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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 6, 2015

(Dis)Embedding. The Institutionalization of the Social Memory of Totalitarian Pasts

Ioana Hașu
Pages 163-180

Recalling Trauma
Photographs as Links to a Memory Chain for Survivors of Armed Anti-Communist Resistance in Romania

Using the concept of postmemory—coined by Mariane Hirsch—this paper explores the role of photographs in recalling past trauma in two families who participated in the anticommunist armed resistance in Romania. Members of these families were executed and the survivors had to endure further persecution. The interviews revealed that some pictures offer the frame for remembering suppressed memories. The images have peculiar meanings for different generations of the same family. For the participants in this study, seeing the photographs equates to reliving a past trauma and giving a new meaning to it. Pictures function as realms of encounter and reconciliation between present and past generations of the same family. The first outcome of the process is memory recovery; in this, people also recover their identity and the result is transgenerational healing. Some of the interviews discussed in this paper were done with members of my family.

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