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Terrorscapes: Transnational Memory in Postwar Europe


Prof. Rob van der Laarse (UvA/VU)

Members of the research group

dr. K.C. Berkhoff
prof.dr. R. v.d. Laarse
dr. M. Mevius
dr. C.U. Noack
dr. C.W.C. Reijnen
dr. I.A.M. Saloul
prof.dr. F.P.I.M. van Vree
External members:
Dr. Britt Baillie (Cambridge)
Dr. Gilly Carr (Cambridge)
Prof. Marek Jasinski (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Prof. Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto-Arponen (University of Tampere)
Prof. Jan Kolen (VU)
Prof. Koos Bosma (VU)
Prof. Georgi Verbeeck (Maastricht University)
Prof. Claudia Theune (University of Vienna)
Dr. Francesco Mazzucchelli (Bologna)
Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt (University of Waterloo)
Dr. Caroline Sturdy Colls (Staffordshire University)
Dr. Karen E. Till (National University of Ireland)
Dr. Geneviève Zubrzycki (University of Michigan)
Dr. Nanci Adler (NIOD/UvA)
Dr. Karel Berkhoff (NIOD/UvA)
Dr. Cord Pagenstecher (FU Berlin)
Hans Citroen (photographer, artist)
Susan Meiselas (Magnum Photos, NY)
Evgenia Sveshinsky (Paradox Foundation)
Bas Vroege (University of Leiden & Paradox Foundation)
Thomas Vroege (filmmaker)
Roel Hijink (freelance researcher)
Rosa Lehmann (freelance researcher)
Maja Lovrenovich (PhD Candidate, VU)
Inge Melchior (PhD Candidate, VU)

Description of the research programme of the research group

Terrorscapes is a transdisciplinary, international network of scholars and professionals that will critically analyze how, where, when and/or if key places and times of twentieth-century terror and mass violence in Europe are presented, interpreted and represented. We use a range of different perspectives and methodologies, as well as a comparative approach, to analyze how ‘memory discourses’ operate as vehicles of local, national, continental and global identity building in the present. We seek to understand both what happened as well as how the space-times of memory have been collectively remembered, instrumentalized or forgotten. Rather than emphasize more ’subjective’ or ‘objective’ approaches to memory, we aim to call attention to the complex interactions of materiality, texts and practices, which may result in the re- and co-constitution of subject-object relations. Key research questions include:

  • How are material remnants converted into traces and monumentalized (or forgotten)?
  • How are witnesses included and created in archives and then used in historiography?
  • What are the relations between fictional and historical narrations and how are they mediated through particular ‘discursive genres’ (movies, tv-series, other mass-media and new technologies of communications)?
  • How do different types of memory places (memorials, museums, monuments, archaeological digs, artistic performances, ritual ceremonies, cemeteries, forgotten landscapes) and their afterlives manifest and mediate diverse memory-making policies?
  • How is memory narrated through space?
  • How is collective memory performed through “spatial practices” (tourism, commemorations, bodies)?

Through our collective comparative approach to Terrorscapes, we pay attention to spatial narratives of memory, through geographical spaces and scales, material culture and landscapes, mediated ‘scapes’, national and regional heritage claims, and transcultural processes.

Envisaged results

Vici /ERC grant proposal, 3-4 PhD dissertations, 2-3 Postdocs, peer-reviewed journal articles & book chapters, 2 edited volumes, seminars, international workshops (2 workshops took place at NIAS on 29 November 2011, 23 January 2013 and a third one will be held on 23-25 September 2013) an interdisciplinary online bibliographical database (the basic work and structure is in progress)

Work plan and time schedule

2014-2018, with possible extension

Societal relevance

Focusing on transnational memory and terrorscapes, by performing comparative research at iconic sites as well as newly recovered places and traces, the project is expected to contribute to a deeper insight, for academics as well as heritage professionals, into processes of memory making as well as forgetting and the negotiation of contested memories of conflicted pasts. We anticipate that the outcomes of our collaborative and comparative research may provide new models and conceptual maps that may help address and allow various parties to work through heritage dissonances, and contested and painful pasts. For this reason we work with a range of other international networks and institutions.