Friday 22 June, 2018 13:00-17:00 h
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Campus Woudestein, Mandeville (T-)building, Room T3-38
Reenacting sensitive pasts with Bill Niven and Vanessa Agnew
Papers by PhD candidates Lise Zurné and Siri Driessen
Convener and moderator Maria Grever
Entrance free (to sign up, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bill Niven: Let’s reenact! But why? WW2 reenactment in the UK
British reenactment groups focus mainly on the two world wars, simulating combat operations, or just quietly reindulging in a cuppa on the reimagined home front. While much of this reliving of the past is celebratory or at least cosy, not all of it is: recreating the atmosphere in air raid shelters, for instance, or in the trenches invokes past traumas. How are these reexperienced? Which traumas and problematic legacies do we confront, and which do we prefer not to face, and why? For reenactment is a choice: it says as much about what we do not reenact, as it does about what we do.
Bill Niven is Professor of Contemporary German History at Nottingham Trent University. He has published widely on Germany’s attempts to come to terms with its National Socialist and socialist pasts. Among his publications on this topic are the monographs Facing the Nazi Past (2001) and The Buchenwald Child (2007), as well as the edited volume Germans as Victims (2006). Niven has also published on culture during the Third Reich (e.g. Hitler and Film, which has just appeared with Yale University Press). He is currently working on a book about contemporary German memory culture.
Vanessa Agnew: Songs of Flight: Sonic Reenactments of Genocide on the Refugee Route
In the scope of its horror and its claims to totality, genocide would seem to be, if not beyond representation, then at least beyond reenactment. The talk points out, however, that art makers, performers and living history practitioners increasingly take genocide as their subject, using reenactment to restage acts of mass violence perpetrated in various historical contexts. This development would suggest either a
loosening of historiographical conventions surrounding genocide representation or a new respectability for reenactment as an investigative and commemorative genre. Focusing on sonic reenactments dealing with mass violence, the talk examines the possibilities and limitations of sonic reenactment as a historiographical mode.
Vanessa Agnew researches cultural history of music, travel, reenactment, history of science, genocide, and exile and refugee studies in the Department of Anglophone Studies, Universität Duisburg-Essen. Her Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds (Oxford UP, 2008) won the Oscar Kenshur Prize for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award. She co-edited Settler and Creole Reenactment (with Jonathan Lamb, Palgrave, 2010), special issues of Rethinking History 11 (2007) and book series Historical Reenactment (Palgrave). Her latest book projects include two volumes on reenactment for Routledge and Right to Arrive, which applies reenactment theory to Kant’s rights of the stranger so as to reframe discussions around hospitality, cosmopolitanism, the mediating role of culture, and the current refugee crisis. Last year she participated in a peace march walking from Berlin to Greece to gain insights into the conditions of flight for refugees. Her illustrated children’s book, It’s Not That Bad, about a toy elephant who accompanies a child fleeing war, will be published later this year.