Call for Papers Mnemonics 2021: Memory and Migration

© Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

IMPORTANT NOTICE (22 April 2020)

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s Mnemonics summer school has been postponed to 18-21 August 2021 and the submission deadline has been extended to 31 March 2021.

The ninth Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies summer school will be hosted by Aarhus University from Wednesday 18 to Saturday 21 August 2021, and will take place as a hybrid event, both on site at the historical Sandbjerg Manor in Southern Denmark and online.

The annual Mnemonics summer school brings together junior and senior scholars in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, affording PhD students from around the world the opportunity to receive extensive feedback about their projects from distinguished memory experts and to catch up with the newest methodological and theoretical trends in memory studies. Each meeting features three keynotes and about 24 PhD student presentations followed by in-depth commentaries by senior scholars from partner institutions. Mnemonics is a great platform for learning, mentoring, and networking, and specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of the next generation of memory scholars.

The 2021 topic will be Memory and Migration. Wars, political upheavals, global inequality, economic crises, and climate change contribute to extensive migrations. The movement of people – close to home, to neighboring countries, and around the globe – is replete with memory phenomena, opportunities, and problems. Both moving and receiving communities have interesting and often conflictual transcultural and transnational experiences as a result of migrations that set their collective memories on new trajectories. Moreover, memory factors play a decisive role in migrants’ decisions on how to plan and implement their flight or travel. At the same time, the self-perception of receiving communities, including their own memories of migratory events, influence how they respond to people crossing borders and seeking shelter and opportunity in their midst. Sometimes whole societies appear to be on the move without even having set foot in a foreign country, as happened after the end of the Cold War when the rules of everyday life changed rapidly in Eastern Europe and rendered cherished memories dysfunctional. Finally, the movement of people comprises a vast spectrum of ‘migrants’ including war refugees, workers, tourists, and exchange students, and all these activities feature relevant memory components and implications. Finally, memory is itself a migratory phenomenon crossing national and cultural borders in predictable as well as surprising patterns.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers  

Michael Rothberg, University of California, Los Angeles

Tanja Thomas, University of Tübingen

Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Lund University

Possible Topics

Migration studies is an established field of academic research within the Humanities and Social Sciences, and migration has been identified as a key factor of “traveling memories” (Erll, 2011). But the intersection between memory studies and migration studies is still an emergent field. Volumes such as Memory and Migration (Creet and Kitzmann, 2011), History, Memory and Migration (Glynn and Kleist, 2012), and Memories on the Move (Palmberger and Tošić, 2016) stand out as broad introductions. The volume Migration, Memory and Diversity (Wilhelm, 2016) focuses specifically on Germany, while the Danish research project on “The Postmigrant Condition” has addressed a variety of art-forms that oppose current conceptions of migration and integration and searched for new ideas of citizenship beyond the nation-state (Petersen and Schramm, 2017). The Mnemonics 2021 summer school will explore further, both theoretically and through the study of particular cases, the interplay between migration and memory. It aims to expand and refine our conceptual and methodological tools for capturing this nexus by approaching our topic along three axes of inquiry:

  • Memories of Migration, i.e., the memories of migrants and of their travel and home cultures, the receiving countries’ remembrance of migration processes, the (in)ability of migrants’ cultural productions to transcend national and cultural borders, and the extent to which mediatized memories of forced or voluntary human movement in one context trigger and frame the recollection of migration processes in other contexts.
  • Memories for or against Migration, i.e., the way in which processes of remembering and forgetting give purpose, velocity, and direction to the movement of people, how memory and forgetting are implicated in fantasies and practices of settledness and non-migration, and the relevance of memory and forgetting for social, cultural, economic, political, and legal integration.
  • Migration of Memories, i.e., the intersection, dialogue, or conflict between different memory cultures in multicultural or postmigrant societies, the traversal of cultural borderlines that brings forth a hybridization of historical legacies, the travel and circulation of narratives, images, and models of remembrance, including the way in which migration brings disparate perceptions of the past into contact which each other.

We invite paper proposals from PhD students that contribute to any of these lines of inquiry or explore their points of intersection. We welcome contributions from across disciplines reflecting on the cultural, social, methodological, or ethical issues in this emerging field of research. Possible topics include, but are certainly not restricted to:

  • How do refugees, communities, and the media remember and forget the so-called migration crisis?
  • How do cultural memories influence the reception of migrants and other moving people?
  • How do the politics of memory and forgetting shape migration policies and migration decisions?
  • What affects and emotions inform and support the memories of migration?
  • What transcultural and transnational memories develop through moving experiences?
  • Do classic immigration and classic emigration countries sport specific memory regimes?
  • How does memory facilitate racism, and how can memory prevent the reproduction of racism?
  • What memories of migration make the most political and moral sense?
  • What new memory communities develop through migration processes?
  • What theoretical tools of memory studies – cosmopolitan, antagonistic, agonistic, transcultural, hybrid memories – are particularly useful to understand the interdependence of memory and migration? What new tools need to be developed?
  • What happens when memories migrate?
  • How and why do memories travel?
  • What factors facilitate or obstruct the transcultural circulation of memories?


