February 26, 2016: Seminar on defining ‘Central Europe’ as ‘shared memories’?

Leiden University’s Central and East European Studies Center cordially invites you to attend a seminar:

Christoph Leitgeb: Central European Places of Memory: A Typological Classification and Its Pitfalls

  • Date: Friday, February 26, 2016
  • Time: 16:00-17:00
  • Venue: Institute of Political Science (Leiden University, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences), Pieter de la Court building, Room 5.A19 (Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden)

Vienna_East_CourtDefining ‘Central Europe’

Defining Central Europe by its geographic borders is difficult. If this space were to be defined as the sphere of a ‘specific’ culture, it would be characterized by complexity, hybridity, and heterogeneity. Is it possible, then, to characterize that space ‘Central Europe’ by means of a common memory attached to its most representative places, as a jigsaw puzzle of lieux de memoires (Pierre Nora)?

Famous churches, castles, and other sights obviously trigger narrations of a conflicting, yet shared history. But do those narrations really add up to tell the story of ‘Central Europe’? Based on Nora, cultural studies and ethnology have identified also other kinds of places linked to memory (and its extinction): ‘traumatic places’ carrying the memory of the Holocaust (Aleida Assmann), for example, and hypermodern ‘non-places’ of transit (Marc Augé): These places might prove to be just as important for the construction of Central Europe as a cultural sphere.

Leitgeb proposes to to add the Un-Ort (‘un-place’) to this typology of places: the uncanny place of a memory still suppressed but just about to surface. He will introduce two Viennese locations as examples: Each of them will highlight the pitfalls as well as the potential of a typological identification of place and memory. Both will also illustrate some of the ambiguities Austrian politics face nowadays when confronted with memories of ‘Central Europe’.

Christoph LeitgebAbout Christoph Leitgeb

Christoph Leitgeb studied history, German, English and American Literature in Salzburg and works for the Austrian Academy of Science, as well as the University of Linz, and the University of Salzburg. He recently published (together with co-editors Hermann Blume and Michael Rössner) Narrated Communities – Narrated Realities (Brill 2015).

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