Memory and History Written from the European Periphery: Ilma Rakusa and Marica Bodrozic

Friday, July 14, 2017
Melville Room (University of Glasgow)
Michelle Brüssow , Comparative Literature, Binghamton University
Questions of memory, identity, and history are central in literatures of migration. In my contribution, I will focus on two novels dealing with the history of the 20th century as told by two women writers from the European periphery who migrated to a German speaking country. In Mehr Meer by Ilma Rakusa, a writer who migrated from Slovenia to Switzerland when she was 5, and Kirschholz und alte Gefühle by Marica Bodrozic, who migrated from Croatia to Germany, the female “I” narrates her story in order to be rescued and, also, to rescue the memory of her life and to retell and to preserve the history of her country. However, to be rescued and to pass on history both protagonists are forced to leave their home and find new residences in Germany and Switzerland. My paper looks at these narratives from a transcultural perspective as I examine how those women writers remember and write history through their female protagonists, and how these memories shape their identities. A common objection is that master narratives exclude the stories and experiences of the other while privileging stories of powerful insiders. However, as I will argue, there is no single plot on historical processes. In placing these transcultural narratives written by women coming from the East in the center, I seek to illustrate how this new literature undermines national master narratives and writes history from a minor perspective.