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Video-Blog

Here you can find all the keynote lecture videos since 2011.

Nazi Crimes, (West) German Television, and the Visual Construction of Historical Guilt and Innocence

26th January 2016

West German Holocaust memory of the 1980s and 1990s might very well be the most self-reflexive and self-critical collective memory of genocide we know. But German Holocaust memory is also a complex and ambivalent discourse which combines seemingly unflinching acknowledgments of historical responsibility with a great deal of imaginative and self-serving interpretations of history.

This lecture investigates examples from popular television productions, which have been the primary platform of collective memory in Germany for many decades. It offers a critical reading of mediatized memory, noting how television has proven adept at averting its gaze from the key moral challenges of the Nazi past by, for instance, turning perpetrators into bystanders and bystanders into victims. Among the handful of (West) German public TV programs that focus squarely on the perpetrators and bystanders of the Final Solution, most still fail to develop narrative and aesthetic strategies that render said perpetrators and bystanders clearly visible to the audience as distinct historical-political challenges.

In historicizing the history of televisual memory, this lecture argues that before the invention of the Holocaust paradigm, perpetrators and bystanders disappeared in a fog of tact, disinformation, and helplessness. With the development of the Holocaust frame they recede behind the figure of the survivor; and after the height of self-reflexive Holocaust memory they vanish in the moral maelstrom of Knopp TV, with Unser Mütter, unsere Väter marking a turning point in perpetrator TV narratives as yet another instance of highly selective remembering. This discussion of public television as a platform of collective memory draws on conceptual and theoretical developments in media history, cultural history and memory studies to outline a critical history of (West) German collective Holocaust memory.

 

Wulf Kansteiner

Main Research Interests

  • Representation and Collective Memory of World War II and the Holocaust in Germany
  • Postwar Historiography and Philosophy

Publications (selected)

  • With Christoph Classen: Historical Representation and Historical Truth. History & Theory Theme Issue 47. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009.
  • In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Television, and Politics after Auschwitz. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006.

Culture and the Afterlife of Religion: Concepts of Secularization Today

21st January 2016
Recent discussions on the (post-)secular nature of ‚western‘ society or culture usually criticize a ‘simplistic’ or ‘unidirectional’ account of progressive secularization. But no alternative concept has yet emerged. It seems that the idea of ‘secularization’, as problematic or vague as it may be, might prove indispensable at least as the study of culture is concerned. For if we do no longer understand ‘secularization’ as a concept or a theory, but rather as a trope or a narrative, we cannot only revisit the past and present debates, but also develop new ways of studying cultural productions as texts, images, or practices which are neither clearly secular nor religious. I argue that this ‘afterlife of religion’ in culture is not only an important topic for future research but might help to unsettle the distinction between the ‘secular’ west and its ‘religious’ other that still determines and distorts our understanding of the global present.

 

Daniel Weidner

Main Research Interests

  • Interrelation of Religion and Literature
  • Theories of Secularization
  • History of Philology and Literary Theory
  • German-Jewish Literature

Publications (selected)

  • Gershom Scholem. Politisches, esoterisches und historiograhisches Schreiben. München: Wilhelm Fink 2003.
  • Bibel und Literatur um 1800. München: Wilhelm Fink 2011.

Future Perfect or New Europeans

24th November 2015

In this talk, I will review my concept of co-witnessing (Kacandes: Talk Fiction. 2001) and then position us, vis-à-vis some trenchant examples, for a group discussion about the current “refugee” situation:  Which stories, which traumas exactly, are in the news? Who is authorizing him/herself or is being authorized to co-witness to those stories? Who is listening?  What events and peoples are being left out altogether?  And the culminating question behind my title:  What is the future perfect—here I obviously mean in the grammatical sense, with a play on the words’ connotations—of that selective co-witnessing (or lack of it)?  When such and such will have happened, what will Europe’s future be?  A specific component that interests me passionately concerns whether some individuals will be allowed to have become “new Europeans.”

