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Embracing the lived memory of genocide: Holocaust survivor and descendant renegade memory work at the House of Being

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ABSTRACT

The House of Being is a Holocaust-survivor geriatric center and memorial museum in Israel, where lifeworlds and deathworlds coexist to create a “lived memory” of the Holocaust past. Its agenda, decor, and provocative commemorative practices engender movement between everyday life in the present and the genocidal past. Humor, for instance—the House genre—allows Holocaust descendants to explore contradictions between their familial lived experience of genocide and the “dead memory” of national commemoration. Sustaining a balance between a departure from and accommodation to mainstream national memory work, ludic memory reinvigorates the commemorative landscape. The activities that take place at the House, as well as its design and ambiance, problematize conceptualizations of commemoration, traumatic loss, serious humor, and the sequestration of death in everyday life.

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