The 1st Annual Eudaimonia Lecture on the Human Sciences

Professor Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University, Denmark) will give a lecture titled "Responsible Forgetting: Democracy, Free Speech, and Cosmopolitan Memory"

The lecture will be followed by comments from Dr. Kalle Pihlainen and Dr. Anniina Leiviskä from the University of Oulu before the floor will be opened to the audience.

Some food and drinks will be served after the talks.

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Western memory and Western media do not appear to foster social peace. Academics are disappointed with the effects of the self-critical memory of the Holocaust that they have championed for three decades and that has been adopted by the UN and the EU. The cosmopolitan memory of the Holocaust has neither prevented a series of troublesome human rights violation since the 1980s nor averted the rise of right-wing, nationalistic movements in democratic societies.

It might be time to retire cosmopolitan memory and develop new mnemonic strategies of violence prevention. At the same time, politicians, political activists, and journalists, inspired by the Black-Lives-Matter, the Me-Too, and the new ecological movement are frustrated with the highly efficient, digitally supercharged communication loops that reproduce racism, sexism, and climate change denial in contemporary societies.

The frustrations of academics and activists point towards the need for new memory cultures that can effectively curb the social reproduction of violence, prejudice, and propaganda, for example by way of censorship. Both frustrations raise the question of how to forget the past responsibly. A look at ambitious censorship regimes for instance in Nazi Germany, Communist China, and inside the social media giant Facebook reveals that social forgetting is an attainable goal although mnemonic censorship is a blunt, unpredictable political tool and undermines democratic exchange.

The exasperation with cosmopolitan memory and digital media and the call for political intervention thus raise a veritable and frightful conundrum: does the goal of using purposeful forgetting to reduce rates of collective violence and to save the planet require dismantling basic human rights?

Place and time:
Thursday, 19.05.2022, 16:15
Agora Lecture Hall, University of Oulu. The event will also be livestreamed on the University of Oulu YouTube channel.

For catering purposes - please register to the event no later than 9 May

For more information - contact: Georg Gangl and/or Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (

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Last updated: 9.5.2022