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Mission statement

Practices of cultural memory have received significant scholarly attention over the past two decades and constituted a major track of research at our Faculty as well. Building on the conception of memory as a performance of the past that is both embodied and mediated, the research group Memory, Materiality and Affect studies performances of memory by focusing on their material, affective, and transnational dimensions.

  1. By foregrounding materiality, we hope to provide new ways of thinking about memory as an individual and collective practice intimately tied to the world of objects and things through which the past materialises in the present. We make use of earlier and recent theories of material culture studies and new materialisms and explore their fertilising effect on contemporary discourses in memory studies.
  2. Alongside materiality, we focus on the role of sensation and affect as components of memory practices that are often beyond the reach of signification, yet crucial to the understanding of memory as an embodied process entailing feelings and emotions at both the individual and collective levels.
  3. The lens of transnationalism allows us to transcend the category of the nation state as a discursive framework of cultural memory and to explore this engagement both within and beyond the context of Europe. Besides European-based projects, our research encompasses areas such as North and Latin America, as well as South Asia.

Our research links to both overarching RICH questions, centering on the following sub-questions: How can memories be inscribed and secreted in the textures of (im)material objects and things and how do these textures facilitate both remembering and forgetting? How can (im)materiality and theories of affect and the sensorium help us rearticulate the structure and representation of trauma, violence, or even happiness and joy? What methodologies do we have at our disposal to unravel the affective dimensions of memory practices? How does research on the affective dimensions of memory help us to better understand individual and collective recollections and representations of violence? What roles do the materiality of objects, things (texts, artworks, souvenirs, miniatures, photographs, monuments, material and immaterial remains, buildings, the internet, etc.) play in performances of memory, and what are the political dimensions of these performances? How do souvenirs, action figures, computer games, etc. inform our memories of literary or filmic texts from which they spawned?