Memory Laws: Criminalizing Historical Narrative

Friday, October 27, 2017 to Saturday, October 28, 2017
1219 IAB -and- Second Floor Common Room, Heyman Center for the Humanities

Please join us for a two-day conference co-sponsored by the Harriman Institute, Institute for the Study of Human Rightsthe Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the HumanitiesCenter for Israel and Jewish Studies, and Columbia University Seminar on History, Redress and Reconciliation.

For up to date information on this event please visit the event page on the Heyman Center website.

The Friday session will be held in 1219 International Affairs Building, and the Saturday Session in the Second Floor Common Room at the Heyman Center for the Humanities. Click here for directions to the Heyman Center. Note that to access the venue you must provide picture ID and sign in at the security desk. Seating is available on a first come, first seated basis.

Since the 1980s, interest in politically and legally shaping public memory regarding the Holocaust and other crimes perpetrated during the Second World War has been evident in a wide variety of arenas. One manifestation of the trend has been the increasing demand for the right to truth, which is purportedly a precondition to conflict resolution and policies of redress.  At the same time, however, there is an increased recognition of the propensity for conflicting narratives about the past, particularly instrumentalized narratives about group identity and violent pasts, to escalate hostilities among nations, ethnicities and/or religions. These hostilities, anchored as they are in the collective memory and history of conflict, have become subject to extensive legislation, with the criminalization of statements about history and violent pasts becoming more commonplace. 

This workshop will explore narratives that engage the memory of past violence in contemporary policies and the politics surrounding the legislation of historical memory. Given the central role that the Holocaust and other mass atrocities have played with regard to human rights concepts today, the memory laws that address these topics, as well as the role of history in conflict resolution, are also of interest. Finally, the workshop will pay particular attention to censorship and punitive measures that aim to constrain counter-narratives to established national identities and to freedom of expression.


Tarik AmarAssociate Professor of History, Columbia University

Omer BartovJohn P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Professor of German Studies, Brown University

Fatma Müge GöçekProfessor of Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan

Stephanie GolobProfessor of International Relations and Comparative Politics, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Jan Tomasz GrossNorman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society, emeritus; Professor of History, emeritus, Princeton University

Yifat GutmanSenior Lecturer, Ben-Gurion University

Robert KahnProfessor of Law, University of St. Thomas

Yukiko KogaAssistant Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College

Nikolay KoposovVisiting Professor, Russian, Emory University

Eva-Clarita PettaiSenior Researcher at the Institute of Government and Politics, University of Tartu

Henry RoussoResearch Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Victoria SanfordProfessor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Dubravka StojanovicProfessor of Philosophy, University of Belgrade

Lars WaldorfSenior Lecturer, Centre for Applied Human Rights, York Law School

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