What is Memory Studies?

How do we represent the past to ourselves and to others?  Which of our many pasts do we represent, and when, where, and why do we change those representations?  How do those representations shape our actions, identities, and understandings?  How do individual-level processes interact with collective ones, and vice versa?  What does it mean to think about “memory” in these broad ways?  In what ways are we ethically and politically obligated to remember, and what are the consequences of meeting, or failing to meet, these obligations?

These and other questions, asked from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and with a variety of analytical tools, constitute the broad field of memory studies, which draws on traditional academic disciplines like psychology, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, archeology, philosophy, and literary studies, among others; on related interdisciplinary fields like museum studies, media studies, oral history, heritage studies, archive studies, and film studies; and on professional fields of practice from technology, the arts, and politics.  The Memory Studies Association thus welcomes all scholars and practitioners interested in the ways we draw on, shape, and are shaped by the past.

What is the MSA?

The MSA is a professional association for Memory Studies scholars, as well as those who are active in museums, memorial institutions, archives, the arts and other fields engaged in remembrance. The objective is to become the most important forum for the memory field – both through an annual, international and interdisciplinary conference and through a strong online presence.

Memory studies has grown considerably over the past decade, but does not yet have many clearly designated venues for people from different disciplinary and professional backgrounds to exchange ideas and to learn from each others’ theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches. Moreover, questions surrounding remembering are being investigated around the world, but there is too little interaction (and thus, often a lack of understanding) between various places. We hope to change this by actively identifying and inviting scholars and practitioners who are thus far underrepresented in existing scholarly networks. Finally, the MSA seeks to foster politically and civically engaged scholarship by publicly voicing concerns about political uses of the past. Learn more about the MSA, see the organigram here and read the essay “The Memory Studies Association: Ambitions and an invitation”, co-authored by Aline Sierp, Jenny Wüstenberg and Jeffrey Olick, and published in Memory Studies, here.

The Memory Studies Association was launched symbolically at its inaugural conference in Amsterdam (3-5 December 2016), which was attended by around 200 scholars and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines. It was legally registered on June 26, 2017 in the Netherlands.

Read its by laws here.


Aline Sierp is Assistant Professor (tenured) in European Studies at Maastricht University (NL). She holds a PhD in Comparative European Politics and History from the University of Siena (IT). Her research interests cover collective memory, questions of identity and European integration. Before joining the University of Maastricht, Aline Sierp worked as researcher at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site (DE). She has published widely on memory and identity issues and is the author of History, Memory and Transeuropean Identity: Unifying Divisions (Routledge, 2014).

For more details, see:

Jenny Wüstenberg is Associate Professor of Twentieth Century History at The Nottingham Trent University (UK). After receiving her PhD in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland, Jenny worked at the School of International Service at American University, at the Free University of Berlin, for the Independent Academic Commission at the Federal Ministry of Justice for the Critical Study of the National Socialist Past, and York University in Toronto. She is the author of Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany (Cambridge University Press) and co-editor (with Yifat Gutman) of the Handbook of Memory Activism (forthcoming). 

Jeffrey Olick is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and History at the University of Virginia, and Sociology Department Chair. He received a B.A. with High Honors from Swarthmore College (1986)  and an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale (1993). While he has published on a wide variety of topics, his interests to date have focused particularly on collective memory, critical theory, transitional justice, and postwar Germany.  Current projects include on-going work on these topics, as well as editing a six-volume Cultural History of Memory and developing the outlines of “tragic sociology,” an approach with origins in Nietzsche’s writings on suffering and Weber’s sociological approach to theodicy.  He works with students on collective memory, sociological theory, symbolic politics, and history and theory of ideas and meanings, among other topics.

For more information, see


Stef Craps is a professor of English literature at Ghent University, Belgium, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism and environmental humanities. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds(2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation(2005), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies(2017). He has also co-edited two special issues of Studies in the Novel, on climate change fiction and postcolonial trauma novels, and one of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, on transcultural Holocaust memory. He has recently co-authored an introductory guide to the concept of trauma, which is forthcoming in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series, and is currently guest-editing a special issue of American Imagoon ecological grief.

For more information, visit his personal website at

Francisco Ferrándiz (Spanish National Research Council, CSIC) is Associate Researcher at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He has a Ph.D. in social and cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley (1996). His research focuses on the anthropology of the body, violence and social memory. Around these topics, he conducted long term ethnographic research on Venezuelan spiritism. Since 2002, he has conducted research on the politics of memory in contemporary Spain, analyzing the contemporary exhumations of mass graves from the Civil War (1936‒1939). Since 2007, he leads a CSIC-based multidisciplinary and comparative research team funded by the Spanish Government. He has also participated in a number of European projects, being UNREST the latest of them ( His main books on this topic are El pasado bajo tierra: Exhumaciones contemporáneas de la Guerra Civil (Anthropos/Siglo XXI 2014,, and Necropolitics: Mass Graves and Exhumations in the Age of Human Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press 2015, coedited with A. C.G.M Robben).

