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Migration, Memory, and Place

International conference organized by
Danish Network for Cultural Memory Studies
& Network for Migration and Culture

5 – 7 December 2012


University of Copenhagen (5-6 December)
Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj (7 December)

See papers from the conference

See conference website for general information and program


The increasingly complex relationship between the local and the global, ‘the near’ and ‘the far away’, has emerged as one of the defining characteristics of contemporary societies. With globalization’s increased mobility of people and speed of information exchange, and the cultural encounters resulting from it, traditional essentializing and stabilizing definitions of terms such as ‘home’, ‘belonging’, ‘place’, ‘identity’ and ‘memory’ have long become problematic and more adequate understandings of these conceptions are much sought after.

This conference centers on the recognition that place and space are of fundamental importance to all questions of migration, and that cultural migrations may involve a fundamental transformation of the experience of spaces and places and their close links to the social and cultural meanings of home, belonging and memory. Through the movement of people, cities, homes, landscapes and other localities become re-configured and reinterpreted through migrants’ stories, photographs, music, artwork, films and websites. Most urban spaces, for instance, are already described as inseparably diasporic, migratory spaces. At the same time, places are palimpsests that hold many layers of memory whose significance is negotiated in contemporary cultural life.

The conference invites considerations of how artistic and cultural representations of memory, migration and migrant experiences (in literature, cinema, theatre, media, the visual arts and other areas of culture and cultural practices) provide fruitful points of departure for the development of new theoretical concepts of place and belonging, and, vice versa, how multiple approaches to the perspective of place and memory can enrich the study of cultural migration.

The conference invites papers from scholars working with art, literature, film, media, cultural representations or cultural performance and cutting across fields such as studies in culture, media and the arts, migration studies, cross-cultural studies, post-colonial studies, cultural geography, place theory, cultural anthropology, urban studies, cultural sociology and philosophy.



Confirmed keynotes

Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, SUNY at Stony Brook: tba

Andreas Huyssen, Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia University: “Shadowplays and Memory Politics: A New Aesthetic Medium”

Nikos Papastergiadis, Professor of Cultural Studies and Media & Communications, University of Melbourne: “The Scenes of Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism”

Alistair Thomson, Professor of History, Monash University: "Missing Pieces, Moving Stories: Interpreting Migrant Women's Lives Across Letters, Photos and Memories"

Sigrid Weigel, Professor of Comparative Literature, Zentrum für Literaturforschung und Technische Universität, Berlin: “The Mediterranean from the perspective of the Black Sea: Topography and cultural semantics of land and sea in the European thalassic debate”


80+ papers on the following topics of reflection and discussion will be presented at the conference:

  • Critical reflections on narrations and hi/stories of rootedness versus migratory hi/stories of place (including migration and the relation to national constructions of place, identity and intersubjective recognition).
  • Migration and diasporas as influencing collective memories, cultural memory and memory cultures, e.g. as challenging or being challenged by collective memories of place; and how places may be “re-membered” through migration/ immigration.
  • Critical reflections on existing theoretical discourses of, for instance, transient places, transcultural places, borders, contact zones, transit spaces, non-places and third spaces as produced or intensified by migration, the movement through places, hybridizations and cultural translations of places.
  • Migration as throwing new light on place and belonging as dynamic phenomena shaped by transcultural connections and processes of “getting back into place”.
  • The interfaces of place, locality and belonging as discursive, politicized phenomena and/ or as sensed, emotionally experienced or  recollected phenomena.
  • The relations between global migration and local places at international and sub-national levels, including the role of collective memory between nation and globe, and the new forms of identity constructions that arise from this.
  • The urban space as contact zone or lived diversity: questions of diversity, intersubjective relations, ghettoization, gentrification.
  • Representations of displacement, rootlessness, homelessness or re-integration in new places as throwing new light on human relations to place and notions of home and belonging (including migrant domesticity: the role of domestic spaces in migrant’s experience of belonging).

For further information on the conference and the networks, see our websites:



Conference contacts:

Sten Pultz Moslund, Post-doc, Dept of Literature, Culture and Media, University of Southern Denmark (pultz@litcul.sdu.dk)
Anne Ring Petersen, Associate Professor, Dept of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen (annering@hum.ku.dk)
Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Associate Professsor, Dept of Aesthetics and Communication, Aarhus University (memory@au.dk)