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 DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science and German & European Studies at York University in Toronto. 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, and for the Independent Academic Commission at the Federal Ministry of Justice for the Critical Study of the National Socialist Past. She is the author of Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany (Cambridge University Press).

For information on other publications and activities, see:

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


Jonathan Bach is Associate Professor of Global Studies at The New School in New York. His work looks at social transformation in Germany and China with a focus on questions of memory, material culture, urban change, and space and identity. He is the author of What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany (Columbia University Press, 2017) and Between Sovereignty and Integration: German Foreign Policy and National Identity after 1989 (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), and co-editor of Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (University of Chicago Press, 2017). He previously served as the co-chair of the German Studies Association Interdisciplinary Memory Studies Network.

Wulf Kansteiner is professor of history at Aarhus University, Denmark. A cultural and intellectual historian of twentieth-century Europe, Kansteiner has published widely in the fields of media history, memory studies, historical theory, and Holocaust studies. He is the author of In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Television, and Politics after Auschwitz (2006) and coeditor of The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe (2006), Historical Representation and Historical Truth (2009), Den Holocaust erzählen: Historiographie zwischen wissenschaftlicher Empirie und narrative Kreativität (2013), and Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture (2016). He is also co-editor of the journal Memory Studies.

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)

Sarah Gensburger is a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the Institute for Social sciences of Politics (Nanterre University). At the crossing of history, sociology and political science, her work looks at the interection between remembrance public policies and social appropriations of the past. She is the author of National Policy, Global Memory. The Commemoration of the Righteous among the Nations from Jerusalem to Paris (Berghahn Books, 2016) and Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews. A Photographic Album, Paris 1940-1944, (Indiana University Press, 2015), and co-editor of Resisting GenocidesThe Multiple Forms of Rescue (Columbia University Press, 2011). She has curated several exhibitions and experienced new forms of writing about memory such as blogs and visual sources.


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. Hanna is member of the advisory board of the Memory Studies Association, Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform and GAPS.

For more information, see:

Our current interns are:

Lorraine Besnier, Laura Brouwers, Lorena Ortiz Cabrero

Kizi Chijioke Onah, Victoria-Luise Kampfmann

Rose Smith


Silke Arnold-de Simine (University of London)
Aleida Assmann (University of Konstanz)
Ruramisai Charumbira (University of Texas)
Stef Craps (University of Ghent)
Fionnuala Dillane (University College Dublin)
Astrid Erll (University of Frankfurt)
Francisco Ferrándiz (Spanish National Research Council)
Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University)
William Hirst (New School for Social Research)
Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow)
Marije Hristova (University of Warwick)
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)
Hanna Teichler (University of Frankfurt)
Barbara Törnquist Plewa (Lund University)
Rebekah Vince (University of Durham)
Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Johanna Vollmeyer (Complutense University Madrid)
Joanna Wawrzyniak (University of Warsaw)
Jay Winter (Yale University)