"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, December 4, 2017

Transgenerational Trauma in Armenia

Over the last three years, as I have been reading (and re-reading) in a lot of the literature around historical memory, and the psychoanalysis of trauma, it has become clear that an emerging theme in both bodies of literature is an awareness of how trauma does not die when those who endured it do. It can often live on unconsciously in subsequent generations. Several of the articles of scholarly clinicians such as Jeffrey Prager have been helpful to me here; and so too several articles and books of Vamik Volkan have also been very illuminating.

In this light, then, it should not surprise us that while all those who would have experienced the Armenian Genocide first-hand are now dead, that event lives on in the descendants of those who survived the horrors of 1915. A new book takes us into this world: The Transgenerational Consequences of the Armenian Genocide: Near the Foot of Mount Ararat by Anthonie Holslag (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 287pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
This book brings together the Armenian Genocide process and its transgenerational outcome, which are often juxtaposed in existing scholarship, to ask how the Armenian Genocide is conceptualized and placed within diasporic communities. Taking a dual approach to answer this question, Anthonie Holslag studies the cultural expression of violence during the genocidal process itself, and in the aftermath for the victims. By using this approach, this book allows us to see comparatively how genocide in diasporic communities in the Netherlands, London and the US is encapsulated in an historic narrative. It paints a picture of the complexity of genocidal violence itself, but also in its transgenerational and non-spatial consequences, raising new questions of how violence can be perpetuated or interlocked with the discourse and narratives of the victims, and how the violence can be relived.

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