Mittwoch, 22. Mai 2019, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar

Memories at the margins: Stolpersteine and grievability in Norway and beyond

Ruth Mandel

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, HS-C
Universitätsstraße 7, NIG, 4. Stock, 1010 Wien


Stolpersteine—stumbling stones—are micro-monuments: 10cm x 10cm brass plates affixed to cobblestones, installed in front of the homes of people persecuted and deported by Nazis. Arguably the world’s largest decentralised monument, they now number over 70,000 and are in 24 countries.

The artist behind the Stolpersteine project, Gunter Demnig cites the Talmud:

“‘a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.’ The Stolpersteine in front of the buildings bring back to memory the people who once lived here. Each ‘stone’ begins with HERE LIVED… One ‘stone’. One name. One person.”

Demnig’s practices and commitments raise troubling questions about the memorialisation and (re)creation of Holocaust and Jewish memory. This talk, drawn from on-going research, is primarily based on work carried out in Norway, following the artist throughout the country as he installed numerous Stolpersteine. The paper examines practices of grievability in a country with fewer than 2000 Jews. The particular setting of Norway raises issues about a country occupied by the Nazis, 30% of whose Jewish population was murdered, and yet has never fully come to terms with this legacy. Norway, unlike some other Nazi-occupied countries, suffers from a kind of national amnesia about its Quisling past and collective responsibility. In light of Norway’s shallow Jewish historical roots, and few contemporary descendants of victims, the paper engages with practices of memory-making, materiality and asks questions about contemporary political implications and appropriations. Research on Stolpersteine in Berlin is offered as a comparison, showing a wide variety of responses to the former Jewish neighbours.

Ruth Mandel is UCL Vice-Dean International for the Global Engagement Office, in the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, and a Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She has researched migration issues for several decades, primarily among migrants from Turkey in Germany, described in her prize-winning book, Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish challenges to citizenship and belonging in Germany (Duke Univ. Press). She also has carried out research in post-Soviet Central Asia among Germany-bound migrants (both Russian-Germans and Russian Jews), as well as in Georgia among internally displaced populations. Much of her work in Kazakhstan focused on media and development, studying a development-aid soap opera. Her current research addresses issues of Holocaust memory and monuments in Europe.

She has directed the series of international conferences and arts workshops both in London and Geneva, Engaging Refugee Narratives: Perspectives from Academia and the Arts, where through talks, demonstrations and interactive workshops, arts practitioners and academics who all are engaged in work with refugees shared their work and experiences. A television show was made about this project:

Also see:

She is collaborating with colleagues in Norway, Toronto, and the UK on an initiative, Language, Legacy and Landey, highlighting diasporic Afghan poetry through publication, performance and civic engagement.

Her new research project on “Stolpersteine”, focussing on alternative Holocaust monuments and memory, will be the focus of the talk on October 31st.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Tabitha Schnoeller
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie