Beyond Disciplinary Communities NUBS 3.13
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.9. Infrastructures of Collective Memory. Actants of the globalization process and their impact on European Cultures of Memory

Research often emphasizes the importance of socio-political factors in the development of memory cultures. However, the influence of infrastructural conditions on the shaping of social images of the past is not yet fully recognized. This can mean e.g. the structural and financial framework of a cultural production, but also technical or environmental factors. Furthermore, due to the accelerating processes of globalization, the development of local and national memory cultures cannot be considered apart from the broader European and global changes in the field. These are determined, among others by technological developments, structural changes in cultural institutions, (social) media and mass tourism, as well as by the policies of transnational memory agents, including the EU institutions, other trans-governmental organizations and international NGOs.Within the panel we would like to present the conceptual and methodological frameworks of two collaborating, interdisciplinary research projects, both located at the intersection of Memory, Infrastructure and Museum Studies. The first project, titled "Infrastructures of Collective Memory. Actants of the globalization process and their impact on German and Polish cultures of memory" considers the development of the German and Polish cultures of remembrance in a broader international context. Its aim is to shed light on globally shaped networks and infrastructures that underlie the development of memory cultures in both countries. Doing so, it takes into account the role of human and non human actors, thus both social agents and material objects and conditions that influence cultural production. The project focuses on art and history exhibitions dedicated to the history and memory of World War II, the Holocaust and the for ...

NUBS 3.13 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Research often emphasizes the importance of socio-political factors in the development of memory cultures. However, the influence of infrastructural conditions on the shaping of social images of the past is not yet fully recognized. This can mean e.g. the structural and financial framework of a cultural production, but also technical or environmental factors. Furthermore, due to the accelerating processes of globalization, the development of local and national memory cultures cannot be considered apart from the broader European and global changes in the field. These are determined, among others by technological developments, structural changes in cultural institutions, (social) media and mass tourism, as well as by the policies of transnational memory agents, including the EU institutions, other trans-governmental organizations and international NGOs.

Within the panel we would like to present the conceptual and methodological frameworks of two collaborating, interdisciplinary research projects, both located at the intersection of Memory, Infrastructure and Museum Studies. The first project, titled "Infrastructures of Collective Memory. Actants of the globalization process and their impact on German and Polish cultures of memory" considers the development of the German and Polish cultures of remembrance in a broader international context. Its aim is to shed light on globally shaped networks and infrastructures that underlie the development of memory cultures in both countries. Doing so, it takes into account the role of human and non human actors, thus both social agents and material objects and conditions that influence cultural production. The project focuses on art and history exhibitions dedicated to the history and memory of World War II, the Holocaust and the forced migrations of the direct postwar years. The research is financed by the Deutsch Polnische Wissenschaftsstiftung (German Polish Academic Foundation) and realized by the University of Lodz and the German Historical Institute Warsaw The second project, called "Help delivered to Jews during World War II and Transnational Memory in the Making" asks how transnational memory is construed locally. Its aim is to identify the individuals and institutions driving this process and to describe their agendas and modes of action. Doing so it wants to capture the dialectic between the remembrance policy of the EU and other transnational memory agents and national or local institutions. As case studies it explores local and national narratives on those who aided Jews during the Holocaust and in particular their museum representations and assesses how they are influenced by international developments and vice versa. The project is funded by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) and realized at the University of Warsaw. Both projects include also audience research to examine how the case study museums and exhibitions are perceived by local and international visitors.

As the two projects started only in autumn 2022, the panelists will not present their results. Rather they will discuss the aims, the initial assumptions, and the methodology of both projects, and illustrate them by case studies drawn from preliminary research conducted by the principal investigators. We hope that the subsequent discussion will inspire our further work.



Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska

Inside the black box of cultural memory: On the intersections between memory studies and infrastructure studies

The presentation aims at discussing the ideas behind the project about the infrastructural frameworks of cultural memory. Although memory scholars precisely identify the inputs (i.e. events to be commemorated) and outputs (i.e. discourses on the past) of cultural memory, the exact circumstances of constructing thereof remain under-researched. The focus of the presentation is therefore on the material backgrounds of constructing cultural memories. The examples come mainly from Poland and Germany-two countries with conflicted yet deeply entangled memories. According to the hypotheses of the project, four types of infrastructures are crucial to understand the making and maintaining of cultural memories: a) technology, b) natural environment, c) funding, d) bureaucracy. In the presentation and the project, we argue that the non-human (i.e. technological, environmental) and institutional (i.e. bureaucratic, financial) preconditions are key-issues to understand the operations within the network of cultural memory. The issue of non-human agency has been raised in the humanities about the same time as the emergence of the second wave of memory studies. And yet, the seminal works on infrastructures by Geoffrey C. Bowker or Susan Leigh Star have been mostly absent from memory studies, despite some significant intersections. Inspired by infrastructure studies, we propose a broader concept of the 'infrastructures of memory' encompassing the non-human preconditions of cultural memory. We argue that infrastructures are agents generating specific modi operandi rather than just tools intentionally applied by the human actors to achieve their objectives.


