Round Tables

ROUND TABLE 1. Practices and Agency: the diversion between cultural and collective memory studies

In 2012, Ann Rigney observed a growing diversion between the field of collective memory studies and cultural memory studies. Collective memory studies focus on actors and agencies, while cultural memory studies focus on practices of narrative production and sharing:

‘The past decades have seen the development of the interdisciplinary field of research variously called “cultural memory studies” (emphasizing the cultural practices whereby narratives are produced and shared) or “collective memory studies” (emphasizing the actors and agencies involved).’

Rigney, 2012, p. 609

Key Questions: Is the distinction between collective and cultural a useful one? And what about the distinction between cultural practices and agency? If so, which epistemological positions and paradigms might allow us to understand both of them separately or together? What are potential data, sources of knowledge about cultural practices and agency in memory research?

Participants: Jessica Rapson, Wulf Kansteiner, Sarah Gensburger, Silke Arnold-de-Simine

ROUND TABLE 2. A Discipline of memory studies

Since the memory boom of the 1980’s and 1990’s, scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds have come together in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. The field has been structured around a shared research subject. Recently, however, more and more voices are heard to disciplinarise memory studies. ‘Mnemology’ (Reading,  2016) is even coined as the future name of the discipline.

Key Questions: Why would it make sense to disciplinarise memory studies? How would the potential discipline relate to (epistemological) paradigms present in other disciplines? What body of knowledge and research traditions would it incorporate and what would it reject? What would be the impact of disciplinarisation on hegemony and politics in the field?

Participants: Anna Reading, Wulf Kansteiner, Silke Arnold-de-Simine


ROUND TABLE 3. Memory and the self

In recent decades, within the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, interactional sociology, history and behavioral economics, some ideas have emerged that pluralised the self. A cross-disciplinary consensus seems to be growing recognizing the fact that people don’t possess stable and single identities and memories, and that ‘individuals’ might better be conceived of as ‘dividuals’.

Key Questions: To what extent should these insights be taken into account into cultural and collective memory studies? Which epistemological grounds do we have to theorize the link between the memory of the ‘individual’ and the memory of the group, community, culture or society? And which memory traces are left by individuals that could lead us to a researchable collective or cultural memory?

Participants: Astrid Erll, Sarah Gensburger, Hans Ruin, Brian Schiff


ROUND TABLE 4. Memory: analysis, criticism and activism

If criticism can go hand in hand with analysis, is hotly debated issues in most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. However, in memory studies, this question does not always seem to be central. Analysis and criticism seem to go together without much questioning.

Key Questions: How does (or should) ethical normativity and ethics determine memory research? Is there a preference for inductive or deductive approaches? Does memory studies need an ethical mission or imperative?

Partipants: Jessica Rapson, Astrid Erll, Red Chidgey

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