Cultural Trauma and National Identity in Greece and Israel - CuTrau2020

SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES - Department of Sociology
20 Aug 2020 to 27 Aug 2020

20 August

09.00–09.45 M. Marangudakis: Cultural Traumas and National Identities in Greece and Israel – an introduction

10.00–11.45 Manussos Marangudakis and Kostas Rontos: Cultural traumas in Greece today – a quantitative analysis

The lecture will present the findings of a recent survey of the relative importance of cultural traumas in Greece today. The survey examines the lasting impact, social imprints, and selective affinities between twenty three (23) potentially significant cultural traumas which comprise in all the modern Greek experience and traumatic cultural memories. These traumas have been included in an original questionnaire and distributed in a nation-wide sample as a first effort to identify their relative significance as well as their correlation with political, ideological, age, education, and locality factors. Which are the key cultural traumas that define the Greeks today, and what constellations do they form? Which are their social carriers, and what discourse do constellations of cultural traumas reveal?

14.00–16.45 Nikos Demertzis: The Greek civil war as cultural trauma

Nearly a quarter of a century had passed when the collective suffering of the civil war in Greece (1944-1949) started retroactively to be publicly and recurrently debated as a selective memory of past horrendous events which marked group identities. The restoration of parliamentary democracy after the collapse of the military regime (1967-1974) made possible the retrieve of that suffering from the status of silence and official “oblivion” toward a selectively constructed narrative of official “reconciliation” which roughly covers the 1974-1990 period to be superseded by a “reflexive construction” phase (1990 onwards). During the period from 1950–1974 the civil war was primarily experienced as a collection of private injuries that could not be accommodated into the societal symbolic universe. The moment it was retroactively articulated into antagonistic universes of discourse it turned into a cultural trauma, i.e. a public process of re-appropriation of the past where memory, identities and emotions have been intrinsically connected with respect to the nature of the wrongdoings, the victims and the villains. The trauma drama of the civil war, as well as the overdetermined experience of the seven-years military regime, has been producing a number of pertinent effects in political structures and the political culture and sub-cultures. Among them, the lecture will be focusing on three interrelated repercussions: a) the political clashes; b) the emotional dynamics with a special emphasis to ressentiment and difficult forgiveness, and c) the perpetual tolerance of large segments of the population for political violence.

17.00-18.00 Workshop


21 August

09.00-11.45 Xenia Eleutheriou: Public History of Greek Jews and Holocaust: memory and forgetting in Greece

The present research is an effort to re-enact the controversial issue of the Greek Jews Holocaust in one of the various version of the so-called “public history” and more specific in the Internet and in other sources, such as publications, monuments, museums, memory events, seminars and conferences. The findings of this research can be categorized in the following five main themes: i. Historical memory and Holocaust of the Greek Jews (points of view, rejection of the traumatic past, memory events, monuments and historic places concerning the Holocaust, testimonies of Greek Jews survivors). ii. Historical consciousness and recognition of responsibilities concerning the annihilation of the Greek Jews (tolerance, complicity and treason on the one hand, Christian solidarity and anti-fascist Resistance on the other). iii. Penalization of the historical memory (European laws about the denial of the Holocaust, Greek legislation). iv. Historical reconsideration and negativism toward the Holocaust (prospect of historical revisionism, version of neo-communism and neo-leftist argumentation). v. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (survival and revival of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist propaganda, vandalisms and anti-Jewish rioting).

14.00-16.45 Paul Isaac Hagouel: Post Holocaust and post Israel shaping of the Jewish Greek identity

Jewish Greek identity has been in continuous formative & transformative flux ever since the liberation of Thessal0niki (1912). One particular Cultural trauma, having the Holocaust as the springboard, jolted the process and introduced new elements into the formative equation. The impact of those elements augments as time passes. Furthermore, the existence and presence in Israel of thousands of Jewish Israelis of Greek descent has added a measure of uncertainty. De jure inclusion into the Hellenic-Greek national corpus still hasn’t transubstantiated into a de facto one. The local historical narrative, as well as the ever present concept of the nation state, exacerbate the psychic internal conflicts of the individual in his/her quest of an acquisition of a definite, if not final, identity. Is the “old” and “unofficial” definition of a Greek Jew (one who is a Jew in Greece and a Greek abroad) still valid, even though wrong?

