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Title:“Where foot knocks against/the unburied bones of kin”: Topographies of memory and amnesia in Poland and Spain
Author(s):van Doren, Alexandra Brooke
Director of Research:Kaplan, Brett A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kaplan, Brett A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Delgado, Luisa Elena; Calderwood, Eric S.; Gasyna, George Z.
Department / Program:Comparative & World Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Spanish Civil War
Polish Literature
Spanish Literature
Polish Film
Spanish Film
Comparative Literature
European Union
Abstract:This dissertation identifies and refashions a critical point of convergence between Poland and Spain’s national histories under the umbrella of Holocaust and Memory Studies in its examination of selections from each country’s respective canon of film and literature pertaining to the Holocaust and Spanish Civil War. The resistance to literary and visual depictions of wartime memory in Poland and Spain poses a multitude of imperative questions that revolve around the denial of national guilt and the resulting government-sanctioned cultural amnesia. Two such illustrations of institutionalized practices of forgetting are Spain’s pacto de silencio (pact of silence), imposed after the death of Franco, and Poland’s recent law making it a criminal offense to discuss or imply Polish guilt in crimes of the Holocaust, which emerged as a product of a longstanding history of resisting any admission of collaboration or complicity. I will focus primarily on the intersections between the survivor testimony and stories of witness that began to surface both during and in the immediate wake of World War II in Poland and the Spanish Civil War in Spain and more recent depictions of the “black-listed” memory of the Holocaust and crimes of fascist dictatorships in twentieth and twenty first-century literature and film in both countries. It is imperative to identify the traumatic site with which current political bodies will not contend before parsing out issues of exile, transitions into democracy, and intergenerational legacies of shame that lead us back to the present moment at the culmination of the dissertation. The conditions necessary to create political and cultural environments like those described in Poland and Spain are structural, and not unique to any one nation; the fact that these countries have not previously been examined in conjunction with one another lends itself as evidence to the assertion that the active suppression of memory in newly formed democracies is not dependent on national identities. While there are many conditions that pave the way for historical amnesia to manifest, some fall outside the scope of this project. Therefore, this dissertation addresses only the following conditions: the political fallout in the wake of World War II and the Spanish Civil War, the construction of collective memory spaces within the larger European memory project of the EU to which all member states must subscribe, the influence of the Catholic Church during the wars and over the shape of post-war memory, the role of graveyards as sites of reckoning with the past, and the issue of conflating competing traumatic memories in order to privilege one version of history over another.
Issue Date:2019-08-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Alexandra van Doren
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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