03 Nov

The cultural memory of mass violence: Re-mediation and pre-mediation

Opening hours / Beginning:

9:00 am

3 November 2022


Online & Great Aula Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1 80539 München

Interdisciplinary conference, organized by the collaborative project "Discourses of Mass Violence in Comparative Perspective"

Cultural memory is shaped, not least, by the intertwined dynamics of re-mediation and premediation: On the one hand, formative events are represented again and again, over decades and centuries, in different media. On the other hand, such retrospective informs the representation of later events as existent media which circulate in a given society provide schemata for new experience. The workshop seeks to explore the dynamics of pre-mediation and re-mediation in the cultural memory of mass violence.

Two current phenomena call for this exploration: First, Russia’s weaponization of the memory of the fight against National Socialism in its 2022 war against Ukraine has puzzled audiences, notably in the West, and is usually considered as empty pretexts to manifest material or strategic interests. However, this does not fully comprehend the function of cultural memory in Russia’s propaganda since justifications of war are more than ‘cheap talk’ without normative meaning", as Lothar Brock and Hendrik Simon put it. "Even propaganda refers to an audience which constitutes itself around certain normative expectations", in this case the expectation of being on the morally right side, which is informed by the cultural memory of victory in World War II.

Second, while the concept of cultural memory has become well-established in academic, political, and popular discourse three decades since Jan Assmann’s Das kulturelle Gedächtnis (1992), it appears far from settled. The practices and politics informing cultural memory are currently a major site of scholarly, political, and popular dispute in traditional and social media. These disputes involve mutual allegations of instrumentalizing cultural memory for ideological and/or strategic agendas. Re-negotiations of the cultural memory of colonial history challenge the Holocaust paradigm of mass violence commemoration and show that the cultural memory of mass violence is remediated in local and national narratives that seem to resist a rearticulation is global terms.


  • 9 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Introduction
  • 9:15 a.m. - 10 a.m. Astrid Erll (Frankfurt), From 'memory after violence' to 'memory before violence'
  • 10 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Dominik Markl (Georgetown), Antiquity and Sacred Tradition in Imperial Justifications of Mass Violence
  • Coffee break
  • 11:15 a.m. - 12 noon Christoph Thonfeld (Dachau), “I do not want to talk publicly, but if I am asked, I respond as well as possible.”
    Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and the Medialisation of Holocaust Memory
  • 12 noon - 12:45 p.m. Miranda Jakiša (Vienna), (Re-)Mediating Srebrenica: Holocaust Memory and Competitive Victimhood after Yugoslavia
  • Lunch break
  • 2:15 p.m. - 3 p.m. Stephanie Bird (London), Merle Kröger's ‘Die Experten’ and its Thrilling Intervention in Memory Polemics
  • 3 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Juliane Prade-Weiss (Munich), Foregrounding the Media of Memory: Transgenerational Trauma in Stepanova’s ‘In Memory of Memory‘
  • Coffee break
  • 4:15 p.m. - 6 p.m. Panel discussion with Martin Schulze Wessel (Munich): Russland – Ukraine: Krieg um die Erinnerung

This event will be held in German and English. Please register for streaming.

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