Pia Eiringhaus: RUB SPECTRESS Fellow in Sao Paulo

On the evening before my flight to Sao Paulo, I had mixed feelings regarding my research trip – a certain adventurous spirit mixed with curiosity and tension as well as slight unease and fear of flying. I did not know what to expect of the unstable political situation, and the high levels of poverty and crime. Back then, I did not speak Portuguese at all, and the issue of communication was another concern – I hoped for adequate improvisation skills and the goodwill of the local people. Now, about ten weeks later and already at the end of my research stay, I have learned a lot and look back at Sao Paulo with positive feelings, mainly good impressions and memories. Not only could I develop a solid “Spantuguese” for everyday communication, but also were many new experiences and encounters as well as challenges and struggles an enrichment of my personal and academic life. My research secondment in Sao Paulo, as part of the Spectress programme, has been a rewarding experience. Above all, Brazilian hospitality made me feel home and welcome right from the beginning. Already on the day of my arrival, Professor Laura Izarra and her kind team of PhD students gave me a warm welcome at Sao Paulo University, introducing me to colleagues and showing me around.
Generally, I was impressed by the city of Sao Paulo. I have never lived in such a huge city with so many people, so much traffic and so many new things to discover. At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at my apartment in Pinheiros, a cute and picturesque neighbourhood, which is the opposite of the urban jungle I expected. Little coffee bars and restaurants as well as various food and handcraft markets characterise Pinheiros as a place where people feel at ease – and so did I. One of my best experiences was my first Sunday on Sao Paulo’s Avenida Paulista, which is closing on Sundays. The street was filled with people using all kinds of non-car transportation, musicians, artists, dancers, and excited pedestrians. It was a great experience to see one of the busiest streets in the city taking a break for its people, and sending a signal against pollution, noise, and traffic.

In my research, I investigate in the topic of “imagined” German imperialism, especially how certain places were depicted and propagated as ideal, even mythical screen to project imperial and “colonial fantasies” onto and how these representations have been changing in the second half of the 20th Century. In October, I delivered a paper on my early-stage doctoral research, entitled ‘Continuities and ruptures of imperial imaginations in post-1945 Germany, at the interdisciplinary conference at FFLCH, Portuguese Encontro de Pós-Graduandos em Estudos Linguísticos e Literários em Inglês – EPOGELLI. It was a fruitful experience to discuss my findings as well as the theoretical and methodological issues in such an international and interdisciplinary plenum. I also participated in the monthly student meetings, which gave me the chance to experience local academic life and to learn about Brazilian ways of teaching, exchanging and discussing.

„Between German Fachwerk and palm trees“ – Tracing German-Brazilian communities in Santa Catarina
Brazil has never been a German protectorate, but from the 1820s to the 1930s, around 200.000 Germans immigrated to Southern Brazil, making it the second largest recipient of Germans, behind only the United States. In the 19th and early 20th Century, German-speaking peasants settled as farmers and middle-class merchants and industrialists came from urban areas and founded German-speaking societies, schools and newspapers. Accordingly, the large number of Germans abroad, or Germans overseas, made Brazil an object of German emigration discourse. My plan was to visit some of these communities and to learn more about how their experiences are being remembered in nowadays cultural and communicative memory. Accordingly, I did an exciting field trip to the southern states, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. I visited different museums, memorials and sights in those cities that were particularly shaped by German migration (e.g. Blumenau, Pomerode, Joinville and Brusque). I also spoke to different people about their daily lives, their traditions and customs as well as their memory of the history of the German migration to Brazil.

My first destination was a rather touristic city, the self-declared flagship of German culture in South Brazil, called Blumenau. Besides attractions as the Bavarian-style Oktoberfest and the traditional German Weihnachtsmarkt, both created in an artificial space called “Vila Germanica”, the city advertises with various German bakeries, restaurants and breweries. I visited two local museums to find out about the official, institutionalised memory culture and its narratives. Both the “Colonial Family Museum” and the “Habits and Customs Museum” tells quite the success story of their Germans overseas, representing early settlers as “bringers” of culture, traditions and achievements. The museums have not only well preserved, but perfectly staged the prevailing housings, possessions and heritage. The focus lies on exhibiting solely culture; neither are possible conflicts and struggles discussed, nor are ruptures and fragmentations. Apparently, the official construction of a German-Brazilian identity, presented to the outside world, bases rather on a purely culturalist dimension of being German.

