Mnemonics 2019: Programme

Mnemonics Summer School 2019

Utrecht University
Keynotes and panels will take place in the Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, Utrecht


Wednesday 18 September

9:00 – 9:45: Registration

9:45 – 10:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:00 – 11:00: Keynote 1 Lorenzo Zamponi (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) Memory in Action: Reflections on the Role of the Past in Social Movements
Chair: Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)

11:00 – 11:15: Break

11:15 – 12:45:  Memory Activism 1
Chair: Susanne Knittel (Utrecht University)
Respondent: Astrid Erll (Goethe-University Frankfurt)

  • Harleen Kaur (University of California, Los Angeles), “The Specter of Khalistan: Temporal Orientations Towards Sikh Liberation”
  • Johanna Paul (Bielefeld University), “Transnational Mobilisation for Memorialisation in Post-War Bosnia-Herzegovina: Struggling for the Right to Remember in Prijedor”
  • Fedor Veselov (European University at St. Petersburg), “Avoiding State –> Dialogue with Citizens: ‘The Last Address’ Project and Its Tactics Under the State Controlled Politics of Memory”

12:45 – 13:15: Lunch

13:15 – 14:30: Memory Tour of Utrecht

14:30 – 16:00: Memory Activism 2
Chair: Jessica Ortner (University of Copenhagen)
Respondent: Hans Lauge Hansen (Aarhus University)

  • Tashina Blom (Utrecht University), “Piracy as Protest: Affect and Memory Activism in Public Screenings of ‘On My Skin’”
  • Yvonne Liebermann-Kappel (Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf), “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir: Mobilizing the Memoir to Re-Member Black Lives as Grievable”
  • Deniz Gundogan Ibrisim (Washington University in St. Louis), “Literary Activism and Mnemonic Moves: It All Started with Snow

16:00 – 16:15: Break

16:15 – 17:15: Memory Activism 3: Postcolonial Belgium
Chair: Thomas Smits (Utrecht University)
Respondent: Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University)

  • Eline Mestdagh (Ghent University), “Shaping the Future by Reclaiming the Past? Memorial Strategies to Rebuild Futures by Sub Saharan African Activists in Brussels”
  • Elaine Sullivan (UCLA), “Contemporary Arts Activating Memory Inside and Outside the Museum: a Case Study from Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa”

 17:15 Drinks at Café Hofman


Thursday 19 September

9:30 – 11:00: Memory in Mobilisation 1
Chair: Daniele Salerno (University of Bologna/Utrecht)
Respondent: Brett Kaplan (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

  • Tracy Rammler (Chemnitz University of Technology), “Riot or Rebellion? Commemorating the Long Hot Summer of 1967 in the Midst of Black Lives Matter”
  • Anna Crisp (King’s College London), “Racializing Activism: The Centrality of Colonial Pasts to Present-Day Resistances and Liberation in the Future”
  • Jennifer Noji (University of California, Los Angeles), “Mobilizing Incarceration Memory: Japanese-American Activism in the Contemporary US”

11:00 – 11:15: Break

11:15 – 12:45: Memory in Mobilisation 2
Chair: Hans Lauge Hansen (Aarhus University)
Respondent: Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)

  • Ida Marie Olsen (Ghent University), “Saving the Wilderness: Cultural Memory and Environmental Activism in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom”
  • Helen Makhdoumian (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), “From Solar Storms to Standing Rock: Transindigenous Memory and Resistance”
  • Brydie Kosmina (University of Adelaide), “‘We are the Granddaughters of the Witches You Weren’t Able to Burn’: Memories of the Witch Trials and Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Feminist Activism”

12:45 – 13:45: Lunch

13:45 – 15:15: Remembering Activism 1
Chair: Brett Kaplan (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Respondent: Silvana Mandolessi (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

