Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

The Politics of Culture and Memory

Research focus

The Politics of Culture and Memory cluster seeks to comprehend our inheritance, values and the ways in which we see the world – the past world, the present world and the world of the future. We focus on different forms of identity, cultural difference and expression in order to understand what makes a fair society and how to build one. By exploring representations of a complex, contested or unsettled history, we aim to learn from past traumas in Europe and beyond and promote a better understanding and communication across cultures, communities and languages.

Culture, in its broadest sense, is the transmission of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives. It makes the human world a richer and more diverse place in which to live but it also has the power to create divisions, conflict and war. Self-reflection, the study of dystopia rather than utopia and a critical scrutiny of our past and core beliefs are therefore essential to develop a democratic community and live together better.

The Politics of Culture and Memory cluster brings together expertise across disciplines and languages and seeks to bring knowledge to public use. Through a multitude of projects and international collaborations such as UNREST or CO-CREATION, we create opportunities for knowledge exchange with partners beyond academia including museums, charities, NGOs and communities locally and internationally. Out sustained impact has been showcased in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework in the form of case studies and is expected to feed into public policies in different areas such as memory policy and urban policy.

We are a hub seeking to nurture future generations of researchers and offer PhD supervision in areas including:

  • memory policy
  • cultural diplomacy
  • emerging new identities and cultural mediations of societal change
  • gender and sexuality, their representation, actors and impact

 

Research strands

Museum Studies
As storehouses of knowledge and transmitters of history, museums play a vital role in mediating memory. The way they present their narratives and visitors’ responses to these displays can tell us much about how a given society perceives its participation in historical events. As storehouses of knowledge and transmitters of history, museums play a vital role in mediating memory. The way they present their narratives and visitors’ responses to these displays can tell us much about how a given society perceives its participation in historical events. As storehouses of knowledge and transmitters of history, museums play a vital role in mediating memory. The way they present their narratives and visitors’ responses to these displays can tell us much about how a given society perceives its participation in historical events. Researchers in the cluster work on how difficult history has been represented in the museum space with a view to collaborating with museum professionals to reflect on how to tell these stories in the future.

Memory and conflict
An important strand of research focuses on dark heritage and addresses issues related to both the memory of conflict and conflicts of memory. Cluster members have engaged with novel theoretical approaches as well as with specific case studies, exploring the changing nature of commemoration and remembering, constructions of victimhood and perpetratorship, and the politics and policies of memory. Particular attention has been placed on individual and collective socio-political agency.

Digital Humanities
The cluster cultivates a two-way relationship between cultural heritage and digital culture. We have a keen interest in exploring how digital tools and methods can be employed in the pursuit of humanities and social sciences and how these new technologies impact cultural heritage. We support and coordinate research in different settings throughout the university and Bath, with working relationships across the UK and beyond. Our research involves collaborative, trans-disciplinary and computationally engaged practices. We are particularly interested in how to make cultural heritage accessible in a meaningful and engaging way. Current projects include digitalization of artifacts, design and installation of Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences in museums, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Systems for indoor and outdoor heritage, gaming and participatory practices.

Cultural diplomacy
Researchers in the cluster investigate the role of cultural diplomacy as a tool of soft power, but also as a mechanism by which nation states and other actors seek to define their identity in the world and promote international understanding. Investigating the intersection between cultural policy and practice, PoLIS researchers also seek to provide a theoretical understanding of the effects of cultural diplomacy in its real-world applications. In 2012, researchers in the cluster received funding from the AHRC for the project Developing a New Framework for Understanding the Role of Cultural Products in Cultural Diplomacy (further details here).

Urban and rural Memory
Another strand of our research addresses conflicting memorial practices within local communities, urban or rural. We explore new identities that arise in multicultural urban cities on the outskirts of Greater Paris or in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Understanding the legacy of colonisation, slavery and decolonisation is key to understand present day conflicts and move towards more inclusive societies and sustainable urban communities. At the same time, urban memory is closely linked to the memory of rural communities because many of the migration processes are recent. We are also interested in the dialogue between urban and rural memories, between generations of migrants and their rural communities of origin, which favours intergenerational and inter-territorial integration and recognition.

Transnational identities
The borders of states are permeable, despite the construction of walls or physical isolation by the sea. Our research focuses on transnational identities forged through migration processes and in armed conflicts such as wars. Transnational identities have an individual component, but above all they are collective, the fruit of exchanges, collaborations and common experiences. Our research addresses the construction of these transnational identities in the context of globalization in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and ‘re-nationalisation’ of politics marked by the current rise of isolationist and nationalist movements in Europe.

Researchers in the cluster work on how difficult history has been represented in the museum space with a view to collaborating with museum professionals to reflect on how to tell these stories in the future.

