Working Group in Memory Studies

The UCLA Working Group in Memory Studies is excited to be hosting its first conference titled “Memory and Political Responsibility” on February 28- 29.

Please see our full conference schedule below:
Friday, February 28
– 9:30 am: Check-in and breakfast
– 10-10:15 am: Welcome from Prof. Michael Rothberg (UCLA)
  • 10:15-11:45 am: Prof. Ann Rigney (Utrecht University) – Keynote: “Contentious Commemoration: Between Memory and Activism”
– 11:45 am-1 pm: Lunch
– 1-2:45 pm: Panel 1 – “Memory, Justice, 
and Political Action” (Chair: Arielle Stambler)

  • Naomi Taub (Illinois) –  The Most Extraordinary Price: Memory, Whiteness, and the Implications of Jewish Liberalism.
  • Stephen Cucharo (UCLA) – The Dialectics of Guilt and Atonement: Negative Dialectics as a Theory of Justice
  • Ben Ratskoff (UCLA) –  “Never Again” from Kahane to Cosecha: Between Self-Defense and Allyship
  • Jennifer Noji (UCLA) – The Limits of Mobilizing Memory of Injustice: An Analysis of “Never Again is Now” Narratives
– 2:45-3:15 pm: Coffee Break
– 3:15-5 pm: Panel 2 – “Memory, Migration, and Postmemory” (Chair: Shannon Forest)
  • Kathy Carbone (UCLA) – Amplifying Art, Activism, and Memory of Forced Migration Through a Community Archive
  • Helen Makhdoumian (Illinois) – Micheline Aharonian Marcom’s Draining the Sea and Colonial Unknowing Revisited       
  • Dilara Çalışkan (Illinois) – “Kinship of Memory” and “Memory of Kinship” among Trans Mothers and Daughters in Turkey 
  • Wendy Sun (UCSB) – “Stateless in Shanghai”: History, Memory, and Transculturation of the Hongkou Jewish Ghetto 1933-Present 

Saturday, February 29
– 9:30 am: Check-in and breakfast
– 10:00-11:15 am: Panel 3 – “Memory and the Literary” (Chair: Amber Williams) 
  • Peter Tasca (UCLA) – Urbs Oblivionis: Forgetfulness in Teju Cole’s Open City
  • Linshan Jiang (UCSB) – Hayashi Fumiko and Her Reflection on War Responsibility
  • Proma Chowdhury (USC) –  “Postcolonializing Trauma Studies”: Bearing Witness, Mourning, and Healing in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman
– 11:15-11:30 am: Coffee Break
– 11:30 am-12:45 pm: Panel 4 – “Memory and the Visual” (Chair: Kristal Bivona)
  • Sharon Zelnick (UCLA) – Intersectional Resistance in Shirin Neshat’s I Will Greet the Sun Again
  • Brenda Wang (UCLA) – From Dada to Instagram: Reading Anti-War Collage in the “Memory-Activism Nexus”
  • Vanessa Pooudomsak (UCLA) and Melissa Q.T. Nguyen (UCLA) – Coaxing Legal Responsibility out of its Limits: Curing Amnesic Legacies of Institutional Racism in the Harvard Slave Images Lawsuit
– 12:45-1:30 pm: Lunch
  • 1:30-2:45 pm: Closing Roundtable – Ann Rigney (Utrecht University), Claudio Fogu (UCSB), Catherine Nesci (UCSB), Gabriele Schwab (UCI), Susan Slyomovics (UCLA)

The UCLA Working Group in Memory Studies seeks to bring together faculty and graduate students from across the humanities and social sciences who are interested in the interdisciplinary field of cultural memory studies. 

Our Working Group in Memory Studies meets throughout the academic year for various different events and occasions. In addition to regular reading group discussions, this group organizes quarterly receptions, seminars with prominent scholars in the field, film viewings, and academic programs, including workshops and conferences. In the past, we have had the pleasure of hosting and organizing events with Professors Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of Birmingham), Sarah Casteel (Carleton University), and Shirli Gilbert (University of Southampton).

