Time, Memory, and Cultural Change – Introduction

JVF Conference Papers

As all who have spent time at IWM know, one of the joys of participating in its scholarly community is the sense of neighborliness that reverberates within its walls.

For me, reflecting upon such neighborliness is particularly fitting because part of my research in Vienna investigated how recent theoretical concepts of the neighbor––that peculiar figure residing at the crossroads of ethics and politics––can help articulate the boundaries of secular responsibility. Sigmund Freud claimed that the neighbor, or what he calls the Nebenmensch—the fellow or adjacent human being––”falls apart into two components, of which one makes an impression by its constant structure and stays together as a thing [als Ding], while the other can be understood by the activity of memory—that is, it can be traced back to information from [the subject’s] own body.” I think this logic of the neighbor is also useful for understanding how the following collection of essays speak to each other, because despite our variety of backgrounds and perspectives each of us address how subjective memories and desires attempt to make sense of the often indifferent “thingness” of the world.

By interrogating relationships between history and memory, theory and method, home and homelessness, and by exploring how art and culture disclose our place in the world, each of us seeks the means to respond to and thus become responsible for the fractured and often conflicted world in which we find ourselves.

Download pdf