Memory, History, Morality

A conference in Newcastle, Sep 2008

Memory, history, morality: the socialist past today
11-12th September 2008, Newcastle University (UK)

Memory and history, it has been argued, are closely connected to identity, both communal and individual. Memory and history are therefore also made in the present according to present demands. Yet, the past sometimes also presses into the present, or, as Bergson writes 'the past that is gnawing on present and future'.

In the post-socialist context representations and memories of the past come about in often tense political climates; more often than not the representations themselves are political. Against the backdrop of the transformation that deeply affected the values and norms that govern how individuals can portray themselves, how the past is remembered and talked about becomes also a deeply moral question.

The conference seeks to explore such trajectories in a variety of post-socialist societies. It is part of an ethnographic project on the 'Socialist Past in Eastern Germany' which takes an anthropological approach (the project is funded by the ESRC, Economic and Social Research Council, UK). The conference is intended to allow for comparison of and exchange about how the socialist past is managed/re-worked/silenced/ re-membered at collective, individual and inter-personal levels in different post-socialist contexts. It is envisioned that the event may give rise to a network of scholars from East and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union with such research interests.

The organisers are encouraging in particular scholars working 'at home' in East- and central Europe and the former Soviet Union to apply. Contributions taking an anthropological and ethnographic approach, and those in related disciplines, are also particularly welcome. Funding to assist with travel and accommodation costs is available.

Topics may include but are not limited to: