this ‘analog nostalgia’ does not imperatively mean to deny progress or to refrain from using digital media – on the contrary, it can also mean adapting specifically analog qualities within the digital which is characterized best by its capability to simulate. As I intend to show in my paper, one of the coping strategies for ‘analog nostalgia’ is thus to fetishize the traces of usage and decay that are missing in digital media. To support my argument, I will draw on examples from contemporary popular culture – especially mainstream film and music – which emphasize or simulate characteristics of analog media.

 


Carla Ganito (CECC – UCP)

(I)mobile remembrance: Grief, mourning, and the mobile phone

With the mobile phone you call a person and not a place. This “personalization of networking” as called by Bary Wellman, started with the Internet and has reached its peak with the mobile phone: “The mobile phone could be our personal miniature representative” (Katz, 2006:51). The mobile phone is not only as extension of its user but its virtual presence.

The personal connection- which is greatly physical – makes its users want their mobiles to be a reflection of them, an expression of their identity. The mobile phone has become a part of us and its loss is compared by many to losing a limb. So the connection has become visceral, organic. Furthermore, the mobile phone is conceived as a visible prosthesis of the body in the McLuhan sense of extension, thus “its shapes and colors become subjects of aesthetic reflection” (Caron & Caronia, 2007) and identity construction.

The mobile phone is also regarded as an affective technology (Lasen, 2004; Plant, 2001), an object of mediation, demonstration and communication of feelings and emotions.

These strong connections to the artifact and the contents that are carried with it play an important role in today’s grieving processes. The phone numbers of lost beloved ones linger on our mobile phone agendas as bastions of resistance to death, the device itself is kept as a treasure, pictures, texts and voices messages are carefully kept on our mobile galleries and are summoned as comfort mechanisms.

In the scope of Sherry Turkle theory of “evocative objects”, the mobile phone will be presented as a site of remembrance and expression of grief.


Frauke Surmann (Free University Berlin)

No Fun – A virtual simulation of inescapable tragedy

No Fun is the latest online performance by the Italian artist collective Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG. On May 1, 2010 they staged an online suicide on Chatroulette, a website with over 500000 users a day, that pairs random strangers together for webcam-based conversations. The documented reactions to the simulated suicide were edited and launched as a 10-minute-video on the artists’ website and virally spread over video-sharing websites such as youtube and vimeo. While the performance raises fundamental questions on the hyperreality of contemporary mediascape as well as on the exhibition of social behavior against the background of an increasing spectacularization of daily life and death, its reading with Aristotle’s theory of tragedy reveals yet another highly remarkable aspect, that I would like to focus my paper on: the deterritorialization of the catastrophic event concurrently with the absence of a univocal cathartic effect. The users of Chatroulette were made involuntary witnesses of a simulated suicide, the artificial character of which most of them did not know, and were thereby forced into the role of active participants in the creation of the tragedy itself. By abdicating from their responsibility as authors, Eva and Franco Mattes leave us in a state of insecurity about the tragic climax of their performance. Do we locate it in one of the various reactions to the simulated suicide? Or can it already be found in the precedent declaration of a suicide as art? And how does this deprivation of a potential consensus on the cathartic climax relate to the need of embedding one’s individual indignation in a common moral concept?

 


MOURNING IN VISUAL ARTS


Sandra Reimann (University of Konstanz)

Visibility of Absence – the reflection of mourning in contemporary art practices: reestablishing cultural awareness of victims of terror and catastrophe

When the victims of terror and catastrophic events remain invisible and when public mourning is impossible or suppressed, the processes of coming to terms with the experiences becomes disordered. My talk will focus on practices in contemporary art that confront the emptiness of collective memory and, through the use of the notions of absence and void, make visible the victims and their death, or perhaps more importantly, their lack of presence. I would like to present two examples in my talk: the installation “Remembering” (2009) of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and the photographical project “Ausencias” of Gustavo Germano from Argentina.

In his 2009-2010 exhibition “So Sorry” on the facade of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Ai Weiwei constructed Chinese characters made out of colored backpacks which say “She lived happily for seven years in this world” to remember the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008. With this artwork, he addressed the Chinese government’s attempts at covering up the deaths of thousands of school children.

Between 1976 and 1983 thousands of people ‘disappeared’ under the Argentinian military regime. In his project, consisting of sets of two photographs, Gustavo Germano makes the absence of ‘los desaparecidos’ visible by juxtaposing older family photographs with new pictures of a similar situation in which only the desaparecido is missing. The assumption that will be considered in my talk is that, when the victims are invisible and when public and collective mourning are suppressed, art practices – like the two examples presented – can reinstall the necessary visibility, help to reestablish the identity of the victims, and thus provide a cathartic or healing function.


