Regions of Memory II: Memory Regions as Discourse and Imagination

International Conference – Warsaw, 17-19 March 2016

This conference aims to revisit the regional structuration of memory, an issue that was discussed in an earlier meeting within the series in 2012, with a view to gaining further insights into the construction of memory regions – i.e. discursive arenas of memory that are above the level of the nation-state but not fully universal. It considers the ways in which public debate, digital discourse, written narratives and visual representations form constellations of memory that transcend the nation-state whilst also imposing spatial limits. Finally, as in the first instalment of ‘Regions of Memory’, it seeks out points of comparison and contact between Eastern Europe with other regions of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and/or the Americas.

Current events point to the widening of political and cultural divisions on a global scale, and simultaneously to a greater integration of memory cultures within international civil society. Thus, the war in Ukraine has seemingly opened up a civilizational chasm between Russia and the ‘West’ and invalidated any lingering conceptions about the ‘brotherly’ unity of the two largest post-Soviet states. In other words, if a ‘post-Soviet’ or ‘East Slavic’ region of memory existed in any shape or form, its borders are shifting and it is being replaced by a different cultural and geopolitical configuration that overlaps with the distinction between liberal democracy and ‘Europeanness’ on the one hand, and authoritarian alternatives on the other. This also, potentially, means a major shift in Eastern European memory frames, from the commemorative and epistemological similarities of a region defined by the limit events of the mid-twentieth century (i.e. Timothy Snyder’s concept of the Bloodlands) to a more heterogeneous and variegated terrain in which post-imperial and post-socialist transformations play an important mediating role in the construction of common points of historical reference. It becomes pertinent to question the extent to which, for example, transnational narratives of Holocaust memory interact with discursive recriminations against totalitarian terror in the former Soviet periphery. Is the ‘double genocide’ thesis, which has gained traction in some countries of Eastern Europe, post-colonial? If so, in what ways does it draw upon narratives of post-coloniality that originated in other parts of the globe?

We welcome papers that address one or more of the following questions:
– Do certain historical events or legacies, or interpretations thereof, form a basis for regional memories, e.g. on the one hand the Gulag, colonialism, or racial segregation, and on the other hand peace and prosperity?
– Are memory regions geographically contiguous, or are alignments formed on the basis of similar experiences in physically distant lands?
– Are shifts in one memory region reflected in the practices and discourses that activate the past in another?
– Are there dominant genres of memory that characterize memory regions? Can fault lines be identified between regions that privilege e.g. comic and tragic modes of remembering?
– How do literature, cinema and/or visual art contribute to the imagining of memories that are shared between nations and/or ethnic groups? What roles are played by literary translation, creative collaboration, and artistic borrowing in the construction of transnational solidarity and identification? How do mimicry and metaphor influence the imagining of history in various forms of representation?
– Do regional and/or linguistic divisions exist between digital networks of memory, and do web-based memory regions differ in any way from those imagined in other media?
– How have postcolonial approaches changed the understanding of memory regions in respect to margins, border areas, contact zones and ‘in-between-spaces’?
– How can insights from post-colonial and post-traumatic theoretical scholarship inform our understanding of the dynamics of contemporary memory processes? Are there several different post-colonial modes of memory, or does e.g. South American post-colonial memory discourse differ from that of South Asia or Eastern Europe?

We invite speakers from various disciplines of the humanities and social sciences, who research memories in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world.

Organizational information

The language of the conference will be English.

Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words together with a short biographical statement by 15 November 2015. Abstracts will be selected by the academic committee. We will notify you about the acceptance of your proposal by 15 December 2015. If accepted, you must submit your conference paper by 20 February in order to have it distributed to commentators in advance.

Conference participation is free of charge. For early career researchers, a limited number of travel stipends will be made available.

Please send your abstract and a biographical statement as well as all other inquiries to

Conference Committee
Simon Lewis (European Network Remembrance and Solidarity), Małgorzata Pakier (Museum of the History of Polish Jews), Joanna Wawrzyniak (University of Warsaw).

Advisory Board
Peter Haslinger (Herder-Institut Marburg), Jeffrey K. Olick (University of Virginia), Gertrud Pickhan (Free University of Berlin), Jan Rydel (ENRS), Matthias Weber (Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe).

Organizers and Partners
European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), European University Institute, Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe, Herder-Institut in Marburg, Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw, Institute for East European Studies at the Free University of Berlin

We invite you to visit our website at:, where you can find further information on this and previous Genealogies of Memory conferences: Genealogies of Memory in Central and Eastern Europe. Theories and Methods (2011); Regions of Memory. Eastern Europe in Comparative Perspectives (2012); Legal Frames of Memory. Transitional Justice in Central and Eastern Europe (2013); Collective vs Collected Memories 1989–1991 from an Oral History Perspective (2014).

Genealogies of Memory is organized by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. It aims to facilitate academic exchange among Central and Eastern European scholars and to promote the study of memory in the region among the international academic community.

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