Monumento a Alfonso XII. Parque de El Retiro © Escarabajo Amarillo
Free and open to all conference participants (coffee provided).
Are you planning a new research project and want to learn more about a particular methodological approach? Sign-up for one of our Methodology Masterclasses, designed especially for memory scholars!
Taught by experienced researchers, these Masterclasses are meant for junior scholars and anyone who wants to try something a little out of their comfort zone. Each 2-hour class will offer concise primers on particular approaches, as well as resources for you to develop your methodological skills. Masterclasses will also offer excellent opportunities to network with like-minded people.
Time: June 25, 15:30-17:30 (right before the official kick-off of the MSA Conference)
Space is limited, so sign up now! Instructors will be in touch beforehand to tell you more about what to expect or prepare.
To sign up for a masterclass, please indicate your choice during the conference registration process. The choices are in the main registration form you will be redirected to after choosing your ticket type. To register for the conference please go here.
1. Interviewing (Emily Keightley, Loughborough University)
Qualitative interviewing relies on processes of remembering and the data that interviewing produces is irreducibly mnemonic. As such it is one of the staple methods in ethnographic memory studies research which allows us to explore research participants’ relationships to the past. However, we rarely reflect on how the range of approaches there are to interviewing and how these different approaches shape the ways in which remembering is performed and relations to the past are articulated in the present. This masterclass will introduce a range of qualitative interviewing techniques, from formal one-to-one interviewing to self-interviewing, and consider their application in memory studies research. In the first half of the masterclass we will explore the key principles of qualitative interviewing, the range of ways that it can be undertaken and the kinds of knowledge that it generates. In the second half we will move from theory to practice by trying out different approaches and in doing so reflect on the ethical challenges and practical problems that we might encounter and respond to in the field.
2. Digital approaches and network analysis (Sara Jones, University of Birmingham, and Emilie Pine, University College Dublin)
Digital tools support the analysis and representation of large corpora and help researchers to make their results both transparent and easy to communicate. Social Network Analysis (SNA) software is one such tool that allows the researcher to track connections between actors, institutions, concepts, events etc., and to show quantitatively how relationships can influence how and what we remember. In this workshop, we outline methods for digital analysis of text, use of SNA software to map links between different points of data, mathematical measures that can reveal key features of a given network, and how to incorporate digital methodologies in humanities projects. Participants will gain an overview of the relational approach to social phenomena, theories of distant reading, and practical experience in creating and analysing social network maps. If possible, participants should bring a laptop pre-loaded with the free trial of UCINet/Netdraw, available here: http://www.analytictech.com/ucinet/trial.htm
3. Participant Observation Masterclass (Sarah Gensburger, CNRS)
I started to use participant observation in field work fifteen years ago when, then a Phd candidate in sociology, I enrolled, for three years, as a volunteer in a French non-governmental organization who played the main part in the commemoration of the Righteous among the Nations whose social dynamics I wanted to understand. Since then, I have never stopped observing in participating. In 2015, again, and for one year long, as sociologist but also as an inhabitant, I kept auto-ethnographical chronicles of the grassroots memorialization who took place on my doorstep following the November 13 terrorist attacks at the Bataclan located one block away from my family home. This masterclass will take stock of this use of participant observation methodology to investigate the dynamics of memory in contemporary societies. It will first present the different forms of participant observation from auto-ethnography to political ethnography. Second it will come back to the very concrete dimension of this methodology from taking notes to pictures. Finally, it will address some of the ethical challenges raised by the use of participant observation among which the difficult issue of restitution both when confronted with people from the field and while using observations in analytical writing. In doing so, this masterclass will tackle different subfields of memory studies, mainly memory activism, administrations of memory, museum studies and grassroots memorialization, each time referring to actual field experiences. The ambition of this masterclass is of course to provide methodological tools to the audience but, even more, to give a hint of the huge potentialities of participant observation for innovative memory studies.
4. Community-engaged research (Audrey Rousseau, Université du Québec en Outaouais)
Drawing on examples from a collaborative research on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Québec, this masterclass will address several topics regarding ethical considerations when engaging with historically marginalized populations. This session will focus on the power dynamics of research when “outsiders” as scholars go into communities to try and understand a social phenomenon by listening, recording and interpreting individual and collective narratives. Framed from the perspective of social justice and historical redress, two central questions will bring us to think about the ways in which to build strong and respectful relationships while doing research on violent pasts: “Who gets to do research?” and “How research can be mutually beneficial?”.To bridge those two elements, that reflect both epistemological and methodological preoccupations, the conversation will emphasize on the commitment to know about,with andfromthe community members. This will be done through an open and frank discussion on what researchers need to do, reflect, and share with research partners and participants when in the field. During this masterclass we will present principles guiding participatory research, notably research protocols that allow for the transparency of research goals, anticipated outcomes and the ownership of the cocreated data. This will also be an opportunity to think of “shared authority” (Frisch, 1990) while doing community-engaged research dealing with difficult histories and stories so that the respectful and reciprocal relationships that we built through the research process can grow beyond.
