2001/2002 Fellows Program
The 2001/2002 Fellows Program at the Warren Center is entitled "Memory, Identity, and Political Action." The program will be co-directed by Vanderbilt faculty members William James Booth (political science), Larry J. Griffin (sociology, political science, and American and Southern studies) and Michael Kreyling (English).
This seminar will consider the role that memory plays in shaping identity and justifying political action. In an age in which the creation of museums and memorials, the invocation of cultural lineage and heritage, and national or collective attributions of guilt or appeals for redemption for past horrors have become commonplace, an examination of the political implications of memory becomes especially important. The new century, which once seemed to promise a new globalism transcending the particular political attachments of an earlier age, has begun in an upsurge in nationalist and other particularist politics, whose agendas depend upon invocations of memory and continuity with the past. Memory allows groups to define, comprehend, affirm, and project who they are, where they are situated relative to others, and how they construct a moral identity.
The Fellows will investigate memory as an active agent in experiencing the past, in ascertaining the past's moral and emotional significance, and in spurring or retarding political action premised on some understanding of that past's morality. In other words, they will consider memory less as a cognitive device allowing us merely to know the past than as a means of defining an ethical dimension of life, a sense of one person's or community's accountability across time and to others. Questions that may be taken up include how memories are transmuted into identities, the extent to which memory is voluntary or involuntary, the bases of shared memories and the reasons for contested memories, and the political and moral impact of collective amnesia. Rich historical cases and cultural sites for inquiry into these issues abound: apology, historical reckoning and national efforts at reconciliation in South Africa, post-Communist Eastern Europe, the United States, and elsewhere; ethnic conflicts in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Ireland; identity-based separatist movements in Africa, North America, Europe, and East Asia; the Holocaust and its continuing legacies; and the political crystallization of African-American identities.
Five Vanderbilt University faculty members will be selected to join the program's co-directors in the year-long seminar. The Warren Center will also sponsor a Visiting Fellow with expertise in the area of study. The program's specific sites of inquiry will be shaped by the Visiting Fellow and the Vanderbilt faculty Fellows. Information regarding both the internal and external application processes can be obtained from the Warren Center.
For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.
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