Remembering (in) the absence of memorials

Twitchin, Mischa. 2023. 'Remembering (in) the absence of memorials'. In: Memories of the Shoah. Universita Ca'Foscari, Venice, Italy 11-12 May 2023. [Conference or Workshop Item]

Memories Shoah LOC PROG DEF.pdf - Supplemental Material

Download (2MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Echoing Pakier and Wawrzyniak’s caution that “individuals born and socialised in Eastern Europe” do not “remember in some ‘special’ ways in comparison to the rest of the world”, but rather “that there exists some specific set of discursive practices related to particular historical events that happened in this part of Europe” (2018: 15), I propose to discuss the entanglements of such “discursive practices” in the dramaturgy of the Estonian-Russian theatre maker, Julia Aug, and specifically her recent play, Mum, is our cat Jewish too? Aug brings “the aesthetics of care” to questions of “political memory” (to cite the title of Mihaela Mihai’s recent book (2022)) regarding the Holocaust in Estonia. The framework of what Mihai calls “double erasure” with respect to complicity and silencing is profoundly figured in Aug’s work – where official remembrance reproduces legacies of violence through its own hegemonic claims (not least, in the shadow of Soviet historiography). The verbatim testimony in Aug’s play allows voices that have not been adopted into national(ist) discourse to be heard, disturbing the dominant “narrative templates” of national independence that, as Marek Tamm observes, are “the main underlying stories of the Estonian cultural memory” (2013: 128). Aug’s play brings to light multidirectional questions of remembrance, not only in terms of “nationalities” but of gender, exposing the marginal-central configuration of voices in a national history that it, nonetheless, has to work through. Concerning Holocaust memories in Eastern Europe, this tries to avoid pre-empting the potential of learning from polyphonic histories, where Aug’s play can be read comparatively with the critical concerns of Mihai’s examples: “[I]t is via an analysis of these stories that we can both identify the bodies marked for exclusion from official mnemonic regimes and estimate the cost of those exclusions to present relationships and politics” (2022: 12).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


12 May 2023Completed

Event Location:

Universita Ca'Foscari, Venice, Italy

Date range:

11-12 May 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 May 2023 09:39

Last Modified:

15 May 2023 09:39


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)