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"The Guardians of Memory" - Book Presentation



A webinar to present Valentina Pisanty's essay "the Guardians of Memory"

Panelists: Omer Bartov, Manuela Consonni, Valentina Pisanty, Michael Rothberg.


In the concise chapters of this extended essay, the Guardians of Memory, Valentina Pisanty tracks the weaknesses of the dominant memory culture across a series of domains of public culture. She takes aim at the sacralization and fetishization of witness testimony, the rigid structures of collective memory, the banality of “Holocaust tourism,” the stereotypical formats of popular film, and the punitive legal culture of memory laws. One of the most salient features of that paradigm — and one to which I will return — is its structuring opposition between victims and perpetrators, which Pisanty calls the “familiar schema persecuted vs. persecutor.” While the Guardians of Memory see these various components of this memory culture as bulwarks against hatred and intolerance, Pisanty wonders if the Guardians are not simply seeking to preserve memory for its own sake. Worse yet, she believes that the languages and practices of the Guardians have too easily lent themselves to appropriation by the very forces they claim to oppose: “the new racists have learned to encapsulate the responses of the Guardians within the rhetorical strategies they employ to drum up consensus.” (Michael Rothnerg, UCLA)


Omer Bartov's early research concerned the Nazi indoctrination of the Wehrmacht. He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany's War and the Holocaust. His book Erased (2007) investigates the politics of memory in West Ukraine, while his most recent monograph, Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018) is a microhistory of ethnic coexistence and violence. Bartov has just completed a new monograph, tentatively titled Tales from the Borderlands: Making and Unmaking the Past.

Manuela Consonni is the Pela and Adam Starkopf Chair in Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is currently the Director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. Consonni has written extensively on the process of memorialization of the resistance and the Shoah in Italy. Her seminal volume L’eclisse dell’antifascismo. Resistenza, questione ebraica e cultura politica in Italia 1943-1989 (Laterza 2015), is forthcoming in English. Her current research focuses on antisemitism, race and nation in Julius Evola. She co-edited with Vivian Liska, the volume, Sartre, Jews and the Other (2020).

Valentina Pisanty is Professor of Semiology at Bergamo University, and has written several essays on interpretative semiotics, fables, humour, political speech, rhetoric of racism, and memory. Bompiani has published Leggere la fiaba (1993), Semiotica e interpretazione with Roberto Pellerey (2004), La difesa della razza (2006), L’irritante questione delle camere a gas (1998, enriched edition 2014).

Michael Rothberg is the 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. His latest book is The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators (2019). Previous books include Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (2009), and Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (2000). With Yasemin Yildiz, he is currently completing Inheritance Trouble: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Remembrance for Fordham University Press.

In collaboration with: Centro Primo Levi, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.



Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Time: From 2:00 pm To 3:00 pm

Organized by : ICI

Entrance : Free


Online Event