Memory and Politics

European Memory Politics: Populism, Nationalism, and the Challenges to a European Memory Culture – Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

European and North American Perspectives on Commemorating and Addressing Past Injustices – Konrad Adenauer Foundation Ottawa

Why is memory politics important?

Today, we are at a critical turning point in regards to how we remember and commemorate the past.

In Europe, debates over collective memories of 20th-century traumas (e.g. the World Wars, fascism, the Holocaust, colonialism, and the legacy of communism and Cold War divide) and populists’ appeals to ‘the people’ have challenged Europe’s democratic culture and project of integration.

In Canada, the process of Indigenous reconciliation and truth-telling has brought questions of collective memory and public history to the forefront of contemporary political debate. Now, more than ever, Canadians are left to confront disparities between national mythologies (e.g. being a tolerant, welcoming people) and realities of genocide, historical injustices, and continuing harm.

Through talks, research, teaching materials, and an expert database, we hope to contribute to these critical scholarly and public debates on memory politics.

As a group of scholars working on memory politics at the University of Victoria (UVIc), we acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples on whose traditional territory the university stands and the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. See UVIc’s Territory Acknowledgment.

Bringing together scholars from Canada and European countries, the European Memory Politics (EuMePo) network explores how the 20th century’s past is (re)interpreted, commemorated, and narrativized in contemporary political life.

Objectives

  • Produce and publish innovative, scholarly research on issues related to memory politics in Europe.
  • Connect with students, scholars, and practitioners over questions emerging from shared interests in political contestations and narrativizations of memory, identity, and community. 
  • Build a transatlantic, interdisciplinary network of scholars contributing to critical conversations on memory politics.

Key Questions

  • How are the memories of Europe’s collective traumas mobilized and (re)interpreted by political actors?
  • What is at stake in the populist ‘re-nationalization’ of memory?
  • How do states address past injustices through the politics of apology, state inquiries, and historical excavations?

Database

Our directory showcases a vibrant community of people with expertise and experience in this growing field. This comprehensive database—searchable by discipline, area, professional status, and the thematic fields most relevant to Memory Politics—features the profiles of scholars, practitioners, former diplomats, policy makers, and project partners.

Education

Our education and public outreach initiatives are oriented towards creating and sustaining conversations assessing the role of memory politics in political life today. In providing hands-on learning opportunities for students, we look to curate and support the creation of undergraduate courses, the development of educational resources, and the success of field schools.

  • Partnering with students and junior scholars, the project supports the production of educational videos (for example) exploring and promoting memory politics conversations.
  • Working with a local school board, teachers and pupils, we look to aid in the creation of high school curriculum materials to expand the repertoires of teachers focussing on European debates, historical narratives, and political cultures.
  • Supporting the growth of a new generation of memory politics scholars, we encourage undergraduate and graduate students to take up opportunities to participate in exciting and innovative field and summer schools in Europe and Canada.

Please feel welcome to connect with us to discuss opportunities to get involved in these public education and outreach projects.

Undergraduate opportunities

We invite students to conduct research and partner with the project.

Field Schools

We encourage undergraduate and graduate students to participate in innovative field schools in Europe and Canada

Teaching materials

We explore exciting possibilities for hands-on learning in a dynamic school environment.

Project Milestones