AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Monthly Seminar

Figuring Memory: Social Practices and Collective Transformation with Dr Tom Pettinger

Virtual event via Zoom
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 - 17:00 to 19:00

The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention invites you to join session 5 of the research seminar Figuring Memory: Social Practices and Collective Transformation, organized in partnership with the CNRS, the ENS Paris-Saclay, Paris Nanterre University and Sciences Po. Please register using the form at the bottom of this page.

Session 5: “Temporality and Collective Memory: The Contested Use of Counter-Extremism in ‘Post’-conflict Societies”

Speaker: Dr Tom Pettinger, University of Warwick

How is violence remembered, why is it remembered in particular ways, and what possibilities does that memory produce? The memory of violence is evident in places scarred by terrorism campaigns, and is manifested by innumerable social practices, from ongoing violence to peace efforts - and by physical infrastructure, like statues, graves, and conflict murals. My research interrogates places where these social practices and physical markers of conflict are evident - particularly Northern Ireland, and also the Western Balkans. What does collective memory of conflict in these places tell us about the reasons violence occurs - and how does this memory intersect with efforts to promote coexistence and peace there?

Studying the memory of "the Troubles" in two Northern Irish cities, my research illuminates post-conflict society as resistant to the premises of countering violent-extremism (CVE) programmes. CVE is being instituted across Europe as a catch-all solution to the perceived problem of terrorism, often enacted through socio-psychological interventions for potentially problematic individuals. Yet societies characterized by conflict resist the premises of these programmes. What does that resistance tell us - both about these places, and about the utility of contemporary efforts to prevent violence? Can places that remember terrorism so widely (through social practices and physical landscapes) be made peaceable through counter-extremism programmes like the UK's Prevent scheme?

Peace workers speak of counter-extremism as "nonsense", conflict murals speak of profound political fractures, and bullet-ridden buildings speak of unresolved violence. By unpacking the centrality of conflict memory, my research uncovers how the dominant "counter-extremism" and "counter-radicalization" paradigm is not deployed as a tool of terrorism prevention in societies ravaged by violence. Analysing collective memory of conflict is necessary to understand the the continuation of violence - and the making of peace - in places where it matters the most.

Dr Tom Pettinger is a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, working at the intersection of critical security, geography, and memory studies. His research explores 'terrorism' and the turn towards preemptive politics, with a particular focus on efforts to prevent violence. His doctoral research investigated the British Prevent programme (especially its Channel ‘de-radicalization’ interventions), in light of the British experience of ‘the Troubles' in Northern Ireland. He conducted over 50 research interviews with Prevent officials, and Northern Irish peace workers and former combatants. He is currently working on the Research Council of Norway's RIPPLES project, where he examines societal responses to terror. Tom convenes BISA’s Critical Terrorism Studies working group.


Discussant: Sara Dybris McQuaid (PhD), Aarhus University

Sara Dybris McQuaid (PhD) is Associate Professor in British and Irish History, Society and Culture at Aarhus University. She is a founding member and core research partner in Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts at University of Copenhagen and she is the Danish representative on the managing committee of the EU COST action Slow Memory: Transformative Practices for Times of Uneven and Accelerating Change. Her research pivots around how collectives remember, forget and archive their past, particularly as part of conflict and peacebuilding processes. She has published extensively on ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland and is currently working on dynamics of ‘multi-level memory governance’ and ‘Administrations of Memory’. Her recent publications include ‘Politics and Narrative in Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations’ (Co-editor Fearghal McGarry) (2022) and ‘Administrations of Memory: Transcending the Nation and Bringing Back the State in Memory Studies’ (Co-editor Sarah Gensburger) (2019). She teaches in the English Degree Programme; the BA specialization in Conflict and Narrative and the MA in Intercultural Studies at Aarhus University. Webpage

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


Sorry, registrations are no longer available for Figuring Memory: Social Practices and Collective Transformation with Dr Tom Pettinger