Research Group for Memory Studies
The research group for memory studies was established around the project Remembering the Communist Regime: Czech Memorial Sites (NAKI, 2011–2015), and it has integrated those working on newer research projects dedicated to, for example, cultural landscape and settlement memory or memory of coexistence with Soviet troops between 1968 and 1991 in the following years. Within the conceptual and methodological framework of memory studies, the research group focuses on research of historical memory, its manifestations and forms, and its instrumentalization in politics of memory. It does not intend to purposefully enter the field of research of individual historical memory, which is the object of ethnological or oral history studies, although it uses results of the above and many other borderline disciplines. The primary object of the research group’s scientific interest is, first and foremost, the collective, aggregated historical memory, the forms, manifestations, and changes of how it is generated, reflected and represented in the real, virtual and media public space. The research group’s activities will abide by the codes as laid down in principles of the Memory Studies Association.
Members of the working group have organized three major international conferences dealing partly or meritoriously with memory: The Prague Spring 50 Years After: Great Crises of Communist Regimes in Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective (2018), How we remember: The Memory of Communism – Its Forms, Manifestations, Meanings (2019), and, in 2022, in the context of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Memory of the Past and Politics of the Present. They also participate in activities of the “Anatomy of the European Society” programme (2022–2026), Strategy AV 21.
Research of political memory captured by memorial sites over a long period of time since 1945 until now: interpretation of prevailing historical narratives and political legacies, analyses of politics of memory and commemoration as applied by the previous and the present regimes, communication, mirroring, competition, re-stratification, re-construction of memories.
Research of the official memory of WW2 and the liberation between 1945 and 1989, focusing on commemorative practices and rituals of the post-war and communist regimes and an analysis of repetitive festivities in relation to questions: the place of the commemorative rituals in the comprehensive project of ideological education and mass mobilization, their importance for the (per)forming of the official memory as well as for the (self)presentation of the regime as such, shifts and updates.
Defunct settlements as site of memory of the Czech border regions: changes of the memory discourse before and after 1989, return of intentional memory concerning forcibly displaced Germans – memorial sites, commemorative activities and their agents, interactions between the memory of the displaced and that of the population which has replaced them.
The legacy of socialism in public space and issues of iconoclasm after 1989: actions and interventions into memorial culture and their agents, changes of the status of political (“socialist”) memorials, monuments and statues, analyses of politics of symbols, musealization, and didactic/educational use of the monument legacy.
In cooperation with Slovak colleagues, the working group will focus on comparative research of Czech and Slovak collective memories, in particular on reflections of post-Munich and war events and the building of socialist Czechoslovakia. At the same time, it also plans to pay continuing attention to the phenomenon of post-Communist memory on a broad trans-national scale.