Between a rock and a hard place: the colonial and anticolonial networks of a Jewish diasporic family

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper explores the engagement with a Jewish diasporic family archive through artistic methodologies, which raises conflicted emotions around family memory and identity. The artists, myself and my sister Rebecca, have used our practice to explore these complexities, referring to wider connections to empire, trade and migration, to understand ambivalences around looking back in family history.
On our father’s side, one branch of our family, great-grandparents left Lithuania and travelled to South Africa in the early 1900s where they ran a salt trading business in rural Western Cape. Another great-grandparent lived in Palestine, Egypt, then Australia and finally South Africa. His wife’s family had migrated from Russia to Hull, then to South Africa where a family Tailor’s business apparently producing suits for General Smuts. Amidst this tangled web of connections, remnants of correspondence remain, including postcards and letters sent between family and friends between England and South Africa, Australia, Egypt and elsewhere. We have used this collection as the starting point for a series of journeys and artworks.
Narratives of colonialism in our family memory have been further complicated by subsequent generations rejection of colonialism, and activism in anti-colonial movements, in addition to a rejection of clear identities of Jewishness. Therefore, through our grandparents and parents, there has been a shifting and denial of association with these memories/places/identities. Revisiting the physical locations, the archive and the memory through our art practice, we have had to negotiate these narratives and memories.
Period20 Sept 2022
Event titleColonialism and Transgenerational Memory in Europe
Event typeConference
LocationHalle, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational