Reimagining cultural memory of the arctic in the graphic narratives of Oqaluttuaq

  • The Greenlandic oral story-telling tradition, Oqaluttuaq, meaning “history,” “legend,” and “narrative,” is recognized as an important entry point into Arctic collective memory. The graphic artist Nuka K. Godtfredsen and his literary and scientific collaborators have used the term as the title of graphic narratives published from 2009 to 2018, and focused on four moments or ‘snippets’ from Greenland’s history (from the periods of Saqqaq, late Dorset, Norse settlement, and European colonization). Adopting a fragmentary and episodic approach to historical narrativization, the texts frame the modern European presence in Greenland as one of multiple migrations to and settlements in the Artic, rather than its central axis. We argue that, in consequence, the Oqaluttuaq narratives not only “provincialize” the tradition of hyperborean colonial memories, but also provide a postcolonial mnemonic construction of Greenland as a place of multiple histories, plural peoples, and heterogenous temporalities. As such, the books also narrativize loss and disappearance—of people, cultures, and environments-as a distinctive melancholic strand in Greenlandic history. Informed by approaches in the field of cultural memory and in the study memorial objects, Marks’ haptic visuality and Keenan and Weizman’s forensic aesthetics, we analyze the graphic narratives of Oqaluttuaq in regard to their aesthetic dimensions, as well as investigate the role of material objects and artifacts, which work as narrative “props” for multiple stories of encounter and survival in the Arctic.

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Author:Jeanne-Marie Viljoen, Magdalena Żółkoś
Parent Title (English):Memory studies
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/08/12
Date of first Publication:2021/08/12
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/04/25
Tag:Oqaluttuaq; comics and memory; cultural memory of Greenland; forensic aesthetics; haptic memory; postcolonial memory
Issue:online version before inclusion in an issue
Page Number:23
First Page:1
Last Page:23
Magdalena Zolkos’ research for this article has been supported by Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung as a recipient of the Humboldt Research Fellowship for Advenced Researchers (2019-2021).
Early View: Online Version before inclusion in an issue.
Version of Record:
Institutes:Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 89 Andere Literaturen / 890 Literaturen anderer Sprachen
7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 74 Zeichnung, angewandte Kunst / 741.5 Comics, Cartoons, Karikaturen
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 4.0