  • Nethanel Treves (Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa), “Too many history books? Memory and Activism in the Jewish Labor Bund”
  • Clara Vlessing (Utrecht University), “Amazon, Victim, Angel, Virgin: The Role of Stereotypes in the Memory of Louise Michel”
  • Augustine Lungile Tshuma (University of Johannesburg), “Wrestling with the Past, for the Present and the Future: An Assessment of Mafela Trust’s Use of Photographs in Constructing Collective Memories in Zimbabwe”

15:15 – 15.45: Break

15:45 – 17:45: Keynote 2 and book launch: Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University) and Ayşe Gül Altınay (Saban University) Women Mobilising Memory: Stories of Feminist Co-Resistance
Chair: Stef Craps (Ghent University)
Respondents:  Rosanne Kennedy (ANU) and Red Chidgey (King’s College London)

Marianne Hirsch and Ayşe Gül Altınay will talk about the shared journey that produced their co-edited volume Women Mobilising Memory, which appeared this summer with Columbia University Press. Their presentation will also be the European launch of their book.

17:45 – 18:30: Drinks

18:30 – 20:30: Summer School Dinner in the Academiegebouw


 Friday 20 September

 9:30 – 10:30: Keynote 3: Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University) Memory, Right-Wing Politics, and the European Election of 2019
Chair: Astrid Erll (Goethe-University Frankfurt)

 10:30 – 10:45: Break

10:45 – 12:15: Remembering Activism 2
Chair: Sophie van den Elzen (Utrecht University)
Respondent: Stef Craps (Ghent University)

  • Olga Zabalueva (Linköping University), “Activism, Memory and Cultural Institutions: The Swedish Museum of Movements”
  • Linda Clayworth (King’s College London), “Drawing Attention: Artists as Memory Activists”
  • Martin Zícari (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven),  “Mexican ‘Dirty War’: An Approach to Activism Against Enforced Disappearance”

12:15 – 13:15 Lunch

13.15 – 14:15: Memory Researchers as Activists?
Chair: Silvana Mandolessi (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Respondent: Jessica Ortner (University of Copenhagen)

  • Taylor Annabell (King’s College London), “Mnemonic Literacy and Remembering Well on Social Media”
  • David Farrell-Banks (Newcastle University), “Right Wing Populists as Memory Activists: Reflections and Concerns for Memory Scholars”

14:15 – 15:15 Closing Panel Discussion



Lorenzo Zamponi: Memory in Action: Reflections on the Role of the Past in Social Movements

Collective action does not take place in the void, but in an environment that is materially and symbolically structured by many factors, among which the role of the past has been traditionally overlooked. Social movements are not born of immaculate conceptions, but they are often the outcome of long chains of continuity and abeyance. Furthermore, activists can rarely ignore the traces of the past that populate the public sphere and the geographic and cultural setting in which they are situated. To the contrary, the strategic choices of which social and political mobilisation is made are often rooted in a temporality that goes way beyond the short lifespan of a wave of mobilisation. Movements’ outcomes and consequences tend to objectify and persist, influencing collective action years and decades after the end of a cycle of protest. Memory, both in the form of explicit representations of the past and through routines and habits that are so deeply embedded in the movement culture to become invisible, plays a significant role in the shaping the identity and the choices of social movements.

This lecture analyses the relationship between social movements and collective memories: how do social movements participate in the building of public memory? And how does public memory, and in particular the media’s representation of a contentious past, influence strategic choices in contemporary movements?

Lorenzo Zamponi is an assistant professor of sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence (Italy), where he is part of the COSMOS (Centre on Social Movement Studies) research team. He holds a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute. He has worked on research projects on student movements, youth political participation, the economic crisis and solidarity with refugees. His research interests include memory, contentious politics and media analysis. He is author of two monographs (Social Movements, Memory and Media: Narrative in Action in the Italian and Spanish Student Movements, 2018, Palgrave, and Resistere alla crisi. I percorsi dell’azione sociale diretta, with Lorenzo Bosi, 2019, Il Mulino) and of several peer reviewed articles in international journals and book chapters, focusing mainly on the recent wave of anti-austerity protest in Europe, on the cultural elements of social mobilization, and on the emergence of non-protest based forms of collective action.


