Year of Memory and Politics in Europe


The European Studies Center (ESC), as part of the Jean Monnet European Union Center of Excellence Grant from the European Union, and based upon consultation with the Center’s Faculty Advisory Board, announced its theme for the 2019-2020 academic year and invited proposals from faculty and graduate students for events organized around this theme:  Memory and Politics in Europe.

Throughout the year, the ESC offered support for interdisciplinary programming that addresses the role of memory in contemporary European society, culture, and politics. Memory and Politics invites comparative and transnational approaches to understanding contemporary Europe. On both sides of the Atlantic, memory has recently been mobilized by individuals or groups across the political spectrum to serve specific political ends, from populist invocations of heroic pasts (real or imagined) meant to appeal to nationalist identities, to debates over contested monuments (celebrating an imperial past). Moreover, over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, several important anniversaries were remembered: not least of which are the tumultuous events of 1989 that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. Research has shown memory to be untrustworthy and malleable, and yet it often informs firmly-held beliefs and individual sense of identity. Memory is both personal and collective and it is as much about what is remembered as it is about what is forgotten.

The theme invited broad interpretation. Proposals from all disciplines were welcomed and encouraged. Topics related to the theme included (but were not limited to): nostalgia or regret; populist appeals to (or politicization of) some real or imagined version of the past; forgetting and remembering; lieux de mémoire, commemoration; preservation; museums; identity politics; literary or visual constructions of the past; collective or personal identities and histories.  Projects that linked the ESC theme of Memory and Politics in Europe to the Provost's Year of Creativity initiative for AY 2019-2020 were welcome (ESC funds could be used toward the match funds required by the Provost's Office). 


2019-2020 Program for Year of Memory and Politics in Europe 

October 2, 2019 – Film Screening: Goodbye Lenin (1998)

  • 332 Cathedral of Learning, 5 - 8 PM
  • Film screening followed by a roundtable discussion of nostalgia for communism
  • Co-sponsored by the Department of German (German Campus Weeks)

October 8, 2019 – Conversations on Europe Virtual Roundtable: Germany Since 1989: Do Differences Persist after Reunification?

  •  211 David Lawrence, 1:30 - 3 PM

October 15, 2019 – JMEUCE Lecture: Maria Todorova, "Imagining Utopia, 1870s-1920s The Lost World of Socialists at Europe’s Margins"

  • 4130 Posvar Hall, 12:30 - 2 PM
  • Lunch will be provided
  • Co-sponsored by the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

October 30, 2019 GERMAN CAMPUS WEEKS LECTURE: Philipp Oswalt, “Reconstructions, Utopia, Nation. Architecture as a Tool of Identity-Constructions in Germany Since 1989”

  • Humanities Center, 4 - 6 PM
  • In cooperation with the Department of German (German Campus Weeks)

December 5, 2019 – Eyewitnesses to History Panel: Remembering 1989 Roundtable

  • 540 William Pitt Union, 3 - 5 PM
  • Co-sponsored by the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

January 30, 2020 – JMEUCE Lecture: Peter Verovšek, "Caught Between 1945 and 1989 - Memory, Democracy, and the Future of Europe"

  • 4130 Posvar Hall, 12:30 - 2 PM
  • Lunch will be provided

February 11, 2020 – Lecture: Robert Hayden (University of Pittsburgh), Imagined Commemorations: EU Unremembering of the Great War, 1914/2014

  • 2431 Posvar Hall, 4 - 5:30 PM
  • Co-sponsored by the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

February 18, 2020 – Conversations on Europe Virtual Roundtable: Monuments and Contested Memory in Europe

  • 4217 Posvar Hall, 12 - 1:30 PM

February 27, 2020 – Lecture: Sophia Rosenfeld (University of Pennsylvania), Democracy and “Truth”

