• Founded
  • Seminar Number

The University Seminar on Cultural Memory began in 2005 as an interdisciplinary colloquium welcoming graduate students and faculty from Columbia and its neighbors. The Seminar, incepted in 2007, builds upon this already-established community and aims to further develop a vibrant interdisciplinary dialogue on contemporary issues of cultural and collective memory, including but not limited to traumatic memory, collective and national forgetting, memorialization and museology, historical consciousness and historiography, embodied memory and performance, archive and testimony. The Seminar meets monthly and, in addition to discussing chapters and works-in-progress, hosts a series of distinguished visiting speakers, working in close cooperation with relevant departments and institutes at Columbia.

Professor Marianne Hirsch

Professor Andreas Huyssen

Noni Carter

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

11/30/2020 Online Meeting
3:00 PM
The Memory of Racial Terror: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum
Marita Sturke, New York University


This talk is drawn from Marita Sturken's forthcoming book, Memory After Terrorism: Memorialization in the Post-9/11 Era (see book abstract attached). The Legacy Museum and the National Peace and Justice Memorial opened in April 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama. Built by Bryan Stephenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that pursues legal advocacy in Alabama, the memorial and museum are innovative projects of memory activism that aim to actively intervene into the national narrative of racial progress and the system of mass incarceration today. This talk examines the design of the memorial and museum and how they constitute a radical intervention into national US memory culture.

Moderator: Alison Landsberg, George Mason University

02/02/2021 Online Meeting
4:00 PM
Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past
Ana Lucia Araujo, Howard University


Exploring notions of history, collective memory, cultural memory, public memory, official memory, and public history, Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past explains how ordinary citizens, social groups, governments and institutions engage with the past of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. It illuminates how and why over the last five decades the debates about slavery have become so relevant in the societies where slavery existed and which participated in the Atlantic slave trade. The book draws on a variety of case studies to investigate its central questions: How have social actors and groups in Europe, Africa and the Americas engaged with the slave past of their societies? Are there any relations between the demands to rename streets of Liverpool in England and the protests to take down Confederate monuments in the United States? How have black and white social actors and scholars influenced the ways slavery is represented in George Washington's Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in the United States?How do slave cemeteries in Brazil and the United States and the walls of names of Whitney Plantation speak to other initiatives honoring enslaved people in England and South Africa? What shared problems and goals have led to the creation of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC? Why have artists used their works to confront the debates about slavery and its legacies? Arguing that memory of slavery is racialized and gendered, the book shows that more than just attempts to come to terms with the past; debates about slavery are associated with the persistent racial inequalities, racism, and white supremacy which still shape societies where slavery existed.

Respondent: Laura Wexler, Yale University

Respondent: Leo Spitzer, Dartmouth College

Moderators: Marianne Hirsch and Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University

05/06/2021 Online Meeting
3:00 PM
Revolutionary Affects and the Archive of Memory
Manijeh Moradian, Barnard College, Columbia University
Speaker Link
Respondent: Persis Karim, San Francisco State University
Speaker Link
Respondent: Ann Rigney, Utrecht University
Speaker Link