Conflict, Trauma, Memorialisation: Material Culture, Archives and Public Space

Olwen Purdue's picture
June 22, 2023 to June 23, 2023
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Oral History, Public History

How do historians and those who work with history in the public sphere deal with difficult, contested or traumatic pasts? What are the challenges facing those who seek to engage public audiences with such histories? What objects should and shouldn't be collected or exhibited? Whose voices get to be privileged in collections, exhibitions and archives and why? What can we do to bring marginalised voices to the centre? What representations of the past should or should not be preserved in public space and in archives and museums? How do we decide?

This conference, organised in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, brings leading scholars and practitioners from Europe and north America to Belfast, Northern Ireland, in order to interrogate the challenges facing public historians as they seek to address difficult or traumatic pasts in various contexts. Following three days of closed workshops focusing on three case studies - the Holocaust, the legacies of race and slavery in the US, and the Northern Ireland conflict – the speakers will reflect on the representation of these histories in museums, archives, oral history collections and public space.

Speakers include:

Prof Susan Neiman (Einstein Forum)

Prof Ruth Mandel (UCL)

Prof Eve Rosenhaft (Liverpool)

Prof Caroline Sturdy-Colls (Staffordshire)

Prof Kevin Gaines (University of Virginia)

Prof Penny von Eschen (University of Virginia)

Dr Zachary Levine (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

A number of travel bursaries (including international) are available to allow early career researchers/unwaged scholars to attend. For more details see the conference website

Contact Info: 

Professor Olwen Purdue, Centre for Public History, Queen's University Belfast 

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