17.00-18.00 Workshop


22 August

09.00-11.45 Manos Karagiannis: Greek Collective Trauma after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus: The Geo-psychological approach

The Turkish army invaded the northern part of the Cyprus in July 1974 following a Greek junta-sponsored coup against President Makarios. The Greek and Greek-Cypriot forces could not mount or sustain any effective resistance to Turkish ground and aerial attacks. Since then, Turkey has exercised de facto control over one-third of the island. The invasion and the subsequent occupation shocked the Greek society and policymakers. This experience has been transformed into a collective trauma. Although there is a huge literature covering the causes of the Cyprus conflict and the ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem, little attention has been paid to the long-term impact of the defeat on Greek strategic culture. The paper uses a geo-psychological approach to understand how the events of 1974 affected Greek security culture and changed Greek perceptions of Turkey.

14.00-16.45 Akis Karatrantos: Cultural Trauma and Greek Internal Security Policy

The political culture and the policy- making in the modern Greece is at an important level affected by the dual cultural trauma from the Greek civil war and the military Junta. A specific part of this dual trauma is the role of security forces and especially of the gendarmerie (which since 1984 is part of the Hellenic Police) in both situations. The experience of those periods transformed into a collective trauma affected the internal security policy making. Furthermore, we also need to highlight the important factor of the external security threat- fundamental part of the Greek strategic culture- which also affected the development of internal security policy. The literature on the development of the internal security strategy in Greece is poor and little attention has been paid in the affect of cultural traumas on policy making in security. The aim of this paper is to explore how the dual cultural trauma affected the Greek internal security policy and the perceptions about police, violence and terrorism.

17.00-18.00 Workshop


23 August

Visit to Theofilos-Teriade Museum, and the Archaeological Museum

Presentation of Yair Dalal

Concert: Yair Dalal and Michalis Dissos


24 August

09.00-11.45 José Brunner: Strong victims: The politics of trauma in the Israel-Palestine conflict

In the Israel-Palestine conflict, each side perceives the other as directing violence not only against individuals, particular groups, institutions or armed forces on their side, but also against their very existence as a nation. This perception of an existential threat has been pervading Palestinian and Israeli consciousness for decades. It is part of their present as well as their expectations for the future. Under these conditions, mental health practitioners on both sides endeavour to foster the psychological strengths of their nations. They seek to enable their societies to withstand or overcome traumatic experiences and live through the conflict as unscathed as possible. Hence, psychologists and psychiatrists on both sides search for the origin of the inner strength necessary to maintain a routine of everyday life in the face of adversity or to return to it as quickly as possible. This understanding of everyday life as an achievement brings Israeli and Palestinian mental health experts to highlight the cohesive force of national identifications and family bonds, the importance of belonging to a community as well as the ability to be aware of one’s feelings and to control them.

14.00-16.45 Eyal Naveh: Dealing with a Traumatic Past: The case of the Jewish Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba in Israel

The paper will discuss the ways that Israel deals with the two major dark chapters in its recent history: the Jewish Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba. Apparently, these two events represent different traumatic pasts that are diametrically opposing each other. The Holocaust, which happened to the Jewish people, led the state of Israel to represent the voice and carry the memory of the victims. The Nakba occurred to the Palestinians by the state of Israel, which had to deal with the event as alleged perpetrator. However, despite these differences, there are some similarities in approaching them. After a generation of silencing and repression, these two events moved to the center of the public historical discourse. In the lecture, I would like to present a conceptual framework that can explain this dynamics, by using a chronological methodology that can point toward interesting results. In the case of the Holocaust, the move is from repression to appropriation and overemphasis, both in the field of formal education and at the other spheres of historical culture. The use (and abuse) of Holocaust memory in Israel is very essential in recent years. Many even argue that the Holocaust replaced the official Zionist canon as the ultimate narrative, responsible to vindicate the national identity to the Jewish citizen of Israel. In the case of the Nakba, Israel start to face this problem only recently, and in a very confused and chaotic way. The move is from repression to denial, conversion, refusal to acknowledge, internal debates, slight but insignificant recognition, lest Israel's enemy will use it to delegitimize its very existence. However, despite these opposed official attitudes (which had certain ramifications in the way schools teach these topics), the historical culture of the country is saturated with notion of Holocaust and Nakba. For reasons that I will analyze in my presentation, both traumatic events became central to the culture of history and memory in Israel. They deal directly with epistemological, moral, and political issues such as historical truth, historical legitimacy, moral justification, guilt, responsibility, recognition, acknowledgement, and potential reconciliation.