However, what do the people think? To what extent do they remember their ancestors as “bringers of culture”? What was the impact of local experiences and interchanges with Brazilian culture and people? To find out more about these questions, I visited a small city called Pomerode, which welcomes visitors with the slogan “nossa pequena Alemanha.” The place inhabits a great number of German-speaking families who put great effort in maintaining and perpetuating German language and culture. For instance, the “Rota do Enxaimel”, a 16-kilometer route showing the most beautiful and “traditional” German housings, has become a tourist attraction. Local residents, most of them still German-speaking, open their houses to visitors, tell their stories and sell meat, cake, jam and preserves. I was lucky to be accompanied by a local couple who did not only show me around by car, but also introduced me to friends and neighbours. All of them were quite excited to meet the “German”, sharing their family histories, lives and customs. “Tell me, does it look like real Germany here?”, was probably the question asked most frequently. I had the impression they expected an affirming answer. At the same time, people were rather reluctant when it came to the question of visiting Germany, even the younger ones. It was fascinating to see how a very specific, quite traditionalist idea of Germanness has been preserved for more than a hundred years, apparently still serving as main identification point of a community so far away.

I am more than grateful for the opportunity provided by the Spectress programme to live and research in Brazil. I want to thank everyone who supported me during my stay, especially Professor Laura Izarra and José Simões from the University of Sao Paulo as well as Birgit Fouquet from the Centro de Memória no Colégio Visconde de Porto Segur

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Kirsti Jõesalu & Ene Kõresaar: UT SPECTRESS Fellows in São Paulo

We, two ethnologists from the University of Tartu, Estonia, together with a historian Aigi Rahi-Tamm and a folklorist Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, spent 3 weeks in August 2017 in São Paulo in the frame of the SPeCTRess project. Our stay in São Paulo had a twofold aim: firstly we conducted fieldwork in São Paulo museums, and secondly, the last week of our stay was dedicated to the SPeCTRess conference “Rethinking Cultural Trauma from Transnational Perspectives”.
For Kirsti it was also the first visit over the Atlantic, and therefore a unique experience in many aspects. Coming from a small country like Estonia (1,3 Mil) it was an overwhelming experience to live in a megalopolis. We were lucky to find an apartment in Vila Madalena/Pinheiros, which was a nice and cozy neighborhood with good connection to USP. After an inspiring introduction by Mariana Bolfarine into the neighborhood and a warm welcome by Laura Izarra at USP we went on to conduct our fieldwork on difficult memories and diverse identities in museums.

We were really amazed by the mural art in São Paulo; it was just wonderful and made the city much more colorful. We visited also Baco Da Batman, but one could find just astonishing murals all over Vila Madalena and Pinheiros. Maybe the biggest surprise was the weather as we couldn’t enjoy the sun as much as we hoped to, and experienced a whole week full of rain. With rain came also humidity, and significant drop of temperature inside of our apartment. Again, a mural painted in our back yard saved the day reminding us about sunny days to come.

Image1: Murals from back yard (photo: Ene Kõresaar)

As we didn’t speak (Brazilian) Portuguese, for us the easiest way was to get around by metro, which we also used a lot to discover São Paulo and its museums. During our trips to different museums in various parts of the city we also discovered the diversity of São Paulo from both its good and difficult sides. It was in some sense an overwhelming experience to be at rush hour in Luz, and just to follow how this mass of people is moving and going along with that.

Our fieldwork aimed at documenting how difficult and contradictory past was displayed and negotiated in museums. Departing from the theoretical concept of cultural trauma we focused on both how the difficult past was named and what kind of ‘social becoming’ was presented in museum exhibitions as a result of negotiating the difficult past experiences.

We tried to visit as many different museums as possible. In the course of our fieldwork we became to see the importance of the topic of ‘Brazilian-ness’ and integrating diversity and contradictions in the society.

Our first visit was to the Immigration Museum of State of São Paulo, which had a fascinating exhibit about immigration stories (Museu da imigracao do estado de Sao Paulo, in Mooca-Bras). The display was newly opened in May 2014, and used many innovative interactive displays and interactive resources. The main aim of the museum was to display experiences, memories and identities of the people who have arrived into Brazil during different times. In the museum, im/migration was presented as an universal process since the beginning of humankind. In the center of the exhibition, however, was the migration of the 19th-20th centuries as a part of ‘Brazilian story’. The different communities of São Paulo were presented against the background of its immigration history.

