Politics of Memory:Present Pasts
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: University-wide Programs
Department: Global Studies
Course Number: UGLB 3512
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Global Studies
  • Politics
  • History
Few things are as controversial as how nations remember the past. This class introduces the key debates in the emerging field of "memory studies" from its emergence in connection to the Holocaust to the "memory boom" of the 1990s and its new forms today. Whether coming to terms with genocide, colonialism or war, or celebrating its glorious achievements, the contemporary nation-state is built from the strategic uses of memory. Today, globalized media and the Web has the unprecedented ability to create near "universal" memories subject to highly politicized local interpretations, and courts around the world are considering compensation for past injustices. The course asks how the relation between memory and the nation-state might be changing, and how a politics of memory influences and shapes notions of international justice, especially concerning cases of compensation and reparations. It examines different ways that groups remember, including collective memory, screen memory, transnational memory and multidirectional memory, and the material forms that memory takes in museums, memorials, and national sites. Students will study key cases, such as controversial memorials to slavery or the Vietnam War in Washington, DC, and era-changing events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the assassination of JFK, or the attacks of 9/11. Students will work on projects pertaining to how memory shapes New York (e.g the 9/11 memorial or immigrant museums), and pursue an independent research project on the politics of memory. Readings include Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, Andreas Huyssen, Marriane Hirsch, and Michael Rothberg. (3 credits)
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Undergraduate students.