The Holocaust in the Eye of the Beholder: Memory in Carmel Bird’s The Bluebird Café
Following Rothberg’s theory of the multidirectional quality of memory, this chapter examines Carmel Bird’s The Bluebird Café as proof of the interrelatedness of different traumatic histories, namely the extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines and the Jewish Holocaust. Specifically, it draws on Agamben’s theory of concentration camps to reveal the sinister nature of the novel’s central symbol—a theme park in contemporary Tasmania. Like Auschwitz and other camps, it attracts hordes of tourists, intrigued, among other things, by the skull of the last surviving member of the race of Tasmanian Aborigines and the wax statue of Lovelygod, a missing mixed-blood girl. Edkins’ theory of the missing person casts light on Lovelygod’s disappearance and helps disclose the small dose of hope the last section of the novel hides.
KeywordsCarmel Bird Multidirectional memory Tasmanian genocide The missing Agamben Edkins
The research carried out for the writing of this chapter is part of a research project financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) (code FFI2015-65775-P), and by the Government of Aragón and the European Social Fund (ESF) (code H05). The author is also grateful for the support of the University of Zaragoza (code JIuZ-2014-HuM-02).
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