Skip to main content Skip to navigation

History Department Events Calendar

Show all calendar items

Seminar: Complicity: Guilt, Collaboration and the Psychic Debts of Catastrophe

- Export as iCalendar
Location: PLT (second floor, Physics)

A Feminist Theory Group event , with speaker Jack Halberstam, of USC

Convenors: Dr Anna Hájková and Dr Laura Schwartz, History Dept. Contact:

Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Comparative Literature and Gender Studies, at the University of Southern California, and in the spring term 2015 also the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor at Cambridge University.

Complicity: Guilt, Collaboration and The Psychic Debts of Catastrophe

The long legacy of the Holocaust, as visited variously upon survivors who never fully get clear of the wreckage, family members who grow up in the shadow of that wreckage as well as new victims who are created by the impulse to protect a damaged community from further harm, must be reckoned with not simply in terms of trauma, loss and mourning but also in terms of complicity, violence, resentment and recrimination. In my work, I have been weighing both family legacies of trauma that come in the form of absences and voids and the cultural legacy of trauma that stretches across generations of identity formation and social movements. While survivors themselves often articulate a deeply ambivalent relation both to the category of survivor and to the act of narrating what happened to them, the next generation, the children of survivors, sometimes lose this ambivalence and dig into the past without that sense of guilt that caused the survivor to question why they and not another survived. But from the distance of one generation removed, we may no longer have access to the deep sense of complicity that the survivor feels, their sense that somehow, their survival was ensured by the death of others. In this talk, I tackle a variety of questions about complicity, guilt and memory in the wake of catastrophe.

Tags: Seminar

Show all calendar items