17.00-18.00 Workshop


25 August

09.00-11.45 Gad Yair: The Uncanny: How Cultural Trauma Trumps Reason in German-Israeli Scientific Collaborations

Twenty years after the Holocaust, Germany and Israel signed contracts for scientific collaborations. Fifty years later, those collaborations have become an asset for science in both countries. Notwithstanding those win-win collaborations, the trauma of the Holocaust still casts a long shadow over them, creating uncanny experiences and fear. This paper reports findings from interviews with 125 Israeli scientists who have collaborated with German colleagues. It employs Freud’s analysis of the uncanny, an experience which mixes cozy familiarity with a sense of eeriness, confronting subjects with unconscious, repressed personal impulses or memories. The paper extends Freud’s analyses by showing that uncanny experiences may result from a cultural – rather than a personal – trauma. Specifically, the results show that while Israeli scientists enjoy their collaborations with German colleagues, they occasionally experience fear and unease in their presence. Some identify Nazi mnemonics, others report on uncanny moments in their partners’ homes. Those uncanny experiences appear among young and old scientists alike, suggesting that their scientific reason is captive of the cultural trauma of the Holocaust. I conclude by pointing that Israeli scientists are captives of their national trauma just as ordinary people are. Their reason proves to be a weak counterforce in mitigating the eruption of repressed emotions generated by the cultural trauma of the Holocaust.

14.00-16.45 Raya Morag: Perpetrator Trauma in Current World Cinema

This paper proposes a new paradigm for cinema/trauma studies - the trauma of the perpetrator. Canonical trauma research from Freud’s Aetiology of Hysteria to the present has been carried out from the perspective of identification with the victim, as have cinema trauma research and contemporary humanities-based trauma studies, climaxing during the 1990s in widespread interest in the victim vis-à-vis the Holocaust, war, and domestic violence. Breaking over 100 years of repression of the abhorrent and rejected concept of the perpetrator in psychoanalytic-based research proposes an uncanny shift in our conception of trauma theory's trajectory from women's 'hysteria' to 'post-traumatic stress disorder.' This new paradigm is driven by the global emergence of new waves of films (2006-2016) representing trauma suffered by perpetrators involved in the new style of war entailing deliberate targeting of non-combatants. Analyzing prominent examples from Israeli post- second Intifada documentaries (e.g., Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir), and post post-Iraq (and Afghanistan) War American documentaries (e.g., Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure), the paper addresses questions such as, How should we define the perpetrator’s trauma in contrast to the victim's? Is victim trauma limited to the victim by the firm boundaries it (rightly) set in order to defend the victim of nineteenth- and especially twentieth-century catastrophes? Is perpetrators’ trauma an inevitable part of psychiatric-psychological or cultural perspectives on trauma? Can we go beyond the limitation of current trauma theory's relation to the Real through analysis of the perpetrator's figure, thus transgressing the ‘unspeakableness’ of the trauma itself? Finally, the paper seeks an exploration of what perpetrator trauma teaches us not only as a counter-paradigm to victim trauma, but as a reflection on the complex intertwining of the two paradigms in the twenty-first century collective new war unconscious; and on what this new paradigm might offer us in the first decades of this terrorized-ethnicized century.

17.00-18.00 Workshop


26 August

09.00-11.45 Na’ama Shik; Holocaust and the Idea of Israel


12.00-14.00 Manussos Marangudakis: Cultural Traumas and the idea of nation in Greece and Israel (closing remarks)

15:00-18.00 Reflections on the Summer School