David Rieff and Simon Schama: In Praise of Forgetting
Chair: Simon Schama
David Rieff poses hard questions about whether remembrance has – or indeed ever could – inoculate the present against repeating the crimes of the past. Collective remembrance can be toxic, he argues, and sometimes it may be more moral to forget.
Ranging widely across some of the defining horrors of modern times – the Irish Troubles, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan Wars, the Holocaust and 9/11 – Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant and elegant essay In Praise of Forgetting is an indispensable work of moral philosophy. David Rieff is challenged by historian Simon Schama.
David Rieff is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and the author of many books, including, most recently, The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the 21st Century and Swimming in a Sea of Death, A Son's Memoir, about his mother Susan Sontag. He lives between Paris and New York.
Simon Schama is Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. A writer, journalist and broadcaster, he has written and presented 40 films for the BBC, including The Story of the Jews, Citizens and Rough Crossings. Most recently he curated the exhibition The Face of Britain for the National Portrait Gallery and produced the book and BBC Television series of the same name. He is currently completing Volume 2 of The Story of the Jews.