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Ann Rigney: Memory Activism, Moving Monuments


16 May 2019, 6-8pm

Public calls to destroy, refigure, or relocate monuments have recently become a regular feature of our news. This was especially the case in the summer of 2017 when attempts to defend or remove monuments to the Confederacy in the United States led to major public demonstrations. Understanding the mobilising power of monuments challenges cultural memory studies to extend the scope of its analysis from textual and visual representations to the material forms, usual the purview of heritage studies, in which narratives are embodied in public spaces. Even more fundamentally, it  challenges us to develop models for understanding the relationship between memory and collective mobilisation.  In my talk I will draw on recent discussions of memory activism (Gutman 2017; Chidgey 2018) in order to address these issues. Drawing on a range of historical examples, I will integrate insights from cultural memory studies, actor-network theory, and social movement studies to explain how monuments and people interact in shaping not just the memory of the past but also social relations in the present.

Ann Rigney is professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University and founder of the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies. She has published widely in the field of memory studies, both on theoretical issues and with reference to specific developments in memory cultures since the early 19th century. Her many publications include Imperfect Histories(Cornell UP, 2001), The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move(Oxford UP, 2012), Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory(ed. with A. Erll, de Gruyter, 2009), Transnational Memory: Circulation, Articulation, Scales(ed. with C. De Cesari; de Gruyter, 2014). In 2018 she was awarded an ERC advanced grant for her project Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe (ReAct), which will run until 2024.

Lecture Impressions

Ann Rigney will hold a Masterclass on May 17, 10-1pm (IG 1.414).

Masterclass Impressions