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At a disctance: The Memorylands we live in

2021-10-07, 7:00 p.m.

What makes a “memoryland”? How does Sharon Macdonald’s term reframe common thinking about the memory boom, the crisis of memory, the European heritage and national identities? When virtually everyone in the academia today does “memory studies”, the disciplinary perspective of cultural anthropology can rearrange the field, as proved by Macdonald’s reflection on methodology and a series of careful case studies in her “Memorylands. Memoryland” may seem a safe space, where a community celebrates its heritage, but also a precarious environment of group conflicts and personal risks.

It has become a truism that the past is something that we make (and remake) in the present, and that memories of the past often turn out contested and divisive. What memory is necessary in the times of populism, political unrest and global crises? Can we move beyond solemn clichés of the European memory discourse and make the past reframe – for real – our answers to the challenges of the future? What is the position of Poland as one of European memorylands? And, finally, will the experience of COVID-19 pandemic reconfigure our thinking about European heritage and identity?

The discussion with Professor Sharon Macdonald will focus on her acclaimed book Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today (2013), now translated by Robert Kusek and published in Polish by International Cultural Centre.

 Sharon Macdonald: the author of the book Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today (2013). Honorary Professor at York, having been based since 2015 in the Institute of European Ethnology at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where she hold an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship as Professor of Social Anthropology and directs CARMAH – the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage. Her interests include Anthropology, Museology, Cultural Heritage and Memory Studies, and Cultural Sociology. Her recent major projects included Heritage Futures (AHRC) and TRACES – Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritage with the Arts (EU Horizon 2020). She is currently PI of the projects Making Differences - Transforming Museums and Heritage (AvH), Matters of Activity (DFG - German Research Council) and Curating Digital Images (DFG).

 Maria Kobielska: PhD, a memory scholar, works at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She has written on contemporary Polish literature and culture in the context of memory, trauma and politics. Her most recent book discusses Polish memory culture in the 21st century (Polska kultura pamięci: dominanty. Zbrodnia katyńska, powstanie warszawskie i stan wojenny, 2016) and she is currently working on a research project that focuses specifically on new Polish historical museums.

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