5. Cognitive approaches (Bill Hirst, The New School)
Although many students of collective memory have focused on the social practices that help form and maintain collective memories, as Halbwachs stated, in the end, “it is the individuals as group members who remember.” Recently, psychologists have become interested in exploring how social artifacts and practices can shape individual remembering in a way that promotes the formation and maintenance of collective memories. This workshop provides a survey of the different approaches psychologists have taken in their studies of collective memory, including work on the social representation of historical events, the underlying cognitive mechanisms by which collective memories are formed and become shared across a network, the relation between remembering a nation’s past and imagining its future, the intergenerational transmission of memories, and the neuroscience behind the formation of collective memories. The methodology will mainly be grounded in laboratory-based empirical studies and surveys, as well as research using brain imagining. Two scholars with diverse backgrounds — one a psychologist, another based in the humanities – will lead a discussion around the presented work.
6. Audience research (Irit Dekel, Friedrich Schiller University Jena)
We will examine a combined approach to visitors’ engagement in memorial sites and museums as sites for the study of the experience of the visit for individuals and groups through observation and ethnography. We will analyze images and texts produced by visitors about museum visits and posted on social media, visitors’ engagement in guided tours and audience in special events; the modes in which institutions respond to visitors’ engagement with their exhibitions, in dialogue both with them and with other actors and institutions. Finally, we will inquire about the extent to which media representation of a site shapes and is shaped by audience action in it, and the relations between audience engagement with the site, their position vis a vis the events presented there and the guides and site’s positions about the past, their use of artefacts and the modes of its presentation.
7. Working with/across media – Semiotic approaches to the study of memory (Daniele Salerno, University of Bologna) SORRY THIS MASTERCLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED
“Media is the multitude of techniques, technologies and practices through which discourse and interaction is mediated. This is the entire ‘semiotic environment’ in which memory is understood and made relevant to a person, given community or group” (Hoskins 2018). Following this definition of media as semiotic environment of memory, this masterclass will deal with the analysis of corpora that bring together different media (e.g. TV, radio, literature), semiotic substances (e.g. writing, visual, rituals) and discursive genres (e.g. fiction, documentary, news) for the study of memory. To include and articulate different media, genres and substances in an analytical corpora may give to our investigation an ecological validity, which a one-medium/one-genre analysis may not reach. Furthermore, this may help to identify structural patterns and variations in memory-making, allowing more telling comparisons as well as transmedia and transcultural analysis.Yet, in order to manage heterogeneous corpora, we need to construct analytical models that allow to bring together and articulate different elements on a common ground, making them comparable. To this aim, semiotic approaches may provide some useful analytical models. According to Umberto Eco, structural models are systems of differences that are transferable from one phenomenon or order of phenomena to another; Yuri Lotman applied this principle to the semiotic study of culture (non-hereditary memory of a collective) as structural correlations of different sign systems; Algirdas Julien Greimas found in the concept of narrativity a tool for analysing cultural contents regardless their manifestation. The masterclass will deal with these approaches and in particular with the key concepts of semiosis, narrativity, semiosphereand encyclopaediaas conceptual and methodological tools for working with and across media. If new paradigms in memory studies ask for investigating memory in its mobility, conceptual and methodological semiotic tools can help us in tracking memory in its restless movement: how to reconstruct the media ecology in which memory emerges and is transformed between flow and form, circulation and materialization, fading and return?
8. Oral History and Family Memory/History: methodological and interpretive approaches’ (Anna Green, Victoria University of Wellington) SORRY THIS MASTERCLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED
This masterclass on oral history and family memory will revolve around an interactive discussion of the following six key questions and topics. Participants will also be encouraged to contribute, if they wish, their own questions and research dilemmas.
- Why do family memories and stories about the past matter in the present?
- Ethics and family oral histories. Indigenous perspectives.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of different methodologies, from selection of interviewees to interview structure?
- What kinds of stories or information about the past do families pass down the generations?
- How are family stories about the past transmitted, remembered, and received?
- Interpretation and analysis of family narratives: multidisciplinary theories and concepts.
