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Title [en]
Tell the West: Witness Literature from the Gulag Archipelago 1925-2012
Abstract [en]
The aim of my investigation is to examine Gulag memoirs in their double role as, on one hand, historical testimony and, on the other, literature. My theoretical framework is a phenomenological understanding of literature, experience and reality. My thesis is that phenomenology, due to its examination of the relation between first hand experience and objective reality, can provide us with a philosophical understanding of witness literature. I will study 33 Gulag memoirs published between 1925 and 2012, and written in English, German, French, Swedish and Norwegian. I will focus especially on the Swedish memoirs. Whereas the Holocaust survivors described a reality that no longer existed, most of the Gulag-survivors describe an ongoing reality, which, due to the secrecy around it was only known through their writings. Whereas witness literature in general is met with trust, the Gulag survivors were often challenged. This is especially the case in Sweden, where testimonies were met with defamation campaigns. One aim of my investigation is to look particularly into the Swedish Gulag memoirs and their reception. These testimonies have not been studied before and I also want to highlight the historical documentation they provide us with. Most of them are written by survivors who belonged to the emigration from Sweden to Karelia in the inter-war period. At the time, the ”Russian-fever” spread over Norrbotten, and although the number is not certain, at least 400 Swedes emigrated in the 1920s and 1930s. In the Great Purge when NKVD targeted foreigners, many of the Swedish workers were executed and their families deported to forced labor settlements. Despite the fact that survivors were returned and could bear witness to executions and deportations, the recruitment campaign continued during the Great Purge. Witnesses who spoke about the real conditions were libeled and stigmatized. I will look at both the existing memoirs and the silence around them. The fact that these testimonies are little known today contrasts to their explicit aim to reach out, in order to speak for those who could not, as for example Hilda Tautvaisa puts it: ”I hold it my duty to testify and tell people about persons, women and children, for the most part, who have suffered unjust privations, who fell victim to misfortunes and a terrible fate. What I have written down should be made known to our Baltic neighbors and to the women of the free world."
Publications (5 of 5) Show all publications
Andén, L. (2024). Between Memory and History: Retracing Historical Knowledge Through a Phenomenology of Afterlife. In: Gustav Strandberg; Hugo Strandberg (Ed.), Jan Patočka and the Phenomenology of Life After Death: (pp. 139-152). Cham: Springer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Between Memory and History: Retracing Historical Knowledge Through a Phenomenology of Afterlife
2024 (English)In: Jan Patočka and the Phenomenology of Life After Death / [ed] Gustav Strandberg; Hugo Strandberg, Cham: Springer, 2024, p. 139-152Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

