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.