 

Duygu Beykal Ozsaracoglu (Bilkent University, Turkey)

Mending the Rupture: Wounds of the 1980 Coup Echoing in Contemporary Visual Arts in Turkey

In Turkey, the military coup of 1980 was the last of the consecutive military coups that have taken place in 1960 and 1971.  The 1980 coup launched an era where the social and democratic rights were suspended, the education system and culture were suppressed and reshaped by official governmental ideologies. Furthermore the human rights were violated,  systematic torture, investigations and an horrific atmosphere were commonly seen.  The consequences of the 1980 coup are still affective in political, cultural and social arenas today.

Considering the still lasting effects of the 1980 military coup, this research aims to analyze two contemporary exhibitions that are concerned with the coup and its aftermath 29 years later it has taken place.  One of these exhibitions is The Coup exhibition that took place in Outlet: Independent Art Space and the second exhibition is Dirty Story, curated by its participating artists and exhibited in BMSuma Contemporary Art Center.

 

In regard to the aforementioned exhibitions, answers to the following questions will be sought: 29 years after its occurrence, what is the aim behind making exhibitions concerning the 1980 military coup?  Do they constitute a way of dealing with the horror and shock? Do they create a social rehabilitation by making the viewers reface their “Dirty Story”/ history?  Is the art offered by these exhibitions healing or tearing up the wounds of the trauma left behind the coup? Can art act as a mediator providing communication between the traumatic past event and the present victimized generations?


Tânia Ganito (CECC – UCP)

Shaping Silent Records: Acts of Mourning in Contemporary Chinese Art

In China, the evocation of the past through the preservation of afterlife has been, since long, a fundamental condition for achieving and maintaining an atmosphere of harmony in present and future times. Mourning became thus a cultural practice that potentiates the strengthening of collective memory and identitary consciousness, manifesting itself in times of crisis and social stability alike, in public as in private spaces, in the form of ancestor worship and homage to the deities, as well as through ritualistic performances that seek to appease the wandering and hungry spirits.


Recently, especially through a host of Chinese contemporary artworks, the practices and purposes of mourning have undergone a process of reinvention with the aim of creating a space for the expression of silenced memories that refer to events of the recent past.


Through an approach that will try to bring together both Chinese and Western contributions about such issues as afterlife, as well as the meaning and practice of mourning as mechanism of memory and trauma transfer, I shall seek to understand – by analyzing some of the works that comprise the Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang’s solo exhibition Records (2009) – how and in what ways contemporary artworks can convert into a space for both individual and collective catharsis.

 


LITERARY LANDSCAPES OF FEAR


Jake Reeder (Birkbeck College – London Consortium)

Fear in MacBeth: Gender, Politics, and Noise

My paper examines the political and phenomenological elements of fear found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It underlines the fact that an object of fear can just as easily be an object of laughter, so that it is the psychic constitution of the fearful person that gives to an object its power to scare. In the case of Macbeth, his ambition to be king, related to an ambition to have a solid self, and the division of gender roles that is imparted to him by his wife, create a scenario where every external and uncontrollable object and noise disturbs the ideal peace that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fantasize. Lady Macbeth’s hatred of her womanhood dictates to her husband the necessity that he be the pure and brave male that opposes her weakness, but this strict bipolarity is an unattainable ideal. Thus their political and gender objectives transform into a phenomenological modality where every noise shatters the pristine self they try but never can fulfill. The reality of their disposition takes on a second political function: it shows itself to be contagious. The ‘lusting for self’ that Macbeth initiates (though in truth the series began before him) spreads through Scotland, until characters fear their own lust as well as the
treachery of their closest companions. In this way, Macbeth’s state of fear reveals the mimetic quality of emotions, as those around him, those affected by his ‘state’, cannot help reacting in kind. My paper
continues until the tragic finale, exploring how a ‘taste for fear’relates to ambition, and how Macbeth’s declaration, ‘I have supped full of horrors’ relegates Macbeth to a hollow state of pessimism, where all that is left is the bitter laughter of the cynic: ‘life is but a tale told by an idiot.’

Uroš Tomić (University of Belgrade)

Violence of Summer: Fear and Repression as Dramatic Devices in Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer” and “The Night Of The Iguana”

This paper will explore the highly artificial and emotionally taut world of Tennessee Williams’ two plays: “Suddenly Last Summer” (1958) and “The Night of the Iguana” (1960), concentrating on the dramatic use of the emotions of fear, panic and grief and the states of repression and aggressiveness within the structure. “Suddenly Last Summer” is a one-act play focusing on the aftermath of a violent death of a homosexual poet regarding the characters of his overbearing mother and his emotionally disturbed cousin. “The Night of the Iguana”, on the other hand, is a three-act full-length play set in Mexico and dealing with a lapsed priest in an environment of lush countryside and emotionally hungry women. The plays will be explored from a psycho-analytical critical perspective, detailing the dramatic usefulness of strong emotions of terror, fear (in its many variances), grief and exultation in establishing the author’s idiosyncratic poetics. It will also concentrate on modes of projecting the states of neurosis and hysteria onto the viewer/reader and their psychological response, whether through identification/repetition or distancing/alienation.


