‘Projecting Memories of Migration’ - The Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform
The Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform at the Goethe University in Frankfurt invited Daniela Berghahn to give a lecture in the series 'New Frontiers in Memory Studies'. The lecture series has featured leading scholars of memory studies such as Aleida Assmann, Stef Craps, Jeffrey Olick, Ann Rigney, or Michael Rothberg. During the academic year 2015-16, the special focus of the lecture series is on “Migration and Transcultural Memory.”
Since the mid-1990s, a number of Turkish German, Maghrebi French and Black and Asian British filmmakers have excavated their parents’ memories of migration to the old Europe in documentaries including Memories of Immigration (Benguigui, 1997), We Forgot to Return (Akin 2000) and I for India(Suri 2005). This paper explores the triangulated relationship between the collective memory of diaspora and the social memory of the family in relation to official accounts of immigration written and preserved by the host societies. These ‘domestic ethnographic’ documentaries (Renov 1994) draw attention to the complex layering and medialisation of personal and collective memories, characteristic of postmemory texts (Hirsch 1997). Family photographs and home videos function as mnemonic triggers for recollections that unfold in extended dialogues with (real or symbolic) parents (e.g. in John Akomfrah’s poetic essay film The Nine Muses (2012)). Archival footage from televised programmes about immigration provides a narrative counter-point, while popular songs capture the parents’ nostalgia for their homeland.
The lecture Memories of Migration is now available on video and can be accessed via this link.