The summer school will include several keynote sessions and general discussions. The main emphasis, however, is on the presentation of PhD work in progress in the form of panels of three students who each give a 15-minute talk that is based on their ongoing research while also relevant to the theme of this year’s school. In order to foster feedback and discussion, each panel will be chaired by a senior scholar who acts as respondent and kicks off the extensive Q&A. The summer school will also include a workshop on professional skills and career planning.

Participants are expected to be able to present their work in an accessible manner to the group at large within the time allotted. They are also expected to pre-circulate their paper to the other members of their panel and to the organizers at least three weeks in advance of the school. Finally, they are expected to be in full attendance for the duration of the school.

Practical Information

Local Organizers

Mnemonics 2021 will be hosted by “Uses of the Past” at Aarhus University. It is being organized by Prof. Wulf Kansteiner and Prof. Hans Lauge Hansen in collaboration with Associate Prof. Jessica Ortner (University of Copenhagen).


The event will take place both at the Sandbjerg Manor and online. Sandbjerg Manor is located in the southernmost part of Jutland, close to the German border. We kindly advise participants traveling by plane to arrive/depart via Hamburg airport and then proceed by train to Flensburg. The organizers will provide a shuttle service from Flensburg to Sandbjerg Manor. All panels will be live streamed so online participants can attend and participate via a password-protected set-up. Anyone with a reasonably fast internet connection can participate. More details about online participation, including information about the platform to be used, practical guidelines, and tips for online participation will follow closer to the event.


Wednesday 18 August 2021, 3.00 p.m. (check-in) – Saturday 21 August 2021, 3.00 p.m. (check-out).


The registration fee for on-site participation in the summer school is €150. That fee covers tuition, single-room accommodation (three nights), and all breakfasts, lunches, refreshments, and dinners in Sandbjerg. The registration fee for online participation is €50. Successful applicants will be expected to pay the applicable fees in advance (more information to follow).

Financial Aid

Memory studies is an increasingly global field, and we hope to see this reflected in the composition of the participant group. We therefore encourage doctoral students based at non-European institutions, particularly in the global South, to apply for admission to the summer school. In order to facilitate participation from the global South, the Danish Memory Studies Network offers the possibility of applying for financial aid (travel expenses and/or reduced fees), which will be awarded on the basis of merit and need. If you want to be considered for financial aid, please indicate this in your application, include a budget estimate, and disclose other sources of funding you have access to.


Submissions are open to all doctoral students interested in memory studies. Half of the 24 available places are reserved for students affiliated with Mnemonics partner institutions.

If you wish to be considered for a place, you should send a 300-word abstract for a 15-minute paper (including title, name, and institutional affiliation), a description of your doctoral research project (one paragraph), and a short CV (max. 1 page) as a single Word or PDF document to mnemonics2021 [at] cas [dot] au [dot] dkPlease indicate in your application whether you will be attending in person or online.

Applications should be submitted by 31 March 202111.00 p.m. (CET). Notification of acceptance: 15 April 2021. Deadline for submission of paper drafts: 31 July 2021.


Please write to mnemonics2021 [at] cas [dot] au [dot] dk.

Relevant Links

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Mnemonics on Twitter: @mnemonics_net


  • Brownlie, S. (2019) Discourses of Memory and Refugees: Exploring Facets. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Creet, J. and Kitzmann, A. (Eds.) (2011) Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Memory Studies, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Darian-Smith, K. and Hamilton, P. (2019) Remembering Migration: Oral Histories and Heritage in Australia. London: Palgrave.
  • Erll, A. (2011) “Travelling Memory,” Parallax 17: 4-18.
  • Glynn I and Kleist J.O. (Eds.) (2012) History, Memory and Migration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hansen, H. L. (2020) “On Agonistic Narratives of Migration”, International Journal of Cultural Studies (online first)
  • Kansteiner, W. (2019)  “Migration, Racism and Memory,” Memory Studies 12/6, 611-616.
  • Palmberger, M. and Tošić, J. (Eds.) (2016) Memories on the Move. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Pedersen A.R. and Schramm M. (2017) “(Post-)Migration in the Age of Globalisation: New Challenges to Imagination and Representation,” Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 9, 1-12.
  • Radstone, S. and Wilson, R. (2020) Translating Worlds: Migration, Memory and Culture. London: Routledge.
  • Rothberg, M. (2014) “Multidirectional Memory in Migratory Settings”. In: Transnational Memory. Rigney & De Cesari (Eds.), Berlin: DeGruyter, 123-145.
  • Thomas, T., Kruse, M., and Stehling, M. (2019) Media and Participation in Post-Migrant Societies. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Wilhelm, C. (2016) Migration, Memory, and Diversity. New York: Berghahn.