Image2: Kirsti at documenting the Immigration Museum (photo: Ene Kõresaar)

The next museum we visited was the Football museum in Pacaembu (Museu do Futebol). Despite not being a football fans at all, we could sense and understand how football matters in Brazil and what a great integrating power it is expected to have. It was the second museum, which we visited, but we could recognize things familiar from our first museum visit met familiar things – later we discovered that this museum was also designed by the same company and architects (Felipe Tassara and Daniela Thomas).

Image 3: Experiencing national trauma in the football museum: Brazil vs Uruguai 1950 (photo: Ene Kõresaar)

Every museum we visited – Pinacoteca, MuseuAfroBrasil, Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil, the Jewish Archive (as the only community archive we visited) – offered us the possibility to study how the different stories of Brazil are represented, how they relate to the Brazilian society, what could be considered as cultural trauma in Brazilian history and how the process of social becoming is (still) going on.

Image 4: Kirsti researching Afro Brazilian heritage (photo: Ene Kõresaar)

A wonderful experience to remember was the visit into school, where Tais Leite de Moura, a former SPeCTRess fellow in Tartu, was working as an English teacher. We enjoyed discussing Estonian culture, politics and everyday life to different classes in this small private school of São Paulo, to share music and even some dance moves with them. This was a great opportunity to meet local kids and their teachers. Once again, we experienced how small and connected a world can be when hearing about one kid’s acquaintance playing in a football club in Tallinn and meeting another kid’s Estonian grandmother.

The last week was dedicated to the SPeCTRess final conference which brought together so many other colleagues from the SPeCTRess project, and to hear and discuss their topics. The conference demonstrated various possibilities of using the cultural trauma concept, and how it could be fruitful transdisciplinary. Another focus of the conference was on Irish studies, and it definitely broadened our understanding of Irish past and Irishness.

Besides São Paulo we had a luck to visit two other cities at the Atlantic: Guarujá and Santos. The first trip we organized ourselves to experience a beautiful coastline. The trip to Santos was organized by USP as a part of conference. During the visit we heard stories about Santos’s past and present, had a possibility to visit a coffee museum and Pelé‘s museum. The latter was an “enlightenment” for us as no fans of football: it actually took until the trip to Santos to (finally) understand the origin of a small football club FC Santos on Tartu. The day had a beautiful end at archeological site (former sugar plant), where in the dark a light show was delivered.

Image 5: Finishing our SPECTRESS secondment with a trip to Santos. Estonian team (Kirsti Jõesalu, Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, Ene Kõresaar) with Tais Leite de Moura (photo: USP team)

Our visit to São Paulo was incredible and added much content to our research on difficult memories and diverse identities. An overview of the ‘museological life’ of São Paulo is waiting to be published and plans are made for another one comparing museological representations of the past in São Paulo and Tartu.

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Alrun Berger: RUB SPECTRESS Fellow in New Haven

