Project « Intellectuals of Memory »

The PORTRAITS (video)

There has rightly been much interest in recording witnesses, survivors of the Nazi terror, survivors of concentration camps or the genocide of the Jews. Today this practice extends also to witnesses of extreme violence which is in the process of being memorialized. Similarly, in recent years fictional films and historical documentaries have relied on witnesses not only to bring a guarantee of truth to the subject being treated, but to make their work a subject of general interest or to provide a testimonial framework. The witness has become a leading – if not the main – actor of collective and associative group memories. Scant regard has been given to recording these intellectuals born between 1930 and 1960 who, together or alone, gradually forged concepts and notions with which we think about testimonial and memorial issues. Sometimes, their intention was not to directly intervene on these issues but their personal history has sometimes determined them, sometimes they are intentionally “embedded” in this field of investigation which was not yet developed in their era.

This series “Portraits (video)” consists of interviews with those we could call the “intellectual founders of concepts and ideas” we depend on to think about testimony and memory since the 1980s. Although sometimes we may qualify them or think the opposite, they represent landmarks in the field – a field of knowledge as much as it is a field of power, which has gradually formed and today not only spans academic disciplines (mainly the humanities and social sciences) but permeates our cultural sphere.

From the standpoint of the methodology of the interview, we thought it was important to work on two levels simultaneously. Firstly, the interviewee mentions some biographical elements which determined his thinking, including his university education, then delves deeper into his thought or presents his work. Furthermore, it is our goal both to elucidate the concepts created by the author to a well-informed audience, and to proceed to a vulgarization intended for the layperson.

Carlo Ginzburg

> Published on : 19.05.2015

Carlo Ginzburg, a historian by training, is internationally known for several reasons. A prominent representative of micro-history, he is also an ardent intellectual who does not hesitate to engage on both scientific and political fronts. Not only does his research feed on testimony, for him it is an actual lived historical experience, the imprint of the persecution of his own family under fascism. Under this dual profile, the interview introduces you to one of the great founders of the reflection on memory and history, and also on testimony as a pivot point between the epistemological and social spheres.

Concise Bibliography

The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth Century Miller, Baltimore (1980)

The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Baltimore (1983)

The Enigma of Piero della Francesca, London (1985)

Clues, Myths and the Historical Method, , Baltimore (1989)

Ecstasies. Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath, New York (1991)

The Judge and the Historian. Marginal Notes an a Late-Twentieth-century Miscarriage of Justice, London (1999)

Wooden Eyes, Milan (1998)

History, Rhetoric, and Proof. The Menachem Stern Jerusalem Lectures, London and Hanover (1999)

No Island is an Island. Four Glances at English Literature in a World Perspective, New York (2000)

Un dialogo, Milan (2003)

Threads and Traces: True, False, Fictive (papers), University of California Press (2012)

Andreas Huyssen

> Published on : 19.05.2015

Andreas Huyssen is Professor of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His work focuses on German literature from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, but also – and this is why he features among our portraits – he has elaborated a thought which, especially through art, literature and architecture, nourishes memory issues that were consequently developed in Cultural and Holocaust studies.

Concise Bibliography

After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (1986)

Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (1995)

Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (2003)

Other Cities, Other Worlds: Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing World (2008)

William Kentridge, Nalini Malani: The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory (2013)

Miniature Metropolis : Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (2015)

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