What happens when the heritage and memory of colonialism, occupation, slavery, and the Holocaust bump up against one another within the public sphere in contemporary multicultural societies? In the aftermath of the cultural and colonial turns, the subject of heritage and memory of conflict has gained attention in the humanities. This may be explained by the fact that memory studies deal with a highly ideological field. A clear case is the competing narratives and practices in dealing with the heritage of National Socialism, Communism and the Holocaust in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the different cultures of remembrance in other conflicts across the world.
The broad spectrum of museums and war memorials, rituals, theme parks, re-enactment societies, historical novels and films, cultural tours, antiquity markets and genealogical records play a prominent role in social memory and political debates as forms of representation that gradually change social orders, particularly in situations of conflict and accelerated transformation. The Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s or the present uprisings in the Arab world (the so-called Arab Spring) offer strong examples of how political change is mediated through competing views of the past that also interpret the present and constitute and prescribe models for the future. These events also show how new spaces for memory politics have been opened from below and successfully contested officially sanctioned versions of the past.
The Heritage and Memory of Conflict research domain aims to link theoretical and analytical insights from diverse fields to:
Gain a deeper understanding of the tensions and interactions between different dynamics of heritage and memory politics
- Expand knowledge of the impact of past and ongoing conflicts on national and transnational processes of identity formations
The Heritage and Memory of Conflict domain will focus on three interrelated concepts for debate, theory and collaboration:
Dynamics of Memory (Intergenerational and Transnational Memory)
Material Culture (including Landscapes and Archeology)
Mediated Memory (Literature, Audiovisual Media and Museums)
Structure and Cooperation
The research domain is designed as an interdisciplinary, inter-university and inter-professional network exchange. It will cooperate with existing and new national and international research programs, initiatives and organizations such as the CLUE research cluster “The Heritage and Memory of Conflict and War” at VU/UvA, the NWO’s program “Cultural Dynamics and Dynamics of Memory” (a research line co-sponsored by the Ministry of VWS and most of the Netherlands war memorials and memorial museums, such as Westerbork Memorial Center and the Jewish Historical Museum)], the new Anglo-Dutch AHRC-NWO network program “Landscapes of War, Trauma and Occupation” (VU/UvA/Cambridge), and the NWO-NIAS program “Terrorscapes: Transnational Memory of Postwar Europe” (VU/UvA)], the Dutch Oral History Society, and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR).