Family Memories (Un)Spoken: Exploring Postmemory of Forced Migration (Call for Abstracts)

The globally increasing rates of forced migration and displacement mean that the share of people facing temporary or permanent family separation is growing as well. Research has shown that family separation can have long-lasting implications on family members’ health and family life, but more research is needed on the intergenerational effects of forced migration and family separation. This workshop takes inspiration from scholarship that points to the prominent role that family reminiscence plays in the wellbeing and identities of people whose families’ past include forced migration, displacement, and persecution. The workshop explores the (dis)continuities of family memory when families are materially and socially separated for a long time or permanently, for example, in the context of restrictive migration regimes or repressive nation-states that push for silencing and forgetting.
Online via Zoom
October 7-8, 2021

Keynote speakers:

Postdoctoral Fellow Maryam Adjam (Umeå University, Sweden)

Professor Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University, USA) and Professor Emeritus Leo Spitzer (Dartmouth College, USA)

Assistant Professor Anna Wylegała (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland)

Deadline for abstracts: August 31, 2021

The program consists of three keynote speeches and three workshop sessions. The keynote speeches are open to everyone interested, but registration is required to receive the Zoom link: Please register by August 31, 2021.

In addition, we are inviting researchers at various career stages to submit an abstract for the workshop sessions. There will be no parallel sessions and, therefore, the maximum number of presenters is limited to 12 (four per session), ensuring fruitful discussion between scholars interested in similar research themes.

We invite papers that address the workshop theme, for example, through the following questions: How does forced migration affect intergenerational memory work in families? How can the concept of postmemory, as introduced by Marianne Hirsch, inform research on forced migration and family separation? How do families dispersed in different nation-states pass on and create family memories in the context of (transnational) repression? How do the “generations after” understand their family members’ past experiences, when forced migration is likely to produce intergenerational gaps and silences? What roles do forgetting and silence play in intergenerational memory work? To what extent and how are sensory memories transmitted in the absence of words and narratives?

Please submit your paper abstract (max. 300 words), along with your name, affiliation, and email address to Dr. Johanna Leinonen (johanna.leinonen(at) by August 31, 2021. We will notify about the acceptance of the submitted abstracts by September 7, 2021.

After the event, the presenters will be invited to submit their paper proposal to a peer-reviewed anthology focusing on family memory and displacement.

The event is organized by the project Postmemory of Family Separation: An Intergenerational Perspective (Academy of Finland, 2019-2023).

Preliminary program:

Thursday, October 7

13.00-13.15 Opening remarks

13.15-14.15 Postdoctoral Fellow Maryam Adjam (Umeå University, Sweden): After-Memory: The Poetics of the Remaining

14.15-14.45 Break

14.45-15.45 Assistant Professor Anna Wylegała (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland): Lost in Translation: Memory Transfer in the Families of Postwar Polish and Ukrainian Deportees

15.45-16.00 Break

16.00-17.00 Professor Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University, USA) and Professor Emeritus Leo Spitzer (Dartmouth College, USA): Displaced Children: Photography and Postmemory in Liquid Time

Friday, October 8

10.15-12.15 Workshops I

12.15-13.15 Lunch

13.15-15.15 Workshops II

15.15-15.30 Break

15.30-17.30 Workshops III

Last updated: 7.9.2021