 

Prof. Dr. Irene Kacandes

Main Research Interests

  • Modern Greek Literature
  • Narrative Theory
  • 20th-Century Cultural Studies

Publications (selected)

  • Daddy's War: Greek American Storytelling, Family Memory, and Trauma. A Paramemoir. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2009.
  • With S. Denham and J. Petropoulos: A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

New Animism and Alter-Native Modernities

20th October 2015
For many years indigenous forms of knowledge were treated by Western scholars as “mistaken epistemologies,” i.e., as un-scientific, irrational folklore and childish worldviews. This old view of animism was a product of the evolutionist and anthropocentric worldview of the Enlightenment. However within the framework of ecological humanities, current interest in posthumanism, postsecularism and discussions on building altermodernity (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri), indigenous thought is used to critique modern epistemology and develop alternatives to the Western worldview. Treating native thought as equivalent to Western knowledge will be presented here as a (potentially) decolonizing and liberating practice. The concept of alter-native modernities, emerging from indigenous ways of being in the world, will be explored as one response to the challenges to Euromodernity. The investigation will compare literature on indigenous cultures from Latin America, Africa and East-Central Europe. Following recent works by anthropologists and archaeologists such as Nurit Bird-Rose, Philippe Descola, Graham Harvey, Tim Ingold and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, new animism will be treated as a relational ontology enabling rethinking of the question of relations between human and non-humans, going beyond human exceptionalism.

 

Prof. Dr. Ewa Domanska

Permanent Professor at the Department of History at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland and Visiting Associate Professor at the Anthropology Department at Stanford University California, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Comparative Theory of the Human and Social Sciences 
  • Contemporary Theory and History of Historiography
  • Posthumanities 

Publications (selected)

  • Existential History. Critical Approach to Narrativism and Emancipatory Humanities. Warszawa: PWN, 2012.
  • Unconventional Histories. Reflections on the Past in the New Humanities. Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie, 2006.

Figurations of Migration

9th June, 2015

Migration in our contemporary globalized world is a phenomenon reaching far beyond the dichotomizing perspective raised by Georg Simmel in his essay on “The Stranger”. No longer, can concepts of identity be brought to the formula of a “person who comes today and stays tomorrow”. In contemporary literature, we rather find different forms of identity, such as diaspora, cosmopolitanism and nomadism as well as characters, such as the traveller, or the party girl as a new variation of Benjamin’s flâneur, etc.

The lecture will scrutinize these figurations of migration based on an intersectional approach that brings together these concepts of identity with theories of cultural memory (Halbwachs, Assmann, Erll/Nünning et al.) and which is based on Anglo-American Post Colonial Studies and the Francophone concepts of Métissage and Créolisation. The theoretical reflection will be exemplified by selected literary texts (published in German speaking countries for a German speaking audience) dealing with immigration from Central and Eastern European countries.

 

Prof. Dr. Helga Mitterbauer

Austrian Visiting Associate Professor at University of Alberta

Main Research Interests

  • Austrian and German Literature of the 18th to the 21st Century
  • Modern Novel, Literary Theory, esp. Transcultural Studies, Cultural Transfers
  • Relations between Austrian und (Central) European Literature, Migration in Literature.
  • Figurations of Migration

Publications (selected)

  • With Christa Gürtler: Elfriede Gerstl:Werke, vol. 1: Mittellange Minis. Graz: Droschl, 2012.

  • With András F. Balogh: Gedächtnis und Erinnerung in Zentraleuropa. Vienna: Praesens, 2012.

  • With Federico Celestini: Ver-rückte Kulturen. Zur Dynamik kultureller Transfers. 2. Aufl. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2011.

  • Postkoloniale Konzepte in der Erforschung kultureller Transferkonzepte. In: Diethild Hüchtker, Alfried Kliems (eds.): Überbringen – Überformen – Überblenden. Theorietransfer im 20. Jahrhundert. Cologne, Weimar, Vienna: Böhlau, 2011, 75-89.