For more information, see:

Alicia Salomone is Full Professor at the Centre for Latin American Studies, Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities, Universidad de Chile. She is a founding member of RIEMS-Red Interdisciplinaria de Estudios sobre Memoria Social [Interdisciplinary Networks on Social Memories Studies]. As a cultural historian and a literary critic, Alicia’s research has focused on memories, identities and cultural production in Latin America. She has edited the volume Memory and poetic imagination in the Southern Cone, 1960-2010(2015) and the dossier of Meridional. Revista Chilena de Estudios Latinoamericanos2 (2014) in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile. She has published articles and chapters on literary and artistic representation of social memories in the Southern Cone of America. At present, she is the academic adviser of the Diploma Political Violence, Memory and Cultural Production in Latin America, Universidad de Chile.

For more information, see:

Tea Sindbæk Andersen is Assistant Professor of Balkan Studies at the Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. Tea’s research focuses on the contemporary history of Southeastern Europe, especially on issues related to uses of history, cultural memory, identity politics and popular culture in the Yugoslav area. She is the author of Usable History? Representations of Yugoslavia’s difficult past from 1945 to 2002 (Aarhus University Press 2012) and, with Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, editor of Disputed Memory. Emotions and memory politics in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe (De Gruyter 2016)

Hanna Teichler holds a Phd from the department of  Anglophone Literatures and Cultures, Goethe University Frankfurt, and a M.A. degree in English, French and Portuguese philology. She works as a research associate at the department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Goethe University, Frankfurt. Her Phd thesis engages with reconciliation processes in Australia and Canada and their resonance in contemporary transcultural literature and film. It is in preparation for publication. Her research interest include memory studies, Anglophone literatures and cultures and postcolonial studies. Hanna is a member of the Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform and GAPS.

For more information, see:

Joanna Wawrzyniak is a senior researcher at the University of Warsaw. She is interested in developing memory studies at the intersection of sociology and history, as well as in exploring Eastern European memory processes in a global comparative framework. She has published among others in Memory StudiesContemporary European HistoryEast European Politics and Societies and Polish Sociological Review. Her books in English include co-edited Memory and Change in Europe: Eastern Perspectives (Berghahn Books 2016); co-authored The Enemy on Display: The Second World War in Eastern European Museums (Berghahn Books 2015); and Veterans, Victims and Memory: The Politics of the Second World War in Communist Poland (Peter Lang 2015). Her current projects include work on memories of socialism, neoliberal transformation, and deindustrialization in Poland and contributions to collaborative research on cultural heritage and memory processes in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and East and South Asia.


Amber Williams is a PhD candidate in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds a M. A. degree in Portuguese. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Slavery in the Recent Artistic Production of Afro-Descendants in Brazil and the United States” examines depictions of slavery in graphic novels, film, and novels made by Afro-descendants in Brazil and the United States. Her interests include Afro-Brazilian and Black American literature, Transatlantic studies, memory studies, and Black feminism.

Lorraine Besnier (Maastricht)

Laura Brouwers holds a M.A. degree in “Arts and Heritage: Policy, Management and Education” obtained from Maastricht University. She has recently concluded a research internship with the Department of Journalism Studies at Sheffield University, and is currently working on her first publication. Laura’s work explores the contemporary re-narration of (perceived) national crises through the of use of narrative templates, and focuses specifically on cases from Turkey and (South-)Eastern Europe.

Lorena Ortiz Cabrero is a Research Master’s student specialising in the historicisation of European integration at Maastricht University. Her MSc thesis, on which she is currently working, focuses on the collective memory of the Spanish transition to democracy and accession to the EU. She is an intern for the MSA since January 2019, where she works on fundraising, logistics support and social media presence for the MSA annual conferences.

Rose Smith (UCL)


Silke Arnold-de Simine (University of London)
Aleida Assmann (University of Konstanz)
Jonathan Bach (New School)
Ruramisai Charumbira (University of Texas)
Fionnuala Dillane (University College Dublin)
Astrid Erll (University of Frankfurt)
Sarah Gensburger (CNRS)
Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University)
William Hirst (New School for Social Research)
Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow)
Marije Hristova (University of Warwick)
Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University)
Siobhan Kattago (University of Tartu)
Erica Lehrer (Concordia University)
Daniel Levy (Stony Brook University)
MemoriAL Group – Interdisciplinary Latin American Memory Research Network (Lena Voigtländer)
Jocelyn S. Martin (Ateneo de Manila University)
Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt University Berlin)
Dirk Moses (University of Sydney)

Klaus Neumann (Hamburger Institut zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur)
Jessica Ortner (University of Copenhagen)
Emilie Pine (University College Dublin)
Susannah Radstone (University of South Australia & Monash University)
Anna Reading (King’s College London)
Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)
Michael Rothberg (University of California, Los Angeles)
Ihab Saloul (University of Amsterdam)
Barbara Törnquist Plewa (Lund University)
Rebekah Vince (University of Durham)
Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Johanna Vollmeyer (Complutense University Madrid)
Jay Winter (Yale University)

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