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The teaching of memory studies topics is always deeply political. As pedagogues, we would always aim to teach critical thought and engagement, and we may wish our students to take what they learn outside of the classroom.
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The teaching of contemporary memory-related topics can thus afford unique opportunities to encourage political activism and social engagement. As workshop leaders, we posed a series of deceptively simple questions to get a sense of the diversity of pedagogical approaches. For example, we asked participants whether they defined memory in their classes, and if so, how.
We asked how to approach theory, and what should be the balance between theory and empirical material? A recurring point of discussion was the Eurocentric focus in memory studies, especially within works identified as candidates for the canon.
Participants readily agreed that this focus has expanded today, especially to include the memory of empire and colonialism, though it remains a challenge for memory studies to effectively de-colonize. It remains especially problematic to teach postcolonial memory predominantly through the lens of theories developed in the scientific traditions of the former colonial powers.
It is in response to this challenge that some of the most exciting areas of memory studies are to be found today, as the traditional focus on national memory formation shifts to studying memory scattered beyond national borders through trade, war, slavery, colonialism, and migration, and memory moving between generations.
This leads to new epistemological and empirical questions about memory that opens the field quite wide. One participant uses climate change in her class as an example of different temporalities of memory—raising the question: how does the earth remember?
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Others raised questions of how to connect memory to an increasing body of work on materiality and on animals. While the substantive discussions covered a wide territory, there was general consensus that a more consistent effort at sharing syllabi, assignments, results, practices and experiences would provide a firmer foundation for memory studies in all its forms as this field comes into its own. This then, is where we hope to turn next, to create such initiatives as a syllabi collection process, an archive of class projects, and other resources to facilitate a growing community of practice around this mercurial yet vital and vibrant area of study.
His work looks at social transformation in Germany and China with a focus on questions of memory, material culture, urban change, and space and identity.
Her research focuses on European cultural and political memory, particularly of post-socialism. Campus Dispatches. NOTE: We are unable to offer combined shipping for multiple items purchased.
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