– Professor Astrid Erll gives an honorary doctor lecture at the University of Copoenhagen –

– Time: 10 Nov. 2023, 10:15-11:45, Place: South Campus, auditorium 23.0.50 and zoom

The war in Ukraine, accelerating climate change, and tenacious racism – these are just a few of the challenges Europeans see themselves faced with today.

It may sound surprising, but to a large extent, these are problems of collective memory. So, how can the interdisciplinary study of memory help us understand and address these challenges?

The war in Ukraine is fueled by Russian misconstructions of the past, which were a long time in the making (such as a sweeping ‘victim narrative’ ranging from Mongol invasions through the Great Patriotic War to today’s NATO). Our inability to react fast and adequately to climate change (despite seeing the evidence of floods and draughts at our very doorsteps) has also to do with ingrained habits of (not) thinking and (not) acting, which are passed on from generation to generation. And the fact that racism and antisemitism lingers in Europe and can suddenly erupt with full force is a result of the mechanism of collective memory, where nothing is ever fully forgotten.

This lecture is an introduction to the research of a relatively new field – memory studies – which connects history, sociology and psychology with language, media and culture studies, in order to understand how we construct the past and how the past shapes our present and future.