Transcultural Memorial Forms: Contemporary Remembrance of War, Displacement and Political Rupture

Tallinn University (Estonia), 17–19 March 2017

The research network Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics is pleased to announce the call for its first symposium to explore the role of transcultural memorial forms in the articulation of memories and contemporary experiences of war, displacement and political conflict.

From Andreas Huyssen’s idea of the Holocaust memory as the trope for other traumatic histories and Michael Rothberg’s work on multidirectional memory to Ann Rigney’s idea of the scarcity of memorial forms scholars of memory have in the past decade drawn attention to the fact that in order to be voiced past experiences need the support of other memories. Further, Alison Landsberg’s work on prosthetic memory has highlighted how memories travel across vast geographical and historical distances with the help of the technologies of mass culture and are adopted by people and communities who do not have any experiential link with them. This symposium is interested in the ways in which narrative strategies and memorial forms developed primarily in the context of the Holocaust memory and postwar migration have contributed to the representation of other histories of war and political conflict in the Nordic region and across Europe, and also how they are currently being used to make sense of contemporary experiences of war and displacement.

We invite reflections on the ethical and political questions related to the use and abuse of artistic, political, and intermedial storytelling practices that function as transcultural memorial forms and that may facilitate or hamper the articulation of regional differences and the historical specificity of different conflicts. What gains and dangers are involved in adopting the narrative memories of others? Our hypothesis is that in contrast to the competing political discourses on twentieth-century totalitarianisms the arts have developed more productive comparative approaches that negotiate national and regional differences and address the ethical complexity of narrating traumatic experiences of war, conflict, displacement, and political rupture. Also important to the ethical potential of artistic narrative practices is their linking of memory to imagination in such a way that allows us to envision a future-oriented ethics of memory.

Keynote speakers:

Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)

Michael Rothberg (University of California, Los Angeles)

Please send an abstract (max 300 words) and a short biographical statement to Eneken Laanes ( and Hanna Meretoja ( The registration fee will be 100 EUR (60 EUR for full time students). The deadline for submission is 15th November 2016.

Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics is a three-year international research initiative funded by the Nordic Summer University ( with the aim of investigating how different storytelling practices of literature, audiovisual arts, social media and oral testimonies address the legacies of twentieth-century European conflicts and how they travel across national borders. It is an interdisciplinary network that brings together scholars of narrative and memory from the Nordic and Baltic countries and Great Britain. The research circle aims to contribute to public debate on issues of memory, war, displacement and the future of Europe in the current political context of the refugee crisis.

The Nordic Summer University ( is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies. NSU is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, politicians, and intellectuals from this region and beyond. Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the NSU lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the NSU consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three-year period.

The symposium is being held in collaboration with Tallinn University and the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.