Document Actions

Current work

Forthcoming publications

  • Book chapter: ‘Trauma and Memory’, in Trauma and Literature, ed. Roger Kurtz (Cambridge Critical Concepts). Cambridge UP (forthcoming March 2018)
  • Co-edited book (with Ann Lewis), Adapting the Canon. Remediation, Visualisation, Interpretation. Oxford: Legenda (forthcoming 2018)
  • Book project: Challenging Histories – Painful Pasts: : Memory and Mourning in Museums and Heritage Sites (planned publication date 2020)

How do we deal with violence, loss and death on a collective scale as a society? In the aftermath of painful histories and ongoing legacies of dictatorships, genocides, warfare, forced migrations and (environmental) destruction, it falls to memory museums to facilitate public and communal encounters in which visitors from a wide range of backgrounds can be confronted with these events and their fallouts. In predominantly secular societies there are only very few cultural institutions that provide the public with liminal and yet safe spaces where these emotionally and ethically fraud encounters can be played out. Museums generate rituals, iconographies and social practices of mourning in which audiences can come face to face with contested memories of violence, guilt, loss and death. Some of these museums do not only enable cathartic release, but provide their visitors with the opportunity to work towards emotional resilience and ethical restitution.

In this context I interrogate preconceived assumptions about the relationship between affect/emotion/cognition and experience/empathy: just because we have ‘felt’ and experienced something, does it mean we are any closer to understanding it? Key questions are the role of interactive media forms (from the oral to the performative and digital) in this process, how memory practices and performances are negotiated among groups of stakeholders, and how supposedly very different modes of relating to the past (trauma/nostalgia) complement and inform each other in unexpected ways as audiences engage with historical interpretations. One of my case studies is a comparative and transnational analysis of commemorative projects around the First World War Centenary.