The international conference Forms and Functions of Social Memories - Perspectives from Social and Cultural Sciences

full name / name of organization: 
Institute for Sociology of the University of Erlangen (Germany)

Call for Papers:

Forms and Functions of Social Memories -- Perspectives from
Social and Cultural Sciences

The conference "Forms and Functions of Social Memories -- Perspectives from Social and Cultural
Sciences" takes place at the Institute for Sociology of the University of Erlangen. It starts at
December 10th and ends December 12th around noon. It is planned as a mixture between plenary
and panel sessions.

Please send a 500 words proposal for a 30 min. paper by September 30th, 2010 to: info@soziale- The acceptances will be sent at the end of october.

The conference aims at collecting and re-considering the manifold empirical research on social
memories on behalf of their theoretical potential. It is an astonishing fact, that despite of a lot of
research in social and cultural sciences on social memories there are rather few comprehensive
theoretical considerations. Therefore, we want to set the focus on the integration of different
theoretical approaches and empirical research.
In the self-definition of modernity multiple social memories take the place of the "Great Narrative"
on different levels that don't have to be compatible. A theory of social memories faces the problem
of integrating social dynamics, cultural pluralisation and processes of social differentiation without
ignoring contexts of interactions like families or milieus. However, the circulating terms and
definitions of forms of social memories should not just be placed side by side. Instead we want to
focus, empirically and theoretically, on the processes of formation and constitution that underlie
these conceptualizations to work out both lines of conflict and potentials of integration.
The conference would like to discuss theoretical concepts and empirical studies concerning social
memories in an interdisciplinary framework. Based on these discussions we would like to ask for
theoretical enhancements. From performative acts to narrative situations of interaction or discourse,
constructions and representations of the past should be observed in conjunction with problems like
oblivion, authenticity, factuality and validity or breaches in the transmission of the past. On the one
hand the future directedness of social memories in form of again and again constituted horizons of
expectations should be clarified. On the other hand it is deemed to analyse social memories in their
function as mechanisms of "Transmission" regarding the specific selectivities that evolve at the
intersections (of persons, groups, generations, discourses, etc.) and that constitute the specific
relationship between remembrance and oblivion. According to this, the definition of the particular
functionality of memories for the processes of social and individual formation of meaning is
important, on both counts biographically and systemically.
Of equal importance is the reflection of institutionalised remembrance and of the own position of a
speaker: Scientists are directly or indirectly involved in the practice of (institutionalised)
remembrance and therefore are facing the challenge of concerning themselves with its contexts,
conditions, (political) purpose and the implicit ideologies.

We have invited the following speakers: Paul Connerton (Oxford/UK), Elena Esposito
(Modena/Reggio Emilia/ Italy), Mary Fulbrook (London/UK), Jeffrey K. Olick (Virginia/USA),
Gabriele Rosenthal (Goettingen/Germany), Joanna Tokarska-Bakir (Warsaw/Poland), Christian
Gudehus (Essen/Germany)

Topics include:
• Individual -- Interaction -- Society: boundaries and transitions between the different forms of
• Metaphors, terms and forms of social memories and their conditions of formation
• Influence of social differentiation on social remembrance (generations, classes, cultural
pluralisation, gender, etc.)
• Transformation of social memories (interdependency of social transformationsprocesses and
social memories)
• Facticity, authenticity and the realm of experience
• Media, discourse and their functions for remembrance
• Re-presentations of the past (body memory, rituals, sites of remembrance, etc.)
• Social and individual practices of remembrance
• Transgenerational transmission and breaches of tradition
• Remembrance and oblivion between institution, power and ideology

The conference languages will be English and German. The presentations are intended to be
published in a special volume of a sociological journal after the conference.