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Ecologies of WitnessingLanguage, Place, and Holocaust Testimony$
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Hannah Pollin-Galay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300226041

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300226041.001.0001

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(p.260) Conclusion
Ecologies of Witnessing

Hannah Pollin-Galay

Yale University Press

The Conclusion coalesces the chapter themes—interviewing genre, family, enemies, language, and place—in relation to one another, and to the question of the Holocaust as catastrophe, as transvaluation. It ends by reflecting on the outcomes of the Era of the Witness as a translation project. While testimony takers may have sought to unite Jewish memories by traversing the globe with cameras and questionnaires in the 1990s, their efforts revealed valuable tensions between different loci of Jewish memory. We should therefore challenge attempts to universalize catastrophe narratives but also avoid facile accusations against the North American institutions that brought their testimonial visions abroad. When we examine Holocaust testimony recordings of the past 40 years, we discover the “Era of the Witness” to be much more of an encounter between different memory paradigms, rather than a hegemonic overthrow of one in place of another. This encounter has, even if by accident, created rich material for rethinking what catastrophe is made of, and how it looks and sounds in personal form. 

Keywords:   Hannah Arendt, Philip Roth, translation, Jewish memory, critique of trauma theory, cultural imperialism, untranslatable, transvaluation, digital humanities

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