From mass murder to genocide, slavery to colonial suppression, acts of atrocity have lives that extend far beyond the horrific moment. They engender trauma that echoes for generations, in the experiences of those on both sides of the act. Gabriele Schwab reads these legacies in a number of narratives, primarily through the writing of postwar Germans and the descendents of Holocaust survivors. She connects their work to earlier histories of slavery and colonialism and to more recent events, such as South African Apartheid, the practice of torture after 9/11, and the "disappearances" that occurred during South American dictatorships.
Schwab's texts include memoirs, such as Ruth Kluger's Still Alive and Marguerite Duras's La Douleur; second-generation accounts by the children of Holocaust survivors, such as Georges Perec's W, Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Philippe Grimbert's Secret; and second-generation recollections by Germans, such as W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz, Sabine Reichel's What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, and Ursula Duba's Tales from a Child of the Enemy. She also incorporates her own reminiscences of growing up in postwar Germany, mapping interlaced memories and histories as they interact in psychic life and cultural memory. Schwab concludes with a bracing look at issues of responsibility, reparation, and forgiveness across the victim/perpetrator divide.
"Passionate, committed, and hard-hitting on every page, Haunting Legacies draws on an exceptional range of theoretical models and literary texts to reveal the traumatic traces of violence written into the cultural fabric of the present day. Rigorous in its analysis but never indifferent to the real suffering permeating the objects of its investigation, Haunting Legacies marries righteous indignation with a poetic reflection on Gabriele Schwab's own history growing up in West Germany in the immediate aftermath of her country's genocidal madness." — Stuart Taberner , Leeds Humanities Research Institute
"Haunting Legacies offers a brilliant, fresh, and stimulating approach to the study of trauma. Drawing on personal experiences as well as a wide array historical and theoretical sources, Gabriele Schwab addresses genocide, slavery, and colonial violence as they haunt individuals and cultures long after the horrific event. Her work considerably expands on the most recent advances in psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory and is sure to be discussed across disciplines for many years to come." — Amir Eshel, Stanford University
"In this highly original and courageous study, Gabriele Schwab breaks new ground in the study of trauma and its intergenerational transmission, doing so through a special focus on the long-term effects of violent histories on the generations of both victims and perpetrators." — Michael Levine, Rutgers University
2. Writing Against Memory and Forgetting
3. Haunting Legacies: Trauma in Children of Perpetrators
4. Identity Trouble: Guilt, Shame, and Idealization
5. Replacement Children: The Transgenerational Transmission of Traumatic Loss
6. Deadly Intimacy: The Politics and Psychic Life of Torture
About the Author:
Gabriele Schwab is Chancellor's Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. Her books in English include Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis; Accelerating Possessions: Global Futures of Property and Personhood; and The Mirror and the Killer-Queen: Otherness in Literary Language.