AccueilGrand narratives and peripheral memories

Grand narratives and peripheral memories

Grand narratives and peripheral memories

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Publié le mercredi 18 novembre 2009 par Karim Hammou


De plus en plus, la recherche historique et sociale s'intéresse à l'analyse de champs de mémoire qui existent à côté des grands récits nationaux voire européens. Des exemples de cette pratique sociale et familiale, qui est indépendante des « master narratives », notamment de la mémoire de la deuxième guerre mondiale et de la Shoa, sont la mémoire ouvrière, la mémoire paysanne et celle des migrations. Une question importante analysée lors de la conférence sera de savoir si le trauma, la perte, la rupture, le changement sont des éléments qui caractérisent également ces complexes périphériques de la mémoire. L'introduction dans le thème de la conférence sera faite par les contributions d'Anne Muxel (Centre de recherches politiques / CNRS, Paris) et de Christian Gudehus (Centre for Interdisciplinary Memory Research, Essen).


The aim of the conference is to draw attention to the realms of memory that exist apart from the grand (national) narratives and are more or less independent of them.  

After a period of intensive work on (European) national memory cultures, several disciplines have recently shown a growing interest in memory as a social and an individual practice. Striking in this latest research is its concentration on specific memory complexes, i.e., those connected with war, persecution and expulsion. In a sense, the “Holocaust memory”, i.e., the trauma, represents the paradigmatic penomenon for the whole research endeavour. It is also progressively seen as constitutive of a global memory community and memory practice, transcending national memories and mediating universal values. 

The conference diverges from this pattern by devoting itself explicitly to objects of memory that have been less prominent in research and in public discourse in general. This widening of perspective allows for a more complete view of the link between public and private memory. Of particular interest here are familial memory processes. Among the topics to be discussed in this perspective in an interdisciplinary frame (history, social and cultural sciences) are: 

1. Objects of public and private remembering

The links, concordances and ruptures between public and private narratives will be envisaged in the context of different “memories”. Aside from the “major historical event”, these include above all the experience of change and the accompanying sense of loss or, conversely, social advancement and emancipation. By comparing these individual fields of memory we can identify the time substrata – historical and non-historical/familial – that co-exist in familial memory practice, and ask how their interplay is affected by more and more powerful public memory offerings.

2. Memory and generational relationship

The fact that research concentrates on traumatic memories and their familial formation suggests a specific conception of the "historical witness" – where historical authenticity is guaranteed, as it were, by virtue of participation in the traumatic event – and at the same time influences the notion of generational relationship and familial communication. Here too, the opening up of the research field for other memory complexes allows for a more multifaceted image of familial memory production. Among the more compelling topics are, for example, the relevance of shared memory horizons, intra-familial memory competition and memory loss in the grandchild generation. 

3. The social constitution of memory communities

Peripheral memories also encompass narratives that are suppressed in public discourse. The history of women comes to mind. Another, perhaps more topical, example is migration memories and thei non-integration into national narratives. However, efforts to make these memories “visible” – perhaps as elements of urban memory culture – are at the same time evidence that memory collectives are often created, perpetuated or revived by external forces, i.e., by (national) memory politics and the media. This leads to the question of how public identification and mediatization impact on processes of family tradition. Do family memories assimilate to the new or rediscovered collective identity? Or will communicative remembering gradually be replaced by cultural memory? 

4. Concepts and research methods

Finally, the conference intends to encourage methodological reflections. Contributions containing research approaches on non-discursive modes of (familial) memory will be presented.

Grand Narratives and Peripheral Memories
26 - 28 November 2009
University of Luxembourg
Campus Walferdange


Thursday, 26 November 2009 (Room Piaget)


Welcome: Michel Margue

Keynote: Anne Muxel: Les fonctions de la mémoire familiale dans la construction de l’identité

15h00 - 19h00

Panel 1: Objects of public and private remembering

  • Elizabeth Carnegie: Curating people? Museum mediated memories and the politics of representation
  • Fabienne Lentz: Zwischen privater Erinnerung und öffentlichen Repräsentationen – italienische Immigration in Luxemburg
  • Gabriel Koureas: Private and public memory in the divided space of Nicosia, Cyprus

16h45 - 17h15 Coffee Break

  • Lars Breuer: German and Polish “memory from below”
  • Maria Pohn-Weidinger: „Heroisierte Opfer?“ Wie erinnern nicht-jüdische Frauen in Österreich den Nationalsozialismus und die Nachkriegszeit in ihren Biographien?
  • Anne Heimo: The (trans)formation of family memories of civil war into the grand narrative of communal and national history

20h00 Dinner

Friday, 27 November 2009 (Room Latomus)


Keynote: Christian Gudehus: Über zwei Modi, Vergangenheit zu erzählen

9h45 - 13h15

Panel 2: Memory and generational relationship

  • Daniela Koleva: Remembering socialism, living postsocialism: gender, generation and ethnicity
  • Jan Lohl: „Wohin die Sprache nicht reicht“: Überlegungen zur Affektdimension der Tradierung des Nationalsozialismus

11h00 - 11h30 Coffee Break

  • Joseph Maslen: Family memory and communist memory in Post-War Britain
  • Elisabeth Boesen: Erfahrungen des Wandels und familiäre Erinnerungsgemeinschaft in der bäuerlichen Welt
  • Daniela Jara: Memory and post-memory in Chile

13h15 Lunch

14:30 – 18:30 (Room Piaget)

Panel 3: The social constitution of memory communities

  • Suzanne Bunkers: Trauma, silencing, ‘illegitimacy’ and the recuperation of peripheral memories: In search of Susanna
  • Jeanette Hoffmann: Erzählte Geschichte(n) im interkulturellen Kontext – zum Umgang von Jugendlichen in Deutschland und in Polen mit den Spannungsverhältnissen zwischen kommunikativem und kulturellem Gedächtnis
  • Delyth Edwards: Remembering the home: searching for my mother?

16h15 - 16h45 Coffee Break

  • Rita Garstenauer: Private, semi-public, published: rural autobiographies within the family and beyond
  • John Foot: Memory and place. The history of a Milanese house
  • Denis Scuto: Kollektive Erfahrungen im Stahlarbeitermilieu

20h00 Dinner

Saturday, 28 November 2009 (Room Piaget)

9h00 -13h30

Panel 4: Concepts and research methods

  • Alena Pfoser: Geschichte als Identitätsstifterin? Nationale Identitätskonstruktionen und Geschichtsbilder von Jugendlichen mit Migrationshintergrund in Österreich
  • Lesley Anne Bleakney / Jens Kroh / Sophie Neuenkirch: Methodological tools in the comparative analysis of family narratives on occupational biographies in Luxembourg, Germany and the USA
  • Libora Oates-Indruchova: Memory, ethics and narrative voice

10h45 - 11h15 Coffee Break

  • Renée Wagener: Familiengespräche in der Erinnerungsforschung zum Zweiten Weltkrieg – Erwartungen und Enttäuschungen
  • Gerd Sebald: Interpenetrations of social memories – questioning the concepts of communicative and cultural memories


Concluding Discussion, Christian Gudehus

13h30 Lunch




  • Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Educational Sciences Campus Walferdange Route de Diekirch, L-7220
    Walferdange, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg


  • jeudi 26 novembre 2009
  • vendredi 27 novembre 2009
  • samedi 28 novembre 2009

Fichiers attachés


  • récits nationaux, master narratives, représentations publiques et privées, mémoires, transmission intergenerationnelle


  • Fabienne Lentz
    courriel : fabienne [dot] lentz [at] uni [dot] lu
  • ~
    courriel : lu-id [at] uni [dot] lu

URLS de référence

Source de l'information

  • Fabienne Lentz
    courriel : fabienne [dot] lentz [at] uni [dot] lu

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« Grand narratives and peripheral memories », Colloque, Calenda, Publié le mercredi 18 novembre 2009,

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