How can Jan Patočka’s phenomenology of afterlife enable us to understand the historiographical process in general and the role of testimony in the historiographical process, in particular? Patočka presents a phenomenological analysis of co-existence and afterlife where others continue to be with us, as a part of our lifeworld and our constitution of ourselves, even after they are gone. We see ourselves through others and we continue to experience our lifeworld with them, a relation that is transformed but not disrupted after their death. In historiographical discussions, historical knowledge is often defined in opposition to memories, on account of its distance to our immediate, personal relation to our past. Such discussions were famously undertaken by thinkers such as Paul Ricoeur and Pierre Nora. The aim of this paper is to place the phenomenological analysis of death and of loss within discussions surrounding the relation between memory and historical knowledge. In particular, it examines how we constitute and re-constitute collective memory and historical knowledge through testimonies and archives. It argues that we can understand testimonies and archives as different modes of being with the dead, modes that continue to constitute both our individual field of experience, and our collective historical situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Springer, 2024
Series
Contributions to Phenomenology, ISSN 2215-1915 ; vol 128
Keywords
Jan Patočka, Paul Ricoeur, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Pierre Nora, Afterlife, Testimony, Collective Memory, Historiography
National Category
Philosophy History
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-53674 (URN)10.1007/978-3-031-49548-9_10 (DOI)978-3-031-49547-2 (ISBN)978-3-031-49548-9 (ISBN)
Available from: 2024-03-15 Created: 2024-03-15 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved
Andén, L. (2022). Motvilliga vittnen: Svenska vittnesberättelser från utrensningarna i Sovjetkarelen. Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap, 51(3-4), 172-186
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Motvilliga vittnen: Svenska vittnesberättelser från utrensningarna i Sovjetkarelen
2022 (Swedish)In: Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap, ISSN 1104-0556, E-ISSN 2001-094X, Vol. 51, no 3-4, p. 172-186Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Several hundred Swedes emigrated to Soviet Karelia in the beginning of the 1930s. Many of them remained there when the Great Terror began, and they became targets of repression. As of now, there is no coherent public narrative in Sweden that acknowledge the Swedish survivors; most survivors never talked publicly about their experiences, let alone wrote about them, and the few who did, did so reluctantly. This article discusses four memoirs written by Swedish survivors of the Soviet repression and the silence that still surrounds these memoirs. The narratives themselves, as well as the reception of the narratives, bear witness to the difficulty of narrating experiences that have not yet been publicly acknowledged. Based on the Swedish witness accounts, this article aims to examine 1) the difficulty of testifying in the absence of a public narrative, and 2) the ability of witness literature to challenge and change established historical narratives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Föreningen för utgivande av Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap, 2022
Keywords
vittneslitteratur, Sovjetunionen, Gulag, Varlam Sjalamov, tystnad, tystnadskultur, avtystande, Solsjenitsyn
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-50069 (URN)10.54797/tfl.v51i3-4.1669 (DOI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 84/2018
Available from: 2022-10-14 Created: 2022-10-14 Last updated: 2022-10-14Bibliographically approved
Andén, L. (2021). Literary Testimonies and Fictional Experiences: Gulag Literature Between Fact and Fiction. Studia Phænomenologica, 21, 197-223
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Literary Testimonies and Fictional Experiences: Gulag Literature Between Fact and Fiction
2021 (English)In: Studia Phænomenologica, ISSN 1582-5647, E-ISSN 2069-0061, Vol. 21, p. 197-223Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses the role of Gulag literature in connection to testimony, literature and historical documentation. Drawing on the thoughts of Jacques Derrida and Hannah Arendt, the article examines the difficulty of witnesses being believed in the absence of evidence. In particular, the article focuses on the vulnerability of the Gulag authors, due to the ongoing Soviet repression at the time of their writing. It examines the interplay between the repression and the literature that exposed it. The article contends that the fictionalization of Gulag literature enabled the authors to go further in challenging Soviet repression. Focusing on the fictional accounts written by Varlam Shalamov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, it argues that the fictionalized Gulag literature makes the experience of the camp universe possible to imagine for those outside, allowing readers to believe in an experience that otherwise seems incredible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Romanian Society for Phenomenology, 2021
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-46703 (URN)10.5840/studphaen20212110 (DOI)000706979900010 ()2-s2.0-85119200590 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2018-0084
Available from: 2021-11-11 Created: 2021-11-11 Last updated: 2022-03-23Bibliographically approved
Andén, L. (2021). Selvbiografier som vitnesbyrd i Simone de Beauvoirs poetikk. In: Ståle Finke; Mattias Solli (Ed.), Oppløsningen av det estetiske: Kunstfilosofisk modernitet fra Kant til relasjonell estetikk (pp. 189-205). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Selvbiografier som vitnesbyrd i Simone de Beauvoirs poetikk
2021 (Norwegian)In: Oppløsningen av det estetiske: Kunstfilosofisk modernitet fra Kant til relasjonell estetikk / [ed] Ståle Finke; Mattias Solli, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2021, p. 189-205Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [no]

Hva innebærer det å skrive virkelighetsbasert litteratur? Hvilke krav kan vi stille til den? Hva sier den om det livet den hevder å skildre? Diskusjonen om sannhetslitteratur handler om grensen mellom virkelighetsbasert fiksjon og selvbiografisk skriving. En filosof som mer enn noen annen har utforsket dette spørsmålet, er Simone de Beauvoir. Hun undersøker både fiksjonens grenser og den selvbiografiske skrivingens mulighet for å forvandle den gjennomlevde erfaringen. Hele Beauvoirs forfatterskap kan ses på som én sammenhengende streben etter å prøve å forstå hva det er å være menneske – gjennom fiksjon, memoarer, essay og filosofiske tekster, og gjennom å tilbakeføre filosofiens abstrakte teorier til vår konkrete erfaring med verden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2021
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-47823 (URN)9788215035109 (ISBN)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2018-0084
Available from: 2021-12-14 Created: 2021-12-14 Last updated: 2024-03-21Bibliographically approved
Andén, L. (2021). Vittneslitteratur och det förflutnas närvaro. Svensk filosofi
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vittneslitteratur och det förflutnas närvaro
2021 (Swedish)In: Svensk filosofiArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Svensk filosofi, 2021
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-53677 (URN)
Available from: 2024-03-15 Created: 2024-03-15 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorAndén, Lovisa
Coordinating organisation
Södertörn University
Funder
Period
2019-01-01 - 2021-12-31
Keywords [sv]
Östersjö- och Östeuropaforskning
Keywords [en]
Baltic and East European studies
National Category
Specific LiteraturesHistory
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:2054Project, id: 84/2018_OSS

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