Memory in Action

Barr, Nicolaas P., Jazmine Contreras, and Johanna Mellis. "Memory in action: Reflections on multidirectionality's possibilities in the classroom." Memory Studies 16, no. 6 (2023): 1671-1678.


Our essay examines the use of multidirectional memory in three different classrooms and institutions. It reflects on the possibilities and challenges of a multidirectional framework for Europeanists seeking to teach students how to identify and/or commemorate historical linkages between minoritized groups, encourage students to develop bonds of solidarity among themselves, and diversify and globalize their syllabi. Reading authors such as W.E.B Du Bois, Amié Césaire, and William Gardener Smith through a multidirectional lens helped students place events such as the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Algerian Revolution in conversation with one another while staying attuned to the spaces between particularist and universalist readings of the past. Discussing media sources such as films La Haine and Battle of Algiers within this larger multidirectional context give students a frame with which to imagine alternative trajectories of memory and solidarity in Europe. Finally, by applying their understanding of multidirectional memory to a real-life scenario in a commemorative proposal, students attempt to grasp the never-finished complexities of creating liberatory, solidarity-based historical commemorations. We argue that the concept of multidirectional memory helps students to develop a stronger sense of investment in learning about the complex historical legacies of persecution of violence and to engage more critically with the competitive memory frameworks that remain dominant in contemporary political discourse about antisemitism and racism.

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