Post memoria

“ Can our (post-) memories of violence, loss and the fading away of homes be transformed into action and resistance? ”

– Marianne Hirsch

How memory and space is lived and re-appropriated is unpredictable and uncertain. Traces, fragments expose those (hi-) stories of communities, neighborhoods and nations. Memory describes the way in which our life leaves new imprints on our minds. Postmemory, in Marianne Hirsch’s words “describes the relationship of the second generation to powerful, often traumatic, experiences that preceded their births but that were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to seem to constitute memories in their own right.” In these ways, struggles, violence and resistance are inscribed in people’s minds over generations. This does not only affect the past but, in fact, the future. How people are able to access the truth(s) of their past speaks to their ability to inhabit their everyday.  The (re-) appropriation of memory refers to a problem with the relationship between time and history. The question is how to describe the presentness of the past in ways that make the past indebted to the present. The process of recalling reveals the endless (hi)stories of losses of people and land, the generations that have “gone missing” and the various struggles for (structural/systemic) justice. The train of those traces seems to be in constant motion. And yet, this sparks resistance, innovation and the renewal of strategies of empowerment.

A study in Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil, and the US from 2012-2016 explored what post memory – the memory that lives on over several generations – could ever designate in the minds of those people who offered to share the fragments of their life (hi)stories of resistance against dictatorships, of violations of human rights, of demands for accountability and processes of reconciliation.

© Rahel Bergerstock