Nancy Alhachem is going to present a working paper on ‚Nazism in the Levant: Resonance Momentum?‘

For my second colloquium I planned on gathering empirical findings and investigating memorials as assumed ‘resonant-spaces’ but since life had other plans, and social gatherings, workshops and field work had to be freezed/postponed… will present this paper, which is part of a bigger chapter on the historical background from which the interviewees come. I had to restrict it to particular cases, for I’m not yet sure which ‘national-backgrounds’ will be included.

I argue in short, that the reception of the Holocaust in the Levant went through four stages, each very complicated and intertwined to be simply dismissed as echoes, or argued as ‘resonant’

Pre-conflict (Israel/Palestine): Sympathy

Post-war (nation-building): Denial

Nationalism and legitimization of totalitarian regimes: copying Nazism?

Post-2011 (Revolution/War/Exile): Empathy?

The first three simplified stages are reviewed here, in order to show that if there was a resonant encounter, it was far from being based on racial ideology. However, its effects had been used by totalitarian regimes, to gain legitimacy and ‘manipulate’ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for their own aims. The outcome can be traced in how refugees and migrants approach the German Erinnerungkultur and their understanding of the Holocaust.

Nancy Alhachem gives a working paper on ‚Cultural Trauma, Memory and Affect‘

This project explores the practices of memory among refugees and migrants (mostly from Arab countries such as Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians), in the light of Rosa’s resonance theory, which suggests ‘thinking and feeling in exchange’, to allow the other, whether it is a person, an object or, a memory, to be touched by it and result in an affect that is felt individually. My project will investigate the obstacles that could hinder this resonance between the migrant’s memory and the Germans’ Erinnerungskultur. A substantial part of the latter is focused on the coming to terms with the Holocaust, and therefore shapes German national and cultural identity. It also plays a major role in the interaction between different groups in German society. As shown in my MA dissertation, refugees and migrants from countries shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict struggle to adopt the German narrative of the Holocaust and of National Socialism. In my PhD thesis, this conflict will be investigated by exploring the role of museums and memorials. In order to do so, museums and memorials dealing with the Holocaust will be understood as ‘resonant spaces’, which allow memories to be communicated and exchanged. Investigating the historical background from which the migrants come helps understand the obstacles that could hinder a resonant experience. Such obstacles are national ideologies, the portrayal of the Holocaust in the country of origin, and the conflict that affected the region. I therefore suggest a multidirectional approach to memory, because it allows that different groups enter into a dialogue instead of competing with each other over narratives on numbers of victims and the amount of suffering, topics
usually associated with Holocaust studies. Cultural trauma is conceptualized as a ‘linking experience’, allowing for a reciprocal resonance between the migrants on one side and the German society on the other side. Hence, the central subjects of my thesis deals with the refugees and the Holocaust remembrance in the German context, memory and identity in the shades of a country new to the refugees, who are asked to integrate by adopting a narrative of the Holocaust that is foreign to them because of their upbringing. It will also deal with the role of colonialism and nationalism that made the European culture of remembrance distinct from others; as will be shown, even opposed to that of the Arab one; and it will explore the role of the Holocaust in the German national (cultural) identity of a generation that is increasingly removed from the events.

Sanam Roohi gives a working paper on ‚Telugu associations in the US: Caste differentiation and diasporic politics in a transregionally connected social field‘

American Telugu associations, built as a cultural platform to unite spatially dispersed Telugu diaspora have become key political intermediaries linking the US with Andhra and Telangana’s political landscape. Although the term Telugu point to their larger linguistic basis of membership, the caste character of these associations is reflected in the way particular communities exercise control of these associations and the alignments of these associations with caste affiliated political parties in India. In this paper I argue that these diasporic Telugu organisations are performing the role of caste associations, albeit in a refashioned way: as in colonial times, they work to make caste relevant, but now in a globalising milieu. Caste associations, a product of colonial modernity and increasing urbanisation have worked for the dynamically defined ‘interests’ of the community, which changes over time. While in colonial times, caste associations worked to unite sub-jatis, achieve upward mobility in the caste hierarchy, and wrest concessions from the British government, in post-independence era, their tryst with democratic politics have been lauded by scholars. With transnational migration and a sense of disintegration of community and cultural values among migrants in the USA, I argue that it is organizations like TANA and ATA that take up the project of building caste based community cohesiveness transnationally even as they attempt to become political mediators in local politics in India. In doing so, associational politics create a transnational social field where carefully crafted and performed caste differentiation between the two major caste groups – Kammas and Reddys pan out. Whereas Reddys and Kammas often see each other as opponents or rivals, they also regard themselves as the only two legitimate caste groups who can represent Telugus both in America and in Andhra. Therefore, the associational politics in the diaspora also point to how Reddy-Kamma rivalry has subsumed the political possibilities of other caste groups within a trans-regionally connected social field.