Emma Kuby, "Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps After 1945" (Cornell UP, 2019)
Manage episode 239935895 series 2421437
Following the work of the CICRC through the 1950s and up to the end of the Algerian War, Political Survivors examines the vicissitudes of an organization whose makeup and activities embodied the complexities of the post-1945 political field. Negotiating the traumatic experience and memory of the war, the CICRC’s members and activism were caught up in the politics of the Cold War. This included receiving funding support from the CIA. Attending to sites of political repression and incarceration around the globe, from the Soviet Union’s gulag system to Franco’s Spain, Greece, Tunisia, China, and French Algeria, the international group’s preoccupations also expressed the specificities of French national and imperial politics. The CICRC’s investigations and dramatic mock trials exposed and denounced some injustices, but short-circuited in the face of others. The organization’s insistence on the repeatability of the Nazi camp system was both a source of its power to judge and a weakness. When confronted with situations in which past and present could not be compared so easily, the group’s mission fell short. Plagued by a number of tensions, including a membership policy that refused “racial” victims and did not engage the issue of genocide, the organization ultimately foundered over the case of the Algerian War. Analyzing this complex history, Political Survivors is a book that feels all-too-urgent in 2019. Readers interested in learning more about political violence and resistances past and present will find its insights challenging, and deeply thought-provoking.
To read Emma’s thoughts on the contemporary relevance of the history she treats in Political Survivors, particularly with respect to the detention of migrants in the United States today, see her July 2, 2019 piece in Dissent here.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. Her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest, please send an email to: email@example.com.
*The music that opens and closes the podcast is an instrumental version of “Creatures,” a song written and performed by Vancouver artist/musician Casey Wei (“hazy”). To hear more, please visit https://agonyklub.com/.
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices