PoSoCoMeS @MSA 2021

PoSoCoMeS was sponsoring a rich programme of events at and before the MSA’s (online) conference in Warsaw in July 2021. Our activities consisted of:

free and open to all without MSA membership or conference registration

WORKSHOP 1: Memory Studies and Theatre: Bridging Research and Art

Thursday, 1 July, 6-7 pm CET

Host: MnemoZIN

MnemoZIN is a research collective (Zsuzsa Millei (Tampere University, Finland), Iveta Silova (Arizona State University, USA) and Nelli Piattoeva (Tampere University, Finland)). MnemoZIN leads the Recollect / Reconnect: Crossing the Divides through Memories of Cold War Childhoods project and is part of PoSoCoMeS.

Invited guests:

Reconnect / Recollect: Crossing the Divides through Memories of Cold War Childhoods is a collaborative, international and interdisciplinary project seeking to create dialogue among people divided by multiple borders – geopolitical, economic, generational and cultural – inherited from and reordered after the Cold War. Bridging academic research and art, the project (re)collects memories of diverse childhood experiences during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath, bringing into public view alternative and multiple personal histories that have the potential to transfigure divisions into connections. The project uses the method of collective biography and art for remembering, writing, working with and representing childhood memories. This session tells the story of the creative creation of the play ‘KELET/EAST’ inspired by childhood memories. The play premiered to two full houses in Trafó House of Contemporary Art on September 22-23, 2020 in Budapest, Hungary written and performed by Dollardaddy’s theater group. The play is scheduled to be performed regularly in Hungary, Finland and the USA, but performances are being cancelled due to the pandemic situation.

We show a 20-minute-long preview of the play followed by a discussion with the artists and researchers about how research and art can work together to bring social research to broader and public audiences in ‘promoting reflection, building empathetic connections, forming coalitions, challenging stereotypes, and fostering social action’ (Patricia Leavy, Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. 3 ed. 2020, p. 205).

WORKSHOP 2: Collective biography: The method and memorywork

Friday, 2 July, 5-8pm CET

Host: MnemoZIN

MnemoZIN is a research collective (Zsuzsa Millei (Tampere University, Finland), Iveta Silova (Arizona State University, USA) and Nelli Piattoeva (Tampere University, Finland)). MnemoZIN leads the Recollect / Reconnect: Crossing the Divides through Memories of Cold War Childhoods project and is part of PoSoCoMeS.

In the first part of this workshop (open for everyone, duration: 1h), we give an introduction to the Collective Biography (CB) method (Davies & Gannon, 2006) and how we have retooled it for memory research in relation to our project Memories of Everyday Childhoods. Despite its name, CB examines micro-moments of subjectification, discursive effects, relational, affective and material entanglements revealing how individuals and groups subjectively engage with reality and, crucially, their own role in it together with others, human and non-human. In small groups, collectively recalling these events, this type of memorywork moves experience into narrative vignettes enriched with embodied and emotional aspects of memories that might come to light during groupwork. In this process, similar to the autoethnographic genre, the roles of the researcher and the researched are collapsed, and the aim is to understand subjectification collectively, for example, to societal norms, discourses or ideals. We also elaborate the approach’s pragmatic utilization, affordances and challenges, and potentials for memory research. 

In the second part of the workshop (limited to 20 people, duration: 2h), we conduct a Collective Biography Memory Workshop in relation to the conference theme: Biological / Ecological Convergences. Please bring to the workshop a childhood memory that resonates with the theme: NATURE. For example, bring a childhood memory about playing or collecting berries or mushrooms in the forest, an event during your holiday in nature, a moment of working on the land, an experience during the excursion to a national park etc. Focus on the short episode and describe the event in as much detail as possible, including even what might be considered to be trivial or inconsequential. Who is there with you (including the more-than-human)? Where are you / describe the surroundings, lights, sounds, trees etc.? How does it feel being there and with others? What sensations do you have in your body? What is the discussion about? Try not to self-censor the memory and share everything that exists in the remembered scene. Only bring a memory that you are happy to share. Limit the length of your memory to about one type-written page (one and a half spaces between lines). If you wish, prepare to show objects, photos and/or artwork/s that are connected to the theme and memories (even if it is not your artwork but you have seen it somewhere and resonates with the memory). 

Bridging Memory Studies across Languages

​PoSoCoMeS keynote plenary session opening the MSA (online) conference 2021

Monday, 5 July 2021, 7-8.30 pm CET

One of the MSA’s aims is to bring together scholars and practitioners not only from different disciplines, but also from different linguistic backgrounds and national cultures of research. This is in line with a broader debate in the humanities and social sciences about the effects of the increasingly monopolistic status of English as the de facto lingua franca in scholarly communication. Memory Studies deals with topics that are often intensely specific to a particular national, regional, or linguistic context, and involves the study of traumas, conflicts, and emotions that are frequently difficult to articulate even in one’s own language, let alone in translation. Thus our field is particularly vulnerable to three types of pressures exercised by the Anglo-globalization of academia.

  • The first of these is loss in translation. The vocabulary of memory studies has been profoundly shaped by its emergence in German, French, and English-language academia, to the detriment of pioneering conceptual contributions by e.g. Polish or Hispanophone scholars. Case studies of important local topics tend to be noticed internationally only if they are published in English, and the distorting effects of the translation effort this involves are not always acknowledged or discussed. Meanwhile, languages such as Arabic have not even developed a terminology that would render memory studies understandable to monolingual readers of those languages.
  • The second effect results from the increasing pressure to publish in English as a requirement for career advancement and job security. Coupled with top English-language journals’ refusal to consider papers already published in other languages, this means that many important publications reach their original communities with some delay and after double translation.
  • A third and related effect is internal colonization. While there has been much debate about the global inequality between Western scholars as concept producers and their Eastern and Southern colleagues as mere data providers, a similar imbalance has also emerged within many countries between multilingual, internationally connected researchers and their monolingual peers.

This keynote plenary discussion brings together polyglot scholars from different corners of our field and at different career stages to address these effects, provide illustrations from their own experience, and talk about practical ways of bridging memory studies in different languages.

The discussion will also serve as the inaugural event for a series of efforts to bridge memory studies in different languages under the auspices of PoSoCoMeS and in collaboration with translation/interpretation schools and language programs in different countries.


  • Alicia Salomone (literary & cultural scholar, University of Chile)
  • Jie-Hyun Lim (historian, Sogang University, Seoul)
  • Kornelia Kończal (historian, LMU Munich)
  • Magdalena Heydel (philologist and translator, Jagiellonian University, Cracow)
  • Samer Al Nasir (legal historian & social psychologist, UNED, Spain)

Convenors and co-moderators:

  • Mischa Gabowitsch (historian & sociologist, Einstein Forum, Potsdam)
  • Lana Lovrenčić (art historian, Institute of Art History, Zagreb)

Bridging Memory Studies across Languages

A Workshop for Interpretation and Language Students

Monday, 21 June 2021, 4-6 pm CET

This workshop aims to sensitize interpretation and language students to some of the challenges involved in translating key concepts in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies between different languages, and to allow them to practice some of the skills required to interpret academic discussions and presentations in this field. It will serve to prepare our online plenary session at the MSA conference (Monday, 5 July, 7-8.30 pm CET) where scholars and practitioners from different disciplinary and linguistic backgrounds will discuss the challenges of doing memory studies in different languages. Most of the plenary session participants will also take place in the preparatory workshop. During the workshop, participants will exchange ideas and discuss specific examples of translation difficulties. Part of the workshop will consist of interpretation practice for students (from English into any other language, though other language combinations with Arabic, Croatian, German, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Spanish are also possible), followed by a feedback session.

The workshop is free and open to all after registration. Students interested in practicing their interpretation skills at the workshop and the subsequent plenary session and receiving feedback from experts are encouraged to contact the organisers in advance, stating their language combination and background in memory studies (if any). PoSoCoMeS will issue a participation certificate to students who serve as interpreters during the workshop and the plenary session.

  • Book discussion: The Past Can’t Heal Us: The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights by Lea David (in collaboration with the Critical Thinking about Memory and Human Rights working group)
  • Chernobyl Mon Amour – The Travelling Memories of Nuclear Disaster
    Convenor: Boris Nordenboos
    Participants: Karena Kalmbach, Alexander Berlov, Boris Noordenbos, Maja Vodopivec, Rachael Hutchinson
  • Explosive Convergences. Popular Memory Images in Current Political Conflicts (Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland)
    Convenors: Matthias Schwartz, Nina Weller, Heike Winkel
    Participants: Felix Ackermann, Anika Walke, Alexey Bratochkin, Roman Dubasevych, Nina Weller, Matthias Schwartz, Heike Winkel
  • Online Nostalgia – Yearning for the Past via the New Media
    Convenor: Daria Khlevnyuk
    Participants: Mykola Makhortykh, Lena A. Hübner, Katharina Niemeyer, Ola Siebert and Maria Silina; Roman Abramov, Kirill Molotov, Ekaterina Klimenko, Milica Popovic
  • Recalibrating the 1970-90s Transitions: Contested and Transforming Memory-scapes
    Convenor: Ksenia Robbe
    Participants: Ioana Luca, Lana Lovrenčić, Kostis Kornetis, Ksenia Robbe, Gruia Badescu, Simon Lewis
  • (Re-)Claiming Names: Investigations in Practices and Politics
    Convenor: Heike Winkel
    Participants: Lars Breuer, Anna Furman, Alexandra Polivanova, Olga Rosenblum, Heike Winkel, Matthias Schwartz
  • The Memorial Wars in the Post-Soviet Space
    Convenor: Aleksey Kamenskikh
    Participants: Oksana Dovgopolova, Aleksey Kamenskikh, Elmira Nogoibaeva, Lia Dostlieva, Olga Lebedeva
  • The Visual Analysis of History Textbooks
    Convenors: Mischa Gabowitsch, Anna Topolska
    Participants: Mischa Gabowitsch, Anna Topolska, Jarema Drozdowicz, Lourdes Hurtado, Laura Galián and Luz Gómez
  • Transgressions of the ‘Post’: Art Forms and Embodiments
    Convenors: Andreea Mironescu and Simona Mitroiu
    Participants: Andreea Mironescu, Irene Sywenky, Katarzyna Kwapisz Williams, Justyna Tabaszewska, Ksenia Robbe