Marianne Hirsch and Ayşe Gül Altınay: Women Mobilizing Memory:  Stories of Feminist Co-Resistance

Reflecting on the shared journey that produced our recent co-edited book Women Mobilizing Memory, we aim to conceptualize the interventions the process and the essays themselves make in memory studies.  By way of stories that illustrate our feminist collaborative practice, we will focus on several key concerns in the field: mnemonic sites and itineraries, transculturality, gender, art and activism, the future.

Marianne Hirsch writes about the transmission of memories of violence across generations, combining feminist theory with memory studies in global perspective. Her recent books include The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (2012); Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory (2010) and School Photos in Liquid Time: Reframing Difference (2019), both co-authored with Leo Spitzer; and the co-edited volume Women Mobilizing Memory (2019). A co-founder of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference, Hirsch teaches comparative literature and gender studies at Columbia . She is former president of the Modern Language Association of America and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Ayşe Gül Altınay is Professor of Anthropology and the Director of Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender). Her research and writing have focused on militarism, violence, memory, gender and sexuality. Among her books are The Myth of the Military-Nation: Militarism, Gender and Education in Turkey(2004), Violence Against Women in Turkey (2009, with Yeşim Arat), The Grandchildren: The Hidden Legacy of “Lost” Armenians in Turkey (2014, with Fethiye Çetin), Gendered Wars, Gendered Memories: Feminist Conversations on War, Genocide and Political Violence (2016, co-edited with Andrea Petö) and the forthcoming volume Women Mobilizing Memory (co-edited with Maria Jose Contreras, Marianne Hirsch, Jean Howard, Banu Karaca and Alisa Solomon).


Wulf Kansteiner Memory, Right-Wing Politics, and the European Election of 2019

The rise of the right across Europe is facilitated by complex memory politics. The right champions various forms of nationalism allegedly remembered in absentia and distributed through successful digital media strategies. That nationalism touches upon traditional sites of memory and, more importantly, builds up a compelling short-term memory of the movement itself replete with phrases, rituals, and images of party lore. Moreover, the consistent nationalism advocated by the right coincides with a significantly weakened official cosmopolitan memory which is in decline all across Europe. The transition of WWII from communicative to cultural memory has reduced attachment to the Holocaust narrative. In addition, the dynamics of digital media tend to fragment public discourse, allegedly creating self-serving echo chambers of political bias, on the one hand, and highly emotional and divisive arenas of political confrontation, on the other, thus destabilizing the previous cosmopolitan consensus. These hypotheses deserve to be put to the test by analyzing the political discourse and memory regimes constructed by political parties via the web and social media platforms in the run up to the elections in spring of 2019. The analysis suggests that radicalization, balkanization, and historization of memory cultures contribute to the malaise but that cosmopolitan memory has also fallen victim to its own contradictions and lack of democratic and emotional legitimacy. Moreover and most disturbingly, the images and narratives of cosmopolitan memory have been coopted for the purpose of providing memory plausibility to the nationalistic project of ending immigration to Europe. In the end, right wing politicians even struck a compelling pose as the only true internationalists of European politics.

Wulf Kansteiner is professor of history at Aarhus University, Denmark. A cultural and intellectual historian of twentieth-century Europe, Kansteiner has published in the fields of media history, memory studies, historical theory, and Holocaust studies. He is the author of In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Television, and Politics after Auschwitz (2006 ) and coeditor of The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe (2006), Historical Representation and Historical Truth (2009), Den Holocaust erzählen: Historiographie zwischen wissenschaftlicher Empirie und narrative Kreativität (2013), and Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture (2016)He is also co-editor of the journal Memory Studies.