Members

Staff Research Interests

Dr Christina Horvath

(Cluster Head)

 

  • Contemporary urban narratives in France and the Francophone world
  • Disapora and representations of ethnic minorities
  • The city in contemporary literature, film and art
  • Migration, communities, multiculturalism, cosmopolitan, otherness
  • Memory and identity in the Francphone world
  • Postcolonial and cultural studies

Dr Jorge Marco

(Cluster Head)

  • Memory and legacy of conflict
  • Transnational resistance in Europe
  • Spain's divided memory
  • Political violence
  • Left-wing social movements and parties
Prof Anna Bull
  • Memory and legacy of conflict
  • Italian fascism and neofascism
  • The Lega Nord
  • Regionalism
  • Federealism
  • Political Cultures ansd
Dr David Clarke
  • The politics of memory
  • Cultural memory
  • Memorial museums
  • Cultural diplomacy
Dr Juan Pablo Ferrero
  • Democracy
  • Social Movements
  • Discourse Theory
  • Populism
  • Left-wing politics
  • Latin American politics
Dr Adalgisa Giorgio
  • Contemporary Italian women writers
  • Post-war Neopolitan writing
  • Place, gender and identity
  • Feminist theory
  • Literary representation of the mother-daughter relationship
  • Literary representation of home/house
  • Cultural representations of childhood
  • Translation studies and literary representation
Prof Axel Goodbody
  • Environmental discourse
  • Place and identity
  • The (German and comparative) literature of climate change
  • Nature writing
  • Cultural transformation of East Germany
  • Eco-critical theory
Dr Aurelien Mondon
  • French and Australian history and politics
  • The extreme right
  • Race, racism and nationalism
  • Populism, voting and democracy
Dr Nina Parish
  • 20th/21st century French literature and the visual arts
  • Modernism, the avant-gardes, modern and contemporary poetry
  • The artists book
  • Interdisciplinary studies (text and image)
  • Representing the migrant experience within the museum space
Dr Nicholas Startin
  • The Mainstreaming of Eurospecticism in nation states
  • The rise of the Far Right in contemporary France
  • The Bexit Vote
  • French elections and political parties

Dr Karoline Von Oppen

 

  • Media in Germany and the UK
  • Balkan States
  • German Identity politics
  • Travel writing
Dr Steve Wharton
  • Contemporary social movements (LGBT activism in Britain and France)
  • Persuasion, propaganda and political marketing
  • The 'pink economy'

Dr Bryan Wong

 

  • China and East Asia in the world
  • Statecraft and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region
  • The biblical notion of the 'Principalities and Powers'
  • and the possibility for a 'prophetic social science' in East Asia
  • Comparative development in the Global South and post-colonial security studies
Research Students
Research
Sarah Girffiths

Thesis Title: What are the societal and political implications of virtual memorialisation of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum?

Research Interests

  • Virtual memorialisation
  • Memory theory

Publications

  • Bull, A. C., 2013. Ending Terrorism in Italy, jointly with Philip Cooke, Abingdon: Routledge
  • Bull, A. C., 2016. ‘On Agonistic Memory’ (with H. L. Hansen), in Memory Studies, 9 (4), pp. 390-404
  • Giorgio, A. (ed), 2016 'Minori a Napoli tra globale e locale: Voci e autorappresentatiozioni dopo Gomorra'. Nuova Corvina, 29, pp.71-83
  • Giorgio, A., Dec, 2015. 'Motherhood and Work in Italy: A socio-cultural perspective'. Special Issue on Mothering and Work in Italy in the Twenty-First Century: Culture and Society, edited by Adalgisa Giorgio, Journal of Romance Studies, 15 (3), pp.1-21
  • Horvath, C. 2014. 'Peripheral palimpsests: Competing layers of memory and commemoration in contemporary banlieue narratives, Francospheres', Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.123-244
  • Horvath, C. (Dir. With Juliet Carpenter) 'Regards croises sur la banlieue, Bruxelles', Peter Lang, 2015
  • Horvath, C. 2016. 'Quelle place pour les flaneuses dans las banlieues francaises?' What place for "flaneuses" in French suburbs? Science de la Societe, pp.47-65 n.97.
  • Horvath, C. 2017. 'Droit de cite au feminin: femmes, espace et violence dans les recites de balieues comtemporains, Faure, E. et allii, La Ville: quel genre, Paris: Les Temps des Cerises, 69-98
  • Marco, J. 2016. Guerrilleros and Neighbours in Arms: Identities and Cultures of Anti-fascist Resistance in Spain' Brighton, Sussex Academic Press, 2016
  • Marco,J., 2016 (with P. Anderson) "Legitimacy by proxy: searching for a usable past through the international Brigades in Spain's Post-Franco democracy, 1975-2015" Journal of Modern European History, 14-3
  • Marco, J., 2017. "Francoist Crimes: Denial and Invisibility (1936-2016), Journal of Contemporary History, 52-1

Events