9. Participatory theatre and memory (Katarzyna Niziołek, University of Bialystok)
“Participation” and “social impact” seem to be the catchphrases of the day when it comes to art, and social research as well. On one hand, participatory action research has already become a well-established practice in the world of qualitative methods in sociology. On the other, the so-called “social turn” has placed the arts closer to sociological concepts and methodology as a means of not only interpreting art, but also constructing artworks. These changes are opening new doors for both sociologists and artists interested in working together and exploring the “in-between” areas of art, science and social involvement. One such niche is being occupied by participatory theatre – a wide array of diverse and largely innovative practices that create conducive contexts not only for interdisciplinary collaborations, but also for citizen participation.As an academic sociologist, I have been exploring this area of theatrical production for about five years now, working in collaboration with a playwright and director Michał Stankiewicz, observing the practice from the inside, looking for possibilities of exchange between participatory theatre and research. Hence, the masterclasswill focus on three projects we have developed together: The Method of National Constellations(2014–2016), Prayer. A Common Theatre(2016–2017), and Bieżenki(2018).All the three projects refer to certain historical, and at the same time traumatic events (ethnic cleansing, nuclear disaster, wartime displacement), all resort to documentary (from official protocols, to literary reportage, to personal memories and interviews), all are intended to appeal to sociological imagination, and – of course – all build upon direct participation. Each of them, however, represents a different mode of participant’s involvement. Each of them also illustrates a distinct possibility, in which documentary and research materials – texts, or narrations of different kind – can be “translated” into performance.Using these participatory theatrical projects as examples, I intend to provide an empirically grounded and self-reflective insight into three distinctand at least to some extent original methodologies of direct audience/public engagement. Each of these can be referred to as a different role of the participant that one performs in the process: a protagonist (or content provider), a user (directed or animated by the artist in a theatrically constructed situation), or a co-creator of the theatrical piece (enjoying a certain degree of agency and autonomy). The class will be completed with some notes on the possible research and social uses that such practices – via embodiment, empathy, imagination, and understanding, to mention but a few defining qualities – may effectively serve in the field of memory studies.
10. Narrating (post)-memory (Delphine Munos, Goethe University Frankfurt) SORRY THIS MASTERCLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED
This masterclass sets out to explore the ways in which narrative theory can help us decode the paradoxes of transgenerational transmission, as expressed in selected literary narratives dealing with the legacy of collective traumatic events such as the Holocaust, Slavery, and Colonization. The main goal of this masterclass is to familiarize students with aspects of ‘impossible’ (or non-mimetic) kinds of telling – specifically collective narration and first-person omniscience – so they can, in turn, complicate and rethink the anatomy of postmemory through the lens of narrative theory. As defined by Marianne Hirsch (2013), the concept of postmemory presents itself as being moored in ‘conscious memory work’, in perhaps an all-too-hasty opposition with Toni Morrison’s notion of ‘rememory’. But when it comes to the memory of those “who grew up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth” (Hirsch), where to draw the line between appropriation and empathy, between incorporation and identification? And can it be possible to listen to the voices of pre-generational others in the unconscious of the next generations? This Masterclass will show how recent developments in narrative theory can help us rethink the complex interplay of remembering, forgetting, suppressing, refiguring, and reclaiming taking place in post-generational renderings of past collective traumatic events.
11. Mnemonic narratives — literary forms of remembering and storytelling (Rebekah Vince, University of Durham, and Hanna Teichler, Goethe University Frankfurt) SORRY THIS MASTERCLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED
This masterclass will provide an interactive context for engaging with literary texts as forms of remembering and storytelling. We will collaborate with local bookshop Desperate Literatureto provide an interactive context for engaging with literary texts as forms of remembering and storytelling.We will take a workshop approach, engaging memory scholars and practitioners who want to look beyond their disciplinary boundaries and get an idea of what (the study of) cultural productions in general, and literature in particular, contribute to the field of memory studies. Participants will explore how literary form corresponds with function and creates meaning, shaping memories and their dissemination in literary practice. We encourage participants to take the study of memory outside of a theoretical context, by moving from the literal to the literary in engaging imaginatively with fictional and autobiographical works. Participants will be asked to work with and on a selection of pre-circulated texts.Une enfance juive en Méditerranée musulmane[A Jewish Childhood in the Muslim Mediterranean] is a collection of autobiographical short stories edited by Franco-Algerian author Leïla Sebbar and undergoing translation into English. The collection is comprised of thirty-four narrative accounts of 1930s-1960s Jewish life in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey. Participants will engage with the English translation and/or the French original of selected short stories with a particular focus on childhood memories, multilingualism, cross-cultural interaction, and transgenerational transmission. The main research questions are: Where do Orientalism and anti-Semitism (Said, 1978) feature in the memories of French-speaking Jews from Arab countries across the Mediterranean? How does (affiliative) transnational Holocaust memory feature in these accounts? To what extent are Jewish memories of life in Francophone Arab-Muslim countries traumatic, nostalgic, forward-looking or transcultural?M.G. Vassanji’s novel The In-between Life of Vikram Lall(2003) can be seen as a memory novel: Family histories become the vehicles of transmitting ultimately entangled identities and memories in the context of indentured labor, independence and post-colonialism on the Indian Ocean. This seminal mnemonic space is increasingly becoming a subject of research in terms of African-Asian relations in order to provide perspectives that venture beyond the colonizer-colonized paradigm. Memory cultures have formed around the narrative and visual representations of slave trade and indentured labour, and are also reflected in contemporary cultural productions. The following research questions emerge: How are conceptions of national and cultural belonging transformed, broadened or challenged? How do we account for backlashes into notions of cultural authenticity and compartmentalized identities against the backdrop of multiple entanglements? Which particular formal aspects (narrative situation, plot and discourse structures, etc.) correspond to the processes of remembering that are explored in the field of memory studies?
