Jie-Hyun Lim is Professor of Transnational History and director of the Critical Global Studies Institute at Sogang University, Seoul. He is also Principal Investigator of the research project Mnemonic Solidarity: Colonialism, War and Genocide in the Global Memory Space (2017-2024) and Series Editor of “Entangled Memories in the Global South” at Palgrave/Macmillan Publisher. His recent memory studies books include Global Easts: Remembering, Imagining, Practicing (Columbia Univ. Press, 2022). Victimhood Nationalism-A Global History (Humanist, 2021, Japanese translation-2022), Mnemonic Solidarity-Global Interventions (Palgrave, 2021) co-edited with Eve Rosenhaft. As a memory activist, he has been co-curating exhibitions of “Unwelcome Neighbors,” “Naming Forced Laborers” and others. Most recently, he published “Die Causa Mbembe im mnemonischen Kontext des globalen Ostens: Gegen den Erinnerungsprovinzialismus der Mbembe-Debatte,“ in Matthias Böckmann, Matthias Gockel, Reinhart Kößler, Henning Melber eds., Jenseits von Mbembe: Erinnerung, Politik, Solidarität (Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2022).
“Deprovincializing Europe-Rescuing the Holocaust from the Eurocentric Mnemonic Provincialism”
In Provincializing Europe, Dipesh Chakrabarty tried to provincialize Europe through a critique of the Enlightenment concepts of universal human history. His project was not to reject European thought as a whole but to globalize the European experience “from and for the margins.” Deprovincializing Europe in memory studies is nuancedly different from rather than the opposite of provincializing Europe in historical imagination. The historicist scheme of “first in Europe and then elsewhere” assumes the non-West belatedly shares the European experience. But the Eurocentrism of the Holocaust memory blocks any attempt to compare the Holocaust to other genocides in the Global South and Global Easts. The apologetic relativization of the Holocaust in Historikerstreit attached the Scarlet Letter “R” to any effort to compare the Holocaust with the other genocides of colonialism and Stalinism. Albeit self-critical, Germany’s national conscience has kept provincializing the Holocaust memory. Worse, the Germans’ goodwill to take sole responsibility for the Holocaust often excused its Eastern neighbors’ complicity. No less bad that the Holocaust as “absolute evil” kept the European colonialists’ genocide and mass killing marginalized. Indicated by the term “benign fascism” indifferent to the Holocaust, Euro-provincialism has been dominant in the cultural memory of Europe. In memory studies, we need to deprovincialize rather than provincialize Europe. So the European mnemoscape remains provincial. In the presentation, I will deploy the terms “critical relativization” and “radical juxtaposition” to rescue the Holocaust memory from the European mnemonic provincialism and thus globalize the Holocaust memory from and for the margins.