University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Contested Past, Contested Present: Social Memories and Human Rights in Post-Communist Europe. March 4-6, 2015

Contested Past, Contested Present:
Social Memories & Human Rights in Post-Communist Europe

A conference organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence Collaborative

buchenwald memorial himka crop

Wednesday, March 4, at 7:30pm
Best Buy Theater, Northrop

Bringing the Past Back to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Post-Communist Europe
Keynote Lecture by John-Paul Himka (University of Alberta).
Welcome: Barbara Frey (Collaborative Co-Chair)
Introduction: Evelyn Davidheiser

Thursday, March 5
1210 Heller Hall

9:00am Welcoming Remarks
Dean John Coleman, invited; Alejandro Baer (Collaborative Co-Chair)

9:30-11:30am Session 1: Competing Images of the Past: Stalinism vs. Nazism
Lars Breuer (Free University of Berlin): “Victimhood in Vernacular Memory in Germany and Poland”
Matti Jutila (University of Minnesota): “Constructing Genocidal Marxism in Post-Communist Europe”
Respondent: Alejandro Baer (University of Minnesota)

Download: audio, small video, or original.

1:30-3:30pm Session 2: Accounting for the Past: Truth and Justice in the former Yugoslavia
Sarah Wagner (George Washington University): “Recognizing Srebrenica’s Missing: The Sociopolitics of Forensic Intervention”
Jelena Subotic (Georgia State University): “The Mythologizing of Communist Violence”
Thomas C. Wolfe, (University of Minnesota): “History, Truth, and Method: Comments on Forensics and Justice”
Respondent: Barbara Frey (University of Minnesota)

Download: audio, small video, or original.

4:00-5:45pm Session 3: The Ukraine Conflict: Contested Past, Contested Present
John-Paul Himka (University of Alberta): “The History behind the Regional Conflict in Ukraine”
George O. Liber (University of Alabama – Birmingham): “The Ukrainian Revolution of 2013-2015 and the Russian Response.”
J. Brian Atwood (University of Minnesota): “The US Perspective on the Regional Conflict.”
Respondent: Mary Curtin (University of Minnesota)

Friday, March 6
1210 Heller Hall

9:00-11:00am Session 4: Law and Memory in Transition
Ryan Moltz (University of Minnesota): “Lustration in the Former Yugoslavia”
Adam Czarnota (UNSW Australia): “Collective Memories and Post-Communist Legal Institutions”
Nadya Nedelsky (Macalester College): “The Struggle for the Memory of the Nation: Slovakia’s Confrontation with its Competing Pasts” (note: Prof. Nedelsky’s talk is not included in footage)
Respondent: Joachim Savelsberg (University of Minnesota)

Download: audio, small video, or original.

11:30am-1:00pm Session 5: The Arts and the Politics of Representation
Michal Kobialka (University of Minnesota): “Of Contested Pasts and Contested Presents: Tadeusz Kantor’s Theatre and the Politics of Representation”
Margarita Kompelmakher (University of Minnesota): “Universality from the Margin? Performing the Explicit Body in the Belarus Free Theater’s Trash Cuisine”
Respondent: James Dawes (Macalester College)

Download: audio, small video, or original.

1:00pm Concluding Remarks

This conference is organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence Collaborative, which explores the particular developments and transnational entanglements of social memories in societies revisiting their legacies of dictatorship, state terror, and grave human rights violations. In the Collaborative’s second year, the focus is on post-Stalinist Europe and the contemporary processes of re-interpretation and re-framing of a) the atrocities themselves and b) the transitional justice models that were adopted in their aftermaths.

Sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Cosponsored by the Institute for Global Studies, Center for Austrian Studies, Department of Political Science, Department of History, Center for Jewish Studies, and the European Studies Consortium.

boris sveshnikov
Untitled 1951 oil on linen by Boris Sveshnikov

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  1. Event Review: International Symposium “Reframing Mass Violence: Social Memories and Human Rights in Post-Communist Europe” | The Center for Holocaust & Genocide StudiesDecember 12, 2015 at 10:13 amReply

    […] of the Holocaust in post-Communist Europe, especially its legacies in Poland and Ukraine. OnThursday and Friday, sessions covered different aspects of contested memories in post-Communist European countries, […]

  2. Louisa HextFebruary 28, 2015 at 10:29 amReply

    How do you register for this conference? Thank you.

    • Aaron Victorin-VangerudMarch 2, 2015 at 8:45 amReplyAuthor

      Try contacting Rochelle Hammer, coordinator of the UMN Human Rights Program, at

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