"Chorus of the Saved" : Constructing the Holocaust Survivor in Swedish Public Discourse, 1943-1966

Sammanfattning: In this dissertation I examine how the Holocaust survivor has been constructed in Swedish public discourse during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. This is done using a Foucauldian-inspired genealogical method through which an eclectic collection of sources—newsreels, films, radio programs, television programs and newspaper articles—is analyzed. The theoretical underpinnings of this analysis are based on Ian Hacking’s concept of discourse where the classification of survivor ‘types’ has a direct bearing on the expressions possible for those who are classified, i.e. individuals with Holocaust experience. The overarching research question of the dissertation therefore asks: how did a Holocaust survivor ‘type’ develop in Sweden during the 1940s, 50s and 60s?  The main thrust of the argument presented in the dissertation is that the concepts of ‘silence’ and ‘excess’ have always disciplined the ways in which Holocaust survivors have been conceived of as both victims and witnesses in Swedish public discourse. The communication of Jewish suffering by survivor-witnesses has both been framed as a dangerous, destructive force which could instigate unnecessary conflict while it, at the same time, has been positioned as a remedy to collective forgetfulness as well as a solution to rising levels of xenophobia and antisemitism. How survivors have been constructed historically also demonstrates the flawed logic of a historical progressivism within which Holocaust memory is seen to steadily go from silence to interest/increased knowledge. What the research presented in this dissertation shows is that this process is not determined by historical progression but by the underlying problematization of Holocaust survivors’ utility.  

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