WOMEN’S RESISTANCE THROUGH TESTIMONY – A STUDY OF SURVIVORS’ TALES FROM THE HOLOCAUST

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper

Sammanfattning: This thesis analyses Jewish women Holocaust survivor’s testimonies. The purpose is to investigate what events the women tell of, how they tell of the choice and act of giving testimony, and to analyse whether resistance is manifest in their stories. I offer an interpretation with a feminist and intersectional historical outlook through the use of oral history as method and collective memory as an overarching framework. Common gender essentialist readings of women’s survivor stories from the Holocaust are enhancements of the "heroine" aspect of the characters that emerge in survivor testimonies, and the diminution of character aspects that do not correspond with preconceived gender roles. By further reinforcing epithets such as “heroine”, there is a risk of withholding complex readings. In taking use of Avery Gordon’s concept of complex personhood and Joan W. Scott and Judith Butlers understandings of gender as a useful category of historical analysis, I attempt to avoid essentialism and further a feminist analysis of women’s testimonies from the Holocaust. I argue that the actual acts the women tell of, in addition to the telling of the stories themselves and how they speak of this, all serve as means of resistance. The result of the analysis is that the women’s testimonies together create a powerful collective memory, a collective solidarity, which seeks to make amends for, and thereby retroactively show resistance to what they endured, while also hindering oppression in the contemporary.

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