Memory Economies Symposium May 25-26: Maria Mayr

11 May 2016


"Memory Economies" is a two-day public symposium, organized by Professors Terri Tomsky (English & Film Studies) and Susanne Luhmann (Women's & Gender Studies), bringing together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to examine the complex, and so far rarely examined, relationship between memory and economy.

Maria Mayr, Assistant Professor of German at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada will be presenting at the Symposium. Interested in the work of Croatian-German writer Marica Bodrožić, who engages ideas of contemporary Europe in crisis, with socialist ideals of the Yugoslav past, Mayr's talk is entitled "From Sarajevo to Brussels: Utopia, Nostalgia, and the Futures of European Memory".

As the current refugee crisis in Europe has brought into sharp focus, European integration of the former East-European countries continues to be a primary political and social concern. In part, such an integration has been based on efforts to construct a common European memory as a basis for a common European collective identity. As the European Parliament's Resolution on European Conscience and Totalitarianism (2009) explicitly asserts: "Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history." In this paper, I will critically assess attempts to use Central European memories as a form of currency in the creation of a common European identity. As a case study, I will provide an analysis of works by contemporary German-language writers Marica Bodrožić and Saša Stanišić, whose background from Croatia and Bosnia, respectively, inform their literary negotiations of memories of Tito's Yugoslavia and the 1990s Balkan wars. Informed by concepts such as useable pasts and futurity and futures, my reading of these authors' works highlights both the potentials and the costs and limits of multidirectionally negotiated memories of the past in the service of future identitarian purposes.

Mayr's current research focuses on European memory discourses in German-language literature primarily written by writers with a background from the former East and Central European countries. She has published on authors such as Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Yoko Tawada, Doron Rabinowich, Nicol Ljubić, Zafer Şenocak, Julya Rabinowich, and Marica Bodrožić. Together with Christina Kraenzle, she edited the anthology The Changing Place of Europe in Global Memory Cultures: Usable Pasts and Futures (forthcoming Fall 2016 in Palgrave Macmillan's Memory Studies Series).

Her other, most recent publications, are: "Berlin's Futurity in Zafer Şenocak's Gefährliche Verwandtschaft and Marica Bodrožić's Kirschholz und alte Gefühle" (Seminar 2015), "Europe's Invisible Ghettos: Transnationalism and Neoliberal Capitalism in Julya Rabinowich's Die Erdfresserin" (in Transnationalism in Contemporary German-Language Literature 2015), "B. as in Balkan: Terézia Mora's Post-Yugoslav Berlin Republic" (German Life and Letters 2014), and "'Überwältigende Vergangenheit': Questioning European Identity in Contemporary German-language Literature About the Former Yugoslavia" (in Re-Forming the Nation in Literature and Film 2013).