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RMA Thematic course ‘Heritage and Memory Theory Seminar’

Description, Themes & objectives 

The analytical study of heritage and memory studies poses particular problems of method for all, from beginners to very experienced scholars. Due to its fundamental interdisciplinary, transnational and comparative nature, this seminar devises a specific format that explicitly addresses the methodological ins and outs of heritage and memory studies. We will critically examine the dynamics of the past from the perspective of tangible and intangible remnants, spaces and traces as well as the politics of forgetting and heritage appropriations, significations, musealizations and mediatization in the present. How key sites of heritage and memory in Europe and beyond are presented, interpreted, and renegotiated? And how do memory discourses operate as vehicles of local, national, continental and global identity building? Key topics will address the multidirectionality of heritage and memory as well as the theoretical implications identity and trauma, mourning and reconciliation, nationalism and ethnicity, diaspora and intergenerational memories, landscapes and mass violence, heritage preservation and commemorations, experience and authenticity, (dark) tourism, diaspora and postcolonial memory, and performative reenactments and the art of absence and forgetting. The intellectual engagement with heritage and memory studies and the ideas they develop is both necessary and often, quite problematic. In this seminar the collective effort to deal with this issue is as important as the acquisition of knowledge. The conceptual premise underlying this analytical approach is that interdisciplinary lacks the traditional paradigms that used to provide obvious methodological tools. Concepts offer a substitute; a methodology that is flexible, yet responsible and accountable. The aim is to open up an academic space where a common ground can be found without sacrificing specific and precious disciplinary knowledge. The seminar’s objectives are to introduce researchers to central concepts and case studies in the field of heritage and memory studies, and to provide training with samples from advanced theoretical texts (reading, understanding, discussing and integrating literature in the researchers’ own projects)

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