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the guide to historical resources • Issue 7: The Holocaust •

The Holocaust

Book cover for The Memory of Catastrophe

Manchester University Press

The Memory of Catastrophe
Edited by Peter Gray and Kendrick Oliver
ISBN: 0-7190-6345-0 (May 2004)

The volume opens with an investigation of the concepts of catastrophe and collective memory, and the relationships between them. Arguing that a pervasive catastrophic memory may be as disabling as it is instructive, Gray and Oliver stress the necessity of rendering the phenomenon subject to secular critical inquiry. The value of such an approach is then demonstrated in a series of case studies. These range across period, place and methodological approach, from longitudinal studies of the memory of the English Civil War and Irish Famine, to oral-history analysis of the legacy of Indian partition, and participant-observation of more recent events in Croatia. Several studies in the book concentrate on the moulding of memories by hegemonic or demotic languages and institutions; others focus on the mutability and ambiguities of memory as expressed in a variety of forms. They exemplify the diversity of memorial languages and responses to catastrophic events. Yet they also speak to each other in their central concerns: the dynamics of memory and erasure, rupture and recovery, uniqueness and universality, exploitation and authenticity, power and resistance, the personal and the social.