12. Social science methods (Eric Langenbacher, Georgetown University)
Despite some important scholarship, the field of memory studies–like the study of political culture more generally–has been overly neglected by political and social scientists. This neglect is even more pronounced from those working with more quantitative approaches. This is a pity because social science approaches and statistical methods could greatly illuminate many aspects of memory studies.This master class will approach the study of memory from a social scientific perspective, starting with a review of epistemology, research approaches and research design. I will delve into issues of validity and reliability, operationalizing variables, the logic of sampling, and creating testable hypotheses. I will then look at qualitative methods from a political science following King, Keohane and Verba’s attempt to infuse such methods with more rigor.I will then move to a focus on quantitative approaches and statistical methods. I will provide several examples of relevant survey data, look at how some political scientists such as David Art and Felix Lutz have used these surveys in their work, and conclude with an in-depth example of the use of such methods to illuminate the impact of collective memory on German political culture.
13.Activist research (Red Chidgey King’s College London)
This masterclass will explore a suite of methods and methodologies appropriate for work on activism and memory. We will consider how the nexus of activism and memory is currently being theorised in three key ways: of memory activism (how memory for social transformation is constructed and fought for); memory of activism(how remembrance of past struggles is transmitted culturally and medially); and memory in activism(how social movements use movement memories in their protest actions) (see Gutman 2017; Rigney 2018; Katriel and Reading 2015).Thinking through the interplay of these memory practices, we will consider which methods are suitable for studying activism, protest and social movements, and which demands should be made on the ‘activist memory researcher’. This includes questions of ethics, practice, power, and reflexivity.The masterclass will open up questions of who are the ‘stakeholders’ in activist memory research, and which kinds of political commitments or accountabilities an activist memory researcher should hold. This will be a hands-on session where we will think through activist methods together and attempt to generate some ideas of ‘good practice’. Participants will also have the opportunity to reflect on their current or future research projects, and if there is anything that should be methodologically distinctive about an emerging ‘activist memory studies’ agenda. Resources will be provided to accompany this masterclass.
14. Hey google: methodology for studying memory in the late information age (Oshri Bar-Gil, Bar-Ilan University)
The information revolution is gaining momentum and with it, the mountain of data is accumulating. To deal with it adaptively, we expand ourselves by virtual selves and “personalize” them at the different “platforms” experiencing change in memory patterns.My methodology masterclass will explore the methodology that I developed to study the changes in memory following the changes in technology as part of my PhD dissertation. The methodology is qualitative, based on Netnography “ethnography for networks” , (Kozinets, 2015), interpreted in Post-phenomenological methods (Ihde, 2009; Latour, 2005).
15. Visual arts of memory (Katarzyna Bojarska, Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences and Widok. Foundation for Visual Culture.) SORRY THIS MASTERCLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED
German art historian Aby Warburg, one of several who laid the groundwork for culture – specifically visual culture – to emerge as an interdisciplinary study, introduced an approach to the study of images which disregarded generic and stylistic divisions. In his monumental, unfinished atlas of images, Mnemosyne, he proved that the concept of memory is crucial to the study of images and visual heritage. Warburg was interested in how art remembers, how images and symbols live throughout time, how they survive and return. Since his work on Mnemosyne, much has changed both in the production and study of artistic images. 20thand 21stcentury visual art has responded to, accompanied, and shaped historical experience in the Western world. It seems worthwhile to look more closely at how art interacts with memory, how it can be critical of conventional memorial and commemoration practices, how it becomes a form of counter-memory. Also: how it challenges dominant structures of cultural memory, in what ways it deals with traumatic memories, as well as how it counters repression of and resistance towards troubling, unwanted memories and unresolved conflicts over the past. Art responds to sites of memory and sites of oblivion; it can be willful and disobedient in its addressing of the past. It knows how to collaborate with specters and accept the past’s spectral presence. It can be irresponsible and reckless, reaching toward the past to question – in ways both politically and ethically powerful – the very rules organizing our seemingly peaceful relationships with what was. Last but not least, art seems to be playing an important role in working through traumas (both individual and collective) and resolving conflicts.In order to study art with, about, and on memory, one needs to employ a vast array of tools and research practices spanning disciplines from art history to visual culture, cultural studies/ critical theory to psychoanalysis – among others.