Memory Seminar

Transnational Memory in the Balkans: Seminar with Stijn Vervaet

Residents of Sarajevo stand in line to get water, 1992. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Mikhail Evstafiev
Residents of Sarajevo stand in line to get water, 1992. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Mikhail Evstafiev

Until now, there has been little scholarly attention given to the ways in which Eastern European Holocaust fiction can contribute to current debates about transnational and transgenerational memory. Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav literary narratives about the Holocaust offer a particularly interesting case because time and again Holocaust memory is represented as intersecting with other stories of extreme violence: with the suffering of the non-Jewish South Slav population during the Second World War, with the fate of victims of Stalinist terror, and with the victims of ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Transnational Memory in the Balkans

In this lecture Transnational Memory in the Balkans: Critical Constellations of Holocaust Memory in Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav Literature, which is based on his forthcoming book, Vervaet will examine the emergence and transformations of Holocaust memory in the modern history of Yugoslavia. He will discuss a selection of literary texts about the Holocaust by Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav writers, situating their oeuvre in the historical and discursive context in which it emerged and paying attention to its reception at the time. He will demonstrate how in the writing of different generational groups – the survivor generation, the 1.5, and the second and third generations – the memory of the Holocaust not only emerges as a counterpoint to the conflation between nation(-state) and memory but also as a motif for understanding the nature of extreme violence, locally and globally. By focusing on different generations, this lecture will show how Holocaust memory is produced and given shape within one generation as well as how the memory of the Holocaust is transmitted across generations through the medium of literature.

Dr Stijn Vervaet is Associate Professor in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Balkan Studies at the University of Oslo. He is the author of a book on the construction of national identities in Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian rule (Sarajevo and Zagreb: Synopsis 2013). In addition to publications related to the cultural and literary history of Habsburg Bosnia, he has published book chapters and journal articles on the representation of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and of the Holocaust in (post-)Yugoslav fiction. He co-edited the volume Post-Yugoslav Constellations: Archive, Memory, and Trauma in Contemporary Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Literature and Culture (De Gruyter 2016, with Vlad Beronja). His monograph Holocaust, War, and Transnational Memory: Testimony from Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Literature is forthcoming with Routledge (December 2017).
For more info, please contact Ann Rigney (

Start date and time
End date and time
Janskerkhof 13, Room 006, Utrecht University
Entrance fee

All those interested are warmly invited to attend!

More information
Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies