School vs. Memory

School vs. Memory?

Conflict, Identity, Coexistence (Central Europe)
Prague, 10–11 October 2014

About the Conference

Deadline for submissions of manuscripts: February 28, 2015.

In Central European countries, a tension potentially arises between history teaching in schools and memory at the level of family, social group or community. Memory as a concept describing a plurality of modes of relating to the past has gained ground in both the humanities and social sciences. Memory replaces or complements traditional historical narratives. This conference focuses on memory from a didactic perspective. Our aim is to deal with questions such as What are the difficulties that result from the use of a memory layer in the traditional interpretative frameworks employed at schools? How does a memory layer arise and what are its sources? What role does family memory play in the creation of historical consciousness? Where are the frictions between family remembering and school history narratives formed, and under what conditions do they disappear? And last but not least: What does the impact of this memory in the classroom look like?

The plurality of narratives of the past is one of the great challenges for societies experiencing a cultural transition. Although the discussion on the relationship between education and remembering will be focused on the Central European context, we intend to bring insights from and comparisons with the contexts of migrant societies, post-colonial situations and the experience of genocide(s). We welcome all papers that address one of the main topics organized into the following panels:

  1. Memory as a theoretical concept: approaches and criticism.

    The aim of the panel is to depict memory in current research, to clarify the distinction between memories generated at various levels and to explore their mutual interaction. What are the mechanisms of formation and transmission of ethnic, national and family memory? What are its characteristics (local determinism, dealing with space and time within family narrative, indifference to politics, fragmentation, accumulation)?

  2. Memory at school.

    The status of memory in the school environment through the lens of empirical research. Analysis of textbooks, curriculum and educational practices.
    What are the different objectives of education and memory? How can family memory be used in school education, and what kind of challenges does it pose? Is there a place for memory, and more precisely family memory, in curricula?

    What is the relationship between school-taught historical knowledge and memory? In this context, what should the result of history education look like? Moreover, what should the ideal result look like? What kind of attention is or should be given to children from migrant families or minority backgrounds?

  3. Memory as a field of conflict: science, politics, school and memory.

    Identification of divisive memories and conflicting groups of family bearers of memory. How are differences created, and how are they operationalized at the level of official or state memory? How can “divisive memories” be worked with in school practice? What role does school, as the eventual political or legitimizing institution, play in the formation of memory? Where can the “shared ground” of history be found? What are the ethical consequences of the employment of family memory in school education? Where are the limits of cultivation of family memory?

  4. Media and art representations working with the concept of memory.

    To what extent has family memory been shaped by media (photography, literature, film, comics)? What types of memory do media produce? How could these aspects of media be used in the educational process?

Project leader

Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes



  1. Socialism Realized

    This learning environment enables a user to find and analyse multimedia content about the communist regimes in Europe. Using the Czechoslovak example, we describe the specifics of life in the Eastern bloc. Our material is understandable and approaches the experiences, feelings, and problems that people in the past had, showing society there as a complex and diverse culture.

  2. Historical workshop series (Historické dílny)

    Historical Workshops is a series of seminars that aim to build a platform for creative dialogue among teachers, students and other groups interested in the process of history education. The series is focused on contemporary historical memory and its role in history education.

List of all activities