Nostalgia, Postmemories, and the Lost Homeland: Exploring Different Modalities of Nostalgia in Teacher Narratives

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [The University of Texas at El Paso]On: 08 November 2014, At: 03:52Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Review of Education, Pedagogy, andCultural StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gred20</p><p>Nostalgia, Postmemories, and the LostHomeland: Exploring Different Modalitiesof Nostalgia in Teacher NarrativesMichalinos ZembylasPublished online: 20 Feb 2014.</p><p>To cite this article: Michalinos Zembylas (2014) Nostalgia, Postmemories, and the Lost Homeland:Exploring Different Modalities of Nostalgia in Teacher Narratives, Review of Education, Pedagogy, andCultural Studies, 36:1, 7-21, DOI: 10.1080/10714413.2014.866821</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10714413.2014.866821</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gred20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/10714413.2014.866821http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10714413.2014.866821http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>7</p><p>The Review of Education, Pedagogy,and Cultural Studies, 36:721, 2014Copyright Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1071-4413 print/1556-3022 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10714413.2014.866821</p><p>Nostalgia, Postmemories, and the Lost Homeland: Exploring Different Modalities of Nostalgia in Teacher NarrativesMichalinos Zembylas</p><p>Some things you forget. Other things you never do Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, its gone, but the placethe picture of itstays, and not just in my rememory but out there, in the world. If you go thereyou who never was thereif you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you.</p><p>Toni Morrison (1987, 36) </p><p>In recent years, I have been involved in the facilitation of peace education workshops for Greek-Cypriot teachers in my home country, Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974, following a Greek-Cypriot coup d etat that was orchestrated by the then Greek military junta. Thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots were forced to move out of their homes and become refugees in their own country, divided by the Green Line, which still marks the long-standing partition of Cyprus; Greek-Cypriots reside in the south part of Cyprus, whereas Turkish Cypriots live in the north part. Several Greek-Cypriot teachers who participate in these peace education workshops are refugees or come from refugee families; most of them, however, were either unborn or very young in 1974. Although there has been an opening of the partition line since April 2003 for a limited amount of movement, Greek-Cypriot teachers are generally hostile or ambivalent about visiting their former houses and villages or exploring the other side in the north part of Cyprus (Zembylas 2012). And yet, regardless of whether or not these teachers have ever been to or more importantly lived in the other side, there is generally a nostalgic longing for Cyprus as it used to be before 1974. Often, teachers remarks in these peace education workshops suggest that they have kept alive an idea of a pre-1974 homeland in which the Greek-Cypriots have flourished in the lands of their ancestors. In these teacher narra-tives, there is a sense of nostalgia that intrudes the present to mourn for the loss of a past place and time.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>exas</p><p> at E</p><p>l Pas</p><p>o] a</p><p>t 03:</p><p>52 0</p><p>8 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>8 M. Zembylas</p><p>After identifying this sense of nostalgia in teacher narratives, I have become interested in the following questions: Are there different manifestations or modalities (Pickering and Keightley 2006) of nostalgia in teacher narratives? If yes, what is the relationship between the different modalities of nostalgia and memory? And finally, how can teacher educators engage critically with teacher narratives of nostalgia in divided societies, particularly when nostal-gia is mediated by postmemories (Hirsch 2001, 2008; Hirsch and Spitzer 2002)? Postmemories are memories that do not refer to or draw on a persons actual past experiences, but rather memories generated through the lens of a preced-ing generation marked by trauma. As Hirsch explains, postmemories describe the relationship of the second generation to powerful, often traumatic experi-ences that preceded their birth but were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to seem to constitute memories in their own right (2008, 103). How is it possible, then, for these teachers to express nostalgia for something that they have not lived?</p><p>In much of the literature on nostalgia, the predominant feeling associated with looking back toward a place or time that no longer exists or never existed is a sense of loss, an experience that is being negatively valued (Boym 2001). This feeling of loss expresses a contrast between there and here, then and now, in which what is no longer present is valued as better (Hirsch and Spitzer 2002). The negativity reflected in nostalgic memories has been the subject of sharp reproach by many critics who have denounced it as escapist, unre-flexive, and as a simplification, if not falsification of the past (Lowenthal 1989; Spitzer 1999; Vromen 1993). The desire to return and restore ones ideal-ized past is what Svetlana Boym (2001) calls restorative nostalgia, which seeks to rebuild the ruins of an imagined past. This refuge to an idealized past can have debilitating consequences, because it discourages a critical examination of and engagement with the present; as such, nostalgia induces acceptance of the status quo and impedes efforts for social and political change (Pickering and Keightley 2006).</p><p>However, a reappraisal of nostalgia is being undertaken in recent years across a variety of disciplines (Bonnett 2006). Nostalgia is no longer identified with bad or distorted memory that simply aims at restoring an idealized, lost past; rather it also signals an attempt to critically reflect on monolithic versions of the past and engage with alternative memories and narratives (Legg 2005). What this suggests is that nostalgia is being explored as a valuable resource to dwell in longing and loss in productive and subversive ways; this is what Boym (2001) terms reflective nostalgia. Reflective nostalgia, as she writes, cherishes alterna-tive memories and generates spaces that challenge traditional representations of the past. This alternative sense of nostalgia hints at the educational possibili-ties of mobilizing counter-memory narratives on loss and trauma that expand the range of spaces in which collective memories of trauma might be engaged (Zembylas 2011).