Anna Simona Margarito (University of Salento)

Gu Cheng’s cycle ‘Cheng’: a panicked poetical landscape


 

The poet: Gu Cheng (Beijing 1957- Waiheke 1993) was a well known Chinese contemporary poet, a prominent member of the “Misty Poets”. His life was marked by a number of catastrophic events also related to a particularly violent and complex period in the history of China ( the famine 1959-61; the Cultural Revolution 1966-76; the end of the Maoist Period; the advent of Deng’s Socialist Modernization and the problems it involved, and last but not least Tian’anmen Massacre in 1989). He died tragically in a murder-suicide on Waiheke Island where he lived with his wife, son and lover.

The cycle ‘Cheng’ [City] is made up of 52 poems; it was composed between 1991-1992 and 1993.The main themes are: a lost Beijing, the incidents of 4 June 1989, and the loss of the poet’s lover, Ying’er. The poems are a poetical travel along the Beijing of Gu Cheng childhood, the city he loved and knew which he tries to restore with the tool of his poetical imagination, this city imagined is Gu’s ‘jiaxiang’ [hometown]. The preface to the poems is also very interesting as the poet describes what seems to be a panic attack. Also the way in which he writes the poems, the images he uses, the lack of punctuation, make us think of a ‘panicked poetical landscape’.

Conclusions: D. Nettle in his ‘Strong imagination: madness, creativity and human nature’ quotes W. Shakespeare and states he was right in assuming that: ‘The lunatic, the lover and the poet/are of imagination all compact’. Gu Cheng was somehow all of the three.


 

 

MOURNING THROUGH IMAGES


Maria Ejarque (Institute of Philosophy of Language – New University Lisbon)

Framing Pain – The normative consequences of images of pain

 

« So successful has been the camera’s role in beautifying the world that

photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of the

beautiful.»

Susan Sontag

 

The same could be said about pain; and of grief and mourning. Photographs become the standard of the good and bad (and of pleasure and pain) and show us who and how to grief for the pain of others. Insofar as grief and mourning imply an emotional connection to a subject, we will discuss the correlation between images of pain and grief. In this context the subject is a subject; not a particular one but rather the generalized subject that represents humanity. An embodied humanity. One that is in pain, that is cold, that is subject to suffering and ultimately to being eliminated.

Images have long framed our understanding of the world, in a way that allows us to understand them as having normative capacity. It has been argued that the first visual description of the treatment of slaves – through engraving – has had a considerable impact on the emergence of anti-slavery. In the same manner, photographs of atrocities committed in the Belgian Congo have been used as a human rights campaign in the context of the independence movement.

In fact, the very notion of inviolability of the human body, which is closely linked to that of dignity of the human person, have been further developed and consequently generalized to the overall population (after appearing as mere philosophical abstractions about the nature of the person) due to empathy. The empathic relation to a subject in pain, which relates us to the suffering of humans and the unacceptability of certain types of suffering, has been made possible due to the existence of images of pain.

Norms about pain and about which is acceptable and which is not – or in other words, which is to be grieved and mourned and which is not – have been generally defined by spectators. But one could not end without asking the question: when does being a spectator makes men become headmen?

 

 

Daniela Agostinho (CECC – UCP)

The Liberation of Ravensbrück – Rethinking images of public mourning

 

In the broad category of “Holocaust photographs”, the pictures of the extermination camps’ liberation occupy a pivotal position. The visual memory of the nazi atrocities has been constructed mostly through images taken by the Allied forces upon the liberation of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau or Bergen-Belsen. These “images of public mourning” (Hirsch) have come to define a “camp aesthetics” (Weissberg) and what might be termed as a “visual canon” of the Holocaust.

This paper proposes to explore the visuality of a camp that has remained outside this canon and to address its rhetoric within the broader visual system of the Holocaust. The female concentration camp of Ravensbrück owns a particular status within post-war memory discourses. On the one hand, being a women’s camp restrained its potential rhetoric universality; unlike Auschwitz or Buchenwald, it could not represent the overall experience of extermination, but rather a female experience of the Holocaust. On the other hand, Ravensbrück was liberated by the Red Army, which was not as interested in making the liberation public as were the American or the British forces. Furthermore, close before the liberation by the Soviet Army in April 1945, several inmates were rescued by the Swedish and Danish Red Cross in two different phases. This means that Ravensbrück has had several liberation moments, instead of a single one, covered through a photographic record that does not seem to fit the pattern of the “atrocity image” (Zelizer). These reasons, amongst others, have determined a certain discursive invisibility (or undecidability) of the camp’s liberation, which translated itself into the absence of an acknowledgeable visual narrative of Ravensbrück.