I had the great opportunity to be seconded to Yale University, or rather, to the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology (CCS) for three months. At the CCS, I had the pleasure of staying at the very source of the Cultural Trauma concept where Ron Eyerman and Jeffrey Alexander had revised and specified its framework some years ago. When I arrived in September, New Haven welcomed me with sunshine and warm weather, and until the beginning of November the weather remained typical of an Indian summer – I even had some issues to get used to the omnipresent chill caused by the air conditioning systems everywhere during my first few weeks. However, the period from September to December is probably the best time of the year to visit New England since the light is amazing and then there will probably be snow towards the end of the year! But not just because of the fantastic weather I had a very productive stay. At Yale, I met many interesting people, learned a lot about sociological concepts and methods, about the American research landscape in general, and last but not least, certainly, about myself. Thus, I could take lots of experiences, thoughts, ideas and new networks home with me.
Aside from daily visits of the amazing libraries on Yale campus, where I spent lots of productive (working) hours a week, I attended two weekly seminars at the Yale Sociology Department. The first one was a graduate school pro-seminar, actually held for first year graduate students at the department. It is a scientific career preparation project where two different Sociology professors talk about their experiences, or rather, learning processes each week. Such insights could, indeed, be very helpful for future careers. The CCS workshop, which is the heart of the Center, was the other seminar I regularly participated in. It was held roughly every Friday. For two hours followed by lunch, one scholar (attached in one way or another to the CCS) answered questions about her or his work, which had been read by every attendee beforehand. At the CCS I had the opportunity to learn more about the useful interconnectivity of sociological concepts, theories and methods for my further work as a historian. Especially several discussions with Ron Eyerman, my advisor at Yale, revealed some very advantageous and helpful aspects (of the Cultural Trauma concept) for my own research projects (at the Institute for Social Movements at the Ruhr-University Bochum). Through CCS contacts, I had the great opportunity to present an excerpt of my dissertation in a working group on Memory Studies in Modern Europe, organized by Yale Ph.D. students from the History and Sociology Department that aims at exploring the multifaceted concept of memory, which fits perfectly to my own research. Moreover, I attended many other interesting lectures and talks at both the Sociology as well as the History Department, had many interesting discussions and conversations and made many new contacts.
The working conditions at Yale University were even better than expected. Apart from the several libraries where one can get hold of excellent working spaces in a fantastic working atmosphere, the Sociology Department offers a small office for its Visiting Graduate Students. In the libraries, it is possible to borrow almost every book one can imagine. Hence, it was certainly not very difficult to readjust myself to this place so far away from home. It is almost impossible to exhaust all possibilities Yale has to offer. To get used to the town itself took me a bit longer as there is a huge contrast between its center, which is largely dominated by the beautiful university buildings and some shops, bars and restaurants, and poorer neighbourhoods. There are many homeless people freezing in and around a park called New Haven Green, a National Historic Landmark, which is located in the downtown district. These people can apparently not partake of the university’s prosperity; that being New Haven’s biggest employer.
The bottom line is that I made contact with many interesting people, learned and worked a lot – to put it in a nutshell, I had a wonderful time in Connecticut.

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Cristian Cercel: RUB SPECTRESS Fellow in Delhi

I spent three months on secondment at the Center for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi (October-December 2017), where my mentor was Prof. Aditya Mukherjee. My scientific goal has been that of linking my research on representations of war, conflict, and trauma in European museums (focusing particularly on the Military History Museum in Dresden) with research on the same type of representations in Indian museums. Furthermore, the attempt to make the SPECTRESS visiting fellowship in India feed in my current research was also bound to make me revisit or look more in depth at the theoretical framework I am currently working with, namely that of agonistic memory. My research on agonism and war in European museums is part of a larger project called UNREST, which looks at several case studies: having the opportunity to broaden to a certain extent the scope of this research was what made the SPECTRESS experience particularly valuable for me.
Based on some preliminary research, I have identified two museums whose approach and focus tie in extremely well with the theoretical tenets of my research and also with the empirical interest for war, conflict, and trauma in museums, namely the “Conflictorium” in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), and the Museum of Partition in Amritsar (Punjab). The former defines itself as a “museum of conflict”, which is particularly relevant in the local Ahmedabad/Gujarat context, considering that the city and the state have repeatedly been the site of intercommunal violence, the most recent riots taking place in 2002. The latter is a museum dedicated to the Partition of India. Both of them are new museums (inaugurated in 2013 and 2017 respectively) and hence a detailed analysis of them would fit in very well if it were possible to broaden the scope of the research. The staff at the Conflictorium was very helpful in facilitating my research (I am truly thankful to them for this!) and I am positive that the contacts developed in this context can lead to further cooperation and research. Tentatively, I would say that the Museum of Partition proposes very much a cosmopolitan discourse, whilst the Conflictorium attempts to present more of an agonistic discourse. Its focus on conflict and its distinct attempt to offer a space for counter-hegemonic discourses make the Conflictorium at first glance particularly compatible with agonism. Nonetheless, further research would be needed (much more in depth) in order to ascertain the degree of validity of these very tentative conclusions. Engaging with these two museums in particular and with the Indian case in general shows that the attempt to develop and refine an agonistic mode of remembering is worth being pursued.

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Daniel Faas: TCD SPECTRESS Fellow in Sao Paulo

Throughout my three months, I was based at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Upon arrival in mid-September, I had an informal meeting with Prof Laura Izarra to arrange further details of my work plan and get to know the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) campus. During my time at USP, I continued working on a range of co-authored international journal articles and also engaged in a number of international high school visits for Trinity’s Global Relations Office.