Cultural memory studies focuses on the dynamic interplay between the past and the present in local, national, and transnational contexts and can involve the study of works of art and literature; memorials and monuments; processes of reparation, reconciliation, and transitional justice; activist movements; media; and more. In recent years the field has grown rapidly and there is now an international Memory Studies Association.

Upcoming Events:

  • February 4, 2020: Pre-Conference Reading Group Meeting (Kaplan 311, 11am-12:30pm) discussing Ann Rigney’s “Differential Memorability and Transnational Activism: Bloody Sunday, 1887-2016” and Susan Neiman’s Learning from the Germans
  • February 28-29, 2020: “Memory and Political Responsibility” Conference with Keynote by Ann Rigney (Professor of Utrecht University)

Contact us: 

If you would like to join our mailing list, please contact Arielle Stambler.

Join our regional Facebook Group! @UC Working Group in Memory Studies


Past Events:

  • January 17, 2020: Coffee with Rosanne Kennedy (Professor of Australian National University)
  • December 4, 2019: Coffee with Eric Calderwood (Professor of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • December 3, 2019: Talk by Eric Calderwood: “The Future of al-Andalus”
  • November 22, 2019: Discussion with Mikhal Dekel (Professor of CCNY and author of Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey)
  • November 8, 2019: Reading Group Meeting on “Legacies of Empire” (discussing Ann Laura Stoler’s “Imperial Debris: Reflections on Ruins and Ruination” and Richard Drayton’s “Rhodes Must Not Fall?”)
  • October 24, 2019: Introductory Reading Group Meeting (discussing Andreas Huyssen’s “Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia” and Wulf Kansteiner’s “Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies”)
  • June 7, 2019: End-of-Year Celebration and Reading Group Meeting (discussing Francisco Ferrándiz’s “Unburials, Generals, and Phantom Militarism: Engaging with the Spanish Civil War Legacy” and Amber Dean and Angela Failler’s “‘An Amazing Gift’? Memory entrepreneurship, settler colonialism and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights”)
  • May 10, 2019: Coffee with Shirli Gilbert (Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton, UK)
  • May 9, 2019: Talk by Shirli Gilbert: “South African Jews, the Holocaust, and Apartheid”
  • May 3, 2019: Coffee with Sarah Casteel (Professor of English at Carleton University)
  • May 2, 2019: Talk by Sarah Casteel: “Global Itineraries of Holocaust Memory: The Jewish Caribbean and Nazi Persecution in Literature and Art”
  • April 17, 2019: Reading Group Meeting on “Museums and Restitution” (discussing pieces by Ariella Azoulay and Chip Colwell)
  • April 5, 2019: Discussion with Lyndsey Stonebridge (Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham)
  • April 4, 2019: Talk by Lyndsey Stonebridge: “Hannah Arendt’s Messages of Ill Tidings”
  • March 15, 2019: Reading Group Meeting on Monuments and Counter-monuments
  • March 5, 2019: Pre-Release Film Screening of the film Transit (organized by the German department)
  • February 15, 2019: Reading Group Meeting (discussing Dilara Caliskan’s “‘Nobody Is Going To Let You Attend Your Own Funeral’ A Funeral for a Trans Woman and Naming the Unnamed” and Douglas Crimp’s “Mourning and Militancy”)
  • January 18, 2019: Reading Group Meeting (discussing Ann Rigney’s “Remembering Hope: Transnational activism beyond the traumatic” and Stephen Best’s “On Failing to Make the Past Present”)
  • November 28, 2018: First Working Group in Memory Studies Meeting (introducing the group and discussing Astrid Erll’s “Travelling Memory” and Anna Cento Bull and Hans Lauge Hansen’s “On Agonistic Memory”)