This paper will argue that the photographic record of the liberation of Ravensbrück challenges the dominant visual rhetoric of Liberation and that its particular visuality forces us to rethink the aesthetics of public mourning imagery.


Maria Ana Carneiro (CECC – UCP)

Camarate: First Images of National Mourning

Thirty years have elapsed since the disaster that occurred in Camarate, near Lisbon, killed, in the evening of December 4th 1980, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Francisco Sá Carneiro, his partner Snu Abecassis, the Minister of National Defense, Adelino Amaro da Costa, his wife Maria Manuela Amaro da Costa, the Head of the Office of the Prime Minister, António Patricio Gouveia and two pilots, Alfredo Sousa and Jorge Albuquerque. This study undertakes a transversal and comparative analysis of the photographs published in the first three days of written press, specifically in two dailies (Diário de Notícias and Jornal de Notícias) and two weekly newspapers (Expresso and Tempo).

Drawing on a Visual Culture studies perspective, this paper proposes to analyze the visual discourses that traverse these four newspapers, focusing particularly on their role in the construction of mental images thus imprinted on the collective memory and on the national narrative built around this event.

 


 

NARRATIVES OF MOURNING IN PORTUGAL


 

Marina Pignatelli (ISCSP – Technical University Lisbon)

Refugee Jews in Lisbon: Memories and hopes after the Shoah

 

Jewish history in Portugal is centuries long now. This means that although their saga has been quite a turbulent and devastating one, there still remains a well settled community (kehila), composed by Jews with a strong sense of self consciousness of a shared Jewish identity, although coming from very different origins or nationalities, with multiple cultural identifications, speaking different languages and carrying various mundi-visions, dreams and memories, within themselves and wanting to transmit them to the next generation. Yet, some of them share a set of traumatic experiences related to the loss of relatives and their own journey to escape from the holocaust (shoa) and still carry that fresh memory and marks in their minds and bodies. I have interviewed some of those Jews, some of which are no longer among us and my paper proposal intends to focus on those unknown/anonymous testimonies who chose to stay in Lisbon.


Clara Saraiva (Centre for Research in Anthropology/ Scientific Tropical Research Institute/ New University of Lisbon)

The invisibility of death among immigrant populations in Portugal

In spite of all the research on the recent status of Portugal as an immigration country arises, some important issues dealing with immigrant´s states of suffering, panic and death, the “states of affliction” have hardly been dealt with.

How do immigrants perceive death and dying and incorporate them in their conceptualization of the diaspora and of the suffering and emotional states involved in the migration process? How do the Portuguese look upon the death of the immigrants, a subject ever hardly spoken of and which raises a series of prejudices and mystifications?

In a western society where death has become a major taboo, this estrangement  towards life´s last rite of passage moves on to the realm of myth and prejudices that affect immigrants in Portugal, and the invisibility of death becomes a true reality. Yet, for immigrants themselves, it is a reality that often conditions the relation with the home country. Death is thus here looked upon not as a moment in time but as a process, which involves specific emotional states and triggers the use of rituals in order to cope with the unavoidable distress, acquiring more complicated aspects when away from home.

Based on ethnographic data collected in fieldwork with migrant populations in the Lisbon area as well as in their home countries (specially in the case of Guinea-Bissau) this paper will deal with the multiple levels that suffering and death touch upon, from the symbolic to the more practical ones.



Joana Mayer (CECC – UCP)

Covert mourning: The discursive shift of the Monument to the Discoveries

In 1940, when the Portuguese President of the Council of Ministers, António de Oliveira Salazar, and other government figures opened the Exposição do Mundo Português (Portuguese World Exhibition), the nation’s identity was depicted through an assemblage of discursive strategies which performatized the Estado Novo’s (New State) political and cultural narrative. Through this event the regime was theatrically staged by monuments, reproductions and cultural programmes, altogether symbolic constructions which deliberately contributed to legitimize the dictatorship’s ideology, and to rally the community around the creation of a collective historical memory of the past.

The Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), drawn by Cottinelli Telmo and projected by Leitão de Barros and Leopoldo de Almeida, was part of this discursive edifice. Erected to glorify the Discoveries era, the monument was a symbolic litany to the memory of a past verve.

This paper explores the instrumentalization of the “dialogic forgetting” policy (Assmann) regarding the Estado Novo by the new cultural function attributed to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. We will examine the present semantic associations and functions of the monument and argue that it has undergone a discursive shift that situates it outside the ideological narrative that underlies the nation’s traumatic memory: the symbolic genesis of the project, which was part of an imperialist cultural policy, seems to have been off-staged, contributing to a process of covert mourning.





 

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