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Memory, Authority, and Identity: Holocaust Studies in Light of the Wilkomirski Debate

Memory, Authority, and Identity: Holocaust Studies in Light of the Wilkomirski Debate <p>Holocaust scholars often privilege survivor testimony by contrasting it with the more detached way history is traditionally studied. By communicating affect rather than fact through its gaps and inconsistencies, testimony&apos;s emotional intensity guarantees its authority. The scandal surrounding Binjamin Wilkomirski&apos;s Fragments, the false testimony of a troubled man, challenges trauma theory&apos;s tendency to identify with victims by showing that the author&apos;s trauma can be authentic even when his testimony is not. It is clear that Wilkomirski validated his personal suffering by attributing it to a broad human catastrophe. That such mistaken memory, or memory envy, could be so widely acclaimed challenges the ways we study and use the Holocaust within both American and American-Jewish culture. </p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biography University of Hawai'I Press

Memory, Authority, and Identity: Holocaust Studies in Light of the Wilkomirski Debate

Biography , Volume 27 (1) – Jun 25, 2004

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 Biographical Research Center.
ISSN
0162-4962
eISSN
1529-1456

Abstract

<p>Holocaust scholars often privilege survivor testimony by contrasting it with the more detached way history is traditionally studied. By communicating affect rather than fact through its gaps and inconsistencies, testimony&apos;s emotional intensity guarantees its authority. The scandal surrounding Binjamin Wilkomirski&apos;s Fragments, the false testimony of a troubled man, challenges trauma theory&apos;s tendency to identify with victims by showing that the author&apos;s trauma can be authentic even when his testimony is not. It is clear that Wilkomirski validated his personal suffering by attributing it to a broad human catastrophe. That such mistaken memory, or memory envy, could be so widely acclaimed challenges the ways we study and use the Holocaust within both American and American-Jewish culture. </p>

Journal

BiographyUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 25, 2004

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