My research linked particularly with WP5 of SPECTRESS, and addresses the following two questions: (1) How do the forces of immigration (increasing multiculturalism) and emigration (building diasporic communities) create internal challenges and external points of reflection; (2) How do competing forms of communal identity – regional, and multiple national, but also gender, family, class, professional etc. – coexist with, complement or compete with emergent national scripts? In particular, how do nations comprised of strongly identified regional or multiethnic identities fare differently? I was able to discuss these questions with a range of scholars at USP. Prior to me departure for São Paulo, I had already met Prof Sergio Adorno, Dean of FFLCH, during his visit to Trinity to discuss collaborations at USP and identified a cluster of researchers on identity, migration and comparative sociology.

In October, I delivered the opening keynote entitled ‘Migration, Religion and Education in Ireland during and after the Celtic Tiger’ at the conference Encontro de Pós-Graduandos em Estudos Linguísticos e Literários em Inglês (EPOGELLI) at USP:

In addition, I regularly participated in the University’s postgraduate and staff reading group where I presented my latest work on ‘Religion and Education in Ireland: child agency, ethos and leadership in Community National Schools’. In late October, I also took part in a meeting discussing cooperation between Trinity and USP and further internationalisation and partnership opportunities. This included the Consul of Ireland (Barry Tumelty), the USP Provost for International Cooperation (Prof Raul Machado Neto), a USP staff representative (Prof Laura Izarra) and my colleague Prof Ruth Barton from Trinity whose own SPECTRESS fellowship overlapped with my stay.

During my time in São Paulo, I was fortunate to have other Trinity colleagues who not only helped me settle in but also met up with me outside the academic terrain on numerous occasions (Prof Ruth Barton from Film Studies, Stephen O’Neill from English). I vividly recall us exploring Avenida Paulista and the buzz there is especially on a Sunday when the main avenue is closed for traffic and turns into a music, cultural and outdoor work-out zone for the ‘gym-obsessed’ Brazilians:

I stayed just off Avenida Paulista in the Jardins area which is perfect for exploring the city. I visited most parts of the city including Liberdade (the Japanese quarter), Pateo do Collegio (the city foundation in 1554), Sé Cathedral, the Municipal Market where we ate the giant 500gr mortadella sandwich, Pacaembu Stadium (where Pelé scored 115 of his 1,000 career goals), Vila Madalena and its spectacular graffiti in Batman’s Alley, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Paulista (with its History of Sexuality exhibition), and Ibirapuera Park. The Skye Bar on the rooftop of Hotel Unique is a real gem, and further must-dos to add to your educational and cultural experience include tasting the most famous Brazilian dessert – acai – and eating in Fogo de Chão (a churrascaria):

Upon return to Trinity in December, I continued to engage in a research application under the CAPES programme, with the support of Trinity’s Global Relations Office. CAPES is a Foundation within the Ministry of Education in Brazil whose central purpose is to coordinate efforts to improve the quality of Brazil’s faculty and staff in higher education through grant programs.

All in all, I had an amazing time in São Paulo and was able to combine an active research period with new cultural experiences within and beyond São Paulo (the diversity of Brazil, especially the contrast between the affluent South and the Afro-Brazilian areas such as Salvador are impressive especially when seen through my sociological lens), and recruiting students from high schools.

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Report on the Third SPECTRESS Summer Institute in Dubrovnik

SPECTRESS Workshop Report
Modalities of Trauma in (Multi)Cultural Contexts:
Protagonists, representations and re-coverings?
SpeCTReSS Summer Institute on Cultural Trauma
Dubrovnik, 5-10 June 2017.
Jointly organized by SPECTRESS project and the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb,
at the premises of the Inter University Center in Dubrovnik

