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Daniela Berghahn: Projecting Memories of Migration

Lecture: Projecting Memories of Migration

This semester, the Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform will continue its lecture series New Frontiers in Memory Studies with a special focus on migration and transcultural memory.

On Tuesday, 24 November 2015, Daniela Berghahn (University of London) will visit Goethe University and give a lecture on “Projecting Memories of Migration”. The event will take place from 12 to 2 pm in IG 1.414.

Frankfurt, November 24, 12-2 pm, IG 1.414


Since the mid-1990s, a number of Turkish German, Maghrebi French and Black and Asian British filmmakers have excavated their parents’ memories of migration to the old Europe in documentaries including Memories of Immigration (Benguigui, 1997), We Forgot to Return (Akin 2000) and I for India (Suri 2005). This paper explores the triangulated relationship between the collective memory of diaspora and the social memory of the family in relation to official accounts of immigration written and preserved by the host societies. These ‘domestic ethnographic’ documentaries (Renov 1994) draw attention to the complex layering and medialisation of personal and collective memories, characteristic of postmemory texts (Hirsch 1997). Family photographs and home videos function as mnemonic triggers for recollections that unfold in extended dialogues with (real or symbolic) parents (e.g. in John Akomfrah’s poetic essay film The Nine Muses (2012)). Archival footage from televised programmes about immigration provides a narrative counter-point, while popular songs capture the parents’ nostalgia for their homeland.

Daniela Berghahn is Professor of Film Studies in the Media Arts Department at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has widely published on post-war German cinema, the relationship between film, history and cultural memory and transnational cinema. Her extensive work on migrant and diasporic cinema in Europe has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is documented on the websites and Her publications include Head-On (BFI, 2015), Far-flung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema (Edinburgh UP, 2013), European Cinema in Motion: Migrant and Diasporic Film in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Claudia Sternberg, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and Hollywood Behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester UP, 2005). Building on her work on diasporic and transnational European cinema, Daniela Berghahn is working on a project that explores exoticism in contemporary transnational cinema.