Call for Papers

Does anyone listen? Historical Memory and What Citizens Make of It


2–3 September 2021| Félix Krawatzek & Sarah Gensburger

Centre for East European and International Studies | Mohrenstr. 60 | 10117 Berlin

Historical references have become part and parcel of modern political and public discourse. Debates about whether colonial statues in the UK or the US should be taken down; the controversial recognition of French torture in former African colonies; the belittling of the Holocaust by Germany’s AfD; the restrictions on freedom of expression when it comes to the violence that occurred in today’s Poland during World War II; and the use of a whitewashed and glorified history for nation-building in Russia with are just some of the most staggering examples. In response to these discursive shifts, the study of the historical narratives produced by political and social elites has received ample attention over the last decades, leading to the emergence of a fruitful interdisciplinary research field. With a view to advancing this field of enquiry, our workshop will look more specifically at the reach of the various politics of history that can be encountered worldwide. Do citizens actually care about these memory controversies?

In this workshop we would like to bring together social scientists who seek to systematise the ways in which we study the historical narratives citizens hold. Papers can make use of survey data, experimental approaches, structured focus group discussions, or theoretically informed in-depth interviews centred on the topic of historical recall. While methods of analysis can vary, the papers should all assess the extent to which elite-driven memory initiatives resonate with the wider population and, more specifically, the kinds of actors and historical messages that are more or less likely to stick with a population.

Given the workshop’s thematic focus, we are open to a wide range of geographical areas. We strongly encourage submissions that address different parts of Europe, stretching from Russia to Portugal, and from Finland to Turkey, but are equally happy to receive proposals from scholars exploring countries further afield. The workshop will bring together a small group of scholars from political science, sociology, anthropology, and media and communication studies. The selection process will pay particular attention to methodological innovations. Depending on the quality of submissions, we intend to publish the results of the workshop in a special issue.

Please apply with a paper abstract (max. 500 words) and a short CV by 31 March 2021 via email to felix.krawatzek(at)zois-berlin(dot)de and sarah.gensburger(at)cnrs(dot)fr.

The programme will be finalised in early May 2020. Please note that the workshop is paper-based and first drafts of papers are to be circulated no later than three weeks before the workshop. Funds for travel to Berlin and accommodation are available.