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A Holocaust Counter-Memorial: Stolpersteine and Competing Narratives of History and Memory

BISA Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information

16th June, 2022
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Ruth Mandel, University College London and Rachel Lehr, University of Colorado Boulder
Free seminar for scholars: please contact bisa@bbk.ac.uk for further information
Holocaust Memory, Memorialisation
Denmark, Europe, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, UK
20th century, 21st century
Almonds and Raisins; Berlin; Dublin; Gunter Demnig; Joseph Beuys; Kaddish; London; Schindler's List, Stolpersteine

Placed throughout Europe, Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) are memorials which mark the final homes of victims of Nazi violence. Based on multi-sited research on the German artist Gunter Demnig’s Stolperstein Holocaust memorial project, Ruth Mandel and Rachel Lehr will focus on the improvised rituals that descendants create to accompany the dedications and installations. Their presentation will explore the range of narratives about local and national roles in WWII, and how acceptance or rejection of Stolpersteine sometimes reveal troubling understandings of history and memory.  

Professor Ruth Mandel teaches in the Department of Anthropology, University College London. She is the author of the prize-winning book, Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany (Duke University Press, 2008) and Markets and Moralities: Ethnographies of Postsocialism (Berg Press/NYU Press, 2002), which addresses media, development and migration in Kazakhstan. Her current research, collaborating with Rachel Lehr, addresses Holocaust memory and commemoration in Europe, focusing on artist Gunter Demnig’s Stolperstein project. She was one of the organisers of the recent installation of Britain’s first Stolperstein, dedicated on 30 May in London. 

Dr Rachel Lehr earned her PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago writing a descriptive grammar of Pashai, a minority language spoken in eastern Afghanistan. Lehr’s work on the languages of Afghanistan addresses linguistics, poetry, gendered geographies, and diasporic narratives. She co-authored The Carpetbaggers of Kabul and Other American-Afghan Entanglements (University of Georgia Press, 2017) with Jennifer Fluri, and the award-winning The Sands of Oxus (Mazda Publishers, 1998) with John Perry. Lehr’s collaboration with Ruth Mandel examining the work of the artist Gunter Demnig and his Stolpersteine began when she was a Fulbright Scholar in Norway in 2017.

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