Comparative Memory and Justice: The Holocaust and Racial Violence in America

November 8–9, 2018
Thursday – Friday
010 East Pyne

This interdisciplinary symposium will bring together leading scholars from around the world to explore intersections between legacies of racialized historical violence, trauma, and memory across African American, Jewish, and Native American traditions. The invited scholars have produced pioneering scholarship on precisely these connections from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The notion of “comparative memory” they will develop is not principally concerned with comparison of historical events. Rather, it suggests that memory of different historical events can be mutually illuminating and reinforcing. By borrowing from and synthesizing different historical cases and cultural traditions, participants will present innovative ways to work through, narrate, creatively represent, and atone for collective crimes, and to ultimately work toward forms of reparation and justice based upon solidarity across conventional social fault lines. This comparative approach reflects the shared imperative, in the words of symposium participant Susan Neiman, “to understand how all kinds of ordinary…people commit murder, whether in Majdanek or in Mississippi,” and to reckon with continuing legacies of racial violence today. The strength of Princeton’s faculties of African American Studies, Judaic Studies, and History, as well as the historical consciousness stimulated by the Princeton and Slavery Project make Princeton an ideal setting for this event. This symposium hopes to engage undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community members, in order to create a broad dialogue with impact both within the academy and beyond.