18 June 2009

Workshop: Reconciliation and Memory

On 30 June, the NWO Research Group "The Dynamics of Cultural Remembrance" organises a day-long workshop on Reconciliation & Memory in Utrecht.

The establishment of historical commissions regarding wrong-doings in the past has become a trend in recent decades all over the world. They are often accompanied by the institutionalisation of truth commissions, with measures of restitution and compensation as well as with a politics of apology. These measures together force new break-ups and assemblages of memories, since they oblige both the collective and the individual to engage with the past and to perform concrete action in the present.

This workshop will look at different post-conflict countries and their various reparations and compensation procedures, in order to learn about the complex and multifarious meanings and challenges of these processes via specific examples and case studies (focusing on problematic aspects). Of specific interest is the interchange between compensation practices and memory-politics, and how we might re-think both of these in terms of current theories of collective memory.

National case-studies
Each presentation is based on a national case-study, explaining the compensation process and considering what might be learned from each example for the benefit of future reconciliation procedures. In order to focus the presentations in terms of cultural memory issues, we have asked participants to address one or more of the relational themes outlined below:

  • Compensation and multiculturalism (post-colonialism, the transnational and the national)
  • The material versus the symbolic (the spoken word / the politics of apology versus material ways of coming to terms with the past: compensation-payments / restitution)
  • The past and the future; remembering and forgetting (is compensation a way of opening up future dialogue or of closing off the past?)


  • Damien Short (University of London)
    When Sorry Isn't Good Enough: Australia's "Stolen Generations" & Reconciliation
  • Antonius Robben (Department of Anthropology, Utrecht University)
    Traumatic Memory and Resistance to Reparation in Argentina
  • Nanci Adler (Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam)
    Rehabilitation of the Soviet past?
  • Rosemarie Buikema (Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University)
    Reconciliation and Redistribution of Cultural Heritage in South Africa
  • Katrien Klep (Department of Anthropology, Utrecht University)
    Tracing Reconciliation: Chilean Truth Commissions and Memorial Sites
  • Nicole L. Immler (OGC, Utrecht University/Academy of Science Vienna)
    Reparation and its meaning in Austria

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