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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

Annabelle Tseng

Meeting Schedule

10/12/2021 Online Meeting
2:00 PM
Neuroscience, Intergenerational Trauma, Race, & Healing: the Impact of 2020
Angelika Bammer, Emory University

Raina Croff and Sará King, Oregon Health & Science University

Evelynn M. Hammonds, Harvard University

Bianca Jones Marlin, Columbia University
Remodal Abstract


In 2019, the Presidential Scholars at Columbia University held a seminar on the topic of neuroscience and intergenerational trauma, specifically asking how the remote past gets under our skin. We are enthusiastic to expand the direction of the dialogue with this special panel discussion focusing specifically on issues of intergenerational trauma and healing, neuroscience, and race. We will explore the ways in which activists and scholars have risen to the occasion, translating research into practice as they grapple with the unique historical role 2020 will play in furthering scholarly studies in this field and in expanding various frameworks for trauma healing around the globe. In question, here, are not only the types of insights 2020 will continue to add to ongoing research into various mechanisms of intergenerational transmission, but also the ethical challenges that arise when meeting a historical moment-in-the-making and the role (social justice) care work, inspired by scientific narratives of trauma and memory, will continue to play.

Notes: Moderated by Clare McCormack and Noni Carter (Columbia University)
02/08/2022 Online Meeting
12:00 PM
Memory Politics in Contemporary Russia
Masha Gessen, The New Yorker

03/23/2022 Online Meeting
4:00 PM
A Swedish Holocaust Museum: Reproducing the Fictions of Neutrality or Preexisting Models of Remembrance?
Rebecka Katz Thor, Columbia University


In the summer of 2022 the first Swedish Holocaust museum will be inaugurated. This seminar will address questions of neutral responsibility, since it is the second neutral country to dedicate a museum to the event which calls for considering what such a museum is supposed to do: Why is it being built now? How and what (his)story will it narrate? How can Holocaust commemoration be thought of as a part of a Swedish cultural heritage?