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Conflict in Memory

Conflict in Memory: Interpersonal and Intergenerational Remembering of War, Conflict and Transition

1st Call for papers - MatchPoints Seminar 2012

10 – 12 May 2012, Aarhus University, Denmark

War, conflicts and transitions have always played a significant role in defining communal identity, often with reference to events that happened centuries ago. The role of passing on collective memories of these types of events has become even more complex in a globalizing world, where new configurations of cosmopolitan memories challenge more locally and nationally based memories. The many aspects of societies’ remembering and forgetting call for interdisciplinary cooperation. This conference brings together the fields of history, psychology, literature, and cultural studies and presents new research on how memories of war, conflict and transition are passed on from generation to generation and how these processes transform and shape identities.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Balthazar Garzon (investigative judge, Madrid)

Alistair Thomson (Monash University, Melbourne)

Andreas Huyssen (Columbia University)

James Wertsch (Washington University, St. Louis)

Dorthe Berntsen (Aarhus University)

Daniel Levy (Stony Brook University)

Anna Bull (University of Bath)

Luisa Passserini (University of Torino)

Tom Dunne (University College Cork)

Willliam Hirst (New School of Social Sciences, New York)

Workshop themes:

  • Negotiating National and Cosmopolitan Memories
  • Psychological Approaches to Interpersonal and Intergenerational Remembering
  • Narrative Templates in Representations of Conflict and Civil Warfare
  • Memory, Identity and Social Cohesion: Commemoration and Intergenerational Memory of War, Conflict and Crisis

Purposes and ideas of the workshops:


Negotiating National and Cosmopolitan Memories

Organised by Stefan Iversen and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (contact: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen)


This section explores how cosmopolitanism has become an important topic in the study of identity formation and the changes of memories in an increasingly globalized world. The keynotes will address the Holocaust as a transnational object of memory that has had a profound influence on memory politics in terms of lawmaking, commemorative gestures and in educating new generations. The section consists of the following three sessions:

  1. Transformed places
  2. Politics of memory
  3. Clashing memories


Psychological Approaches to Interpersonal and Intergenerational Remembering

Organised by Annette Bohn, Celia Harris, and Jonathan Koppel (contact: Annette Bohn)

This workshop will cover a broad range of topics concerned with social and cultural issues in memory, from collaborative memories in couples to national survey studies on memories for important public events, to the way that memories of traumatic events (personal and public) inform, and are informed by, one’s personal and social identity. The workshop will be organised in three sessions addressing the following topics:

  1. Collective remembering and forgetting in small groups
  2. Memories of transitions: important personal and national events
  3. Trauma, identity and memory


Narrative Templates in Representations of Conflict and Civil Warfare

Organised by Hans Lauge Hansen, Francesco Caviglia, Leonardo Cecchini (contact: Leonardo Cecchini)

This workshop explores the role of narrative discourse in the intergenerational memory processes of conflict and civil warfare. The concept of narrative discourse is to be understood in its broadest sense as fictional and non-fictional representations and all the hybrid genres in between, based on linguistic, visual and corporal/physical expressions.  “Conflict and civil warfare” refers to a broad range of historical events which affected individuals and groups within the same national community, like the Nazi suppression of the German opposition in the thirties, the Spanish Civil, War, Stalinism in USSR, political violence in the ’60s and ’70s, etc. What kind of social processes are required to convert communicative memory into cultural memory, what is the role of narrative in these processes, which are the generic templates employed and what is the social impact of these representations?


Memory, Identity and Social Cohesion: Commemoration and Intergenerational Memory of War, Conflict and Crisis

Organised by Michael Böss (contact: Michael Böss)

In Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity (1994), the American historian John Gillis suggested a typology of commemorations based on three periods: a pre-national, a national and a post-national period.  During the pre-national period, commemorations were either local or universal, and the elites and the masses tended not to share commemorative rites. The subsequent ‘national’ cult of commemoration served to unite people within territorial nation-states. This implied a degree of democratisation of official commemorative events and monuments. In the third period, there would not be a total demise, but a weakening of national commemoration. Gillis also predicted that we might be returning to the medieval pattern: Commemorations would become more local and more universal (‘global’). He also believed, however, that in order for societies to cohere, there would be a need for public commemoration. Without the identifications that commemorations help create, citizens would find it difficult to interact and cooperate. – This workshops invites papers that address both empirical cases and theoretical cases these issues with special reference to commemorations and memories of war, conflict and crisis.



Organiser: Prof. Michael Böss, Director of MatchPoints Seminar - engmb@hum.au.dk

Organising committee: Annette Bohn, Hans Lauge Hansen, Francesco Caviglia, Leonardo Cecchini, Stefan Iversen and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen

Deadlines for proposals: January 15, 2012

Conference fee: 150 EUR

For further information, see www.matchpoints.au.dk

Conference venue: Aarhus University, Søauditorierne, Bartholins Allé 3, 8000 Aarhus.



About MatchPoints Seminar:

The purpose of a MatchPoints Seminar is to create dialogue between Aarhus University and the surrounding society concerning subjects of wider societal interest. Therefore the seminars will be open to the public. Moreover, it is characteristic of a MatchPoints seminar that the speakers at these seminars rank among the most highly esteemed national and international figures in the field and subject that the seminar is focused on.