Walking a Mile in Viktorija's Shoes
Resilience, (Post-)Memory and Affordances
In this paper we confront the content and form of a memory book that has remained private for over seventy years. Its journey started in Ravensbrück female concentration camp, belonging to Slovenian prisoner Viktorija. We argue that the friendship book is a testimonial object, a place in which women's written texts live in perpetuity. Through thematic analysis of its entries and an inquiry of the mediating role of its materiality, this paper argues that Viktorija's book constitutes book as a place of relational resilience (Jordan 2005) and that resilience is an active process of resistance. We suggest that the study of resilience needs to consider the relevance of resistance for individual and collective coping with severe circumstances. An exploration of the affordances of Viktorija's book that considers the reciprocal nature of action (Mol 2010: 265) and approaches agency as distributed between human and non-human actors, allows for the interplay of Funktions- and Speichergedaetchnis (Assmann 1999) to be elicited. Only then Viktorija's book becomes an instrument of post-memory (Hirsch 2008) and transgenerational resilience outside of the concentration camp. Viktorija's book works as an Erinnerungsraum (Assmann 1999) thereby enabling the transfer of (embodied) memories from the past to the present (Hirsch and Spitzer 2006: 355). We therefore propose to inquire the ways in which mutual relationships between women, and resistance to oppressive socio-political contexts, impact existing conceptualizations of resilience.