13. Dezember 2022

Call for Papers: Commemorating the Second World War in the 'young 21st century' Call for Papers: Commemorating the Second World War in the 'young 21st century'

Deadline: January 29th, 2023

La Cambe German war cemetery
La Cambe German war cemetery © pixabay – dendoktoor
Alle Bilder in Originalgröße herunterladen Der Abdruck im Zusammenhang mit der Nachricht ist kostenlos, dabei ist der angegebene Bildautor zu nennen.

While the end of the Cold War in December 1991 arguably heralded the start of a new global epoch, the continuance of the ‘memory boom’ testifies to the fact that this did not include letting go of the past. Into the 21st century, our pasts are still of significant public importance, both individually and collectively, and the World Wars have proved to hold particular interest. Take for example the box office success of movies like ‘1917’ or ‘Operation Mincemeat’ and continuing acts of remembrance across the UK, Europe and the Commonwealth, which ensure that the horrors and huge losses of life during war are not forgotten. The new millennium saw the establishment of a UN-wide commemorative day and the construction of several new monuments, including the 2005 inauguration of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the ongoing controversy around the construction of a UK Holocaust Memorial in London.

Nearly 80 years after the end of the Second World War, commemorative events, initiatives, customs and places have not lost (or have regained) their role in the shaping of national identities in Europe. However, over the last 30 years transformation processes have arisen that altered the way commemoration is performed, perceived and participated in. The digital revolution, the declining voice of contemporary witnesses and the increasing temporal and personal distance of younger generations to the commemorated past have led commemorative practices to evolve. Additionally, current political controversies (e.g. Brexit, 2015 European migrant crisis, climate change, Covid-19) as well as new conflicts (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine) have influenced the public image of past wars and war crimes.

How has the Second World War been commemorated globally since 1991? How has public perception of and participation in commemorative activity and consumption changed? What strategies have been used to mobilise new technologies and navigate geo-political challenges? What controversies were triggered, narratives adjusted, new formats developed, or new media utilised?

These questions, among others, will be discussed at the conference organised by the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York, and the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Bonn. Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following aspects of Second World War commemoration in the ‘young 21st century’ (1990-2023):

  • Commemorative events, initiatives or customs with local, national or transnational scope
  • Commemoration and the Commonwealth and Empire
  • Digital commemoration before and during the Covid-19 pandemic)
  • Intergenerational impact of and approaches to World war commemoration
  • Politics of war commemoration and influence of current political issues on war commemoration
  • Silences and absences
  • Narrative imbedding of 21st century wars or ongoing conflicts into existing commemorative traditions
  • Initiators: state/government, church, NGOs, educational institutions, media, companies, grassroots movements, community based initiatives, private parties etc.
  • Roles of contemporary witnesses
  • Roles of institutions (museums, archives etc.)

We welcome papers that address commemorative practices outside of Europe and North America, as well as papers which are attentive to issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality.

The conference will take place in York from 20-21 July 2023. The working language is English. Presentations are scheduled for 20 minutes. Expenses for travel and accommodation may be reimbursed for presenters whose institution does not cover them.

We invite proposals with an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short biographical note (max. 150 words) by 29th January. Submissions should be sent to nng@uni-bonn.de. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of February 2023. The programme will be published by April 2023.

We look forward to receiving your applications.

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