AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Monthly Seminar

Figuring Memory: Social Practices and Collective Transformation with Lea David

University Room: Omid & Gisel Kordestani Rooftop Conference Center (Q-801)The American University of Paris | 6, rue du Colonel Combes | 75007 Paris
Virtual event via Zoom
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 17:00 to 19:00
Session 2: Discussing Lea David's book, The Past Can’t Heal Us. The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights, Cambridge University Press, 2020. 

Speaker: Lea David, Assistant Professor, Ad Astra Fellow, School of Sociology, University College Dublin (UCD) 

In this talk I will investigate, from a critical point of view, the relationship between human rights and memory, while bringing into question one of the most basic, deeply embedded presumptions in human rights and transitional justice: that ‘proper’ memorialization is a crucial step in establishing moral responsibility for past atrocities and, consequently, human rights values in conflict and post-conflict settings. I will address the rise of the human rights memorialization agenda, termed ‘Moral Remembrance’, and explore what happens in local communities once this agenda becomes implemented on the ground. Based on evidence from the Western Balkans and Israel/Palestine, the main argument I pose is that the human rights memorialization agenda, once transformed into policy-oriented memorialization efforts, creates false premises that, for the reasons elaborated in the lecture, in the long run, do not lead to a better appreciation of human rights but often transform into an oppressive force that only serves to strengthen divisions and leads to new forms of social inequalities. 

Lea David is a comparative historical sociologist with a strong interdisciplinary background in cultural anthropology and history. Her book The Past Can’t Heal Us: The Dangers of Mandating Memory in the Name of Human Rights just got published (2020) with Cambridge University Press. Lea David is a Co-Chair (together with Dr Gruia Badescu and Dr Jelena Djurainovic and Dr Magdalena Zolkos) of the Critical Thinking on Memory and Human Rights Research Group within the Memory Studies Association (MSA). Her research interests cover memory and memorialization processes; nationalism; human rights, ideologies; solidarity; activism; the intersection between the Holocaust and genocide, and conflicts in the former Yugoslav countries and in Israel/Palestine.  


Discussant: Cécile Jouhanneau, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier / ART-Dev

Cécile Jouhanneau is an Associate Professor of Political Science at University Paul-Valéry Montpellier / ART-Dev. Her research deals with war memories, international peacebuilding, post-conflict employment policies, and the political sociology of the war's aftermath in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has authored Sortir de la guerre en Bosnie-Herzégovine. Une sociologie politique du témoignage et de la civilité (Karthala, 2016) and co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding dedicated to the "Political Sociology of International Interventions: Peacebuilders and the Ground" (2019, 13: 3, with Gregory Daho & Nathalie Duclos). 

This virtual event will take place via Zoom. Registered guests will receive a Zoom link prior to this event.


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