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Surplus Histories, Excess Memories

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A Review of Le passé, modes d’emploi: histoire, mémoire, politique by Enzo Traverso

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In the reckoning of historian Enzo Traverso, the accumulative inventory of the past’s crimes has exceeded the ‘frontiers of historical research’ and colonised the public sphere to ‘interpellate our present’. The quarrel over the crisis of historicism before World War II has been superseded by postwar debates that have now spilled over into everyday life that demand recognition as instances of the continuing collision of claims of a past that refuses to pass and the formation of a new historical consciousness in which collective memory of the crimes occupies a central position. Traverso’s purpose has been to repair this emergent dichotomy between historical practice and memoration, event and experience, as well as to overcome attending binary couplings like subjective and objective, individual and group in order to avoid falling into an unbridgeable antinomy that risks collapsing into contradiction.

Affiliations: 1: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University


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1. Balibar Étienne Turner Chris The Philosophy of Marx 1995 First Edition London Verso
2. Balibar Étienne Althusser Louis, Balibar Étienne Brewster Ben"‘Elements for a Theory of Transition’" Reading Capital 1997 London Verso
3. Novick Peter The Holocaust in American Life 1999 New York Houghton Mifflin
4. Traverso Enzo Traverso Enzo"‘Le totalitarisme. Jalons pour l’histoire d’un débat’" Le Totalitarisme. Le XXe siècle en débat 1991 Paris Éditions du Seuil
5. Traverso Enzo Le Juifs et l’Allemagne. De la ‘symbiose judéo-allemande’ à la mémoire d’Auschwitz 1992 Paris Éditions La Découverte
6. Traverso Enzo Pour une critique de la barbarie moderne. Écrits sur l’histoire des Juifs et de l’antisémitisme 1995 First Edition Lausanne Éditions Page deux
7. Traverso Enzo L’Histoire déchirée. Essai sur Auschwitz et les intellectuels 1997 Paris Éditions du Cerf
8. Traverso Enzo La violence nazie. Une généalogie européenne 2002 Paris La fabrique éditions
9. Traverso Enzo La Pensée dispersé. Figures de l’exil judéo-allemand 2004 Paris Éditions Léo Scheer
10. Traverso Enzo Le passé, modes d’emploi: histoire, mémoire, politique 2005 Paris La fabrique éditions
11. Traverso Enzo À feu et à sang. De la guerre civile européenne 1914–1945 2007 Paris Éditions Stock

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