Exploring the fraught nature of memory and comparison

Published: June 23, 2023

Courtesy of UCLA Newsroom

Michael Rothberg, UCLA’s 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Professor of Holocaust Studies, was one of the first scholars to discuss and write about the links between remembrances of the Holocaust and the end of European colonialism in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rothberg’s most influential book, “Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization,” was published in 2009, the book discussed that there is a value in widening collective cultural memories. It explores how people look at events such as the Holocaust as not outliers but rather along with other traumatic historical events.

In 2021, the book was translated and published in Germany, leading to a national uproar. According to UCLA Newsroom “In an unusual turn of events for a primarily scholarly work, it attracted widespread attention in the mainstream German press. Journalists and commentators attacked “Multidirectional Memory” for proposing that, as a matter of scholarship, the Holocaust could be analyzed in relation to other cataclysmic events rather than as a unique and unparalleled civilizational rupture.”

Read more here: Exploring the fraught nature of memory and comparison