</p><p>This article traces different modalities of nostalgia as they are manifest in nar-ratives of teachers about their lost homeland and examines how an analysis of these modalities through the lens of nostalgia, memory, and loss might reveal openings that challenge restorative nostalgic memories. In particular, to show </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>exas</p><p> at E</p><p>l Pas</p><p>o] a</p><p>t 03:</p><p>52 0</p><p>8 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Nostalgia, Postmemories, and the Lost Homeland 9</p><p>the entanglement of nostalgia, memory, and loss in teacher narratives, the article focuses on three different readings of nostalgia emanating from my ongoing research on Greek-Cypriot teachers narratives about the traumatic events of 1974 in Cyprus. The goal of presenting and analyzing these three readings is two-fold: first, to show the manifestations of nostalgia in Greek-Cypriot teacher nar-ratives about the occupied territories in Cyprus and how teachers feelings of loss influence their teaching; and, second, to show that there are not only monolithic manifestations of nostalgia but also alternative nostalgias that are more reflective. The main argument of the article is to suggest that there is a need to reconfigure the concept of nostalgia in contexts of teacher professional development, if the aim is to provide opportunities that take advantage of the reflective and productive dimensions of nostalgia.</p><p>THE MEANING(S) OF NOSTALGIA</p><p>In their work on nostalgia and memory, theorists such as Davis (1979), Boym (2001), Hirsch and Spitzer (2002), and Legg (2005) trace the origin of the word nostalgia to a Swiss medical thesis published in 1688. The word nostalgia comes from the Greek nostos (to return home) and algia (a painful longing). The term was used in this medical thesis to describe the disease of Swiss mercenaries positioned outside their homeland and its cure was generally understood to be a return to ones homeland. By the 20th century the term nostalgia has been depathologized and demedicalized although its association with a lost homeland or a lost and irretrievable past still continues.</p><p>A major issue of tension emerging in the growing body of work on nostalgia in recent years is the relationship between nostalgia and memory and more specifically how far nostalgia may distort memory and reality in a particular idealized way (Margalit 2002). Longing for an idealized past, then, has been considered in two quite opposite ways (Pickering and Keightley 2006). On one hand, nostalgia can be negative if it removes disturbing thoughts about ones past in a way that denies any responsibility for wrong-doing or evil. Nostalgia, on this view, becomes a modality of selective remembering and forgetting that constructs an imagined past frozen in time and seeks to restore that ideal. As such, nostalgia can be potentially dangerous because it may promote vari-ous degrees of social amnesia or highlight only certain memories for political purposes.</p><p>On the other hand, nostalgia can also be positive if nostalgic memory is used as a source of critical reflection for ones identity and sense of meaning in life (Blustein 2008). On this view, nostalgia can function as an evaluative standpoint from which one can make sense of ones experience and identity, that is, a point of reference from which one can assess the changes one is undergoing (Blustein 2008, 11). Furthermore, the positive function of nostalgia has a social dimension that connects us to cultural traditions and life events that have larger significance and help alleviate feelings of trauma and bitterness. As such, nostalgia can be val-ued as a productive force because it opens up new spaces for the articulation of the past and its relation to the present and the future.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>exas</p><p> at E</p><p>l Pas</p><p>o] a</p><p>t 03:</p><p>52 0</p><p>8 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>10 M. Zembylas</p><p>Many contemporary efforts have focused on reassessments of nostalgia in terms of how to differentiate good forms from bad forms (Bonnett 2006), that is, productive from unproductive manifestations of nostalgia. Such attempts might become problematic, argues Bonnett, if they end up with a fixed moral classifica-tion of nostalgic forms that fail to take into consideration the sociocultural and political environment in which nostalgia is enacted. Thus, Fred Davis (1979) has argued that nostalgia is not simply an isolated mind trick but it can be used to interrogate the articulation of the past in the present, and in particular to investi-gate sentimentally inflected mediated representations of the past (Pickering and Keightley 2006, 922). In other words, there are interactions taking place with an unpredictable and external world that might provoke a nave nostalgia or a more critical sense of nostalgia. Davis categorized these approaches into three orders of nostalgia: the first, simple nostalgia, is the positive evocation of the past against negative feelings toward the present; the second, reflexive nostalgia, is the ques-tioning of the accuracy and completeness of nostalgia itself; the third, interpreted nostalgia, is the questioning of the reaction to nostalgia, such as how one explains feelings of nostalgia.</p><p>The emotive capacity of nostalgia makes it an instrument of political manip-ulation, particularly by national ideologues, who utilize its emotional aspects in museums and memorials (Boym 2001). Yet Boym, who builds on Davis cat-egories, suggests that nostalgic memories exist independently of a state that attempts to harness them. For Boym, nostalgia as a feeling arises in the juxtapo-sition of two imagesof home and abroad, past and present, dream and eve-ryday life (2001, xiv). This juxtaposition is essentially what gives nostalgia its double-edged character: [as] an emotional antidote to politics, and thus [as] the best political tool (2001, 58). Insofar as nostalgia may be exploited by those who want to nationalize it and use it to harness monolithic and one-sided conceptions of imaginary homelandseither in everyday life or in museums and memori-alsthen it is valuable to distinguish those modalities that open up the potential for critique.</p><p>Thus, Boym offers a useful distinction between restorative and reflective nos-talgia: Restorative nostalgia focuses on nostos and constitutes an attempt to con-quer and stabilize time, to imaginatively reconstruct a lost home, while reflective nostalgia dwells on loss and trauma, driven by an awareness that the past can-not be restored not only because of the irreversibility of time but also as a result of the imperfect process of remembrance (2001, 41). As Boym further explains: If restorative nostalgia ends up reconstructing emblems and rituals of home and homeland in an attempt to conquer and spatialize time, reflective nostalgia cher-ishes shattered fragments of memory and temporalizes space (2001, 49). As Boym goes on to point out, much of twentieth century violence fr...</p></li></ul>