Conference: Addressing the Past – Shaping the Future, October 21st-23rd at UVic


Conference, University of Victoria, October 21-23

Addressing the Past – Shaping the Future:

Memory politics in Europe and Canada

Friday October 21, 6:15-7:45pm

Opening of Conference with a SELW̱ÁN ȽTE Elder/Knowledge Keeper followed by a reception

Panel: Confronting Canada’s Legacy of Colonialism and the Residential School System: The Troubled Path towards Reconciliation

This panel will explore how Canadian society has commemorated its treatment of Indigenous Peoples and addressed its colonial legacy socially and politically. With the discovery of unmarked graves at former Residential Schools, the need to respond properly to this legacy has gained renewed urgency and led to a vigorous debate about what could be effective and legitimate paths towards reconciliation.

  • Joyce Green, University of Regina
  • David B MacDonald, Guelph University
  • Ry Moran, University of Victoria
  • Adele Perry, University of Manitoba

Moderator: Matt James, University of Victoria

Evening reception sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Canada and dinner (presentation of the winner of the student essay award)

Saturday, October 22, Student Union Building (SUB) Upper Lounge


Session 1, 9:00-10:30 am: The Practices and Legacy of ‘Mastering the Past’ in Germany: Accomplishments and Challenges

This session will reflect how German political authorities and society have addressed the Holocaust and the legacy of the Third Reich with a particular emphasis on how we can relate this legacy of addressing the past to other contexts. What can the German context tell us about the appropriate way of commemorating past injustice, are there practices that have proven productively productive in this respect; what challenges does Germany face to keep the memory of the Holocaust but also its colonial past alive in the 21st Century?

  • Markus Hallensleben, University of British Columbia
  • Helge Heidemeyer, Stiftung Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen
  • Jenny Wüstenberg, Nottingham Trent University

Moderator: Jordan Stanger-Ross, University of Victoria


Session 2, 11:00am-12:30 pm: Reinventing the Nation and Political Community: Memory Politics in Central Eastern European Societies

With the end of Communism and the gradual integration into the European Union, Central and Eastern European countries have redefined what national identity, sovereignty and political community means by invoking key historic events. What we have witnessed in certain cases is a strong emphasis on national identity and the use of collective memory in nationalist-populist mobilization. This session will address what is driving this kind of memory politics, what it intends to achieve and how we should evaluate its trajectory in changing EUS societies.

  • Ildikó Barna, Eötvös Loránd University
  • Dovile Budryte, Georgia Gwinnett College
  • Beata Halicka, Poznan University
  • Peter Verovsek, Groningen University

Moderator: Piotr Oleksy, Poznan University


Session 3, 1:30-3:00pm : An emerging European Memory Culture? Europe between transnational memory and addressing its colonial legacy

This session will focus on the complexity of memory politics in contemporary Europe: On the one hand, the European Union has embarked on an attempt to popularize a European Memory that could serve as the political-cultural basis for the European integration project. On the other hand, many EU member states still struggle with coming to terms with their collective experience of the 20th Century also with a view to the widely neglected commemoration of Europe’s colonial past.

  • Carles Fernandez Torne,  Ramon Llull University
  • Peo Hansen, Linköping University
  • Birte Wassenberg, University of Strasbourg

Moderator: Oliver Schmidtke, University of Victoria

Sunday, October 23,  Student Union Building (SUB) Upper Lounge

10:00am – 12:00pm

Plenary discussion: The Politics of Memory and the War in Ukraine

The Russian attack on Ukraine is a dramatic event in which historic narratives are mustered to justify war and occupation. Reference to the 20th Century key events such as the Soviet fight against Hitler’s Germany has become a critical element in the Kremlin’s propaganda questioning the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent state and denouncing the country’s leadership as ‘Nazis’. This panel will address how and with what political goals history is being mobilized in Russia and Ukraine.

  • Alina Cherviatsova, Ghent University
  • Piotr Oleksy, Poznan University
  • George Soroka, Harvard University
  • Serhy Yekelchyk, University of Victoria

Moderator: Tamara Krawchenko, University of Victoria (tbc)


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