In the penal colony

Frow, John (1999) In the penal colony. Australian Humanities Review, 1 13: .

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Author Frow, John
Title In the penal colony
Journal name Australian Humanities Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1325-8338
Publication date 1999-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 1
Issue 13
Total pages 1 article
Editor Elizabeth McMahon
Cassandra Pybus
Place of publication Bundoora, VIC, Australia
Publisher La Trobe University
Collection year 1999
Language eng
Subject C1
780199 Other
420399 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
What are the periodicities of remembrance shared with others? Writing in the final volume of Les Lieux de mémoire,Pierre Nora identifies two primary forms of commemorative time: that of the centenary,'voluntary, deliberate, impossible either to avoid or to manage', and that of the generation,'involuntary and even unconscious, uncontrollable'. These are the interwoven times of the nation-state and of living collective memory. In this paper I ask about the kinds of connection that are possible between the pain or joy of generational experience and the forms of identification invoked by that larger periodicity of the nation. But the generational experience that I posit is not necessarily a direct experience of events, for reasons that Nora explicates: if the past has lost its organic, peremptory, constraining character, he says, commemoration now tends to be made up of media events, tourism, promotions and entertainment; its medium is no longer the classroom or the public square but television, museums, expositions, colloquia, and it takes place not in official ceremonies but in television spectaculars. This is to say that the experience of historical events is shared and collectively remembered - of course in very different ways - both by those who are closely involved in them and by those who encounter them in a mediated form. Those experiences of hurt that typically knit a generational cohort together - a war, a national catastrophe, an assassination, a massacre - are experiences of shared grief and shared inability to understand the import of what has happened. They are traumatic in the sense in which Cathy Caruth uses that word: they open up a history which arises 'where immediate understanding may not', and which returns to haunt its survivors not because it is known but because it is not. Yet it is important to say as well that there is something glib about the attempt to apply the concept of trauma directly to historical events (indeed, there is already something problematic about its application to non-somatic hurt). It is this discontinuity or lack of fit between the historical time of the generation and the historical time of the nation, as well as the continuity between them, that I explore in what follows...
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes "John Frow delivered this paper as a plenary speaker in April 1999 at an interdisciplinary conference, Refiguring History: Between the Psyche and the Polis, which was hosted by the University of Newcastle (upon Tyne), UK."

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Languages and Cultures Publications
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Created: Tue, 10 Jun 2008, 14:42:49 EST