Memory work

October 4, 2006

Memory work has an ethical and historical dimension.

“How do we confront that which we have excluded in order to be, whether it is the return of the repressed or the return of the strangers? (Kristeva 1982)”

In her brilliant article entitled “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being; Edgar Reitz’s Heimat and the Ethics of the Unheimlich” Barbara Gabriel (2004) provides a model for reading the complexities of memory and forgetting by situating unheimlich within the heimlich, in a Freudian ‘one within the other structure’. She develops the concept of an impulse towards national memory work in Germany that stemmed from a haunted subject yearning for a lost, far away, nostalgic place, a utopian homeland. In other words, that which we fear as ‘other’ is within ourselves through our shared humanity. Repressed memories haunt all of us.

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