Book Launch: The Guardians of Memory and the Return of the Xenophobic Right


Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 9:00pm


CPL Editions book launch:

The Guardians of Memory and the Return of the Xenophobic Right

by Valentina Pisanty with a preface by Michael Rothberg


Presentation on February 16 at 9:00 pm (Israel ST)

Zoom Link:

Panelists: Valentina Pisanty (University of Bergamo), Michael Rothberg (UCLA), Omer Bartov (Brown University), Manuela Consonni (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem).


“Historical writing should aspire to be democratic, by which I mean that it should be possible to check our statements from without, and that the reader be a party not only to the conclusions arrived at but also to the process that led to them.” Carlo Ginzburg


In her provocative book on memory of the Shoah, Valentina Pisanty asks: “What went wrong?” Why has the slogan “Never again” failed to prevent genocide, antisemitism, and racist violence? How has the public discourse on history been reduced to the sacralization of witness testimony; to the idea that collective memory can be induced through mandatory curricula and “Holocaust tourism”; to the proliferation of cinema stereotypes aimed not only at influencing the public but also institutional policies; or to the idea that decisions on historical matters can be entrusted to the justice system? 

What is the role of historians in a public environment increasingly dominated not only by distortions in all directions, but most egregiously, by a dogmatic notion of historical truth that is used as a tool of warfare by all sort of public figures for the most disparate ends?

How is the work of historians affected by the disconnect between their imperfect and ever-evolving craft, and the absolute truths and grand-narrative increasingly deployed by institutions devoted to preserve public awareness of the past?

This is the first of three meetings among scholars who tackle similar issues from different perspectives will focus on how the current social forms of Holocaust memorialization intersect with and affect the role of historians in the public sphere.

The next two panels will focus on Holocaust history and film as main vehicle of popular culture, and the role of courts and the law in the debates on the past.  

Co-presenters: Italian Cultural Institute, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

Guardians of Memory