Tomasz Załuski

Experimental infrastructures. Memory production and distribution in the field of visual arts

The research project "Infrastructures of Collective Memory. Actants of the globalization process and their impact on German and Polish cultures of memory" involves looking not only at history museums but also at art institutions in Poland and Germany dealing with the relations between the two countries, especially in the context of the memory of World War II, the Holocaust and the forced migrations of the direct postwar years. Even though there is a long and important tradition of critical reflection and experimentation on infrastructural conditions of production and distribution in the field of visual arts, in recent years the global art world experienced a genuine "infrastructural turn". It has taken the form of reinventing modes of exhibition production and institutional cooperation as well as creating new relationships with non-human (material, technological, biological) actants of the production process. The emerging approaches are often applied to art exhibitions which focus on questions of cultural memory, national identity and complex histories of intercultural relations.

The presentation aims at discussing the choice of sample art exhibitions to be examined as part of the research project and the methodological assumptions of their analysis. We argue that the selected cases should reflect a multitude of exhibition formats and institution profiles with their specific modes of production and distribution. Concerning the methodology, we propose that the dynamically developing studies of 'exhibition histories' provide necessary and useful tools but they need to be enriched and expanded by approaches offered within infrastructure studies.


Zofia Wóycicka

Help delivered to Jews during World War II and Transnational Memory in the Making

Today, as noted by Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad, it is impossible to understand the current transformation of national or regional cultures of memory without considering the wider global context. This does not mean that nation states have lost their power to shape memory and identity. On the contrary, of late in Europe and beyond we can see many national governments taking a very active role in this field. Still, they are in various ways influenced by transnational developments. However, the Europeanization and globalization processes have not led to a homogenization of the local narratives. On the contrary, researchers tend to agree that the confrontation with transnational discourses sometimes even leads to a revival and strengthening of particularistic and often national(istic) interpretations of the past. Yet, we still lack a systematic understanding of the interplay between local, national and supra-national memory agents and its impact on social memory. The aim of the outlined project is to describe this linkage by looking at the formation of different European narratives on those who aided Jews during World War II, a topic that in the recent years gained huge attention across the continent and beyond. In particular, we will look at museums and exhibitions dedicated to this aspect of the history of the Holocaust.

In order to better explain the conceptual framework and methodology of the project, I will illustrate them by presenting the preliminary results of my research on the memory policy of transnational and inter-governmental institutions and networks, including the EU, the Council of Europe, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and Gariwo – Garden of the Righteous Worldwide. I will discuss the role these bodies play in shaping local "Righteous" narratives and conversely, the impact local memory agents have on these institutions and their activities.


Michalina Musielak

Memory studies from the audience's perspective. On the perception of WWII and Holocaust narratives in German and Polish museums

Over the last two decades, the topic of individuals who helped others survive under the Nazi regime in Europe has experienced an extraordinary boom both in Europe and globally. This surge in interest is due among others to the emotionally arousing character of this subject and also to its potential for creating role-models. In parallel we witness a significant shift towards a phenomenological approach in museology, which means that museums are treated increasingly as places of experience able to shape the stance and values of their visitors (Hilde S. Hein).

The paper will discuss ideas for a museum audience comparative study at recently opened museums and exhibitions in Poland and Germany dedicated to people who aided Jews and other victims of Nazi persecutions during World War II. The research will include among others Focus Group Interviews (FGI) and an analysis of TripAdvisor reviews and entries in visitor-books. The potential case study museums differ in size, location and narrative discourses. Preliminary research has shown that the considered sites follow very different presentation strategies, ranging from purely documentary exhibitions, as in the case of the Silent Heroes Memorial in Berlin, to highly staged displays, as in the case of the Żabińskis' Villa in Warsaw.

The aim of the outlined research is to apply qualitative methods in audience research to examine the narrative potential of object arrangements, architectural space, text and exhibitions design, and so to develop a better understanding of the impact of museum-visits on visitors' opinions and attitudes regarding this aspect of the history of World War II and the Holocaust.

Research Fellow
,
German Historical Institute Warsaw
Assistant Professor
,
University of Lodz
Assistant professor
,
University of Warsaw
Doctoral Student
,
Warsaw University
Juniorprofessorin für Public History
,
Universität Regensburg
 Katarzyna Anzorge
Phd Candidate
,
University of Lodz
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