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Conference “MemWar. Memory and oblivion of twentieth-century wars and trauma” (Genoa, 10-11 December 2020)

The twenty-fist century emerges from the troubled history of the twentieth century, with its world wars and its conflicts on a European scale, such as the Spanish Civil War. This conference, organised by the research group “MemWar. Memory and oblivion of twentieth-century wars and trauma” (Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Genoa), aims to look at how the memory of these conflicts is handed down in the twenty-first century, how it is represented, which are the blind spots and/or obscure points in this process – also from a critical perspective (Ricoeur, 2003) − and how power relations between official discourse and counter-discourse are developed.

To this end, the conference will focus on the following topics:

Policies of memory and social representations of trauma in the twentieth century

This section will look at social representations of memory in different national contexts. Attention will be paid to the memorial policies adopted by individual European countries (commemorative events, public speeches), to products addressed to significant shares of the European population, such as tourist guides (particularly those devoted explicitely to lieux de mémoire, according to the definition by Pierre Nora, 1984) and to the discourse of traditional − e.g. the press (Ledoux, 2016) and television − and non-traditional media – e.g. social networks. How is official discourse of memory articulated by the different policies pursued by individual European States? Which representations of twentieth century trauma are conveyed by national media? How do official discourse and public speeches interact?

Transmission of memory and memorial artistic production

This section will deal with literary and theatrical forms, as well as with architecture, sculpture, visual arts and entertainment directly committed to the trasmission of history (monuments, museums, memorials) or eliciting strong and possibly innovative reflection on these topics (including, but not limited to, counter-monuments, installations in public spaces, art performances). Particular attention will be paid to non-canonical forms, such as transmedia objects, contaminations, comic books with a strong emotional impact on readers.

How do these artistic productions contribute to the diffusion of discourse on memory? Which memory transmission strategies characterise artistic production? What impact does artistic production have on European policies on memory and, conversely, how much and in which forms is artistic expression determined by the policies adopted by the different countries?

Educational tools

The centenary of World War I has led to a proliferation of educational projects on memory all over Europe. A significant example is the French portal “Mission Centenaire 14-18”, aiming to collect and showcase the numerous educational projects on WWI realised in French schools.

This section will include a reflection on good practices and on sample educational projects and tools both in formal and informal (associations, media, etc.) environments, and will offer an opportunity for comparison of such practices in the different countries involved.

The different topics dealt with will allow us to examine how discourses on memory are circulated in Europe, the constitutive dimensions of these discourses, as well as the different national contexts in their specificity. Proposals looking at practical case studies, based on well-defined corpora and with a clear methodological framework are particularly welcome.

2) Conference languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German.

3) Important dates

31st May 2020: submission of proposals (500 words, including references)

Please email your proposal to

15th June 2020: notification of acceptance

30th June 2020: confirmation of participation for presenters

4) References

Ankersmit (Frank). 2002. Historical Representation (Cultural Memory in the Present), Stanford UP.

Arnold de Simine (Silke) – Leal (Joanne). eds., 2018. Picturing the Family. Media, Narrative, Memory. London: Bloomsbury.

Assmann (Aleida), Conrad (Sebastian) (eds). 2010. Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Di Castro (Raffaella). 2008 [3. ed. 2015]. Testimoni del non-provato. Ricordare, pensare, immaginare la Shoah nella terza generazione. Roma: Carocci.

Didi-Huberman (Georges). 2005. Immagini malgrado tutto, Milano: Raffaello Cortina Editore.

Hirsch (Marianne). 2012. The Generation of Postmemory. Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press.

Huyssen (Andreas). 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, Stanford UP.

Ledoux (Sébastien). 2016. Le Devoir de mémoire. Une formule et son histoire. Paris: CNRS Éditions.

Nora (Pierre) (ed.). 1984. « Préface » in Les Lieux de mémoire. « La République ». Paris : Gallimard.

Portelli (Alessandro). . L’ordine è già stato eseguito. Roma, le Fosse Ardeatine, la memoria, Roma: Donzelli.

Portelli (Alessandro), 2017. Storie orali. Racconto, immaginazione, dialogo, Roma: Donzelli.

Ricoeur (Paul). 2003. La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli. Paris : Seuil.

Rothberg (Michael). 2009. Multidirectional Memory, Stanford UP.

Violi (Patrizia). 2014. Paesaggi della memoria. Il trauma, lo spazio, la storia. Milano: Bompiani.

Winter (Jay). 2017. War Beyond Words: Languages of Remembrance from the Great War to the Present, Cambridge UP.

Young (James Y). 2016. The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between, Massachussets UP.

«Memory Studies»

Contact Info:
Dipartimento di Lingue e culture moderne ° Università degli Studi di Genova santa Sabina 2 ° I-16124 genova

Scientific Committee: Elisa Bricco, Alessia Cassani, Roberto Francavilla, Marie Gaboriaud, Anna Giaufret, Joachim Gerdes, Simona Leonardi, Michele Porciello, Laura Quercioli Mincer, Ilaria Rizzato, Micaela Rossi, Marco Succio, Stefano Vicari

Organising Committee: Anna Giaufret, Luca Ciotoli, Laura Quercioli, Stefano Vicari, Marie Gaboriaud

Contact Email:

More details here.


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