The problems with Stumbling Stones: competition for control of the narrative of a Holocaust Memorial

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135 Nicholson Hall

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Minneapolis, MN 55455

Based on several years of multi-sited and comparative ethnographic research throughout Europe, this paper has a focus on Norway. Norway is the only country where the Stolperstein (snublesten) project has been ‘completed’: as of 2022, a memorial stone has been installed for each and every murdered Jewish Norwegian. The wide range of invented rituals at the individual installations reflects the highly local understandings of the past, along with thorny issues such as denial, complicity, resistance and reparations. The paper discusses the material, visual and narrative representations of the afterlives of the victims and their memorialization, addressing how the memory of their lives has been muted, forgotten, and reinserted into the landscape. 

Ruth Mandel is Professor of Anthropology at University College London. Her academic roots stem from the Twin Cities: she spent her undergraduate years at Macalester College, after which she studied at the University of Chicago for her PhD. She has carried out extensive research on international migration between Turkey, Greece and Germany, and her book resulting from this work, Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish challenges to citizenship and belonging in Germany (Duke Univ. Press) won the Douglas Prize for the Best Book in European Anthropology. She currently is a Sosland Foundation Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Last year she was a Visiting Professor at Harvard, in the Anthropology Department and the Center for Jewish Studies.

Cosponsored by: Center for German & European Studies, Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch

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