  • 4130 Posvar Hall, 12:30 - 2 PM
  • Lunch will be provided

March 3, 2020 – DAAD Lecturer: Paweł Machcewicz, “Historical Memory and Politics in Poland. The story of the Gdańsk Museum of the Second World War”

  • 4217 Posvar Hall, 12 - 1:30 PM
  • Lunch will be provided
  • Co-sponsored by the Department of History

March 17, 2020 – Conversations on Europe Virtual Roundtable: Borders and Contested Memory in Northern Ireland

  • 4217 Posvar Hall, 12 - 1:30 PM

April 2, 2020 – Film Screening: The Silence of Others (2018)

  • Presentation Room 323, Alumni Hall, 3:30 - 6 PM
  • Film screening followed by a roundtable discussion featuring Cristina Blanco Sío-López (Marie Sklodowska Curie Senior Global Fellow) and Pablo Fernandez-Vazquez (Department of Political Science).

April 14, 2020 – Conversations on Europe (en français): Lieux de mémoire -- un an après le feu à Notre Dame

  • 4217 Posvar Hall, 12 - 1:30 PM
  • Conducted entirely in French



Call for proposals:  
NOTE:  The ESC is no longer accepting proposals for the Year of Memory and Politics.  See our website for the current year's theme and call.

Faculty are encouraged to submit proposals for visitors, events, lectures, symposia, colloquia, films or videoconferences that relate to the theme “Memory and Politics” and connect the theme to contemporary Europe

  • Small grants (up to $1,000) are available to provide matching funds which can be combined with funding from other sources to carry out the proposed event. 
  • Separate funding ($1,500 plus fringe) is available to instructors interested in teaching a Pop-Up Course (a one-credit hour course conducted in any format) related to the theme and the region.
  • In addition, the ESC is seeking faculty ideas for the Center’s monthly virtual roundtable series, Conversations on Europe, that relate to the theme. These virtual roundtables connect audiences at Pitt and other EU Centers across the country with 3-4 experts anywhere in the world in interactive discussions around a topic related to Europe. Faculty with related research interests or who are teaching a course that connects in some way to the theme might propose one of the topics that are addressed. Particular weight will be given to faculty who wish to include the virtual roundtable in their syllabus (please indicate in the proposal when in the semester—Fall or Spring—the virtual roundtable would best fit into the syllabus). Proposals may be just for topics you would like to see the ESC address, but can also include ideas for prospective panelists and suggestions for Pitt faculty who could serve as panelists or as moderator. The ESC will provide all of the administrative support necessary for organizing and conducting the videoconference, including issuing invitations, test calls, promotion, and day off event support. 

Graduate students are also eligible for support and can submit proposals for one of three forms of funding:

  • Small grants (up to $250) are available to provide matching funds which can be combined with funding from other sources to carry out a proposed event. 
  • To present your research related to the theme in our monthly Pizza and Politics series.

Funding for the “Year of” initiatives at the ESC comes in part from a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence Grant from the European Union, with additional support from the Center’s National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.  Please note that due to the nature of funding for this program, all proposals must connect in some way to contemporary Europe.

To apply:
Proposals for the ESC Year of Memory and Politics funding will be accepted on a rolling basis until the funds run out. 

To apply for event co-funding, please submit a one-page write up of the proposed activity at least three weeks in advance of the event.  Proposals for events that have already taken place will not be considered.

To propose a pop-up course, your one-page write up should describe the course, how you plan to meet the required number of contact hours, and confirmation of support for the project by your department chair. Proposals for pop-up or mini-courses should be made at least two months in advance of when the course is expected to start to ensure that there is enough time to get the word out to students.

To propose a topic for a Conversations on Europe virtual roundtable, a brief paragraph description is sufficient, but please do clarify whether or not you would intend to participate (as either moderator or panelist), any ideas you may have for panelists to invite, how it would connect to a course you or a colleague is teaching, when and in which semester it would best occur.  Ideas for topics that don’t specifically relate to the “Year of” theme but which respond to current events are also welcome.