The Holocaust Remembered and Misremembered in Australia: Revisiting the Demidenko / Darville Controversy
Appeals to Holocaust memory are typically made to illuminate other instances of racial or antisemitic persecution and to highlight the injustice at hand. Against this backdrop, the curious Australian case of Helen Demidenko/Darville, the author of the novel The Hand that Signed the Paper provides a startling exception. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the book was its use of antisemitic and racist tropes to explore and explain the history and memory of the Holocaust. In this talk, I revisit these aspects of the Demidenko/Darville controversy and in so doing reveal the somewhat shaky foundations upon which the nascent Australian multiculturalism of the 1990s rested.
Dr Avril Alba is Senior Lecturer in Holocaust Studies and Jewish Civilisation in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney. She teaches and researches in the areas of Holocaust and modern Jewish history. From 2002-2011 Avril was the Education Director at the Sydney Jewish Museum where she also served as the Project Director/Curator for the permanent exhibitions Culture and Continuity (2009), The Holocaust (2017) and The Holocaust and Human Rights (2018 with Prof Jennifer Barrett and Prof Dirk Moses). Her current major research project is The Memory of the Holocaust in Australian Public Life .
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