Transcultural Memorial Forms: Contemporary Remembrance of War, Displacement and Political Rupture

From Andreas Huyssen’s idea of the Holocaust memory as the trope for other traumatic histories and Michael Rothberg’s work on multidirectional memory to Ann Rigney’s idea of the scarcity of memorial forms scholars of memory have in the past decade drawn attention to the fact that in order to be voiced past experiences need the support of other memories. Further, Alison Landsberg’s work on prosthetic memory has highlighted how memories travel across vast geographical and historical distances with the help of the technologies of mass culture and are adopted by people and communities who do not have any experiential link with them. This seminar is interested in the ways in which narrative strategies and memorial forms developed primarily in the context of the Holocaust memory and postwar migration have contributed to the representation of other histories of war and political conflict in the Nordic region and across Europe, and also how they are currently being used to make sense of contemporary experiences of war and displacement.

The seminar explores the ethical and political questions related to the use and abuse of artistic, political, and intermedial storytelling practices that function as transcultural memorial forms and that may facilitate or hamper the articulation of regional differences and the historical specificity of different conflicts. What gains and dangers are involved in adopting the narrative memories of others? Our hypothesis is that in contrast to the competing political discourses on twentieth-century totalitarianisms the arts have developed more productive comparative approaches that negotiate national and regional differences and address the ethical complexity of narrating traumatic experiences of war, conflict, displacement, and political rupture. Also important to the ethical potential of artistic narrative practices is their linking of memory to imagination in such a way that allows us to envision a future-oriented ethics of memory.


Keynote speakers:

Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)

Michael Rothberg (University of California, Los Angeles)
Requirements for Participation

Graduate students who wish to present a paper related to the topic can apply by sending a proposal (ca. 300 words) to Eneken Laanes ( by 15 November 2016. Additionally, 15–20 interested graduate students can apply for participation in the seminar by sending a letter of motivation (ca. 200 words). Students who are not members of GSCSA are required to add a short CV to specify their education and research interests.

You will be notified of your participation by 15 December 2016. Upon full participation in the programme a student will be awarded 2 ECTS points. Upon full participation in the programme with a presentation or with completion of a 2000-word essay on relevant topic, a student will be awarded 3 ECTS points (deadline 1 May 2017).

Participation in the course is free of charge.
The intensive seminar is being held in collaboration with the research network of Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics of the Nordic Summer University (( and the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.