Third SpeCTReSS Summer Institute on Cultural Trauma was held in Dubrovnik, with the purpose of widening our network, making plans for the future, as well as to extend our knowledge exchange and its dissemination to students and wider audience. It brought together 22 participants, 8 professors and 14 students from across the SPECTRESS partner institutions and other universities.
Participants were recruited from the University of Zagreb, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Sao Paulo University, Trinity College, Dublin, Tartu University, Jagiellonian University, American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad, University of Sarajevo and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi.
Expected learning outcomes for students were:
– to get an introduction to the interdisciplinary knowledge on cultural trauma by focusing on various national and international case studies: its various manifestations, conditions of appearance and research methodologies of different social sciences and humanities in studying cultural trauma.
– to understand the role of agents, and social, political and cultural structures in the process of construction of cultural trauma, as well as to be able to apply that knowledge on the new cases and contexts, related to their own national and local contexts.
– to be able to create research design for studying chosen aspects of cultural trauma and their expression in various cultural and political texts.
– to be able to create informed policy recommendation and public dissemination of knowledge on cultural trauma.
The Workshop was opened by local organizer, prof. Nebojša Blanuša. He welcomed participants and remarked the importance of establishing such workshop on permanent basis even after the end of SpeCTReSS project. There is a permanent challenge to connect various scholars to improve our current knowledge on cultural trauma. Daily schedule of the workshop usually included two lectures of experienced researchers with extensive discussions. Afternoons were usually reserved for screening the films with direct reference to cultural trauma in concrete historical contexts.
On the first day, instead of usual introductory lecture, doctoral student Vedran Jerbić from the University of Zagreb made a presentation of recently published special issue of the Croatian Political Science Review, titled Faces of Cultural Trauma. This journal issue was comprised mostly of lectures given at the previous Summer Institute from 2016. It gathered 16 researchers from all around the world, who wrote 9 excellent original research articles. The issue was described as a collection resulting from speaking and listening at the site of trauma of Dubrovnik, which tries to overcome an isolation produced by the sense of uniqueness of particular traumas and to search for the knowledge of collective recovery in the current historical period. The second presentation was given by prof. Jaime Ginzburg, from the Sao Paulo University, titled Literature and film: images of violence, dealing with differences and similarities in means of representation of massive collective traumas, by using examples from Japan, Brazil and Ireland. In the afternoon, we also had a guided city tour, committed to the local war trauma and devastation of the historical center of the town of Dubrovnik during the Homeland war from 1991 to 1995.
On Tuesday the first lecture was given by prof. Tomislav Pletenac from the University of Zagreb, titled Representational re-victimization: How to write ethnography of genocide, focused exactly on the opposite of the title, or how to avoid secondary victimization by using the knowledge of ethnology and anthropology. Second lecture that day was held again by prof. Jaime Ginzburg, who spoke about the relationship between Narrative, language and trauma. In the afternoon, we also watched the film Rewers (2009), directed by Borys Lankosz, as an example of Polish cultural trauma from the Stalinist period, especially how to deal with enemies from the totalitarian past. The film was further explained in the next day lecture titled Popular perception of Polish People’s Republic during the Real Socialism: Cultural Trauma, Dissonance of the Legal System and the Lifeworld, held by prof. Marta Polaczek-Bigaj, from the Jagiellonian University. The second Wednesday lecture was reserved for our colleague Tihomir Cipek, from the University of Zagreb, titled The Image of the Other Among Russian Conservatives, which dealt with contemporary representational strategies of right wing groups with the special interest in combining the images and ideas from the period of soviet and czarist Russia. In the afternoon, we dealt with the film 12.08 East of Bucharest (2006), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. This movie was an introduction for the first Thursday lecture, given by prof. Sean Homer, from the American University in Bulgaria, titled Was There, or, Was There Not a Revolution? Both the movie and the lecture were referring to the Romania, but this case was used as an example in the lecture to deal with the same problem in all post-socialist states, especially with the issue of traumatic legacy of 1989 in this part of the Europe. The second Thursday lecture was given by prof. Nebojša Blanuša, titled Transgenerational Trauma in Croatia. This lecture was dealing with the problem of ideological continuation of conflicts from the World War II in Croatia, and their manifestation in the last quarter of century, mostly in demonization of antifascist legacy and normalization of fascist quisling regime. In the afternoon we also watched and discussed documentary titled Zaveštanje / Legacy (2017), directed by Ivan Jović, which deals with testimonies of Serbs who were imprisoned as children in the Croatian World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac.
Friday was committed to lectures of prof. Ana Ljubojević, titled Contested narratives of Bleiburg case in the context of WWII remembrance in Croatia, dealing with the memory of controversial case of executions of quisling army members by Yugoslav partisans immediately after the end of the World War II. The second lecture was given by dr. Kosta Bovan, titled Cultural Trauma and Gestalt Psychotherapy – Unlikely Friends with Benefits?, which was a part of our special section dealing with bridging the gap between literature on individual and collective traumas. For the afternoon was organized the local trip to the town of Cavtat which was occupied by Montenegrian military forces during the Homeland war 1991-1995.
Students’ presentation were performed, discussed and evaluated on Saturday. Two months later this course was re-licensed by the University of Zagreb and entitled to give 3,5 ECTS to each student participant.

