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  • University of Bath

How We Remember War and Violence: Theory and Practice

Compare three models of remembering, exploring how the new model of ‘agonistic memory’ can help us better understand conflict.

2,152 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    1 hour

Consider how we recall war and violence and discover a different way to remember

Our memories of conflict are often used against us. Nationalist movements manipulate the story - offering confrontational, harmful perspectives. But there’s a different way.

This course takes a new approach to remembering, ‘agonistic memory’. You’ll explore how it improves upon the other two models of memory - ‘cosmopolitan memory’ and ‘antagonistic memory’, going on to see how agonistic memory can be used in your own work to relate more accurately to the past.

By the end of this course, you’ll understand how the various models are used today - and will have a new way to look at history.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Welcome to this course. I’m Dr David Clarke. And I’m Dr Nina Parish. And we’re your Lead Educators on this MOOC. Every individual has their own memories of the past, and their own understanding of historical events. However, that individual understanding is also shaped by the stories we tell about the past, as families, as communities, and as nations. Those stories can be expressed in all kinds of ways. For example, through museums and monuments, in television and film, or in rituals and festivals. These all look to the past to shape our sense of who we are in the present. Mass violence and wars in the 20th century meant that European societies have had to find ways of leaving these conflicts behind them.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds Constructing memories was an important way of doing this. Each society managed their national memory differently. Various roles were adopted and assigned, including the victorious and the defeated, the victims and the perpetrators, the guilty and the innocent. One of the ways that Europe sought to overcome division and conflict after the Second World War was through European integration. European societies have experienced a so called memory boom. Politicians, the media, artists, film makers, and authors have also contributed to our fascination with the past. All across Europe, populist and nationalist movements are using the heritage of war and violence to push confrontational notions of collective belonging.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds This course brings together groundbreaking research into memory theory with practical case studies from mass grave exhumations to museum exhibitions, from theatre productions to computer games. In this course, we will try to understand where existing ways of remembering are falling short, how new research is making a difference, and why museum professionals, artists, and civil society activists are key to developing this innovative approach. We will provide you with cutting edge theory and practical tools to help you apply the latest research to your own projects and products. Join us as we question how we remember war and violence in 20th century Europe.

What topics will you cover?

  • What are the different types of memory in Europe today?
  • Theoretical and practical examples of antagonistic and cosmopolitan memory.
  • What is agonistic memory?
  • How has agonistic memory been applied in museums, in education and at sites of mass exhumations?
  • Case studies testing an agonistic mode of remembering: a Spanish theatre performance and museum exhibits in Germany and Northern Ireland.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify, describe and compare three models of memory - cosmopolitan, antagonistic and agonistic
  • Evaluate and summarise the shortcomings of antagonistic and cosmopolitan memory
  • Reflect on and debate 'agonistic remembering'
  • Engage with and discuss applications of agonistic memory in different environments
  • Discuss and develop how you might best apply agonistic memory in your own heritage context

Who is the course for?

The course will be of interest to policymakers who are responsible for funding and coordinating commemorative activities. It would also be of interest to civic organisations in the field of memory and commemoration, and museum professionals - including directors, curators, conservators, and educators.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Bath and researcher on the EU-funded H2020 UNREST project, looking at innovative memory practices in sites of trauma including war museums.

I am a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath and a researcher on the EU-funded project Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe (UNREST).

I am a post-doctoral researcher working at the University of Bath as part of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 UNREST team. I'm looking forward to getting your feedback on our findings in this MOOC!

Who developed the course?

University of Bath

The University of Bath is one of the UK’s leading universities both in terms of research and our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects.

Endorsers and supporters

funded by

Horizon 2020

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