Making memory makers: interpellation, norm circles and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust workshops

2017-03-17T11:51:03Z (GMT) by John Richardson
This article examines the rationale for ordinary people’s involvement with commemoration. Adopting a critical ethnographic approach, and taking myself and my own interpellation as a symptomatic example, I ask what it is about Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) that calls to people, motivating them to become involved in localised commemorative activities. Since 2005, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) has been responsible for organising and promoting HMD commemoration and, as part of this, they organise free workshops across the UK for people interested in organising an activity to mark HMD. The data I analyse in this article is drawn from two sites: participant observation of three workshops organised by the HMDT (October-November 2015); and interviews with both the organisers and participants of these three same workshops. My analysis demonstrates that the workshop is orientated to answering two modal questions, which participants (implicitly) ask of themselves: should I commemorate HMD, entailing a deontic modality; and can I commemorate HMD, entailing an epistemic modality. I argue that HMD should be regarded as a norm circle which, through its members, possesses a causal power to produce a tendency in others to also commit to endorsing commemoration as a social norm.