Report submitted by:
Nebojša Blanuša, Associate Professor,
Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb

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Stephen O’Neill: TCD SPECTRESS Fellow in São Paulo

I arrived in São Paulo in the middle of September to begin my three month stint at USP to research ‘A Cultural History of Irish Partition’, which is my tentative postdoctoral project. I had the little matter of my doctoral thesis to finish first, however, and once that unfortunate nuisance was out of the way, I was able to focus on my future research plans. The time I spent in Brazil helped me to sharpen some of my thoughts on the fairly provisional topic of culture and partition, and to sketch out more concrete plans for future research. In particular, reading partition through the lens of cultural trauma was a useful exercise during my time here, not least because one of the foundational articles, Jeffrey C. Alexander’s ‘Toward a Theory of Cultural Trauma’, uses the later troubles in the north of Ireland as a case study of defining trauma.


Aside from this introduction to fresh theoretical concepts and frameworks, my time in São Paulo also introduced me to a number of researchers in contemporary Irish literature and culture. I was based at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH), where my very generous mentor Prof Laura Izarra and her colleagues were also. In particular, my fellow visiting researcher from Trinity Prof Ruth Barton’s Irish Cinema classes on Mondays were informative, and the depth of knowledge and critical understanding of Ireland at FFLCH was eye-opening.


In October, I delivered a paper on my doctoral research, entitled ‘The Country and the City in the Irish Novel, 1922-51’, at the bespoke postgraduate conference at FFLCH, III Encontro de Pós-Graduandos em Estudos Linguísticos e Literários em Inglês – EPOGELLI. I also had regular meetings with the University’s postgraduate reading group, where they introduced me to Roberto Schwarz’s work on the nineteenth century novel and Brazilian society in his Misplaced Ideas. In my second meeting with the postgradute group, myself and Dr Daniel Faas from Trinity gave presentations, with my own being on my current project. I also gave the group a copy of a chapter of Peter Leary’s work on the border in Ireland, which provided for some interesting discussions and perspectives on the impending border controls or regulatory alignment.


Away from the academy, I stayed in the trendy Pinheiros district during this time, which was near the more famous areas of Jardim Paulista and Vila Madalena. I was near the Beco de Batman (Batman Alley), a world renowned alley which has become a canvas for graffiti artists, and an unlikely meeting space for Pele, one of the best footballers of all time, and  erstwhile Beatles drummer (as well as Thomas the Tank Engine creator) Ringo Starr:

photo 1

Around the corner from the touristic efforts in the glamorous Beco, I found a noticeable point of contrast in this celebration of Pele as a national cultural icon with a much simpler mural painting around the corner. Here ‘Football and Carnival’ are distractions from the everyday reality of Brazil:

photo 2

The political energies of the backstreet murals were also reflected in the major cultural institutions of the city. In my first few weeks, I visited the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Paulista, where I was very impressed by the depth of collections they had – Van Gogh, Goya, Botticelli – and also with the unique way in which they were presented. On the bottom floor of the museum I particularly enjoyed the Guerrilla Girls exhibition, not least because it featured a number of posters critiquing the Irish academic and artistic establishments for their lack of gender-diversity, with the line ‘Irish Museums are Boy-Crazy’ a particular stand-out.

Some of the problems I had anticipated before coming here – pollution, noise, traffic – were always visible. In particular, the unstable political situation was almost as alarming to me, a visitor, as the devastating levels of poverty which were evident on a daily basis. Although the city often suffers in comparison to Rio (which city wouldn’t?) I found São Paulo to be an energetic and welcoming place, particularly for one of the few Irish people around here.


I was grateful for the opportunity provided by the SPECTRESS Project and I’d like to thank Laura Izarra, Eda Nagayama, as well as Trinity’s Ruth Barton and Daniel Faas for making me welcome in Brazil.

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