Usable Pasts and Futurities: The Changing Place of Europe in Global Memory Cultures

Lay Summary 

Andreas Huyssen’s observation of a “memory boom of unprecedented proportions” in the post-wall era has not lost its pertinence today; on the contrary, the 21st century continues to be marked by a preoccupation with discourses surrounding memory in the academic, political, cultural and public spheres. This is most certainly the case in Europe, where efforts to foster a greater sense of purpose for the European integration project are often accompanied by a turn to memory and commemorative practices. For example, a 2009 European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism states that “Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history” and holds that “appropriate preservation of historical memory, a comprehensive reassessment of European history and Europe-wide recognition of all historical aspects of modern Europe will strengthen European integration”. Tony Judt, therefore, has gone so far as to suggest that memory has become a definitional narrative, the ‘common currency’, of the EU project.
Alongside such institutional calls for a common European memory, academic memory studies have stressed the need to consider the transnational dimensions of cultural memory. As the nation loses its credence as the sole framework for collective memory and identity in this latest phase of globalization, mass migration and new media, scholars have drawn increasing attention to the ways in which memories operate multidirectionally (Rothberg) within as well as outside of and between nations. This conference seeks to take stock of such transnational dimensions of European memory by investigating not only how memory discourses circulate on intra-European, but also on extra-European levels. In this project, we analyze how memories of ‘Europe’ are being transferred, translated, and/or transformed through global interactions.

German & Russian
Memorial, York, DAAD
European Union
Arts, Culture & Heritage
Industry Sectors 
Scientific Research and Development Services
Start date 
1 Jan 2012