The Neiman Symposium: Learning From the Germans

(part of a series)

Can we learn from the Germans? Does Germany’s rich postwar commemorative culture offer Americans resources for more adequately confronting their own past? Or, if there is indeed anything to be learned, one might be tempted to conclude that the lessons are all in the negative–that is, what not to do.

The Neiman Symposium, will focus on comparative "memory cultures," including the way Jews and Jewish life are remembered in Germany. The rich and fraught process of German "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" (coming to terms with the Nazi past) relies on a sound understanding of both contemporary and historical Jewish communities in Germany, but extends also to misunderstanding and misapplying the "lessons of the past." This is the topic of our featured speaker, Dr. Susan Neiman (president of the Einstein Foundation in Potsdam), who in recent work has explored the way in which German commemorative practices might be applied in the US to remember slavery, anti-Black racism and the mistreatment, displacement, and genocide of indigenous peoples. The conference promises to provide a meaningful discussion of cross-cultural memory practices that intersect profoundly with Jewish, Christian and Indigenous religiosity. 

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